Small business owners need a lot of help creating and maintaining a successful website. Thankfully, Google has some amazing tools out there that are free (many of which I use on my website and most of my client websites). Start incorporating some of these tools for your small business online presence.
Step one is to get a Google account:
If you have a website domain name for your business, click here to sign up through the free standard Google Apps service. There’s also a $50 a year Premium Apps Service you can get here – I like the paid version because of the availability of phone support. There are also Google Apps options for Educational, Non-Profits, and Government.
If you don’t have a domain name for your business, just get started with a traditional Google account here (you’ll still be able to access their free website tools).
Let’s take a glance at the free Google tools I recommend for nearly all small business websites:
Google Places (also referred to as Local Business Center and Google Maps) FYI – You don’t need a website to appear on Google maps.
Ever notice when you do a search that a map sometimes appears at the top of the page with local businesses? This is how they get there. You can create a business listing that displays your address/location, a link to your website (if you have one), as well as your phone number, hours of operation, coupons, photos, videos, and more. Very helpful for Google visibility and your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
This is how you get amazing free web stats. After you sign up, you get a piece of HTML code that’s inserted into your web pages. Within days you can have access to insightful reports that give you detailed information on your website traffic and visitors.
A great tool that will help improve your site’s visibility online. It can also show you other websites that link to yours, as well as dead links and “pages not found” on your website.
YouTube (yep, Google owns it)
If you want to have video on your website, this is the best way to do it if you want to keep things simple for yourself.
Google Site Search
If you have a larger site, you may want to have a search box on your site so visitors can easily find information.
Without getting too far in the weeds, Feedburner is used to distribute information from your website’s blog (and yes, you should have a blog). See these two articles for more info about blogs: Why Small Business Owners Need a Blog and I Have a Website, How Do I Get a Blog?
AdWords (Advanced Users Only)
Ever notice the “Sponsor Ads” on Google? They’re the ones that are highlighted on the right side (and sometimes top) of search results? These are Google AdWords’ ads. After you’ve maximized your website’s natural/organic/free SEO, you may want to look into buying some Google ads. This can be costly if you don’t know what you’re doing, so get started with the AdWords for Dummies book.
Help with all of Google’s services, including SEO (search optimization) tips.
Here are a few non-website related free Google services I use that you may find helpful:
I add sites that I like and Google Reader accumulates those site’s new blog posts that I can access in one place.
If you’re on the road, you can get a central phone number that can route your calls, send you voicemail transcriptions, and more.