These days it’s become so common to think of Google as the enemy. You can’t blame some people – a lot of online marketers have lost big money to sudden algorithm changes. Some have seen six to seven figure business dry up overnight! That’s what happens sometimes when you don’t diversity your online business, letting too much of it ride on one traffic source…But I don’t want to get into that today.
What I do want to get into are some of the handy Google tools I use in my business on a regular basis, and they’re all free of charge. Just to promote a little well-deserved Google-love; the online conversation could use a little balance.
Never get around to using that fancy, leather-bound daily planner you buy year in and year out?
Google provides a free calendar program that can be an extremely valuable asset for keeping yourself on track. You can organize by days, weeks, or months and select from different views to get an idea of what’s on your schedule. You can set up notifications so you get emails when something pressing is coming, share your schedules with co-workers or employees, and even sync it with your mobile devices.
The best part is that it’s all online, so you can access it from anywhere and don’t have to carry around a pretentious-looking notebook.
Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs) is a place to manage all types of files online, including documents, spreadsheets, photos, videos, and more.
You can create them within the system, making them sharable and editable by whoever you give access, or you can upload documents from your computer. It’s also quite handy for opening files from common programs, like Microsoft Word documents or PDFs, which is nice when someone sends you a file you don’t have the software for.
There are all sorts of uses for Drive that we don’t have time to get into here – just sit down with it and play around for a while. I like to use it for work processes because it allows me to create documents I can share with employees, clients, or mastermind groups.
All documents are updated in real time – you can even see other users edits as they make them. Each account comes with 35 GB of free storage.
While technically a component of Google Drive, I want to give spreadsheets a special mention because I use them so often in my own business.
I have one sheet, for instance, that I use to store all my different passwords from around the web (though you need a special “key” to decipher what they’re for). I prepare project management sheets that list the tasks I have laid out for an employee and have them keep it updated with the percentage of the project done, due dates, etc.
I’ve also put together an accountability group with a couple other guys that work online. One of our sheets lists habits each of us are trying to implement in our lives, and we track whether we did them each day. Everyone’s chart is visible to the rest of the group so we can all see who is living up to their commitments.
We use another sheet to track 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month goals – and then yet another to list our goals for the week.
I like to put a lot of color and design into my spreadsheets and they look pretty pro. For keeping yourself on track and communicating with teams, it really is an amazing tool.
This is a fantastic tool if there are certain subjects or markets you need to keep up with online. You can set up a Google Alert to target any term you want, and any time Google comes across something new with that term, it’s sent over to your inbox on a specified time frame.
You can use this all sorts of ways. Keeping up on what people are saying about your or your business. Stocking your inbox full of content ideas (or keeping a separate account stocked for your writer). Staying current on industry trends.
Brainstorm some of your own.
Even if you’re not big on SEO, Google analytics can still be valuable.
Just use it to track where your traffic is coming from and what people are doing when they get to your site. Get content reports to get a better idea of which articles are performing best. Find out how your web efforts are reaching users of mobile technology. It also taps into social media to reveal social trends. Conversion information is also provided.
Reports can be customized to deliver the type of information you’re interested in, so it caters specifically to your business. And they even have a Premium membership for users who want a more high-powered tracking solution.
This is one of the best stat programs out there, and it’s free.
Just like with the Analytics program, you don’t have to be an SEO nerd to get usage out of Google Trends. It gives a great snapshot about what people are searching for around the world on the web right now and provides further insights into how they are behaving. If you’re trying to keep your finger on the pulse of the Internet and stay tuned with what’s hot online, it can be a big help.
The program can narrow patterns down into particular subjects, particular locations, or even particular time periods if the current trends aren’t where your interest lies.
None of these tools could be classified as groundbreaking web technology, but again, it all comes free of charge. And if used properly, it’s simple things like this that can help you manage your time and keep your personal and business life on track.
Do you leverage any of these tools? Any others you want to share?