A weekly look at the latest products and services designed to help you run a better business.
Google is making it easier -- and more affordable -- for small businesses to utilize its search technology on their own websites.
This week, the search-engine giant launched a Custom Search Business Edition -- a product that allows businesses to put a Google search box on their websites and enhance results for visitors searching within.
"Millions of businesses have a Web presence but offer users no ability to search their site," Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, said in a statement. According to Girouard, small businesses typically spend money on search engine optimization to bring customers to their site, but they often don't invest in making the site easy to navigate.
The Custom Search Business Edition does not require any software or hardware installations for set up. Once users purchase the product, they will go through a short setup wizard and will be directed to copy and paste a line of code into their website. Users will then be able to customize the search page with their own logo and color scheme.
Additionally, small businesses have access to a reporting tool that delivers information about visitor behaviors, including reports of daily and monthly use of the search engine as well as popular search terms. Users can then customize search results with the Extensible Markup Language (XML) feature, which can be used to guide customers to specific areas of the website.
Custom Search Business Edition costs $100 a year for searching up to 5,000 pages, and then jumps in price to $500 a year for up to 50,000 Web pages.
Orbitz, the discount travel-booking site, has launched a self-managed travel site geared toward small businesses that have less than $250,000 a year in travel expenses. The new site allows small businesses to better manage and optimize their travel through lower transaction fees and access to corporate airline and hotel rates.
As registered users, small-business owners and their travelers will be able to view monthly travel summaries that document their booked expenses as well as an e-ticket tracking feature, which reports the value and expiration date of any unused e-tickets when users log in. Additionally, users will be able to search for discounted hotels that offer business-specific resources such as free Wi-Fi.
The Orbitz small-business site does not impose any additional charges or fees for trip changes or cancellations, so users have more flexibility with their travel arrangements. Live customer service agents are available 24-hours-a-day through a direct member number.
Business.gov, a website that informs business owners how to comply with federal regulations, has extended its site offerings to provide more in-depth resources and information to the small-business community.
The site added a new feature called "Permit Me," which provides instructions for obtaining federal, state, and local permits and professional licenses for businesses. Business.gov compiles the information in a single destination making it easier for business owners to gain a comprehensive understanding of all levels of this regulatory requirement.
Additionally, Business.gov added a section on "Featured Topics," which will address common business concerns on a variety of topics pertaining to government regulations. The section is intended to provide more context to the extensive compliance information on the site, and help business owners digest the information in a more simplistic manner.