Google Apps for Work has become a staple in my business. From email to document storage, it gets used daily, if not hourly. Before we get into why you should use Google Apps for Work (and how to set it up), you’ll first need to know what Google Apps is.
What is Google Apps for Work?
You’re probably familiar with Google’s line of cloud based products: Gmail, Drive, Hangouts, Calendar, etc. Google Apps takes all of those things and packages them for use for your business.
So imagine using Gmail, but instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, you’re using email@example.com. And with that email address, you’re also getting access to Google’s wide array of web applications.
While Google Apps for Work comes with tons of features, we’re going to focus on the email hosting aspect of the plan, because I think that’s the feature that makes it a must have.
How much does Google Apps cost?
Google Apps is reasonably priced at $5 per user per month. They also offer a 30 day free trial.
Why should I use Google Apps?
If you’re not using Google Apps, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re using your web host for email. While that might seem like a good solution, I’d like to point something out to you.
What happens if your site goes down?
Besides not having a working site, you now don’t have a working email address.
Do you trust your host enough to put both those eggs in the same basket?
My site doesn’t go down too often, but on the off chance that it does, I don’t want to risk it. My site is incredibly important to my business in terms of growing my audience and gaining potential clients, but my email address is tied to my paying clients. It’s not exactly ideal if they think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth because my email isn’t working.
By using Google Apps, if your site goes down your email will still work and vice versa.
Now while this post is mainly about Google Apps, I also want to point out that Google Apps is not the only solution. There are plenty of email hosting services out there (like Zoho Mail). The point is that your web host shouldn’t be your email host.
How to setup Google Apps
So you’ve decided to give Google Apps a try. Great! Getting it setup is ridiculously easy.
First, go to the Google Apps website and click the green get started button.
You’ll be taken to a page where you’ll want to fill out all of your information. Click next.
Now, you have the option of using a domain you already own or purchasing one. For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to assume you already have a domain, so click “use a domain I have already purchased.”
Another field will appear where you’ll enter the domain you want to use. Then click next.
The 3rd page will create your Google Apps account. Enter you username (this will end up being your email address), create a password, and prove you’re not a robot, then click accept and sign up.
Your account is now created and it’s time to create additional email addresses and verify your domain. Click the start button.
If you’d like to create more email addresses, you can do so now. Remember that you will be billed $5/month for each address you create.
If you’re just creating the one (or once you’re done creating additional addresses), click the box labeled “I added all user email addresses currently using @yourdomain.com.”
The next step is to verify your domain to ensure that you actually own it (and that it’s not someone else trying to use it to spam others).
On this page you’ll be given a snippet of code. Copy it and go to your site’s theme/template.
You’re going to paste it into the <head> section of your theme, right before the closing </head> tag.
For WordPress users, go to Appearance > Editor and click on Theme Header (header.php). Paste the code right before </head>. Make sure not to delete any other bits of code or add any additional characters.
PS: it’s always a good idea to make a backup of your site before editing any of your theme files.
If you’re using Genesis, you can go to Genesis > Theme Settings and paste the code into the Header Scripts box.
When that’s done, click the checkbox to move onto the next step.
It’ll now tell you to go to your site’s control panel and find the MX records section.
Create a new entry for each of the entries they give you.
Check the box when that’s complete. The setup guide will now tell you to delete any pre-existing MX entries, so go ahead and do that. (Hint: it’ll be any that you didn’t just enter)
Save the records and check the box on the setup guide.
Now it’s time for the moment of truth. Click the verify domain and set up email button. If all was set up correctly, it’ll tell you that your domain has been verified!
And that’s it! You’ll be able to log into Gmail using firstname.lastname@example.org to start sending and receiving email. They say that it can take up to 48 hours to start receiving email, but in my experience it starts working pretty much immediately.