Friday, February 5, 2010

Google products we use

On Wednesday night Mike and I did a presentation to a group of fellow entrepreneurs on how we use Google products to run our business. People seemed to find it useful so I thought I'd put the list of products and a quick summary of how we use them here in case others find new products they can use too. We're a little biased having worked at Google, but we really love these products so if you're not using them all they're worth checking out!

  • Google Analytics - We use this to track a whole range of information regarding our websites. Some of our favourite metrics include: number of visitors, traffic sources, countries visitors come from, conversions, time on site.
  • Gmail, including video chat - This is our most used product and so much of our communication is done here. I even have a slightly odd way of managing my to do list through gmail.
  • Google Docs and Spreadsheets - 99% of our document and spreadsheet work is done using Google Docs. The collaboration functionality is brilliant, particularly when working with Vanessa based in China.
  • Google Calendar - Pretty self explanatory but we use this all the time.
  • Blogger - is hosted using blogger.
  • Google Search - I'm sure everyone has used Search but if you haven't played with some of the more advanced features check them our here. I use the currency conversion functionality nearly every day.
  • Google Image Search - I use image search to find most of the images used on 22michaels. There are copyright issues with just using any image from the web so I use the advanced settings in Google image search to find images labelled for reuse.
  • Google Insights for Search - This tool let's you peer into all the amazing search data that Google has, basically it lets you see what people are searching for. There are so many amazing uses for this data. Take a look at this video and if that piques your interest there are more linked from there.
  • Google Local Business Centre - We don't really use this as we don't have a physical location, but if you're business does make sure you list it here.
  • Picasa - We manage and share all our photos using Picasa, it's brilliant.
  • Google Translate - A helpful tool for translating blog posts about us written in languages other than English, and also for emailing and chatting with customers who don't speak English.
  • Google AdWords (the only one that isn't free) - We use AdWords to advertise our business when people search on Google for phrases like 'custom shoes' and 'design your own shoes'. Advertising doesn't get more targeted than that.
  • Google Website Optimizer - We use this to test different elements on our website to see what converts best.
  • Sketch Up Here's an earlier example of where we used sketch up to lay out our Fashion Weekend market stall.
  • Google Apps for your domain - We use this for all our email addresses.
  • Google App Engine - is hosted on Google AppEngine.
  • Google Reader - Mike used to work on Google Reader when he worked at Google and behind Gmail it's probably my second most used product. I read all my news and my favourite startup blogs through Google Reader, mainly on my iPhone. It's such an efficient way to read the news.
  • Google Chrome - The fastest and best web browser, try it out if you don't already use it.
  • Google Webmaster Tools - A great way to see how Google views your website from a search perspective. Apparently the Yahoo version is very good too.
  • Google Maps - Invented in Australia and a fantastic mapping tool. I use the My Maps feature a lot when directing people places.
  • YouTube - The world's second largest search engine. We haven't started using YouTube as a marketing tool yet but it's high on our to do list. Blendtec do it very well!
  • Using Google on your mobile - The great thing about Google products is that they are web based so you can use them on any device. I use Google Reader and Gmail on my iPhone every day.
  • Google Wave - Another one that was invented in Australia. We're not using Wave daily just yet, the main issue is critical mass, it's only useful when everyone else is using it. But I really hope it takes off. It's a much better way to communicate than email.

For a less Google Centric list of products that we use check out this previous post. And one more that is worth a mention is Brizzly. While not a Google product there are a bunch of ex-Google Reader software engineers working on Brizzly and it's by far the best way to use Twitter.

So that's our list of Google Products that we use. Any that we missed? Any others you use?


  1. Good list..!!

    I use pretty much the same. Everything is so much easier when its all online and accessable 24/7 anywhere in the world (except maybe China LOL!).

    I only recently moved ALL of my contacts / calendars / to do list / etc to Gmail. I have had so many crashes and lost data. So, this time, I'm relying on Google's servers to protect my data.

    Its secure and protected, right....? ;P

    I use Flickr for the images on my blog. I use the Advanced Search function to only search by Common Creative Licence photos.

    That way, I can use it and all I have to do is credit it using a HTML code on the bottom right of the page.

  2. Hi Daniel, good thoughts. The Great Firewall of China is about the only bummer with using Google's products. We seem to be ok with Google Docs but Google Spreadsheets seems to get blocked a little too often so we've reverted back to a standard spreadsheet saved in Dropbox for the spreadsheets we share with Vanessa. It's not ideal but it works ok.

    I've not played around with Flickr too much but I hear good things.

    As for the data being protected, we're confident enough in that to run our whole business on these products. Google's servers are a hell of a lot safer than our laptops or running our own servers. :)

  3. I use a lot of the above products too. prolly don't use search as much as you guys, and sketchup.

    I also use a bunch of other google products but not in a business sense.

  4. I started introduced google calendar and documents to my organisation about a year ago. At first it worked well, but sometime last year things started to go wrong. Calendar will not let us go more than a couple of months ahead. Documents are doing weird things now like refusing to print, not saving data correctly. I've had problems with Google sites as well. The editor just keeps timing out. I am phasing usage out now. We will have to setup a server or something.

  5. Hi Michael - that's really odd. I can happily say none of those issues have ever happened to us. It sounds like another possible explanation is that the applications are having difficulty talking back to the server. Do you ever experience any other flakiness with other websites? It just seems very odd. The Google products are reliable for us 99.9999% of the time - so it is weird that you keep experiencing these issues. If you have paid Google for accounts, you should try contacting their customer support. Good luck!

  6. Checkout Socialwok for Google Apps. Its FB like feed based private collaboration. Share GDocs, GCal Events, etc with your workgroup.

  7. I've read good things about Socialwok but haven't got around to trying them out. I'll have to do that, thanks for sharing!