5 Google Products You Aren’t Using
By today’s count, Google offers 49 different products to allow users to search, shop, socialize and more.
Of course not all of Google's products have practical business uses, but a quick look at what the tech giant’s developers have been working on can prove interesting and perhaps insightful.
Here are five Google products that many of you aren’t using but might want to consider for your next digital project or undertaking.
Only .02 percent of websites use Google Wallet but that could be changing. Google recently announced that its virtual wallet Instant Buy technology can be integrated into Apple’s iOS apps – allowing merchants to simplify their mobile checkout. Businesses using Instant Buy on their mobile sites and Android apps have seen increases in conversion and average order values. Invitation-only shopping site RueLaLa, for example, saw a 4X increase in purchase conversion for Google Wallet users on their Android app after integrating Instant Buy, according to Google.
Early partners of Instant Buy for iOS are Wish, B&H, Eat24, Fancy, Newegg and Sionic Mobile. Developers can review the Instant Buy iOS SDK documentation and integration process. Google reports most merchants finish the process in less than a week.
Alerts may seem like your Grandpa’s online reputation management, but Google Alerts still provide significant value when it comes to monitoring company or personal mentions across the Web (not to mention, it’s free). Internet professionals can simply enter a search query they wish to monitor and receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results (Web, news, etc.) based on their queries.
Practical uses include keeping current on a competitor or industry, getting the latest news on upcoming events (like tradeshows) or developing stories (for content marketing initiatives), or keeping tabs on your favorite journalists or thought leaders. From experience, it’s helpful to include quotation marks around queries, like “Website Magazine” to get exact matches.
Qualitative data is important for businesses of all sizes and verticals. Smaller companies can easily be intimidated by digital surveys and forms – even though many companies like SurveyMonkey, Constant Contact and others – make them extremely accessible. While they may not be the best choice for large enterprises or projects, small merchants can benefit from using Google Forms to create forms quickly, share forms with others (via email, Google+, Facebook, Twitter or embedded in a Web page) and send the answers to a spreadsheet for easy analysis.
There’s almost nothing more unattractive than long URLs in marketing collateral. There just isn’t a place for them when you can add source information (like referral source) to the URL structure and then shorten them to make them more visually appealing for social posts or any other material that Internet professionals can’t hyperlink. Most Internet professionals are very aware of link shortener services like Bitly, but Google also offers its own service that enables users to paste a link and make it shorter. Bitly of course offers vanity URLs for a fee and the ability to customize (e.g. http://wsm.co/shorturlexample instead of http://bit.ly/1pm4eNp), but Google’s shortener certainly does the trick. Additionally, users can monitor the number of clicks the URLs received, referral URLs and more.
Serving a few different purposes, Sites can be used to either build a quick site for something non-professional like a company’s fantasy football league or soccer team, or for something as important as a company Intranet or a project site. The former is completely free, but the latter has a monthly, per user charge. While the Fighting Commas (see image) will likely never come into fruition, there are many use cases for Sites, like how Standard Parking created an Intranet using Google Sites that became the company’s primary means of communication for employees.
As for project site creation, teams can create these pages simply as if they were writing up a document, meaning they don’t have to rely on IT specialists or Web developers. There’s, of course, a case for using existing solutions for project management or Intranets, but the site creator does include Google-powered search, gadgets to embed calendars, maps, presentations and more, as well as the ability to set permission levels.
Just for Fun: Do you use Google Hangouts (formerly Chat) to communicate with friends or coworkers? Well, they might need some galloping ponies in their lives. Type /ponies into the text field and see them show up!