Tools You Haven’t Heard About

Elaine Shannon

Elaine Shannon

Most of us who design websites know about Google’s most popular tools: Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and the Adwords Keyword Tool. Here are some other really cool Google tools you probably haven’t heard about:

Keyword tool: Wonder wheel

Google Wonder wheel is a visual tool to help brainstorm keywords. To use the tool, do a regular Google search. Then, from the results page, click on the bottom-left link for “More search tools.” Underneath the new list, you’ll see the link for Wonder wheel.

Once your Wonder wheel pops up, you can click on any of the related terms to continue branching out from that topic. It’s kind of like a thesaurus for keywords! (Also try “Related searches” for a longer, list-style display of keywords related to your search.)

Wonder wheel is a welcome relief when you’re tired of staring at the AdWords keyword tool.

Historical tool: Timeline

Google Timeline is another tool you access from a regular search results page. Under the same left column as Wonder wheel, you just click the “Timeline” link.

Timeline displays a visual graph of historical events related to the search term, then links to related websites. It can give you great background information on an industry or a search term.

Current topic tool: Trends

Google Trends is a great place to learn about current events. The homepage lists the top 10 hottest topics and the top 10 hottest searches. Click on one, or do a search, and it will display the latest news and social media updates about that topic.

The results page also shows a timeline like the Timeline tool, but only for the past day or so. Trends also shows the top links and top updates for that search.

If you post updates or blog about hot topics, you can sometimes rank really high in the search results, because for some topics Google lists news first. You can also use the historical data to find out how your keywords have been used in the past – you might be able to predict seasonal dips in sales, or continued growth in an industry.

Just for fun: Hotpot

Hotpot is a fancy tool for local searches. You sign in with a Google account (or install the Google Places app available on Android – it’s not available for other smartphones). Then you rate places and get recommendations.

Next time you search for local businesses, Hotpot will combine the results based on your location and your reviews. If you link your Hotpot account to your friends, their ratings will affect your results.

Even if you choose not to link to friends, Hotpot gives you recommendations on places that other people with similar preferences like. It’s a fun alternative to UrbanSpoon.

So what are your favorite Google tools?

Elaine Shannon
Founder, PlanningWebsites.com


  1. Jackie E-SJackie E-S03-15-2011

    Thanks for this Elaine. I am going to try the Wonder Wheel and see what i come up with.

    • ElaineElaine03-15-2011

      Glad you like it! Wonder Wheel is such a cool idea… it reminds me of how schools are trying to cater to learning styles; it’s a much more visual brainstorming tool than keyword lists.

  2. CricketCricket03-15-2011

    You did such a wonderful job on this post Elaine! I am not a big one for a lot of tools but you caught my interest with the Google Wonder Wheel. I will no likely be up playing with it half the night! :)

    • ElaineElaine03-15-2011

      I tend to stick to a small set of tools I’ve used forever, many of them suggested by you, but Wonder Wheel came up in one of the feeds I subscribe to, and I was hooked. :D

  3. ElaineElaine03-15-2011

    Oh my gosh Elaine, this is terrific stuff. Thank you so much for telling us about the Wonder Wheel. I’ve certainly put in enough time “Staring at Google Adwords”!! E

  4. Lora PhillippiLora Phillippi03-15-2011

    Thanks for this post Elaine! I love the Wonder Wheel and have already started using it. You’re right about the visual learning styles. It helped to to kind of break free from some of the words I kept coming up with over and over again.

  5. ElaineElaine03-15-2011

    If you haven’t tried Google Docs, you should check them out too. They pretty much have an answer to Microsoft Office, but it’s online and completely free. You can password-protect and share documents and spreadsheets with groups of people, so it’s really easy to collaborate on group projects. I’ve used their spreadsheets to work with web agencies – they posted a tasklist, and I got to comment and provide final sign-off right there on the doc. There’s even a chat bar on the side that I used a couple of times to get quick answers on the project.

    Plus, you can open and edit them from any computer just by logging in. Pretty handy. :)

  6. Peg CherrePeg Cherre03-16-2011

    The Wonder Wheel is particularly interesting. Where do you find the Trends options?

  7. I’ve never heard of Urban Spoon, but I do know about Yelp. Do you know if Hotpot is similar to Yelp?

    • ElaineElaine03-22-2011

      Hotpot is similar to Yelp in that they both let people rate and review local businesses. But Yelp is more like a directory… Hotpot is more focused on recommending personalized results. I go to Yelp when I want to find out about a business; I’ll consider Hotpot but probably won’t use it extensively unless they work it into an iPhone app. It seems much more useful for mobile searches, when you’re looking for a business right away as opposed to researching from home.

      Urban Spoon is an app for smartphones – it pulls up restaurants for your current location, with menus, prices, and reviews. I’ve loved it ever since I got my iPhone!

  8. Wow, great article, some or most of us dont know what you have shared. Next time I will be using Google Wonder Wheel and see if there is any positive results.

  9. Carolyn ChebaroCarolyn Chebaro04-12-2011

    Great info Article, I am also a fan of all things Google. I appreciate the info on Wonder Wheel. I can see the application for local keywords. Looking forward to your next post.

  10. JerrickJerrick05-04-2011

    i been use of Google Trend and Google Hotpot but never use of Google Wonder Wheel before.
    Never heard it but will use it as long able to provide me more about keywords which i need to use in my Google Adwords because sometime Adwords Keyword generate tool may miss out some keywords and you need to enter manually.

  11. Wonder Wheel was a great tool but then terminated for some unknown reasons. Nobody knows whether or when it will be launched again by Google.

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