The Google Marketing Stack

Free to set up and mostly free to use, let’s explain. If you have a website and are serious about marketing your business, with some time and attention invested, the insights to be gained from Google’s marketing stack are more than worth it for the benefit of your business.

Google Search Console

Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Search Console is the name for a collection of diagnostic tools that help you to understand how your website is being examined by Google’s search engine and enables you, in particular circumstances, to control or modify how your content is categorized.

Search Console allows you to spot common problems that can inhibit your site reaching its potential in the Google organic search results. Including, but not limited to:

  • Duplicate page titles or meta description tags
  • Errors Google encountered when trying to crawl and index your pages
  • Errors with your site’s XML sitemap
  • Errors with your site’s robots.txt page
  • Security issues, such as injected malware
  • Mobile device incompatibility

Whenever working with a new client on their digital marketing always ensure Search Console is in place first. Otherwise, any marketing efforts could be undermined due to any of the organic issues listed above. Watching the health and quality of your website is important and taken seriously by Google.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the tool most people have heard of or at least have some familiarity with. Put simply it allows you to view reports about the visits to your website and make historic comparisons. Before we go any further, it’s worth mentioning that visitors to your website are not individually identifiable from within Analytics. That being said, you can learn a lot about how people find and use your website online, including:

  • Visitors’ locations and languages
  • The methods they used to find your website (search, a link from another site, email or pay per click campaign etc)
  • Devices used to access your site
  • What content they viewed or interacted with, and for how long
  • The route taken through your site
  • Any actions taken on the site of value to you (add to cart, contact us form, etc.)

The most important marketing questions Google Analytics can help to answer are:

  1. How is the content on my website performing? What needs improving?
  2. Which marketing activities are attracting visitors to my site?
  3. How do these marketing activities compare when it comes to delivering my desired results?

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager (GTM) allows you to manage and publish marketing tracking codes and other functional code snippets on your website without having to directly edit your pages or site templates. This enables marketing professionals to have additional functionality and run experiments without the need for support from a web developer.

GTM includes built-in support for any problems that require code being added to a website, including but not limited to the following:

Google Analytics, AdWords and Optimize, Third party advertising platforms such as AdRoll, Crazy Egg and HotJar heat mapping, Infinity call tracking, Twitter and LinkedIn.

It is possible to create your own custom tags based on HTML and JavaScript, and many vendors provide instructions for how to deploy their code snippets using GTM. While Google didn’t invent tag management the introduction of Google Tag Manager made it a zero cost option for website owners everywhere, hence its growing popularity with site owners, marketers and marketing solution specialists.

Google Optimize

At the time of writing Google Optimize and Google Optimize 360 are the newest additions to the free Google Marketing Stack and as a beta product is currently only available as a limited access through a direct representative.

Optimize is Google’s latest move into conversion rate optimization (CRO) testing, having shelved previous beta products Google Website Optimizer and Content Experiments in Google Analytics. Simply put, it allows you to test variations of elements or content on your website to see which option is most successful in reaching your business goals such as signups, purchases etc. Experiments can be deployed through Google Tag Manager and the results can also be shown in Google Analytics.

Whether it’s a custom-tailored message at checkout or a completely revamped homepage, Google Optimize shows you which site experiences engage and excite your customers, giving you the solutions needed to optimize your website and improve its performance. You can request access to the Google Optimize or purchase Google Optimize 360 by contacting your Google Account Representative.

Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio allows you to build shareable and interactive reports and custom dashboards from several data sources including Google Analytics, AdWords, YouTube and Google Sheets. Third party data sources can also be accessed using the paid-for Supermetrics add-on for Google Sheets. The free version of GDS is limited to only 5 reports but for simple dashboards with a handful of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) this limit should be more than enough.

So how is GDS different from the custom reports and dashboards you can set up in Analytics? Google Analytics report and dashboards are showing their age and have limited display options. And unlike GDS they cannot display data from sources external to Analytics.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is free to set up and use. But in truth it can cost a fortune in ad fees if you don’t know what you’re doing with it. After covering that, AdWords has revolutionized online advertising, making it easier than ever for startups and SMEs to gain visibility and attract new business through the online community.

An AdWords account enables you to create advertisements for your company that appear in number of places including:

  • Above and below Google’s organic search results and that of its search partners
  • On Google’s display network: millions of independently owned websites and mobile apps
  • On YouTube and other video websites

Adverts, for short, can be created in a number of different formats depending on how they are to be distributed, and can be targeted at prospects based on a criteria including: age, gender, interests and online behavior, just to name a few. What you pay depends on a few factors including how you target people and the competitiveness of your industry.
Even if you don’t want to run Pay Per Click campaigns it’s worth setting up an AdWords account just to play with the Keyword Planner and Ad Preview and Diagnosis tools. Keyword Planner can help you to understand what the most popular keywords are for your products or services. While it’s no match for AHrefs or SEMrush keyword discovery tools, it is free. Ad Preview and Diagnosis is a nice way to spy on your competitors ads for free.