10 Free Google Tools That Every Local Business Needs to Be Using to Get an Edge Over Their Competitors, But Aren't
Did you know that there are many free tools available from Google that will help you improve your website, generate more leads, and ultimately increase your bottom line?
As a matter of fact, you don’t even need a website to benefit from some of the tools mentioned in this article. That’s right. You can improve the visibility of your business online without even having a website!
What’s good is that some of these incredible tools are pretty intuitive and can be easily used by anyone with little to no skills. Others will need you to devote a bit of time to gain some knowledge to efficiently use them to take advantage of them and compete better.
There is no doubt that all these tools will help your business not only compete better but, in most cases, gain more market share from your competition. The reason I can say this so confidently is that we use these free tools regularly to help our clients get more leads, visitors and ultimately increase their revenue and profits. As an SEO company, of course, we use a few paid tools as well, but that is a topic for another day.
So, without further ado, here are ten free tools from Google that every local business can benefit from.
Google My Business
One of the best free tools available for local businesses is Google My Business, also known as GMB. With a free business profile, this tool allows organizations and businesses to easily get more visible online and connect with prospective customers across Google Search and Maps.
It will enable you to tell your story to potential customers and provide relevant information such as Name, Address, Phone number, Website, Hours of operation, and much more. It also allows the searchers (prospective customers) to connect with you by either calling or messaging you or by leaving reviews about their experience with your business.
With this free tool, you can edit your information as needed and provide updates via posts about your business, such as:
- COVID-19 Update
- Offers or special promotions
- What’s New
- Product updates
You can also include photos and a description of your business, products, and services. This tool lets customers looking for products and services find you even though they may not know the name of your business.
Hints: According to Google, adding photos increases clicks through to your website by 35% and requests for directions via Google Maps by 42%. And when customers give a review of your business, you can respond.
Google My Business will provide you with insights into where your customers come from and how they found your business.
These are the basics for using the Google My Business tool for your business.
We suggest that you integrate this tool into your local SEO strategy.
If you want to get the most business possible out of your business website, Google Analytics is a great free tool. Google Analytics tracks and reports your website’s traffic. It lets you know how long people visit your site and how many pages they look at. It tells you where your website traffic comes from.
If you are running online Google Ad campaigns, it gives you your conversions and other landing page quality information. The tool provides casual information at a glance on a dashboard and report sets with more detailed info. You can spot pages that perform poorly using funnel visualization techniques and even know the geographic area from which people accessed your site or Google Ad.
If you want to keep track of sales activity and performance, this is an excellent tool for seeing commerce-related metrics. You can even see when visitors are currently viewing your site. This incredible tool provides you insights about your business website to learn about what is working and what is not and to tweak and optimize your website, which is useful both for business owners and for online marketers helping their clients.
Google Search Console
If you are interested in increasing online visibility by improving your website’s performance, then Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) tools and reports help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.
Put it simply, this free tool from Google provides much more granular details about website performance to business owners and webmasters. It will let you know how people are finding your site and how many come to visit. It will tell you if visitors are using a desktop computer or their mobile device. It will help you target your content more effectively by providing you insights into which of your pages are the most popular and what parts of your site are most effective.
An essential part of the Google Search Console is its ability to find and help you fix your website’s errors and do things like checking a robots.txt file or submitting a sitemap. There is a bit of work involved in setting up this tool, but the insights you will gain from its detailed information make the task worthwhile.
You will need to verify your website to confirm that you are the site owner or have the admin rights to make changes to the website. It provides you with a lot of information; however, many who are not very tech-savvy and may be deterred by the details and insights provided by this tool. If this is the case with you, please contact your web design firm or your web developer for help.
Google Rich Results
Google Rich Results Test (also known as Structured Data Testing Tool), a free tool from Google, has to do with the website schema, which Google introduced in 2011. The point of the schema markup is to provide context so that search engines can provide relevant results. Using tags or words with a shared vocabulary, you can improve your chances for showing up for the query on Google searches pertinent to your products and services.
If you or your webmaster are using the Structured Data Testing Tool, Google no longer offers support and will eventually discontinue the tool. The new Rich Results Test lets you validate URLs and snippets of code using schema types approved by Google.
The Rich Results Test tool is easier to use and makes workflow smoother. It also lets you preview a page’s appearance to users of Google Assistant.
Hint: The demand for Voice search is increasing. According to this article on Think with Google, voice assistance is on the rise because it is easy to multi-task and allows people to get things done much faster as it is natural to speak and ask for something rather than typing it out.
So, get future-ready by utilizing this tool.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test
More than half of the people searching on Google are using a mobile device. If you want them to see your business in the best light, you want to make sure that your website displays well on their smartphones and tablets. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test does just that. Simply enter your site’s URL and click. The tool will tell you if your site is mobile-friendly or not, and it will give you suggestions for fixing any issues. In addition to a list of things to improve, you can get a comprehensive Mobile Usability Report if you have verified yourself as the website’s rightful owner.
This is an excellent yet another free tool that regular folks can use. Many of the issues are often ones that can be fixed without a lot of technical know-how. However, when you find lots of problems that you may not know how to fix, it is best to hire an SEO consultant for help so that they can take the necessary steps to optimize your site for mobile access and for the ever-increasing percentage of searches made by mobile devices.
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Google PageSpeed Insights
Few things leave a worse impression when someone visits a website than having the pages load slowly. Most internet users expect a page to load within two seconds, and 40% of people will leave if the page has not loaded in three seconds.
Google recommends that you make sure your pages load within two seconds. The free tool to use for this issue is Google PageSpeed Insights or PSI for short. It reports on a page’s performance on both mobile and desktop devices and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved. In simple terms, it analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.
At the top of the report, PSI provides a score that summarizes the page’s performance. A score of 90 or above is considered (Good) excellent. A score of 50 to 90 is a score that “Needs Improvement,” and below 50 (Poor) is regarded as a fail.
Google Keyword Planner
No matter how great your products and services, if you do not use the appropriate keywords on your website, you will get very little traffic from internet searches. Some of the keywords you may choose will probably be excellent descriptions of what your business does but may not differentiate you from the crowd. Picking the right keywords to use in your site content is both a science and an art.
An excellent free tool for picking the right keywords is the Google Keyword Planner, which works for optimizing your website and also for creating better Google Ads.
The planner provides statistics that show how frequently words are used in searches and even shows you the frequency that may have changed over time by providing you monthly data over the past 12 months. By using this tool with Google Ads, you get bid estimates which helps you in deciding on your advertising budget.
By using proper keywords, you can optimize the content of your website and improve your chances of ranking higher on Google search.
You may realize that you need more and better keywords for your website, but not all of us are that good at thinking up the right ones to use. Google Keyword Planner definitely helps, but luckily, Google comes to your rescue with another fantastic free tool that people don’t even realize – Google Suggest and its Autocomplete feature.
Simply start entering a search term or a phrase, and Google, working behind the scenes, does the rest. Because Google knows that search terms are in everyday use, their algorithm gives you choices based on objective criteria like how often a phrase has been searched for recently. Essentially, these are search predictions.
Google makes search predictions based on how popular that term is and how similar it is to your intent and search phrase.
This is an excellent tool for understanding similar but more popular phrases stemming from your current search term.
Google People Also Ask
When you search on Google, a section appears on the Google search page titled “People Also Ask,” also known as PAA.
Since 43% of search queries show a PAA section, it would be wise for you to pay attention and capitalize on being found using this feature. It’s a section that Google provides to dig deeper and learn more based on your initial query.
This feature is often used by those folks who don’t see what they want on the search page and think that one of the lists is a better choice for their search. Even when a person does not click on one of the items, reading those items tells you what, in fact, folks are also looking for. It is an excellent way to refine your content and choice of keywords.
As you click one of the “People Also Ask” questions, you will see the list expand with more such questions. By following this set of lists with a few clicks, you can further refine your search or get a clearer idea of what folks are looking for and how you can choose such questions as well as keywords as part of your content strategy and write content to answer their questions and get their business!
Many times website developers start with the products and services of a business in choosing keywords. But, another option is to simply look at what people are searching for on the internet. Many searches will have nothing to do with your business, but some might very well be useful. You can find stats of searches using Google Trends.
It analyzes the popularity of various search queries across all (worldwide) Google searches for multiple regions and languages. You can even get insights into whether a specific topic is rising or declining. You can also find global, national, regional, and local demographic insights, related topics, and related queries to better understand the trends as per Google search.
This tool allows you to choose a general topic or specific term and even a geographic area. This latter feature may be handy for local SEO purposes. You will be able to see search frequency for your phrases over a certain period. You can find out current and seasonal trends, various topics and details about various niches, relevant product categories, which are pretty helpful when doing keyword research and especially useful for staying on top of the internet search game.
Each of these FREE Tools from Google has its place in helping a local business improve their website, get more visible online, get more engagement with prospective customers, increase visitors, get more leads and ultimately gain an edge over their competition.