I am a big fan of Google. Such a fan that today, I don’t know if I could live an entire day (even less work) without at least one Google product. Today, Google educates me (Search), pilots me (Maps), entertains me (YouTube), connects me (Gmail, Chat, Google+), organizes me (Calendar), helps me understand my customers interests & needs (Analytics), helps me monitor my online reputation (Alerts) allows me to work remotely and with co-workers all over the world (Docs), gives me the hang on things I don’t necessarily understand at first (Translate), accompanies my morning coffee with interesting reads (Reader)… Aah… the day it will also make my coffee… But, I’m extrapolating…
So, in this world of Google tools… which to keep, which to skip (for now)? Here’s my top 3 for your to-do list.
1. Create a Gmail account
This will be your sesame into Google world (i.e. to access Google Analytics, you’ll need a Gmail address – or assimilated). All you’ll need is a good login name. Chances are your “FirstName.LastName” is no longer available, so be creative and avoid “FirstName.LastName123″. If you’re planning on using Google for business purposes at some point, avoid also way-too-personal information… But something like “FirstName.Specialty” works… or “FirstName.BusinessName” works too. Again, be creative but be sensitive.
2. Create a Google Reader page
Imagine a world where all your favorite blog updates are served on a platter every morning with your coffee. That world is Google Reader. In a few easy clicks you can subscribe to your favorite blogs (RSS) and make all their update come directly on one page, instead of clogging your inbox. There you can organize your subscriptions in neat little folders, browse trending topics and get recommendations for new blog discoveries. If you’re even just only playing with the idea of starting a content marketing campaign, Google Reader will soon become your best friend.
3. Implement Google Analytics on your site
This is the best free tool ever created for anyone who’s trying to market a brand or product online. If you do not have Google Analytics implemented on your website, DO IT NOW. It will change your life. Depending on your comfort level with your site’s backend, do it yourself, or ask your agency/webmaster to do it for you. From there, you will be able to track how people are getting to your site (visitors, traffic sources) and what’s performing well – or not -: content, goals, e-commerce. All in an reader-friendly way that will not require you to digest hours of spreadsheets before you understand what’s going on with your website.
Once you’re comfortable with those three, I highly recommend that you also explore the Home & Office tools: Calendar, Docs (spreadsheets, documents, presentations, forms…), and Voice (which will allow you to have one number for all your phones and a great screening system).
I didn’t talk about Google+, I know… My mind is still not made-up as far as this one is concerned. Great tool for some, useless for others… It still needs a few hours/days/weeks/months of practice for me to give you a honest opinion.
What about you? What is your favorite Google Tool? Which one(s) would you skip?