There isn't anyone who can seriously call themselves a webmaster who hasn't developed a relationship of sorts with Google. We agonize over things like "keyword density's" to try and get in Googles good favor, and we rely on Google for revenues from AdSense and AdWords. Yes there are other search engines and they can all bring us traffic, but Google is unique and we all know that.
There are those who have devoted far too much of their lives to achieving the "holy grail", a number one ranking for their prime keywords on Googles' organic (i.e. not paid for) search . Some are so devoted to achieving that first place position that it's possible they will never realize that there are many other treasures that can be mined from Google. And that's a shame, as the worlds number one search engine has so much more to offer.
Behind the Front Page
The Google success story is nothing short of amazing, rising from virtual obscurity at the turn of the century to becoming the gods of the search engine world in a few short years. We could all learn a valuable lesson from their success, one look at their home page and you'll immediately see that it is about as simple as it gets (the HTML for the page could have easily been composed with Notepad). The lesson here is that Google has made their mark on the world by providing a quality service, without all of the frills and flash that some previous efforts had used to entice people. Googles searches are fast and relevant - they built a better mousetrap and the world did indeed beat a path to their doorstep.
Log into Google (do I really need to give you the address?) and you'll notice that below the familiar logo and above the search box there are links to other Google services. Images, Groups, News, Froogle, Local and an enticing one labeled "More". Each one of these can be a valuable tool that webmasters can't afford not to get to know. Let's examine them:
Pretty simple, the Image search will find pictures for you. Glad we cleared that up! Obviously this is a great tool if you need graphics for a site you're building, but keep in mind that many images on the Internet are protected by copyrights and you can't just grab them without paying the proper compensation.
What is not as obvious is that Images can be a unique way to search for information, if you're researching fire hydrants it stands to reason that a site displaying pictures of them probably contains a lot of information about them as well (and it's true - visit www.firehydrant.org - really!).
Groups are another way to find relevant content, and they will sometimes steer you to resources that you may not have easily found with a standard search. Groups are created and edited by humans, and Google has added over a billion old Usenet postings to the pot. If using groups reminds you of using a newsreader then you have the right idea. Combine the Usenet format with Googles lightning-fast searches and you essentially have a newsreader on steroids. Check it out!
I've set this as my home page, it somewhat satisfies my cravings as I'm a confirmed news junkie. I like it because Google brings in news from thousands of news services around the world, so you can really get every side of the story.
The real power with the Google News is that you can customize it. Don't overlook the power of this feature, it can literally be the webmasters best friend as it leads to the thing that all sites need - fresh content.
No, I'm not suggesting for a second that you resort to plagiarism . But I am recommending that you personalize the Google news and use its capability to add ANY category you like. So if your site is about Australia then add this as a topic and you'll be greeted with all the latest news from Down Under. You can literally add any topic you like, obviously some will not produce as many news items as others (not much news about Pencil Shavings, way too much news about Paris Hilton). And you can get Google to send you e-mail alerts when your special topic is updated, the alerts can even be sent to your mobile phone. If you're putting together or maintaining a niche web site this tool is priceless.
If you sell or distribute a physical product on your site you simply cannot afford to ignore Froogle. This is Google's shopping site, and it's composed of products from vendors around the globe and is searchable (of course) by item, price and just about anything else you can think of. If you know you have the best price on left-handed gold-plated widgets then you'll do well on Froogle. If you're not sure if you have the best price you can quickly see all of your competitors prices, you may need to adjust your sales margin or at least throw in a free right-handed copper-plated widget to sweeten the deal.
So for market research or sales for your website or eBay store you simply have to register on Froogle (naturally it's free, like the rest of Google).
What a powerful word "local" is, although you might not realize it right away. The World Wide Web was meant to be, well, world-wide. A small-time operator in Nebraska could stand a chance against a mega-dollars corporation in New York, thanks to the global nature of the Internet. So why get excited about the word "local"?
It's exciting because it represents one of the latest trends on the Internet, the trend to provide local services. If you're the owner of a pizza parlor it doesn't make much sense to advertise to potential clients across the ocean (if you do then please don't offer free delivery - the first order you get from Ubekastan would wipe you out of business). But it makes lots of sense to try and be the first on the search engine listing for your home town. Google obtains a lot of these listings from local phone books and yellow pages, so if you want to be on this listing you should start by advertising there.
If you're doing research on a specific area or are expanding a bricks and mortar business the Local search could be worth its weight in gold. As Google has integrated this with their powerful Maps feature (more on that later) you'll be able to research everything about a business including it's physical location.
Web developers might also take note of the trend to provide local Internet services, as this gets more popular you may find that Google Local give you an excellent base of potential customers (I notice that your business is on Google Local but you don't have a website to link to - have I got a deal for you!).
There is more. Much, much more. But like all good things it will come to those who wait, and you'll have to wait for Part 2 tomorrow. See you then!