Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or learning on the go, digital tools can help you build and refine your marketing campaigns. There are plenty of online resources to choose from — and you’ll likely discover your own favorites as you go — but Google powers some of the tools most trusted by digital marketers and SEO specialists.
Google marketing tools help create content, improve technical site performance, gather data, and build digital advertising campaigns. I’ll highlight the most important ones to have at your fingertips and share how each free tool can benefit your marketing activities and support your SEO strategy.
Why You Should Be Using Google for Marketing
With a 92.5% market share globally, Google is the clear leader among search engines. It’s usually the first choice for people looking for information — that’s why “googling” has become a verb. As a result, how Google categorizes and ranks content in search results has essentially shaped SEO best practices. Along with Google’s ubiquity as the organic search platform of choice, it has become the most widely-used platform for building and managing PPC campaigns.
Google’s marketing tools offer something for everyone — businesses of all sizes — self-employed freelancers and consultants, small and medium-sized startups, and large enterprises.
Each tool has a specific purpose, and together they cover most aspects of building a marketing campaign.
I’ve picked out a dozen important Google tools for publishing content, improving technical performance, gathering data, and focusing on user experience. I’ve organized the tools according to function to make it easier for you to skim for the Google product you need at different points of your marketing planning.
Free Google Tools for Driving Organic Traffic
Search optimized content is the secret sauce to building the topical authority that attracts organic traffic to your website. SEO content that’s relevant to your business and helpful to your prospective customers will not only boost your organic traffic, but it will help you build the trust of visitors you hope to convert into customers.
Blogger, Google’s free blog-hosting service, gives you an online space to publish content, and it’s easy to use — although its features are limited.
- Built-in analytics. Monitor where your traffic is coming from and what users are looking at on your site. You can also integrate your Blogger site to Google Analytics for more in-depth data.
- Ad revenue. Some bloggers choose to monetize their content by signing up with Google AdSense to display relevant ads from other businesses within their content.
An SEO Note About Using Blogger
The very best place to build your blog is on your primary domain. In other words, if you can, try to build your blog in the same place the rest of your business pages live. For example, our blog lives in a subdirectory of our main domain: https://victorious.com/blog/.
Building content on your primary domain will attract organic traffic to your business and concentrate your link equity into one place, elevating authority signals to Google.
If there’s a technical reason that you can’t host a blog on your primary domain, using a Google tool like Blogger is a quick and easy way to start creating content, building an audience, and driving traffic through links to your primary business website.
The most important thing is creating optimized content. Don’t let technical roadblocks stand in your way.
You might consider setting up a subdomain on your Blogger account to create a more seamless brand experience for your readers. Google walks you through exactly how to do that.
Learn more about the SEO considerations involved in choosing a subdomain vs. subdirectory.
If you’re collaborating on a blog post with a subject matter expert, another writer, or a managing editor, Google Docs can help keep everyone on the same page (literally). Real-time editing capability, version control, and features like suggestion mode make it easy to work together effectively — whether you’re sharing an office or collaborating from a world away.
You can also create a shared Google Drive to grant file access to an entire team or share specific documents with the people directly involved in website content production.
Once you start creating content, you’ll want to establish a steady publishing cadence and provide some visibility for stakeholders on your team into your content creation plans. Creating an editorial calendar with Calendar will give you a place to manage your publishing schedule. If your team is already using Gmail, inviting them to view your blog calendar is simple. Using Google Calendar for content management dovetails nicely with Google Drive for content production. For any particular blog post “event,” add the links to relevant assets located on Google Drive.
While Google Calendar might seem like a minimally viable solution for managing your editorial plans, content powerhouse Hubspot swears by it.
Google Trends is the best marketing tool for analyzing search patterns and making smarter keyword choices based on geography or popular word usage. You can use what you learn in Trends to narrow in on topics for content creation. This platform aggregates Google’s search data from 2004, revealing what people search for across different periods or in various regions in the world.
When you enter a search term into Google Trends, you can:
- See a graph showing whether search interest is rising, falling, or plateauing.
- Refine searches by period to detect patterns in searches, such as seasonality.
- Explore differences in searches by geographic region.
- View related search terms to generate keyword ideas.
- Compare search queries to determine which ones to target.
Learn more about how to use Google Trends for SEO.
Another great way to stay on top of what’s trending in your industry is to use Google Alerts. You can set up a series of alerts to send you email notifications when specific keywords appear in search engine results.
In addition to keeping you on top of the latest news, Google Alerts is a useful PR tool. Set up alerts with your business or brand name to monitor mentions — good and bad — from all over the web, including news outlets, blogs, and online discussions.
Use alerts to monitor your market niche by requesting notifications for search terms such as:
- Your company or brand name
- Product names
- Your competitors
- Your target keywords
- Current events that may impact your distribution or operations
You can use this information to:
- Strategize your next move, release, or sale
- Build backlinks from blogs to your business
- Keep tabs on trends to determine the kind of products and content your customers are interested in
- Inform your keyword strategy by seeing which search terms produce the most alerts
- Find bloggers or influencers to partner with
Enter the search phrase into the Google Alerts tool to set up an alert. You can specify which online sources you want to monitor and how often to receive notifications. You can add or delete search settings at any time.
Google Tools for Driving Paid Traffic
Purchasing ads through Google helps you get in front of your customers when they search for relevant keywords. Previously known as Google AdWords, Google Ads places pay-per-click ads across GoogleSearch, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube. The Google Display Network even offers placements outside of Google through a network of partners.
You set a budget, pay for each click, and watch as your ads bring website traffic and measurable interest to your business. Whether your goal is to build brand awareness or drive traffic to a lead magnet to convert new customers, high-quality ads served up in search can get the job done.
Set up an automated campaign in your Google Ads account using Smart Mode to ease into the learning curve. Choose your goals (advertisers can choose to use traffic as a goal, but B2B businesses might also choose leads or phone calls, while retail advertisers may choose sales or store visits)and let Google do the rest.
For more control over the type of Google Ads campaigns you run and how much you want to spend on traffic, step up your game with Expert Mode.
To create ads:
- Set a goal for the campaign, such as sales, leads, website traffic, or visits to your brick-and-mortar store
- Determine your target audience (local or global)
- Create a concise write-up of what your business offers
- Choose keyword themes
- Set your budget. The tool provides estimates of the audience reach and results for the amount you spend to help determine your marketing budget.
Keyword Planner is the essential Google ad tool for finding and choosing specific keywords to use in online ads. This resource is accessible through your ads account from Expert Mode.
You can use Keyword Planner to:
- Find search terms related to your business.
- Narrow down keywords using categories and filters.
- Compare monthly search volumes.
- Organize keywords into different categories related to your brand.
- Get an estimate of how much it costs to target different keyword searches.
- Forecast conversions, clicks, and impressions you’re likely to get for your budget.
Tip: you can also use this great tool to research related keywords to use in blog and website content to drive organic traffic to your pages.
Once you’ve selected appropriate words and phrases, incorporate them into your ads to get in front of searchers using these keywords. You can go live with the campaign and monitor its performance, adjusting it until you see your desired results.
Free Google Marketing Tools for Local Search
Google Business Profile
If your business targets clients in a specific city, neighborhood, or community, you’ll want to set up a Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business). It’s one of the best Google marketing tools for local SEO. Think of it as a digital business card that appears in Search and Maps when customers are trying to find your business or one like it — for example, “bakery near me” or “dog grooming in Bellevue.”
Once you claim your Google Business Profile and verify that you own the business, you can manage the profile directly from Google Maps, Search, or the Google My Business website.
This is one of the easiest ways to market on Google because of the preference given to a local business when it appears in Google search results or Maps. At the very minimum, you should provide contact information and hours of operation. However, it’s even more effective to personalize your profile to connect with and engage potential customers.
- Upload your logo and eye-catching photos
- Post updates about special events, sales, or offers
- Promote your products, services, and offerings, such as menu items
- Receive direct messages, orders, reservations, and bookings
- Respond to customer reviews
- Create a set of FAQs to anticipate customer needs.
- When someone asks a direct question, post an answer to it as soon as possible
Google Insights, which is part of Google Business Profile, gives you insight into how your profile is performing so you can better understand your customer’s behaviors.
This great tool is available when you’re signed in to manage your Business Profile. Click Promote > Performance and enter a time range to see how people use Search and Maps to find your profile and what they do once they see your listing.
You can learn:
- How many users viewed the profile from Search and Maps
- The search terms they entered to find your business
- Whether they found your site through a direct search for your business name, a discovery search for a business category or product you offer, or a branded search for your brand or related brand
- The number of clicks on photos, website links, the call button, and direction requests
- Other interactions such as bookings and messages
Free Google Tools for Analytics
Google Marketing Platform
Google Marketing Platform is a unified advertising and analytics platform designed to help you get the best results from your efforts. It combines the best of Google webmaster tools and brings advertising, marketing analytics, testing, and market research into one place to help you implement and track your marketing efforts. You can better understand your customers, see how your marketing strategies are working, and tweak them for better results.
Small businesses can benefit from free resources such as:
- A data dashboard that gathers raw data from various Google tools
- Meaningful performance reports summarizing your data
- Customized surveys for gathering consumer insight and feedback
- Website testing to optimize user experience
- Customized landing pages linked to your ads to improve conversions
Enterprises can subscribe to advanced services including:
- Search Ads 360 (previously called Google DoubleClick Search) to monitor the impact of your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy
- Google Analytics 360 for in-depth insight into your audience
- Display & Video 360 to collaborate across departments and access advanced YouTube and Analytics resources
- Campaign Manager 360 to centrally manage marketing activities across channels, including YouTube and other applications
Use each tool independently if you’re only interested in trying one or two, or use them together for an integrated marketing experience. To begin, sign in to the platform to see the products available and get started with free versions or ask questions and purchase advanced products.
Google Analytics (GA) is part of the Marketing Platform. It breaks down data about who’s using your website and is a valuable launching point for insight into how your performance in organic search results translates into traffic. You can leverage data about your audience and their behaviors to refine your SEO and marketing campaigns and measure impact.
Google Analytics usually offers enough functionality for small and medium-sized businesses, while Google Analytics 360 provides detailed analysis to larger companies and enterprises.
Use GA to:
- Collect demographics, device preferences, and behavior data about your site visitors
- Monitor user activity over specific periods to see how a promotion affects traffic or compare behaviors on the weekends versus weekdays
- Create custom reports to interpret the data
- Generate reports to share with sales, content, and web development teams
Learn more from our Google Analytics Starter Guide.
Google Search Console
One of the best free Google tools is Google Search Console. Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, Search Console is the go-to platform for monitoring and optimizing your website’s visibility in search results. This Google tool offers an array of features to help you gain insight into what’s behind your SEO rankings.
Use Search Console to:
- Track site traffic, including how often your site appears in search results, the keywords searchers use, and click-through rates
- Make sure search bots are indexing your web pages and request that pages be re-indexed when necessary
- View backlinks to see which external sites are linking to your pages
- Receive alerts when Google finds technical issues on your sites
- Identify issues related to security, servers, and site loading
- Test and troubleshoot mobile usability, which could impact your SEO ranking
Learn more about how to use Search Console.
Free Google Tools for Building Expertise
Google Digital Unlocked
It’s challenging to stay on top of the different facets of online marketing, especially as tactics and best practices change over time. Google’s Digital Unlocked series of learning modules are a great resource to learn how to use Google to market your business.
Designed especially for small business owners and marketers, the platform offers over 150 courses on business development, content marketing, the basics of coding and machine learning, online advertising, customer needs and behaviors, graphic design basics, and social media. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses are available, so people can learn the basics of online marketing or dive into greater detail with specialized topics.
Course providers such as Google, Coursera, University of Illinois, Northwestern University, University of Helsinki, and University of Auckland contribute to a high-quality learning experience. Create your own curriculum with free and paid courses, averaging between two and 20 hours.
You can also earn a certificate in the basics of digital marketing with a course accredited by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Fundamentals of Digital Marketing shows you how to market your business on Google with practical exercises and real-world examples. Certification includes completion of 26 modules and successfully passing a final exam.
Google for SEO: Key Takeaways
While no one knows exactly what Google’s algorithms are, the platform offers plenty of guidance to help marketers and developers optimize their sites for search. Far more than “just” a search engine, Google webmaster tools and digital marketing toolkit make search engine optimization accessible to all marketers with a desire to learn. These powerful, free tools are convenient, accessible, and well worth the time to master.
By helping you succeed, Google ensures its own success in realizing its mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.
Learn more about Google tools here.