Google Yourself

No, I'm not talking about typing your name or your business name into Google's search engine and seeing how Google's indexing robot crawls your web site. I'm referring to Google's Business Solutions, which includes AdWords, AdSense, Analytics, Google Maps, Checkout, Webmaster Central and Base. Google's services fall into three categories: free, revenue-generating and fee-based. All have one thing in common: They can help your business succeed.

Cover Your Assets: Google is more than just a search engine. It also offers a buffet of business services.

Google's Business Solutions exist to enhance your business reach to a worldwide audience. Why stay local when you have the opportunity to sell to a global consumer base? Google's power and tools make it possible to do so without a huge financial sacrifice.

Free Services

  • Local Business Center
  • Base
  • Webmaster Central
  • Analytics
  • Google Ad Manager
  • Website Optimizer
  • Friend Connect

Ever wonder how businesses put themselves on maps when you're searching for a restaurant or movie theater? Did you also wonder how much it cost to do it?

It's free and it's easy. From the main Google Business Solutions link, click Local Business Center and click the Add New Business button. Submit your information to Google, and you're done. If you'd like to offer your products and services to web searchers, use Google's Base to post them. Create your listings one at a time or in bulk. Easy to follow instructions step you through the entire process.

Webmaster Central, another free service, allows you to add all your web sites so they are crawled and indexed into Google's vast database. The entire submission and verification process takes only a few minutes per site. Once complete, you'll see how Google indexes and categorizes your site. Giving Google's indexing services explicit instructions makes it easier for potential customers to find your site in web searches.

Analytics are measurements and graphs depicting traffic coming to your web site. Google offers its own version of web analytics to free of charge (up to 5 million page views per month). With Analytics in hand, you'll see how many visitors you have, how they connect to your site and how long they stay. This information makes it easier to determine which parts of your site need improvement.

Google Ad Manager is an entire ad campaign management interface for your web site. The Ad Manager enables you to manage your ad inventory, targeting, reporting, delivery and media.

The Website Optimizer is the next free tool from Google that will have you going ga-ga with its extensive feature list. This one is more for the web geek in your office, but the data gleaned from it might be the ticket to more sales and increased visitor satisfaction.

Finally, Friend Connect inserts social networking features directly into your web site. You don't need any high-level skills to start with Friend Connect. Friend Connect allows your visitors to provide feedback to your blogs, products, services or simply interact with you. It's a known fact that engaging customers is a way to drive sales, and Friend Connect engages them without any effort or expense on your part.

Revenue-generating services

AdSense is Google's revenue-generating fraternal twin to AdWords (which is described in the next section). The AdSense service is a pay-per-click advertising business that pays your account when visitors click on ads redirected from your web site. Choose to setup as many ads on your site as you want. The ads look just like the ones you see on your google.com search results pages. They are not the typical flashy, in-your-face type of ads seen on some consumer web sites.

You might not make enough to fill your 401k account, but the revenue will likely be enough to offset some of the commercial services for which you're paying. Like all Google services, AdSense is easy to setup and maintain. You'll spend more time checking your AdSense account balance than you will setting up the ad code.

Fee-based Services

  • Google AdWords
  • Checkout
  • Site Search
  • Postini
  • Google Maps
  • Google Apps
  • Enterprise Search Solutions

Google is a business. It's in business to make money. Sure, it offers a bevy of free services, but it does have bills to pay. To that end, it offers a menu of fee-based services. First up is Google's AdWords, which is the paying end of AdSense, described previously in the revenue-generating services section. By paying Google for the AdWords service, your web site, product or service lands on search pages or rotates through blogs and other web sites that employ AdSense. Site owners receive a small payment per click when visitors click on ads that send them to the site. Next, Google's Checkout service offers an inexpensive, easy-to-setup alternative to PayPal for receiving payments via your site. Google's fee schedule looks like a standard credit card company fee listing. Charges range from about 2 to 3 percent of the order total, plus $0.30 for each transaction. The main advantage of this service is that you won't see any gateway, setup or monthly maintenance fees.

Would you like to offer search services to your visitors? Google's Site Search service does it for you. The fees won't send you into coronary failure either, with prices ranging from $100 to $2,000 per year. Select your fee based on annual search limits and pages searched. The Postini service is an enterprise-level secure email solution aimed at lowering your spam, virus and mail management headaches. Postini guarantees 99.999 percent uptime and availability for your e-mail services. You'll never lose another e-mail or have to tell someone that your email is "down."

You probably downloaded Google Earth and searched for your house, your vacation spot or perhaps an Al Qaeda stronghold in Afghanistan, but did you know that there's a commercial version of it? What do you do with it? Add interactive maps to your customer applications to direct them to your storefronts, research location-based information or provide distance information to law enforcement.

Want to save money by not using Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes? Try Google Apps. Google Apps is an enterprise-level solution that allows organizations of any size to collaborate and communicate with Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar. $50 per user, per year is a bargain compared to purchasing, maintaining and upgrading your own locally hosted solution. Web-based applications mean you have access anywhere, any time and from any computer.

Finally, Google offers its own enterprise-level search capability in a physical appliance (a rack-based computer that performs a single function). The Google Search Appliance indexes and searches through your documents and web pages using Google's extremely successful search technology. Google appliances aren't cheap, but for the power they deliver, they're worth every penny.

Googling yourself is a modern pastime, but now you're one up on everyone else knowing that Googlifying yourself means serious business. Google can boost your business reach and your capabilities to a global level. Whether you choose to go for the freebies, fee-based or a combination, you'll reap the benefits and pocket the profits by going Google.

And you thought it was just a search engine.

Has your company Googlified itself? Tell me about your experiences with Google's products.

Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.

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This article was originally published on Aug 6, 2009
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