Google tools: Our 9 essentials (and what to do with them)

At this point, Google has become so synonymous with website search that it’s the digital equivalent of the Q-Tip or Kleenex. Part of the reason we use “Google” as a verb and not “Alta Vista” is that the company is constantly adapting to the ways in which people search. And from those ongoing improvements, our kit has steadily accrued a number of Google tools. Chances are you’re already using some of these, but in case you’re starting out with an empty toolbox, here are our top 9 Google tools (and what to do with them).

The top 9 Google Tools — and what to do with them. Click To Tweet

1. Google AdWords

Google’s online advertising platform places paid search results tied to keywords, which advertisers can bid on for placement. AdWords also allows you to create Display Ads on certain websites using a similar targeting system. Oh, and it may be one of our favorite Google tools because they give qualifying 501(c)(3)s $10,000 of in-kind advertising — every month — as part of the Google Ad Grant program.

2. Google Analytics

We haven’t fully played around with this Google tool yet, but we hear it’s a good one… Of course, we’re kidding on this. Google Analytics is the one thing you must have on your website in order to make data-driven decisions for your digital strategy. Some of our favorite metrics within Google Analytics are Landing Pages (which tell you the first page that users access on your website), Goals and Events (which you can configure to see if you’re actually moving the needle forward on your organization’s mission), and a whole slew of tricks and treats that will allow you to creep on your constituency — for good.

3. Google Trends

I grew up in Rhode Island, and so for the first 15 years or so of my life, I thought that thing in the hallway of my school that one could drink water from was called a “bubbler.” So what happens if I’m working for charity: water and never learned that most people use the term “fountain” (ooh, so fancy) and wondering why my fundraising campaign called “Bubblers of Hope” wasn’t driving the donations I’d hoped for? Google Trends can tell me which term is more likely to be searched for — “bubbler” or “fountain” — and drill down by country, state, or even metro area. I can look at historical data, and if I look at the last year in the United States, I can break out of my Curse of Knowledge and see that I’ll probably be better off with “Fountains of Hope.”  If nothing else, it’s worth visiting Google Trends a few times a week to see their of-the-moment search insights.

Google trends: One of the top Google tools

A look at Google Trends, one of the most popular Google tools, for data on “bubbler” vs. “fountain” (sorry, Rhode Island)

4. Google Webmasters

If SEO is your game, there are more Google tools than you can shake a rel=canonical at. Google Webmasters offers a number of tools to drive your site’s organic traffic and engagement, chief among them Google Search Console. Check out our full roundup of Google Webmaster Tools.

5. Google Tag Manager

If you want to level up your Google Analytics Game, Google Tag Manager is your sure bet for getting granular with reporting, no developer required. Some of our favorite events that can be configured with this handy Google tool include a 15-second timer to stabilize your bounce rate, tags to track outbound link clicks and social shares of content, scroll-depth to see how far people get down on key pages, and video plays that integrate perfectly with YouTube (technically another Google tool!).

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6. Google Data Studio

Perhaps you want to build Google Dashboards in Analytics, but your website data will look better in a more interactive and immersive visual experience. (#InformationIsBeautiful) Data Studio is a Google tool to turn your numbers into dashboards and reports that, much like Google Analytics dashboards, can be read, shared, and automated to your team. Check out our guide to Google Data Studio for nonprofits.

7. Google Optimize

If you want to get into A/B testing but aren’t sure where to start, Google Optimize is your one-stop shop for A/B, A/B/n, Multivariate, and Redirect tests. You can edit visually meaning that, once again, no developer required (although you can also go deeper if you are a developer or have one on your team), and integrations with AdWords, Analytics, BigQuery, and Firebase. Plus, it’s free.

8. Google Fonts

So. Pretty. If you’re looking for a new font for your website or graphics, Google has over 800 free fonts ready for you to test and play around with. You can sift through all 877 rather easily using filters for serif, sans serif, display, handwriting, and monospace, along with other factors to ensure you find a solution that’s… just your type.

9. Google Firebase

If we had a dollar for every time we’ve been told “I have an idea for an app,” we’d probably be able to buy Google. In the meantime, Google has allowed users to put their money where their mouth is with this Google tool that helps to manage an app even if you don’t have a staff on par with Lyft or Venmo (even they both use Firebase to build their apps). If your organization has an app, this is Google’s way of streamlining analytics, databases, messaging, and crash reporting so that they don’t eat up your entire day.

Message in a Bottle: We want to hear from you!

Are you curious about a Google Tool that we haven’t covered on our website? Tweet us @WholeWhale and we’ll take a deeper dive and share our thoughts!