Are You Using Google For Business?

I recently came across an article on Mark Cuban’s blog about the Google Lifestyle as he calls it. This Google Lifestyle is simply the use of Google’s free services and tools that enhance our everyday lives through the use of their products whether it be personal or business use. I thought about it and I too am living the Google Lifestyle as well but more importantly, I am using it for my business. Are you?

Google itself needs no explanation. Generally Google is synonymous for a search engine. We all know what it does, how to use it, and some of use know how to take advantage of it. But Google has an entire arsenal of web FREE services that you may or may not know about and are available at our disposable day in and day out. There’s no denying that Google has had many failed attempts at creating their own products. So not everything that comes out of Google’s labs are instant successes. Some ‘failures’ that come to mind would be Buzz, Picasa, Video, Wave, etc. Of course this is my personal opinion. When Google can’t compete, it simply buys the competitor which we have seen many times like its acquisition of Yahoo and their attempt at buying Groupon.

To give you a complete list of Google products would take forever so why don’t I share how I incorporate Google and their products in my business.

Google Search EngineHate it or love it, Google IS the dominant search engine. Will it remain the dominant search engine? Probably not, but it currently does a fantastic job giving me what I search for. Is there a lot of spam and junk results? Yes, absolutely and they are trying very hard to filter out the spam. Luckily, you can use specific search operators to narrow in on what you need to find. I don’t even give Bing or Yahoo a second thought and never have.

Google Adwords – They always say it takes money to make money and there’s no quicker way to generate traffic which can turn to potential customers, sales, leads, etc than through Google Adwords. These are nothing more than the ads you see placed along every search you perform in Google. Keep in mind Google has a very dominant market share of over 70% so you can burn money quick if you do not know what you’re doing.

Google AlertsEvery business owner should be well aware of what is being said about them but more importantly what their competitors are up to. With Google Alerts, you can get an instant notification for any particular term that Google comes across. So for example, if you have a restaurant and someone posts a negative review, you would get alerted instantly what was said and which website.  This is also great for spying on competitors and seeing what is up their sleeve. We may be spying on you! :)

Google ChromeI’ll be honest and say I don’t primarily use Google Chrome. I’m a Firefox guy for the tons of add-ons available which help make my life much easier. With that said, I do use Google Chrome on a daily basis though. Google Chrome is a very light program, meaning it does not take up a ton of resources and is lightning quick. Tons of add-ons that are available on Firefox are now starting to pop up for Google Chrome. When I want to load an HD video or a intense website, I use Google Chrome because it can handle it better than Firefox. Who knows, I may switch to Google Chrome in the near future.

Google Mail – Gmail has always been and will be my primary email client. It’s quick, easy, and organized. All my various email accounts forward to both my personal and business Gmail accounts where it is sorted out. I then can respond to those emails all within the Gmail platform. Simplicity at it’s best. The search function works very well as expected and not to mention I have 7.5 gb of space available. It’s also integrated with my Android phone which I love.

Google DocsI still prefer using Microsoft Office to create and edit documents BUT Google Docs is a great way to quickly view attachments sent to you. Yes, you could replace Google Docs for Microsoft Office but at the moment I think I’ll hold out on that. I just feel more familiar and comfortable editing documentss in Microsoft Office rather than inside a web browser.

Google Groups – There have been several cases where I’ve been involved in a partnership of some sort and Google Group has been our solution for collaboration. Through Google Groups you can upload and share files among the members. It can be 100% restricted to invited members only. It also doubles as a mailing list.

Google VoiceA personal favorite of mine, Google Voice allows you to claim a local telephone number that you can forward to your personal mobile phone. It can also be used on your computer in a similar fashion like Skype. It’s 100% free and allows you to make nationwide calls, however, international calls cost money. All ingoing and outgoing calls are routed through my personal cell phone and use the Google Voice number. This is great when I don’t feel like giving out my personal number to strangers. It has the ability to block callers, read out loud your voicemails, set up certain hours of operation, and much more.

Google TalkThe days of instant messaging have taken a very big hit but are far from over. Because so many users have Gmail, they are also very likely to use Google Talk as well. It’s simple and all done within your browser. It’s also available on the go with mobile smart phones like the iPhone and Android.

AndroidI have an Android phone and absolutely love it. It’s not perfect yet but there’s much room for improvement that is available through different hacks. I love the fact that it is open source and have tons of community support. The amount of modifications you can do is near endless and I honestly see the Android operating system being the future. I also like how its integrated with Google. All your emails, contacts, tasks, calendar, etc can all be synced up. I also want to pick up a tablet soon and I will definitely consider an Android powered tablet such as the Motorola Xoom.

Google CR48 – Google recently released their CR48 Chrome laptop to a group of beta testers. I don’t think the laptop itself will take off but their Chrome operating system has huge potential. One of the advantages is cloud computing which means instead of a hard drive, all data is stored on a server. Some might wonder if that’s a good idea and safe. Internet providers have become blazing fast and mobile phone networks are slowly rolling out 4G. Google also is starting to implement double authentication meaning it will require additional details like your phone number and password to access certain things. I also believe long gone are the days of traditional client side downloadable programs. Google has their own equivalent of an iTunes store and I’m predicting apps will be very big in the future.

Are you using Google for your business?