Search provider offers a lot to businesses with websites, and much of it free of charge

Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that Google offers an incredible array of tools, especially for anyone who has a website.

Yes, a number of them are available from other providers, but the convenience of having them all available under one roof makes them hard to resist, even more so when you take the zero price tag into consideration.

Here’s a quick run through of just a few of Google’s offerings:

Google Analytics

When this small piece of code is added to each page on your website, your Analytics account will start to record information about every visitor to your site.

Over time you will see a picture developing of the people who visit your site, their geographic location, what they’re using to view your site, be it a PC, smart phone, tablet, etc.

The abundance of information available can be daunting, but the control panel is well laid out, making it easy to drill down to the information you need.

Remember that you must include a notice in your site’s privacy policy notifying users that this information is being captured.

Google Webmaster Tools

With Webmaster Tools you can really get under the bonnet of your website to see how it’s performing.

You can keep an eye on your site’s health and traffic by using the various reports on offer. If Google has had problems accessing content on your site, it will show you where the issues are and sometimes will offer suggestions on how to rectify them.

Additional search information is available here. You’ll be able to see how often your site was shown in results for a whole range of search phrases, what your average position is, and how often your listing was actually clicked on.

Link your Analytics and Webmaster Tools accounts together to get the best out of both.

Google Fonts

It used to be that when designing websites we could only pick from a small selection of web-safe fonts when displaying text. Now, thanks to the likes of Typekit, Font Squirrel and Google Fonts, we can pick from hundreds of fonts.

This dramatically increases the scope for adding a distinctive character (if you’ll pardon the pun) to your website.

Don’t go overboard, though. Just because fancy fonts are available, doesn’t mean you have to use them all! They should be used sparingly, and always ensure that text is clear and easy to read.

Google Trends

With Google Trends you can test words or phrases to see how often they have been used as search terms.

You can filter results for different countries, time ranges going back to 2004, and see additional suggestions for similar terms.

You can also see what the most popular search terms are right now, plus “Top Charts” with the top 100 searches in a variety of categories, for example, actors.

All this historical and current search information can really help you hone the search engine optimisation of your own site.

That’s really just a whistle-stop tour of some of Google’s most popular offerings. You can get similar tools from some other suppliers, so it’s up to you whether you use them or not.

Speaking personally, though, they should be in every web owners toolbox.

Until next time – good business.

Andrew McEwan of The Web Workshop in Morebattle (www.thewebworkshop.net) helps businesses in the Scottish Borders and beyond with their online presence and digital marketing.