Have you tried any of these Free Google Tools?

Everyone knows just how powerful a search engine Google is. But did you know there several other free Google Tools you can use to enhance your website presence and improve your search rank?
You can find pretty much anything you’re looking for these days. Whether you’re curious about who your favourite singer or actor is currently dating (or breaking up with), you want to know why you have some ailment or other, or you’re desperately looking for a local business to fix your plumbing, heating or air conditioning in a hurry, 99 times out of 100, Google will find tons of websites with answers to your problems. Which one you visit will depend on a variety of things… attention grabbing heading, interesting description, and of course relevancy.
How does it find these websites?
In brief, Google “spiders” crawl the internet looking for key phrases on web pages, starting with the homepage, and depending on the relevance of those key phrases, as well as a number of other factors, it will rank your website accordingly. How often Google’s spiders crawl through your website depends on several criteria, not least how well your site has been “search engine optimized”.
If your site has good internal SEO, that is fantastic. But did you know there are a number of Free Google Tools that will not only let Google know you exist, but may also improve search engine optimization and visitor conversions?
Here are five free Google tools that you can use for your own website:

  1. Submit your content to Google
  2. Map your business with Google Maps
  3. Analyze your website traffic with Google Analytics
  4. Create better conversions with Website Optimizer
  5. Add events to Google Calendar

Submit your content to Google

This is a must for brand new websites and is very quick and easy to do. I do this for all websites I design or update, especially if there’s been a major change to the content.
Go to www.google.ca and search one of these terms:

  • Submit content to Google
  • Index URL with Google
  • Submit website to Google

You’ll see that Google’s own website, entitled “Submit Your Content – Google” appears at the top of the search results page. Follow the link and click “Add Your URL“.  In the URL box, type your website’s web address, type a comment (I usually type a description for the website”, type the squiggly letters that you see in the last box, and click “Submit”.
That’s it. Your content has been submitted and Google’s spiders will soon index it.

Map your business with Google Maps

Even if you work from home this is another useful FREE tool that Google offers. People have been using Google Maps to find directions to a business location for a long time but now many are using it to find similar businesses in the same area. Some even use it as their primary search engine, as it not only lists local businesses, it pinpoints their exact location on the map. It’s amazing how many established businesses are not mapped.
If you haven’t already mapped your business, see for yourself.
Go to maps.google.ca and type in your business category, the street name and city. Does your business name appear on the map with a red balloon pinpointing its location? If not, then you need to add your business.
For this you’ll need to create a Google account if you don’t already have one.
Once you’ve created and activated your account next time you go to maps.google.ca you will see a link on the left side that says “Put your business on Google Maps”. Click the link and follow the instructions for adding your business and don’t forget to include your web address so that a link is added so that people can easily visit your site.

Analyze website traffic with Google Analytics

This is a great tool for tracking the traffic to your website. By adding a piece of code to each page of your website that you want to track, not only can you find out how many visitors (unique and repeat) you’ve had over a given period, you can see where they are from, how long they stayed, how many pages they looked at, and when they visited
By analyzing the peaks and troughs of your visitor hits, and comparing the peaks with your other activities, you can determine how well a marketing campaign is working. For example, do you have an increase in visitors after a trade show, TV commercial or email blast?
Not only that but you can determine the traffic’s source: who’s referring your visitors, how many direct hits are you getting (usually these would be from your business card, brochure or advertisement), what keywords visitors are using to find you, and even which search engine is used.
And because you can choose your time line you can analyze a whole year, a few months, a week at a time or even one day. Depending on the number of visitors for a particular keyword/referring site on a particular day, you may even be able to analyze individual visitors. The only thing you won’t find out is their name and address.
To add Google Analytics to your website you will need a Google account.  Once created and verified, you can access Google Analytics via your account settings. Click the Analytics link, fill in your details, and Google will provide you with the code to add to the bottom of each web page you want to track.
If you don’t know how to add the code, you will need to ask your website designer to do it for you. If they have created a template for your website or if it’s a CMS site, it is very quick and easy to add to every page. However, if you want to exclude certain pages of your static site, you will need a second template without the tracking code to be used for all the excluded pages.
Within a day or two of adding the tracking code to your website you can start tracking your visitor traffic by logging into your Google account and going to the Analytics page. But you will need to give it a few months before you can make any comparisons and correlations.
This is not only a great tool for tracking the traffic to your website but it ensures Google is both aware of your website and visiting it several times a day, so it is also aids Search Engine Optimization.

Create better conversions with Website Optimizer

This is a great tool for determining the effectiveness of a particular page on your website. Let’s say you have a landing page that your newsletter subscribers go to from a link in your newsletter. How effective has that page been in getting visitors to convert (click through to another page, contact you for your services, or buy a product online, for example)?
If the current landing page has resulted in few or no conversions, then you can use Website Optimizer to determine its effectiveness. By creating 1 or more variations of the page, with a different headline, images, design or copy, you can test and compare the effectiveness of your page.
Once the variation pages are created, Website Optimizer will direct different visitors to a different variation of the page and will then analyze how each group interacts with your website as well as which elements they click to convert. If one page converts better than the others, then you should replace your existing page with this page.
If you carry out more than one test and they’re still not converting, it may be time to rethink the entire design and/or content.

Add events with Google Calendar

This cool tool won’t necessarily improve SEO but if you have events you want to publicize it’s a useful tool and may help with conversions.
Now there is a ton of calendar software out there, mostly at a price, and even some free, such as the calendar plug-in for WordPress (which is a great calendar tool too). But if you’re looking for a free, easy to use calendar for a static website, Google calendar is your answer.
Accessed online via your Google Account Settings, you can add and edit events, and by adding the code for the calendar to your website, it will immediately be updated with the new event details.
A couple of advantages with Google calendar is there’s very little code added to your website, and because there’s no software to download, you don’t need to worry about infecting your computer with a virus by downloading from an unknown source.
The downside is there’s no actual content added to your web page either, which means the events are not searchable on your website. So don’t rely on Google Calendar to increase traffic to your website.
Have you used any of these Free Google tools? How have they helped your business? Feel free to comment and let us know.
You may also want to read this article for even more Search Engine Optimization tips >>