Plug Your Business into Google.

Google has become the new Microsoft, constantly churning out new web products in pursuit of world domination. Since its inception in 1996, Google has swiftly grown beyond a simple search engine company with a slew of corporate acquisitions and partnerships. Google recently charged into the cell phone arena, partnering with Motorola and HTC to produce the “iPhone killer” Droid. Social networking, cloud computing, instant messaging, productivity software…Google’s saturation of the all-things-web seems endless—not to mention gmail, YouTube, Picasa and Google Earth.

In the era of corporate domination and global monopolies, the idealistic thing would be to ignore Google. Unfortunately, doing so is simply not an option and would be fatal to any web marketing program. With over 80% of the search engine market share (the most visited site on the Internet), Google cannot be ignored by web site marketers. Yes, there are other search engines and web-based companies out there, but none come close to Google’s web offerings.

The beauty of Google is that many of the company’s products are free and web-based (no cumbersome software to download). The key word here is “free!” Any web site owner can easily sign up for a Google account and start using a free arsenal of web tools. Here’s a snapshot of some of the most useful (free and paid) web-based tools Google offers:

Google Analytics:
Google has taken web statistics to the next level. Most web hosting plans come with their own stats packages. These are typically hard to navigate and limited as far as features go. Google Analytics’ powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features let you see and analyze your traffic in an entirely new way. To sign up for Google Analytics, you first need a Goolge account and gmail address. This account can be used for all of your Google products. Once you set up your Google Analytics account, you’ll have to copy and paste specific code into your web pages to start tracking them. For any serious web marketer, Google Analytics is a must. Click here to get started.

Google Local Search:
Google introduced the concept of local search not long ago. The idea is for search results to display local businesses within your immediate geographic location. So if you’re in downtown Livingston, a search for “Home Furnishings” will yield Truex – rather than some company from Chicago – at the top of the page. To sign your business up for Local Search, visit the Google Local Business Center and sign up. You will need to verify your account via phone or snail mail to activate Local Search.

AdWords:
AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program. Advertisers specify the keywords they want to trigger their ads and the maximum amount they will pay per click and per day. When a user searches Google’s search engine, ads for relevant words are shown as “sponsored links” at the top and right side of the browser window. AdWords can be an effective part of your online marketing strategy, although it shouldn’t be the only online solution in your mix. Click to learn more.

Calendar:
There are several free online calendars out there. Like Google’s other products, its calendar solution is easy to set up and use. It enables you the ability to post events automatically to your web site, send event invitations, sync with applications like Outlook and iCal, and more. Learn more about Google Calendar here.

Custom Search:
Google’s custom search feature gives you the ability to add the power of Google search to your web site. This is a quick and easy way to add search functionality to any site. Custom Search is free but it comes with Google ads on the search pages. If you want a more custom look without the ad clutter, you can pay $100 per year for the Business Addition. More details here.