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Grow Your Business Technology

Google for Business: A Small Business Guide

Google for Business: A Small Business Guide
Credit: mirtmirt / Shutterstock.com

Everyone knows Google for its top-of-the-line web search results, but the tech giant is also known for its analytics and other tools, all of which can help small businesses thrive.

From calendars and email to online documents, Google apps can help businesses organize themselves efficiently and function smoothly. Proprietary technology like Google Analytics, Google My Business and Get Your Business Online helps businesses form an online presence from the ground up. Here's how these solutions can help your business, and how you can get started. [How to Get the Most Out of Google+]

Google's Get Your Business Online (GYBO) project is all about helping small businesses create and establish their presence online. Google has partnered with thousands of cities and local organizations to help businesses build their website, stay on top of Google search results and be seen by customers. Resources include free custom websites, a step-by-step guide to using Google My Business, diagnostic tools to measure your website's performance, training programs and business workshops.

Get started: See what your city has to offer and sign up for the program at gybo.com

For small businesses, competition lurks around every corner. Google My Business helps you stand out and connect with customers all throughout Google land. To take advantage of this service, set up a Google+ page, which can then be found via Search and Maps.

Setting up a Google+ page constitutes a huge chunk of Google My Business. With a Google+ page, businesses can build a following and keep customers coming back with news updates, event announcements, and special offers and discounts. Business Google+ pages let you keep contacts in the loop by sharing status updates, photos, videos and links.

With a Google+ page, you can integrate customers and followers into your marketing campaigns — they can use the +1 button to endorse your posts and share your content on their Google+ pages and throughout the web.

A Google+ page will also help your business rank high on Google search results. This makes it easier for customers to find directions, business hours and contact information, whether they are searching on their computers or mobile devices.

Get started: Learn more about Google My Business

Need to reach even more customers? Advertise on Google to boost sales and grow your business. Small businesses can take advantage of the search giant's reach with Google AdWords, an easy-to-use, cost-per-click (CPC) advertising platform.

Using AdWords, businesses can create advertisements that appear on relevant Google search results — including those on mobile devices — and related websites. For instance, if you own an ice cream shop in Los Angeles, your ad would appear when someone searches for an ice cream shop in the area and on ice cream, dessert or other food-related websites.

You can change your ads at any time and launch them locally, nationally and even globally. AdWords offers robust reporting and analytics tools, so you can monitor ad performance to ensure campaigns meet advertising goals.

AdWords uses a CPC model, meaning you only pay when people click on your ads. You can set your daily budget for each advertising campaign and adjust these budgets as necessary. Here is Google's sample advertising budget: If you have a daily budget of $10, you would have a maximum CPC of 50 cents and approximately 20 clicks per day.

Get started: Try Google AdWords

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Knowing how your website is performing is key to your business's success. Google Analytics is a powerful free tool that lets businesses measure traffic and track visitor behavior to determine what is and isn't helping a website meet its goals.

Google Analytics offers a range of visitor metrics, such as audience engagement, mobile and social media traffic, bounce rates (the rate at which visitors stay on a website or move among pages), and more.

It also includes referral traffic information (where traffic is coming from) to gauge whether marketing campaigns are working and how they can be improved. [MORE: 10 Google Analytics Tools Your Business Should Be Using]

Get started: How to Use Google Analytics

As a small business, you don't need expensive productivity solutions to support your operations. An affordable alternative is G Suite, which offers a streamlined suite of web-based office programs, along with cloud storage and a collaboration service. It consists of Gmail, Calendar, Drive (which includes the office apps Docs, Sheets and Slides), Hangouts and more. These platforms come with desktop and mobile access, offline support and Google-backed security.

G Suite starts at $5 per user per month. Drive comes with 30GB of storage for each user and costs $4 a month for each additional 20GB.

If you love Gmail, you'll appreciate that G Suite lets you access your business email using the Gmail platform — but without the @gmail.com extension. You'll be able to use a custom email address with your business's domain, such as you@yourcompany.com. This version of Gmail comes with 30GB of storage, Google's search and security features, integration with Calendar, and more.

Just as its name implies, Calendar lets users manage their schedules and keep their days organized. Features include meeting reminders and calendar sharing, so you can see when team members are busy or free. Additionally, users can attach documents to events and embed event calendars on company websites, for instance, to allow customers to set up appointments instantly.

Drive gives you anytime, anywhere access to your files and documents. This cloud storage and collaboration platform lets you and your team store, share and edit files in real time over the web. Drive includes full-featured productivity apps, such as Docs (its word processor), Sheets (a spreadsheet editor) and Slides (presentation software). For on-the-go access, these services are  available as standalone mobile apps from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

Collaborate with anyone in the office, across the country or on the other side of the world with Hangouts. Using this service, you can hold online meetings and high-definition video conferences, or keep it simple and stick to instant messaging.

Hangouts easily integrates with other Google App services — for instance, connecting straight from the Gmail inbox, adding a video event to your Google Calendar or working on Drive documents during the call.

Get started: Sign up for G Suite

Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.

Jill Bowers

Jill Bowers is a technical writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She has more than 10 years of writing experience for both B2C and B2B content, focusing on topics like travel writing, consumer finance, business marketing, social media marketing and other business categories. She spends an inordinate amount of time singing love songs to her dog, composes handbell music and writes YA fantasy novels.