A blog is a powerful way to grow your business online. A study by HubSpot showed that businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors than those that do not have a blog. Blogging will help you build your brand online, enhance your trust and authority, showcase your expertise, project your personality and attract more loyal customers. There are many online tools to help make your blogging more effective, and because Google dominates the Internet, what better place to start than by checking out this list of our favorite free Google tools to really rock your business blog.
(1) Google Alerts
Google Alerts is an indispensable tool for the business blogger. Automated messages are sent to your email account whenever Google indexes web content with your selected keywords or keyword phrases. You can control how often you receive these alerts (daily or weekly), whether you wish to receive all mentions, or limit it to the most relevant, and you can add new alerts, or delete old ones at any point.
How to use Google Alerts to rock your blog
- Keep updated on emerging trends in your industry to provide the latest information for your readers.
- Find new ideas for blog content.
- Provide backlinks to your site by adding (relevant) comments to other blogs in your niche.
- Track if your original content has been used on another website or blog without due attribution to you.
- Discover new bloggers in your field and build your network of contacts.
Top Tip: Use Google Alerts to monitor who’s talking about you or your blog. This is important so you can respond to any criticism, customer complaints or thank someone for writing something positive about you.
(2) Google Reader
The idea of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is to consolidate content from across the internet in one place, making it easy for you to stay up to date with all the latest news relevant to you. It means you don’t have to trawl the internet to find relevant content, or clog up your inbox with email alerts. There are several options when it comes to choosing an effective RSS (Feed) Reader. We’ve opted for the Google Reader since Google effectively own the online search market. It is simple to get started – you don’t need to download anything – simply sign in using your Google account and you are ready to start adding subscriptions to your favorite sites.
How to use Google Reader to rock your blog
- You’ve heard that content is king when it comes to blogging, so use your Google Reader to find new content and related ideas and industry news of interest to your readers.
- Using Google Reader allows you to scroll through a number of posts a lot quicker than clicking individual links from a ‘favourites’ folder or search engine results, thus saving you time. Articles can be starred within Google Reader to read later.
- Use the keyboard shortcuts to save more time. Here is a full list for Google Reader
- Finally, don’t forget to activate your own RSS feed on your blog and display it prominently so that others can subscribe to it (note: RSS feed is already incorporated into the WordPress platform, so there is no need for an additional feed).
Top Tip: You can access Google Reader on the go – a great way to catch up on your daily commute.
(3) Google Adwords
Driving targeted traffic to your blog is a key factor to its success. The best way to do this is to get your blog pages ranking highly on search engine results pages, by including targeted keywords (the words people use to search online) in your blog posts. Keywords are important because by including relevant keywords, it will be easier for people to find your blog when searching online. The Google Adwords tool is designed to gauge the effectiveness of keywords for using the google adwords service, but it works equally well for determining keywords for your blog post.
How to use Google Adwords to rock your blog
- Type in your keywords into the Google Adwords search tool.
- Google will search to find the information related to these keywords.
- You will be taken to a list showing the levels of estimated search traffic and competitiveness for your key words.
- The higher the rating, the more pages there are online that use that keyword, so try to use keywords/phrases that have LOW ‘Competition’, and HIGH Monthly Searches.
Top Tip: Each time you write a blog post, use the Google Adwords tool to ensure your post is SEO optimized.
(4) Google Analytics
Tracking the number of visitors to your blog, where they came from, how they got there, and what they read on your blog can provide you with important insight to help you grow your blog. While there are many tools available to monitor and track your incoming traffic, the most comprehensive and free tool is Google Analytics.
How to use Google Analytics to rock your blog
- Measure blog traffic, bounce rate and page views with this tool.
- Determine the average time spent on your blog by visitors.
- Establish at which point visitors enter and exit your website.
- Use it to gather information about your customers (geographical location, time on site, search engine trends, etc).
- Monitor frequency of traffic from social networking sites and other websites.
- Use it to discover which keywords from search engines are driving traffic to your blog – you can then make more strategic use of these keywords throughout your posts.
- Find out which blog posts are most popular and choose to write more on these themes.
Top Tip: While it is easy to set up and start using this tool, be mindful that there is an art to correctly interpreting the data to suit your specific needs. Check out online articles on the topic for more information.
Google Blog Search allows you to easily find what people are saying on any subject of your choice in the blogosphere. Because it is continually updated, you can be sure of the most accurate and up-to-date results from a variety of sources by subscribing either via email alert or by RSS.
How to use Google Blog Search to rock your blog
- Type in what you’re looking for in the search box and you’ll see a list of related blogs.
- You can filter these results for more relevance to your specific needs.
- Use it to find more blogs in your niche to build your bloggers network.
- Collect ideas for future blog posts.
Top Tip: Discover which topics are generating most interest in the blogosphere and comment on them or write about them on your own blog.
(6) Google Trends
Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.
How to use Google Trends to rock your blog
- Determine how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News.
- Gather insights into the traffic and geographic visitation patterns of websites or keywords.
- Use the Hot Searches functionality to discover what people are searching for on Google most recently.
- With this insight you can write great content on your blog.
Top Tip: Hot Searches highlights searches that experience sudden surges in popularity, and updates that information hourly, so you can be right up to date with this information on your blog.
Google Insights for Search shows you what people are searching for, where they are searching and when, allowing you to spot global trends in your industry and capitalize on new business opportunities as they present themselves.
How to use Google Insights to rock your blog
- Anticipate demand for your business so you can write posts based on the seasonal trends you can track with Google Insights.
- Use it to create subtle advertising messages for your product or service on your blog by capitalizing on search tends geographically.
- Identify which brands are doing best with the “Top Searches” and “Rising Searches” functionality. You might discover some rising stars. Can you leverage this interest by stocking these products if you are a retailer and writing about them on your blog?
Top Tip: Google has some useful videos in YouTube that go into great detail about this tool.
We’ve included the Google owned YouTube in our list because it carries a lot of weight in Google’s search rankings (often appearing on the front page of Google). This being so, you really shouldn’t miss out on using YouTube to increase your audience, drive traffic to your site, stand out in your niche, add personality to your blog and build your authority online.
How to use YouTube to rock your blog
- Optimize your videos to be easily found by viewers by choosing good keywords using Google’s Adword Tool (see (3) above).
- Place your keywords in the title, description, and tags of your video.
- Check out the competition and see which keywords they have used.
- Make your video short – viewers won’t stick around for long intros.
- However, do brand your video by flashing your logo at the start and end of your video.
- Add some music from a royalty free source like AudioJungle.
- Customize your YouTube profile (channel) by including your logo, brief info on your company and the url to your blog.
- Create Playlists to get more views on your channel.
- Encourage viewers to embed your video on their site, share on social networking sites and subscribe to your YouTube channel.
- Invite viewers to check out your blog for more detailed information
- Don’t do a hard sell by asking people to buy your products.
- Plan your marketing funnel creatively for a better response.
- Promote your videos by embedding them on your blog and sharing them on popular social networking sites.
Top Tip: If the thought of appearing on a video is too intimidating for you, consider the option of uploading a slideshow or screen capture video.
So there you have it – our favorite free Google tools to enhance your blogging effectiveness. It is by no means the complete list of Google’s handy tools, and some of them may seem to overlap in functionality, but by playing around with them you will discover which ones best suit your business blogging needs.
Have you tried any of these Google tools in your business blogging? Can you add to this list?