Google Apps - A Must for Business27 July 2012 Online Innovations
Online Innovations has spent over a decade helping businesses get more from the web. We help businesses define their online brand by creating and building websites, promoting them and integrating social networking strategies around them.
We dedicate a huge amount of time and effort to keep up-to-date with the developments in the social platforms, focusing on the role that they are playing (and are going to play) in our lives. Social media has not reached maturity yet. New platforms are constantly blipping up on the radar - all hoping that a network will jump on and in doing so, become the next big thing. The established social platforms are constantly playing catch up with one another, so nobody really knows how the cards are going to fall.
As far as social media goes, Facebook and Twitter are here to stay - that we can bank on. But what will become of Google? Clearly they understand the importance of social media, but they seemed to have left the starting blocks a little late and have been playing catch up ever since.
The Importance of Social Media
Google’s search engine goal is to provide their customers with the best possible search results pertaining to their search query.
So how does it rank results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)? Primarily it references 2 main criteria; context and popularity.
When Google indexes a website it analyses the content and identifies the keywords and keyword phrases and by doing so, it contextualises the website.
But what if the content is added by a webmaster that does not have the training to optimise the content for search engine indexing (SEO)? This is a common problem now that content management is so popular. Or what if the webpage contains video? It is very informative, superbly so in most cases, but contains little text. How does Google interpret that?
Common sense says that the more people that link to a website, the more popular and relevant the website should be. Or is it? This exposes the process to abusive practices like spam, where black-hat SEOers create and sell back links added to blogging sites and so forth.
Enter Social Media
Considering the above, the social platforms are perfect media to reference the context and popularity of websites. If people are talking about the website then it must be good and popular, right?
Google needs to monitor what websites are being spoken about. But there is a turf war and the popular social platforms can restrict Google’s access to their systems and in this lies the importance of Google + (to Google anyway).
Google+ has taken a hammering since its launch and most have the opinion that they have had to chase after Facebook, who truly have the market on the social media front. This frantic chase has resulted in many mistakes that I am sure left the Google team a little red faced at times - and also left many of us confused and frustrated.
Then, Google converted their Google Places’ Local Business Listings to Google+ Pages. I believe that this move changed everything.
Business owners have been forced to start scratching around in Google+, not only to claim their Places record, but also to make sure that the Places’ record sends the right message. In doing so, they’ve become more familiar with the fantastic business opportunities and tools Google has to offer.
Yes, we all know of Analytics, YouTube and AdSense (to name a few), but we have never really been fully committed. There was always something that stopped us from full adoption. The main reason for this was having to use a Gmail address as the primary email address.
Not that Gmail is bad, far from it. However, for anyone who is serious about their brand, online or otherwise, having a matching email address to their domain name is about as basic as it gets. Having worked towards a consolidated online brand, sending your emails from Gmail and having all your Google Applications referencing your Gmail accounts as the primary email address, just seems like a step backwards in the brand marketing front.
This can be achieved by subscribing to Google Apps.
Google Apps is a service from Google, providing independently customisable versions of several Google products under your domain name.
There is a misconception that you need to spool your email through Google to have an Apps account. This is not the case - if you are running your own Exchange server, Google’s Mail can be disabled.
It features several web applications with similar functionality to traditional office suites, including Gmail, Google Cloud, Google Calendar, Talk, Docs and Sites. But most importantly it allows businesses to consolidate all their Google Applications and Tools (like Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Places, YouTube, Plus, etc.) into one profile. Added to this, administrators can also create additional accounts and assign users access and responsibilities to all or specific tools and applications.
While it all sounds so easy, it is best that you consult a Google Reseller to guide you through the process and manage the entire setup for you. An unqualified decision in the beginning can cost you dearly in the long run.
Online Innovations are Google Resellers and have a deep understanding of Google, the applications that Google provides, how they link together, the migration- capabilities and restrictions, and how businesses can use them to their best advantage.
Talk to us. Money well spent on getting it right from the start translates into massive savings and value benefits in the future.