Getting more out of Google: Check out what it can do for you
Director, Law Office Management Assistance Program
Co-chair, Law Practice Management Section Council
I admit it! iGoogle has taken over my life. Let me tell you why this site is my number one home page. First, we all know Google’s power as a search engine. But, do you know how to use Google as your simple calculator? Go to Google’s cheat sheet at www.google.com/help/cheatsheet.html to learn how to use the search engine as a calculator and to check out many other great functions. Beyond Google search, I use:
Google Mail (free)I use GMail as a secondary business account to which I direct all non-critical business e-mail, such as my list serve accounts, ABA’s “Solosez,” forum discussions, e-newsletters, etc. Doing so makes my primary account more manageable, I can limit “out of office” responses to individuals that need to know, and my Google mail is organized by conversations. This saves me time by cutting quickly through non-critical e-mail. I also get Gmail on my BlackBerry.
Google Adwords (subscription)If you’re not happy with your firm’s placement on search engines, consider GoogleAdwords (Yahoo and Microsoft offer similar programs) to increase visibility by purchasing a sponsored link. This can be a low-cost way to drive traffic to your Web site. You can control how much you spend per click by using a monthly total.
Google Alerts (free)GoogleAlerts gives you an e-mail notification if your chosen topic is mentioned on the Web (blog postings, news, etc.). This allows you to monitor the use of your name, a firm name, a client or a trademark term on the Web. What a great way to keep on top of matters important to a client or your firm.
iGoogle with tabs (free)I start my browsing at iGoogle because it gives me an integrated, customized location to control Internet content important to me. My home page shows my business Gmail account, my Google Calendar, a short-cut to Wikipedia, a dictionary, a “to do” list, Google Map search and Google Documents.
I particularly love the “tab” feature, which extends my home page in an easily configurable and usable fashion. I have three additional tabs on my iGoogle home page. I use the tabs to control and easily review blogs of interest. Each tab has been set to receive RSS blog feeds of particular topics. For example, my first tab feeds in law office management blogs, the second tab feeds in blogs on effectively using Microsoft products, and my third tab feeds in Macintosh blogs for the legal community. I use this feature to keep the blogs from cluttering my e-mail, while still retaining easy access for review.
Google Calendar (free)I use the free GoogleCalendar extensively for home and family. Each family member’s calendar may be viewed by all. This helps get the kids to practice while juggling two working parents’ schedules. It also has a built-in Microsoft Outlook sync feature.
Google Desktop SearchGoogleDesktop is one of the most useful tools on my computer and allows me to bring the power of Google to my desktop. Once installed, Google indexes your computer and allows quick, easy searches for documents, e-mails, files or Web-search results.
GrandCentral (free)GrandCentral is a neat tool to make sure that you can be reached at anytime. Sign up and you get a unified telephone number that, when dialed, will ring at all of the numbers assigned to it. Once you pick up the call, the other telephones stop ringing. It’s a quick and efficient way of allowing others to reach you. This program is currently in beta (trial) form, but is expected to be available to everyone soon.