Earlier this week I made a blog post about the potential pitfalls of Small Businesses relying on Google Analytics. Of course Google Analytics is far from the only free (or potentially valuable) resource being offered up by Google these days. Which ones are worth using? Which ones aren't worth your time? Matt McGee walks small business owners through several of their options and offers up his own opinion on what's worth your time in a column called "Which Google Products Should a Small Business Use?" at Search Engine Land.
Matt outlines your options on features like:
Google Analytics is an exceptionally powerful Web metrics package that offers a great range and depth of information about who's visiting your site and what they're doing after they arrive. It offers more information, I think, than many small businesses need.
Google Maps/Local Business Center
If you're interested in acquiring local search traffic, this is the biggest no-brainer on the list. Google wants to know who you are, where you are, and what you do ... so sign up and tell them! Beyond your basic business data, you can also upload coupons and photos, which may help catch a searcher's eye.
Many local real estate agents and brokerages are using this heavily, and giving themselves a better shot at visibility when searchers make real estate queries on Google.com.
Google Website Optimizer
What it does is bring the previously high-end mechanics of A/B testing and multivariate testing to small businesses. For example, if you're not sure which "Add to Cart" button placement will spur more sales, Optimizer lets you run live tests on your Web site and reports the results when the test is over.
I've already shared my opinion on using Google Analytics, though I tend to agree with Matt about it being a valuable tool when you're first starting out. I'd encourage companies to switch to a paid analytics solution as soon as possible though.
I'm also a big fan of Google Maps and their Local Business Center. I've written articles outlining the steps to take in order to update your Google Maps business listing or to take advantage of Google coupons.
I haven't had as much time to play around with Google Base or Google's Website Optimizer though. In my opinion, the latter option has strong potential for small businesses that have neither the analytics solution, nor the budget for higher end site testing.
If you haven't checked out these four free offerings, you may want to set aside some time to look them over. Matt will be exploring four more offerings in next week's column.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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