For the past decade Google has been busy establishing itself as a byword for creativity in administration and IT. Hundreds of millions of freelancers, telecommuters, and major industries rely on its innovative technologies to run their offices and streamline their workplaces. With so many Google platforms available, though, which ones represent the best return on your time investment?
Learning how to enhance your business model with Google technology solutions can help you reach the next tier in mobile office organization and analysis. Let’s take a look at some of what Google has to offer.
1. Google Alerts
Google Alerts is an e-service platform that detects specific content changes in news, video databases, blogs (targeted or generalized), and the web as a whole, and automatically notifies its subscribers as to these shifts. To fine-tune this process a subscriber to Google Alerts sets search terms, which the program stores in its user-specific database and then compares periodically against the contents of Google’s search engine and shifts in ranking or content therein.
Customizable settings allow for a wide variety of alert groupings from a general subject-related sweep of the blogosphere and popular news to top ten and top twenty result shift notifications, extremely useful for assessing yours or a competitor’s internet visibility.
The platform’s subscriber has options as to the frequency of search engine checks provided by Google Alerts. Daily, weekly, and real-time updates are freely available features to users wishing to adjust their flow of information. Example: If a user sets their alert system to “Daily,” they will receive at maximum a single email from Google (pertaining to the Google Alerts service) each day. These settings simply determine maximum alert volume (Google Alerts does not communicate when no changes take place in the sectors specified by its users).
Google Alerts offers an opportunity to stay current with your market sector’s relevant news and advances, as well as a way to evaluate the success of business strategies like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by observing trends in Google’s search engine results anywhere from the top ten to the top fifty. The kind of real-time Search Engine support provided by Google Alerts can be valuable to any brand or business.
2. Google Finance
Launched in mid-2006 by Google, Google Finance is a Web service the essential functionality of which is providing private enterprise and, more generally, business headlines for major corporations. Market-impacting financial decisions and important business news are compiled for each major corporation selected by the Google Finance user.
Stock information, presented in Adobe Flash-based pricing charts containing marks for said news and business sector decisions, is available to users, providing an up-to-date window into the market as it relates specifically to its external influences.
Google Finance also compiles and orders corporation-specific articles from the Google Blog Search and Google News services, creating a sort of dynamic portfolio for individual businesses or indices. Advertising, a core component of Google Finance since late 2008, is shown regularly on the platform, making it not just a valuable business tool but a potential publisher for ad material.
Since 2006 prime market mover analysis, currency exchange rate information, and US-wide market sector performance reviews have been an integral part of the Google Finance homepage along with the day’s relevant business news. Information from Google Trends is parsed to determine and rank the prime market movers.
In the same 2006 update, decades of U.S. stock and portfolio option data were uploaded to Google Finance, providing a searchable database spanning the last forty years of stock trending. A real-time update ticker for prominent exchanges like NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange were also added to Google Finance as part of a partnership with these exchanges. Fiscal awareness, as well as a sense for the market’s motions as exemplified by the actions of its constituent corporations, is something you can never have too much of.
3. Google Adwords
Google Adwords is Google’s flagship advertising platform and the super-company’s primary source of income. In 2010 Google’s gross ad revenues totaled approximately twenty-eight billion dollars from Cost Per Thousand (CPM) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, as well as targeted ads for banners, rich media, and text across the Web.
AdWords provides ad space and distribution ranging from heavily localized to national and even international dissemination. With their concise, stylish ad format (25-word title, two lines of text, 35 words each), Google’s ads are unobtrusive and a great chance for wide brand distribution. Image ads occupy the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s table of standard sizes and are thus pre-prepped for publishing on virtually any Website.
A business management class in Account Management tailored to the relative complexity of and technical acumen required to use Google AdWords effectively can be of help to a professional just getting into the game. AdWords is a complicated platform, and accounts have to be handled carefully to ensure maximum ad penetration and ideal placement.
The management software platform AdWords Editor is another aid for maximizing this program’s potential, helping users with tasks like keyword choice to improve ad targeting. Who sees the ad, where it’s placed, and the degree of its exposure are all conditional upon correct keyword choice, making it a critical component of using AdWords.
Google’s Google Advertising Professionals program certifies consultants and organizations according to a set of qualifications and an exam. Having a few AdWords professionals can make all the difference to a business or agency’s market exposure and web presence.
4. Google Website Optimizer
Google Website Optimizer, a free website optimizing platform, aids webmasters and market professionals to improve their websites through continuous, rotating testing of different site-building techniques and experimentation with different content. This service helps to increase visitor satisfaction, as well as improving traffic and visitor conversion rates.
Any website elements that exist as part of a page’s HTML code can be readily and regularly tested by Google Website Optimizer (GWO). Font, copy, images, reviews, e-forms and other electronic paperwork, and action assurance points all fall within GWO’s purview. This kind of aggressive experimentation can help a site find its identity, and its market niche.
Webmasters can put whole pages or just page elements to the test. These methods are known as A/B testing and Multivariate Testing (headers, copy, images, etc) respectively. GWO is heavily interrelated with another useful Google platform, Google Analytics, though interface interactions and setup differs between the two.
Google Analytics scripts are accessed by GWO, providing it with a reliable, proven body of ever-expanding knowledge on which to base its experimentation. GWO is a great tool for getting a website up and running, and for managing its online adolescence effectively.
5. Google Voice
Launched in 2009 under the name GrandCentral, Google’s pioneer telecommunications platform, Google Voice, quickly accrued millions of users. Configured and kept up by users in web-based (browser-based) applications and heavily influenced by the same design principles that led to the development of Google’s acclaimed e-mail service, Gmail, Google Voice offers free PC-to-phone and PC-to-PC video and voice calls across the globe.
In an increasingly global market, the importance of programs like Google Voice really can’t be overstated. Google Voice can mesh together an “office” based out of countries separated by thousands of miles, and without the expensive overhead generated by daily international conference calling.
Google Voice is fully supported by cell phone apps, making it easy to place free international calls from a smartphone or other internet-capable portable device. Ease of call transfer means that switching lines is simple, as any preconfigured machine can immediately be tasked with holding a current call (during the call, that is to say).
A user building a Google Voice account selects a free number from a pre-generated list, free of charge, and thereafter all calls to that number are forwarded to their other numbers (PC, cellular device, etc). As a dynamic, intuitive communications network usable from anywhere and by anyone at little to no cost, Google Voice is a no-brainer for the modern office and its inhabitants.
6. Google Docs
An old warhorse among the stable of Google’s technology services, Google Docs is a free data repository and office technology suite. With it, users make and modify documents collaboratively in real time with their fellow users. This office-oriented approach to storage and editing allows an entire project team to collaborate in an electronic environment accessible by any web-capable device from any location.
Offices aren’t limited to corporate HQ anymore, and programs like Google Docs are part of a new suite of productivity solutions tailored to address the changing corporate world.
Files up to 10GB in size are storable on Google Docs, and cloud storage is fast approaching as a 2012 update replacing much of Google Docs’ infrastructure. As part of Google’s approach to modernizing the office, Google Docs shouldn’t be overlooked by any professional agency.