Everybody knows that Google is a powerful search engine. The Oxford English Dictionary added “to Google” in June 2006, noting its first usage in 1999 on a Usenet group newsgroup. Obviously, the word “to Google” pervades the public lexicon for good reason, but while Google deserves all the attention it gets for being a search engine, search isn’t the only tool in its toolkit. Google has other great tools for you to put to work.
By now, Gmail is probably Google’s most widely used tool. It has earned its reputation for being an easy-to-use, feature-filled, browser-based email client. It has a fast search function, tons of storage space, a built-in chat client, and a voice/video function currently in beta.
Many webmasters are familiar with AdSense. Google posts advertisements on your pages based on the pages’ content, making sure the ads target your audience. For every click, you get remunerated. You can’t lose.
If you’re looking to focus your site’s content, Insights for Search is the way to go. Insights will tell you how Google’s users are searching in terms of categories (entertainment, sports, etc.), in terms of location (e.g. you can see how many people are searching “movies” in all Wisconsin’s metro areas), and more.
For companion data to Insight, use Google Analytics. While Insight tells you how people are using Google, Analytics will tell you how people are using your site in particular. What is the content that they are reading? How many people are reading it, and for how long? Where do they belong to and from where have they come here? Where Insight will give you broad data as a starting point, Analytics is a Google tool that will tell you where to go from there.
But how will you keep track of all the data from the last two tools? Google’s Notebook tool helps you there. With the Notebook, you can keep “clippings” from different websites in the browser tool, be they bits of text or images. Imagine being able to keep pages of data from Insight and Analytics side-by-side based on subject matter. The Notebook Google tool lets you do that right in your browser.
Of course, there are ways besides Insight and Analytics to get helpful information; there are websites out there that you use constantly to get news related to your site. The Reader tool keeps these websites in one place, frequently updating them right in your browser. You can also make a public version of your personal Reader, so your colleagues can follow the sites with you.
Speaking of colleagues, you may find the need to collaborate on your site’s content. This is where the Docs tool comes in handy. Just upload a document and share it with your collaborators, editing and composing with each other in real time, which means no more cumbersome back-and-forth emails.
Everyone needs to crunch numbers from time to time, which is where Spreadsheets comes in. Like most other tools, it operates within your browser, which means not having to go between your browser and a large program like Excel.