Everyone knows Google, the search engine currently used for more than 71 percent of searches globally, according to NetMarketShare.
But Google has a portfolio of Web properties that expand far beyond its popular search engine’s capabilities, and the company uses sophisticated tracking software to monitor its users’ activities across its vast network of tools and apps.
Google’s massive collection of data is valuable for content marketers who want to take advantage of such details as current trending topics, what influences a particular target audience most, and connections between search trends and real-world events to make smart decisions about content creation and promotion.
Take a look at these eight Google tools you should be using to drive your content strategy:
1. Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Many marketing may already be familiar with Google AdWords Keyword Planner, but if you’re not using it, start now. While this tool is designed for paid search advertisers, it’s a goldmine of data regarding search volume and keyword usage that’s essential for any content-marketing initiative. You can use this tool to research your target keywords, identify commonly used alternatives and related keywords, and pinpoint the keywords with the highest search volume.
You can then follow up this research by doing a standard Google search for your target keywords. By doing so, you’ll discover which competitors are occupying the coveted first-page rankings, and you can conduct a competitive analysis to estimate the effort required to rank within the first few pages for each of your target terms.
2. Google Analytics
The key to tracking the effectiveness of your content and monitoring visitor engagement, Google Analytics is a robust platform that provides in-depth data about your website's visitors. Find out how many visitors read your content, where they enter your website, how long they spend on individual pages and much more.
3. Google Correlate
If you’re interested in knowing how search volume correlates with real-world trends and timelines, Google Correlate is the tool for you. It helps identify connections between Google Search trends and your own custom timeline—or anything happening in the real world, such as seasonal changes, trends during a particular time period, or search volume influenced by major breaking news or during a major event. Google Correlate helps you discover intriguing connections and gather data to back up your claims.
Google’s foray into the social networking world, Google+, hasn’t reached the epic popularity of Facebook, but it’s still a valuable tool for marketers. Social Media Examiner’s 2014 survey reveals that Google+ is the sixth most commonly used social media platform, with 54 percent of marketers using it regularly.
There are no shortage of features advantageous to content marketers in Google+, including Google Hangouts on Air, which are live video broadcasts similar to webinars that can be configured to record videos, then published on your YouTube account (yet another Google property). Google+ also offers Communities, similar to Facebook Groups, which are intuitive segmenting options that allow you to custom-tailor specific messages to the right portions of your target audience, and use searching capabilities to discover new brand advocates or hot-button topics among your target audience.
5. Google Public Data Explorer
Need to research public government data? Looking for statistics about a public health crisis or other economic or social conditions in the U.S. or globally? Google Public Data Explorer not only provides a simple way for you to search for all this information, but it also presents it visually in scatter plot, bar graph or line graph form. You can also use this tool to create visualizations of your own data. When you’re looking for statistics, facts and trends on public data, this valuable tool will help you both mine the data and access or create useful charts and graphs to supplement your own content.
6. Google Trends
CoSchedule points out that content marketing is heavily dependent on trends—content aligned with current trends attracts more visitors from the increased search volume surrounding these topics. Google Trends is a tool that allows you to discover the 20 most popular searches currently, the top charts of the most popular searches with historical data showing whether that popularity is rising or falling, and even run customized searches to compare two trends against each other. When you’re looking for a source of inspiration or searching for hot topics as possible tie-ins for your content strategy, turn to Google Trends.
7. Google Keep
Now that you have so many tools for gathering valuable data to inform your content strategy, you need a useful app to keep track of your ideas and findings. Fortunately, Google has that covered, too: Google Keep offers Web-based, Android, and iOS apps for taking notes, creating and tracking task lists, and adding photos and other content to refer to later when you’re actually creating content or passing ideas along to the rest of your team.
8. Google Drive
And last but not least, Google Drive is Google’s document-sharing, cloud-based storage application that allows you to create, share, collaborate on and store files such as documents, spreadsheets, slide decks and more. For content marketers, Google Drive eliminates the need for sending files back and forth via email and makes it possible to seamlessly gather input from multiple contributors for content creation.
Add these eight free Google tools to your content marketing arsenal, then put them to use to make interesting data discoveries that can help you better connect with your target audience. Whether you’re searching for content inspiration or data that supports your claims, these tools will prove valuable to any content marketer.
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