Google Workspace (or G-Suite as many of us know it as these days) was first released in beta in 2006. Shortly after, Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and GChat transformed the way the world collaborated and communicated online. Nearly two decades later, Google tools have revolutionalised how many businesses and individuals operate digitally, and frames our strategies for communicating and engaging online. This applies to the biggest enterprises as well as the smallest business website.
As a small business owner, you juggle a lot of different roles. We know how important it is for you to work smart and to use all the tools available to do your job as efficiently as possible. The good news is that there are a number of highly-accessible Google tools available for small businesses that can help you, ranging from Google email and admin tools, to marketing and analytics tools that can help you get to know your customers better. Many of these online tools are free and easy to use while others require a little technical know-how.
In this article, we highlight our favourite Google tools we think will be the most useful to you that are geared to help you grow your small business.
Google My Business
Google is a big supporter of small business – they have a whole Google for Small Business platform and a number of free and paid tools to choose from. They also have free training on Grow with Google, that can help you make the most of your digital presence. But where should you begin? With Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free business listing tool for your business. When customers search for your business on Google Search or Google Maps, it will appear in the search results along with location, contact details and other information. You can promote your services, physical location, opening hours, photos and reviews on Google Search – all at no cost. It’s a no-brainer to set up Google My Business if you have a physical office or store (digital stores don’t qualify).
Top Tip: Ask your customers to review your products or service, as these reviews will be added to your Google profile. Reviews are so important for social proof – even a negative review can be used for good, if you respond to it correctly.
Google Search Console
This free tool provides insight into your website’s performance on Google search. If you’ve ever questioned how your website is performing, Google Search Console can answer that, with detailed statistics on impressions, clicks and your CTR (Click Through Rate). Google accounts for around 90% of global web searches, so having a direct tool that tells you what Google thinks of your site is very helpful. It also provides warnings and notices if there are any problems on your site (if it’s been hacked, or if Google isn’t able to crawl your website for some reason). And you can submit sitemaps on Google Search Console, so your website will make sense to Google’s bots.
Top Tip: Use the keyword stats tool in Google Search Console to build a content plan. Look for keywords your website is ranking for on page 2 or 3, and improve those keywords through custom SEO content.
Google Analytics is a free tool, with a paid-for version if you’re looking for more in-depth functionality. It’s a web analytics tool, so it allows you to track visitors on your site and understand what pages they visit and what actions they take while on your website.
Once you understand how visitors interact with your website, you can optimise it to perform better. You can also track where visitors leave your site and fix any issues in the user journey. And finally, you can find out where your customers come from, and tailor your products or services to match them more directly.
Top Tip: If you’re running an e-commerce store, set up the e-commerce feature in Google Analytics. You’ll be able to track product and sale performance, transaction value and time to purchase. This can be enormously helpful for a remarketing campaign, where you catch potential customers who are interested in your products but haven’t yet made a purchase.
Of all the Google marketing tools you should be using, Google Ads is the one with the greatest potential for ROI (return-on-investment) – if it’s managed well. Google Ads command around 70% of the search market.
Your options are search ads (ads that show in response to search queries on Google) and display ads (banner ads displayed on websites). What’s helpful is that you can measure almost everything on Google Ads, and see where every rand goes. There’s no long-term commitment, so you can run campaigns for a few days or even a few hours. If something isn’t working, you can pause it, and if something is working really well, you can increase your spend on it. Set your budget upfront so you don’t overspend.
Top Tip: Do your research before launching your Google Ad campaign. It can take some time to understand how it works, and you don’t want to run a campaign that has been set up incorrectly because it can cost you money. Once you’re confident you have the right campaign targeting the right keywords, activate your campaign.
If you’re looking for the simplest way to collaborate with your team, G-Suite has a range of productivity and collaboration tools, all hosted in the cloud.
It’s a free suite of tools for personal use, but you do have to pay per user if you want a business account. Think of it as the usual office suite (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint), but in the cloud. Included in the suite are familiar tools (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Hangouts) and additional business tools (Forms, Slides, Sheets and more). Because it’s cloud-based, you can work remotely, and the collaboration features mean that multiple people can work on a single document. It’s a pretty cost-effective solution, especially for small teams, because you get a range of tools in one subscription package.
Top Tip: Here’s a nifty productivity hack – create a new Google Doc or Spreadsheet directly from your browser address bar by typing in any of these URLs: doc.new, sheets.new, slide.new
You might think of YouTube as a place to stream videos rather than a Google tool to help you grow your small business. But if you set up your own YouTube channel, you can promote your business by providing helpful videos about your products or services. Increase your reach by embedding these YouTube videos on your website and social media platforms. You can even advertise on YouTube so that your videos play as ads before other, related videos.
Top Tip: If you’re using YouTube for your business, set up a Brand Account. This special type of account is linked to your business, not an individual. You don’t want an individual to leave your company and your YouTube channel to go with them!
There are many tools to make running a business easier, but these Google tools for small business are specifically aimed at you: the small business owner. They can help you work smarter, not harder, and ultimately be more productive in the great juggling act that is running your own business.
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