Google: More Than a Search Engine

by Katie Essner on May 14, 2010

Google Tools to Help Your Company

By Katie Essner

Google me this.  How many times a day do you find yourself at the infamous search engine?  Have you found the answers to all your insatiable questions are always a Google click away? But, did you know Google also offers a wide array of services and applications that can help your company?

From the widely used Google Reader to the exclusive Google Voice, Google offers free, practical, useful and entertaining tools to help its users. Since the site offers many services, I’ve decided to compile a list of the best and the brightest that are worth looking into for you or your company.

  • Google Reader puts all your feeds and Google Alerts in one place for quick, easy viewing.

    Google Reader eliminates the millions of emails you receive from Google Alerts and allows you to see your feeds and alerts all in one place. You can subscribe to feeds using either Google Reader’s search function, or by entering in the exact URL of the RSS or Atom feed. All items can be organized into folders, easily shared and read offline or on a mobile phone.

  • Google Trends allows you to type in up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. You’ll see how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories and in which geographic regions people have searched the most. Google Trends will also show the current 100 most popular searches.
  • Google Calendar will turn into the office virtual secretary.  Say you need to schedule a meeting with five of your coworkers.  Google Calendar will determine the time that works best for each person and can even select an available room to meet in by looking at everyone’s calendars. Google Calendar syncs with smart phones, allows guests to RSVP to events through email or Google Calendar invite, links to Microsoft Outlook, Apple iCal and Mozilla Sunbird. If you’re afraid you’ll forget about an upcoming meeting, Google Calendar will send reminders through text messages or emails.
  • Google Analytics are also well known, and if you’re not using them yet, you should be. Not only can you see how many hits your website has received, but you can compare two different time periods, set goals, determine when users are leaving your site, see keywords people use to find the site, distinguish how often visitors come back and the contribution returning visitors make compared to new ones.  All reports can be exported into Adobe PDF. Account logins can be set up for other users with read-only permission, so you can have someone else check the Analytic results, but not have access to the settings.
  • Google Voice allows users to have a phone number connected

    Voicemail appears like a text message.

    with them, not a phone or device. With Google Voice, you can access and make calls from the web as well as a phone, block annoying callers and record personalized greetings for different callers or groups.  Calling your Google number, signing into Google Voice online or receiving notifications are all ways to check messages. Other options include listening as callers leave a message, recording calls and switching phones mid-call without the caller knowing. If you carry around more than one mobile phone, try Google Voice out and add your name to the waitlist.  It will definitely be worth the wait.

While these are only a few of the services Google offers, I suggest trying them out.  Experimenting with new applications can make your life easier and less bogged down in the long run.  Google is not just a search engine; it tries to bring fun, resourceful and practical sites to its users.  So next time you go to Google, veer off the main page and see what all they’ve got to offer.  You’ll never know what you might find.