A LOT Of Great Services And Tools
A few years ago, a tiny company of 10 employees launched
a web search engine. Today, that search engine attracts more than
81.9 million different visitors each month! Of course,
the search engine I'm talking about is none other than Google.com.
Visitors can access Google's web site in over 100 different languages
(including Klingon, Pig Latin, and, a personal favorite, Elmer Fudd).
Search results are generated from over eight billion indexed web
pages and one billion images. And over 50% of the traffic to Google.com
comes from outside the US.
Google has some impressive financial numbers, too. In mid-August
2004, they went public with their stock opening at $85; less than
one year later, it is trading at just under $300 a share. They have
been profitable month after month. In fact, in the first quarter
of 2005, they made over $1 billion.
Quarterly profits are not what motivate Google, though. Google
is very much focused on long-term development and will forego short
term revenue for it. In fact, it's widely reported that when Google
first launched one of their biggest search products, Google News,
they forgot to put advertising on it! They were more focused
on developing a high-quality product with the user's best interests
As you can imagine, it takes a lot more than 10 employees to hold
down the Google fort these days. As of the end of 2004, Google employed
over 3,000 people.
As the company has grown in numbers, it has also grown in scope.
While Google is staying true to its philosophy of "doing one
thing really, really well," it has expanded its reach in all
kinds of different directions. If you haven't looked beyond the
clean, simple interface of Google's main page, you are missing out
on a LOT of great services and tools that can help you enhance your
Google has a huge variety of services, tools, labs, and advertising
avenues that every online entrepeneur should know about. Yet many
people are unaware that Google is so much more than "just"
a search engine. So let's look at some of the key resources you
can use to benefit your online business.
Enhance Your Business With Google Services
The six most well-known services Google offers are easily accessed from Google's main page. Beyond the main page, there is a wider world of Google services that are less familiar to most people. The "more" link on the main page will give you access
to some of them; for others, you'll have to dig a bit deeper...
We'll take a look at the "big six" from the main page,
explaining what they are and how you can use them in your business, and then point you towards a few of the other services your business can benefit from.
- Web Search: (www.google.com)
When people think of Google, web search is what comes to mind
first. Google has harnessed the power of many computers to index
eight billion web pages and then use a complex (and secret!) mathematical
formula to determine the relevance or importance of each page.
When you enter a "keyword" or search term into the search
box, Google searches for web pages containing those words and
lists the pages in order of importance.
As a web site owner, you need to make sure that your own web
site is optimized with keywords, high-quality content, and inbound
links so that Google ranks you above your competitors in search
results. (For more information on how to do this, go to
Use Google search to monitor whether or not changes you make
to your web site are helping you beat your competition to the
top of the search results list! But don't expect changes to
take effect immediately -- it may take days or even weeks for
your changes to make a difference to your ranking.
- Images: (http://images.google.com)
Google caches over one billion images that are searched in exactly
the same way web pages are. Typing your search term in the box
and clicking on "Search Images" gives you thumbnails
of images related to the keyword search term you used. Each of
the thumbnail images is linked back to its original page, where
you can view the larger size. This can save you tons of time in
locating an image that suits your purpose, since you don't need
to sort through the standard search results to find a web page
that might contain the image you need.
Within Google Groups, you can find communities of people discussing
all kinds of different topics. Any member can join or start a
group. This is a great way for you to discover what your potential
customers are interested in.
(NOTE: Make sure the image is not protected
by copyright before you download it. And, if one of YOUR images
is protected and you prefer that it does not come up in Google's
search results, you can request that it be removed.
If, for example, your products promote natural and holistic
health, you might find some great ideas for new products and
markets by reading messages posted in the Natural Health group.
You'll read about problems people have, which might spark a
great idea for a way that you can solve that problem with a
product of your own. You can also get the word out about your
products to the targeted audience in the group.
- News: (http://news.google.com)
Google News is a terrific way for you to stay on top of events.
You can customize the news you get so that it comes from a specific
region or source. You can also trace a particular story's history
to see how it has developed over time. These can be really useful
and time-saving ways to do research in your area. Rather than
wading through oceans of news, tell Google to give you news on
specific topics from your target area.
Unfortunately, unless you are a news organization yourself,
you can't add your own news story as a way of marketing your
product. Press releases don't show up on Google News either.
- Froogle: (http://froogle.google.com)
Froogle is a search engine that looks only for products that are
for sale online. It helps buyers find a web site that sells the
things they want to purchase. The search results are completely
"organic"; in other words, online sellers can't "buy"
a higher ranking in the search results by paying Google more money
than a competitor.
If your web site isn't already listed in Froogle's search results,
you'll want to make sure it gets listed because the people who
search through Froogle are there to buy something! You can submit
your site at https://www.google.com/froogle/merchants/welcome.
You can then use Froogle's "Product Feed" to automatically
update your listing every time you make a change to your site.
You can -- and should -- submit your product feed regularly
so that Froogle always has the most current information about
the products you are selling.
- Local: (http://local.google.com)
Google Local is a quick way of limiting your search results to
a specific region. When you click on the "Local" link
on the Google main page, you get two search boxes labelled "What"
and "Where." You can quickly and easily search for things
like local suppliers and potential business contacts. In April
of this year, Google integrated Local Search with Keyhole, a 3D
mapping technology that gives a local business a "flag"
on the map that accompanies search results.
The businesses that are included in search results are ones
that are already indexed by Google or that exist in one of the
databases that Google accesses, like YellowPages. If your business
is not showing up in search results, you can submit it to Google
Now, let's move beyond Google's homepage to the wider world
of Google tools and resources.
- Gmail: (http://gmail.google.com)
Gmail is Google's free web-based e-mail service. It offers 2GB
of storage space and the ability to send image files up to 10MB
in size, which is much more than any of the other free webmail
services offer. Gmail also offers new ways of storing, organizing,
and archiving e-mail files.
But the really unique thing about Gmail is that it "reads"
each e-mail message it receives and matches ads to keywords
it finds in the message. These ads are then displayed alongside
the message. This is a great system for advertisers, of course,
because their ads are being shown to a highly targeted group.
users that their e-mail messages are secure and that the ads
placed beside them will not be in poor taste. However, Google
cannot guarantee that your competitors' ads won't show up on
an e-mail you send to your customers.
Gmail is still in beta, though, and it is likely that the number
of people on your e-mail list who use it is very small.
- Maps: (http://local.google.com)
As mentioned above, Google Maps works in tandem with Google Local,
adding an interactive element to searches by location. You can
toggle between street and satellite views of an area, and you
can get directions simply by choosing "Directions" and
typing an address in the search box.
Your customers will easily find your brick-and-mortar business
or the directions to an event you're sponsoring with a link
to your own Google map right on your web site. All you have
to do is navigate within Google Maps to the view you want your
customers to see and click "Link to This Page." You'll
get a URL that you can add to your web site's HTML. You also
have the option to embed the map itself on your site. To do
this, you'll need to sign up first.
You can then add functionality and interest to the map on your
site by overlaying information boxes and directional lines.
- Zeitgeist: (www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html)
Google Zeitgeist is a way of keeping on top of patterns, trends,
and surprises in how people search on Google. It gives you a one-page
snapshot of the top-ranked search terms over the past week and
month, with links to the search results pages. "Zeitgeist
Around the World" gives you similar tidbits organized by
If you are interested in tracking keyword use related to the
hottest trends online, this is a useful page for you to bookmark.
And there are archives that go back to January 2001, too!
- PLUS MORE... (www.google.com/intl/en/options/)
There are a lot more Google services to explore! Just for starters,
have a look at Google Print to search the complete text of books,
Google Mobile to search with your cell phone, and University Search
to find links to the web sites of educational institutions.
Save Time -- And Money! -- With Google's Free Tools
In addition to its many valuable services, Google offers you several really useful -- and free! -- tools. You might be using some of them already, but you might not have considered how to really make them work to enhance your business.
Google's free toolbar is a great way of adding functionality
to your web browser. It can be a real time-saver as it spellchecks
your URLs as you type them, autolinks addresses to maps, and
jumps to searched words on a page. It also, of course, puts
a handy Google search box right at your disposal, no matter
where you are on the Web!
- PageRank: If you're familiar with the Google
Toolbar, then you know that PageRank is the green bar and number
that give you an instant sense of a web site's importance (ranked
from 0 to 10). Google determines the "importance" of
your site by monitoring how many other sites link to you and how
"important" they are. PageRank is just one of the indicators
(along with relevant links and high-quality content) that Google
uses to place your web pages in search results. By monitoring
your PageRank -- and that of your competitors -- you can get a
general sense of how well-optimized your pages are for search.
PageRank can also indicate the quality of a site you're checking
out as a potential link partner.
- Blogger: (www.blogger.com)
Google's free blogging tool is an excellent opportunity for you
to develop a web presence with dynamic content and an RSS feed.
The growing importance of RSS will change how new pages are optimized
-- news goes out to readers rather than readers coming to look
for news. According to a recent issue of Planet Ocean's "Search
Engine Watch," in the not-so-distant future, it will become
more important to have large numbers of sites pulling your RSS
feed than it will to have a high rank in search results. Blogger
is an easy way to get the jump on your competition!
Google, itself, uses Blogger for its own blogs -- have a look
If you're a bit of a techie, then you'll appreciate Google Code!
This is a site that Google has for external developers who want
to try their hand at improving Google's products. There are
currently several projects that are being featured, all related
to different aspects of projects that are actively being developed
at Google. Google's engineers decide which ones to release as
open source for public development and welcome knowledgeable
Desktop Search: (http://desktop.google.com/)
Desktop Search is a free tool that you can use to search your
own computer. You can locate files, previously visited web pages,
e-mail, and more by installing Google's search bar on your desktop.
If your business is growing and you want to be able to search
several computers, you can use the free Enterprise edition of
the Desktop Search box.
Google Earth: (http://earth.google.com)
For pure fun, you HAVE to take a look at Google Earth. It lets
you swoop around the Grand Canyon, zip over to your old neighborhood,
and have a look at the area around that resort you booked online.
You can zoom in and out and rotate the view. While you won't
be able to see your dog wagging its tail in your backyard, it
will give you a great sense of terrain, architecture, and landmarks.
- PLUS MORE... (www.google.com/intl/en/options/)
Google offers a number of other tools like Hello, which is an
instant messaging system with images, and Translate, which lets
you view web pages in other languages.
Get A Jump On Your Competition In Google Labs
Google devotes about 70% of its efforts to developing its web search and targeted ads, which are the core of its business, and about 10% on developing products -- like Blogger -- that are fun, interesting, and useful, but only peripherally related to web search. The remaining 20% of their time and energy is where a lot of Google's most innovative development comes from. The company requires its engineers to spend one-fifth of their time developing their own projects -- things that interest them apart from their regular jobs -- and this has led to products like Google's desktop search engine, "search
by location," and Gmail.
Unlike many companies, Google is not afraid to let people "look
under its skirt." In other words, you can get a good idea of
what Google is working on and what direction they might take with
the services and tools they offer. Take a look at Google Labs (http://labs.google.com)
for some current examples.
This is where Google showcases what its engineers have been up
to in their "personal project" time. It is also where
Google asks you for your input. You can try out tools while they
are still in the development stage and give your feedback on how
you think they could be improved or developed -- tools like...
Site Flavored Search Box: (www.google.com/services/siteflavored.html)
You can put a Google search box on your web site that will tailor
your visitors' searches according to a profile you have predefined.
You provide Google with information about yourself, your business,
etc., and when your visitors use the search box, Google flags
certain results as likely to be more relevant. You have the
ability to veto sites from being presented in the search results,
Personalized Search orders your search results based on what you have searched for before. This can be a real time-saver for a small business owner who is trying to do market research.
You can store and retrieve previous searches, and as your search history grows, so will the efficiency of your searches.
PLUS MORE... (http://labs.google.com)
Visit Google Labs to see what else is in the pipeline (or "recently
graduated"). There is a ton of useful stuff, and by getting
to know how Google plans to make things better for you -- and
your customers -- tomorrow, you can be better prepared than
your competition to take advantage of all of those tools and
Promote Your Business By Advertising With Google
If you're not already advertising with Google, it's time to get cracking! Because of the massive number of visitors to Google each day, it is a HUGE source of potential traffic for you.
- Web Search: Just showing up in your potential customers' search results is the easiest way to use Google for free advertising. You'll need to optimize your web site to achieve the highest ranking possible. You may already be aware that you need to spend some time getting the right keywords on your web site and increasing your "link popularity."
You might not have known that Google looks at the first block
of text it encounters on your web page and uses that for the
few lines displayed about your site on search result pages.
So if you want to get listed and also catch the eye of your
customers, make your first paragraph of text count: It should
be roughly 300 words with about 8% of them being keywords to
be most effective.
- Sitemaps: (www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps)
Google's spiders constantly index web pages, and it is impossible
to predict accurately when they will visit your site. If you have
paid attention to optimization for search, then they WILL crawl
your pages. However, you cannot be sure that they have indexed
ALL of your web pages -- they might index just part of your site
on one visit. And since they start at the top of a page and work
down, they might not even index the entire page before moving
One thing you can do to increase the likelihood of your entire
site being searchable is to submit your site to Google Sitemaps.
(There are several ways to do this; for an overview go to (www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps)
When you do this, Google creates and stores an XML file that
allows for instant updates and indexing whenever your site's
content changes. This is like having your own data cable running
from your computer directly to Google!
- AdSense: (www.google.com/adsense)
AdSense is one of the two kinds of advertising avenues Google
offers. The ads generated through AdSense are third-party ads
that sit on your web site. The program is free for you to use
AND you make money each time someone clicks on an ad to move off
of your web site. In other words, these ads entice your visitors
away from your site (bad thing), but you are compensated each
time that happens (good thing).
Google matches the ads to your site by finding similarities
in the keywords of each. You can set a filter to prevent your
competitors' ads from appearing on your web site, and you can
customize the appearance of the ads so that their background
color is the same as your site's, making them look more like
informative content than sales pitches.
Try testing Google AdSense on your site to see if it negatively
affects your traffic and sales. If it doesn't, then you've just
found a new revenue stream! How much will you earn? That depends
partly on how much the advertisers are paying Google for the
keywords and partly on how many people click through the ads
on your site. You could earn anywhere between $0.03 and $15.00
per click and up to several hundred dollars a day if you have
a well-optimized site that draws lots of targeted traffic.
- AdWords: (www.google.com/adwords)
The second of Google's advertising opportunities is AdWords. These
are ads that you create to promote your business and that Google
places on other sites for you. There are three main places that
you will see AdWord ads --
- On the right side of the page next to Google's "organic"
- On other sites as AdSense ads
- Alongside your e-mail messages in Gmail
When you create your AdWord ads, you are in control of how
much they cost. You decide how much you are willing to pay for
specific keywords in your ads, and each time your ad is clicked
you pay that amount. The amount ranges from a minimum of $0.05
to a maximum of $100, and you can set a daily budget that will
not be exceeded.
Google uses the keywords you chose to place your ads on sites
that have content relevant to yours, so you can be assured that
the traffic you are paying for is highly targeted. AdWords reach
80% of Internet users AND you can define their target region
and language. If you're wary about using AdWords because of
the possibility of your ads appearing on sites that do not convert
to sales for you, you can apply a "negative filter"
when creating your ad to exclude specific sites.
As with AdSense ads, it's always a good idea to test whether
your advertising investment is making money for you. If the
click-through traffic is not converting to sales, if your traffic
drops off, or if a particular keyword is not drawing the traffic
-- and sales -- you had hoped for, it is time to rework your
Monitor Google -- And Your Site's Google Ranking -- With Other Tools
We shouldn't always take a company's word for it about when it comes to what they offer. It's always wise to get a second opinion or look to the experts to see what the buzz is about a company's products. Using Google is no different, and there are a large number of ways that you can discover who is saying what about Google's plans and products. There are also a lot of people who provide tools and services that supplement Google's, and these, too, are worth knowing about.
Let's look at a few examples...
This is a blog that focuses on AdSense, AdWords, and PageRank
strategies. For information, tips, tricks, and strategies related
to Google, this site is a good first stop.
- Check your Google rank: (www.GoogleRankings.com/ultimate_seo_tool.php)
This site gives you a free tool for checking your keywords. You
can enter your site's URL and get a report about your keyword
density. You can then check how highly Google ranks your site
for each of the keywords.
This site offers guides for both novice and experienced users.
Experienced users can find out about creating a web site, including
tips on PageRank, getting listed, and advertising revenue.
In addition, don't forget to "google" for blogs, resources, and
news about Google. That's always a sure way of coming up with great
You know you've really made it when your company name is turned into a verb. "Let me google that" is part of our everyday
speech -- and the verb "to google" has even been added to the Webster's dictionary! From tiny beginnings not that long
ago, Google has had a huge impact, not only on how we search the
Web, but also on how we talk about it. Google has become synonymous with online information.
And there is much more to Google! In fact, we're barely scratching the surface of some of Google's most recent advancements here -- not to mention the complexities of improving your ranking in Google's search results...
Be sure to check out the sections on AdWords, AdSense, and tips
for optimizing your site for Google in particular. We'll walk you through the tricky bits and point out the hidden gems that you can use to ensure you are coming out ahead of your competitors.
Above all, remember Google's philosophy: "Focus on the user,
and all else will follow." Every step of your business should
be about solving a problem for your customer. Google's services
and tools will help you achieve that.