In my opinion, Google has THE BEST marketing tools for small businesses (and no, I'm definitely not getting paid to say that - I wish!). The best part about Google is, most of their tools are free! Not sure what they offer? Not sure where to start? This article will summarize some of the key Google tools you should be using if you aren't already.
1. Google Business Profile (FREE)
If you're anything like me, you use Google anytime you are looking for a restaurant near you, seeking a service like an oil change or accountant, or trying to find a cool event to attend over the weekend. The Google Business Profile is what pops up with the business info, location, website, reviews, etc. when you search. It's often the first impression potential customers have with your business, often even before your website! As of January 2022, Google accounted for over 85% of the search engine marketshare. While Bing, Yahoo!, and other search engines are still out there, it really isn't valuable for small businesses to invest time and energy into getting found there. Instead, focus on Google. It just takes a few minutes to set up a profile. Keep reading or skip to the end for some tips on maximizing use of your Google Business Profile.
2. Google Analytics (FREE)
Google Analytics can tell you so much more than you ever thought possible about your audience. When a user visits your website, Google collects demographic info like age, gender, location, and much more. With enough data, it can also help you understand your audience interests, which might influence your marketing tactics. For example, if you notice that a high percentage of your website visitors are sports enthusiasts, perhaps run a marketing campaign in alignment with March Madness or hold a social media giveaway for local sports tickets by asking followers to tag a friend. Beyond understanding who your audience is, analytics can help you understand
how they behave. If your website's call to action like "Sign Up for This Class" or "Buy this Product" is leading to results. If people aren't visiting multiple pages on your site or aren't following the course of action you were hoping for, that could be a signal rearrange content, change language, or improve the user experience in a number of other ways. These are just a few of the many ways Analytics can give you extremely useful insight that helps with you with marketing.
3. Google Adwords (FREE ACCOUNT - START RUNNING ADS WITH ANY BUDGET)
Are you a bakery that wants to appear at the top of the search engine results page anytime a bride-to-be close to you searches "wedding cakes." Google Adwords can make that happen. You can put your ad in front of anyone who meets your specific criteria. In this case, you might want to target females, ages 20-45, interested in events/weddings, located within 20 miles of your exact business address. Targeting ensures that your ad dollars aren't wasted on a bride in New York when you only deliver as far as Indianapolis or a hungry guy in his pajamas at 1am craving cake.
Most people have the misconception that they must have huge budgets to utilize
Google Adwords. That's simply not true. If your budget only allows you to spend $2 a day, spend $2 a day and increase as you can.
PRO TIP: After you sign up, keep an eye on your mail and email because Google will often send offers for up to $500 in free advertising credit just to convince you to get started!
4. Google Search Console (FREE)
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard the term SEO at some point. Maybe you know what it is. Maybe you don't - and that's okay! It stands for Search Engine Optimization, meaning the better SEO practices you have, the higher you will rank on a search engine results page. Everyone wants to be the first result in a Google search right?! There are many (and I mean MANY) things that can improve your SEO, but one tool that proactively helps you improve is the Google Search Console. This tool can help you identify issues with your website like broken/dead links or huge photo files that are causing your page to load too slowly (or not load at all). Google knows that users expect pages to load at rapid-speeds and to have links that work, so if Google detects an issue with your site, your site is less desirable to include in search engine results. But the good news, is that they let you know what your site's issues are so you can work to fix them! Google Search Console is also where you can provide a sitemap, which is essentially a map of all the pages of your website and everything in them. Google will "crawl" your web pages and index them so they know when to present them to a user. For example, if someone were to search "how to harness Google's powerful business tools" this blog post would rank higher in the search results if it is already recognized and indexed by Google.
5. Google Skillshop (FREE)
Most marketers don't want you to know this... but you can literally learn everything you need to know about how to use the above tools plus acquire free certifications from Google through their Skillshop. There is nothing standing in your way other than time, energy, and willingness to learn. No doubt, running a small business can be taxing and taking on one more thing might send you over the edge. So if you don't have a member of your team that can take ownership of learning these tools, consider doing a trial period with an outside service provider. If you're willing to invest some marketing dollars, these tools are designed to drive you real results that can be tracked.
Of course, Google has many other tools that could be used within your business such as Google Workspace (for email/calendars), Google Forms (for gathering customer feedback or taking orders), Google Drive (for file storage), and SO many more. However, the 5 tools listed above can have a direct impact on increasing your sales so I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with these options. I get it, you have a business to run so diving into some of these tools might seem overwhelming. If you only have time for one or just don't know where to start, develop your Google Business Profile. Creating a Google Business Profile requires little effort, is not a huge time commitment, and believe it or not, you already have all the information you need to complete it (about your business, your logo, your hours, your phone number, your address, etc.). It's easy. Don't wait!
Here are some tips to maximize your Google Business Profile:
Regularly Add Photos & Video
Regularly Post - Whether its discounts/offers OR general store updates and highlights, regular posting can help convert more customers who find you through your Google Business Profile.
Add a Website & Phone Number - make it easy for potential customers to learn more about your business or call you directly from your profile.
Turn on the Chat Feature - for the customers who don't like to make a call, offer them the option to chat with you directly with the Chat option.
Ask for Customer Reviews - You want several 5 star reviews to be the first thing someone see's when they come across your business on Google. Ask existing customers who have had a pleasant experience to leave you a review and work that practice into your business operations. More positive reviews leaves to higher credibility and higher probability of converting new customers.
Want to learn more about what these tools can do for your business? Connect with me at email@example.com.