Google Reaches Out To Texas Businesses With Free Websites, Marketing Help

Google’s latest effort to increase small business adoption of its products and services is a program called Texas Get Your Business Online that offers a free website, free hosting, domain name, a business listing on Google Places and additional marketing help.

The effort is being accompanied by an aggressive promotion campaign, like the heavy and impossible-to-miss advertising on the Austin-American Stateman’s website today.

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The free website and services are good for one year. After that, the website will cost $5 per month and the domain name $2 per month. Google reps have been in Austin Tuesday and today to meet small business owners face-to-face and get them started on the program, and are headed to San Antonio later in the week for more of the same.

The small business consultant in me would never recommend cookie-cutter websites services such as this, but it’s an interesting and probably smart move on Google’s part. Texas is the company’s first US-based launch of the program. It may be coincidental that the Texas Attorney General is still investigating Google’s search practices — an investigation that began last July. Intentionally or not, the Texas Get Your Business Online program may earn Google some extra goodwill there.

Earlier this year, Google launched similar programs in Canada at GYBO.ca and in Ireland at GettingBusinessOnline.ie. Google has also been extremely active in promoting its Google Places (and previously Hotpot) products and services to small businesses with similar feet-on-the-ground efforts across the US.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Business Issues | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Marketing

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.seo.com/ T.B.

    This is definitely a huge push for Google Places. If they take this type of initiative to other states, it will be very nice. It would be good to see cleaner Maps. Right now, I feel as if businesses aren’t really sure about what they are doing with their listings. It can be frustrating going through the clutter and multiple listings when a client only means to do well. Simplifying the process of adding a listing to Places and integrating it into a service like this could make it extremely viable for smaller businesses to at least be found on the web which is a problem.

    The questions that I have are: why Texas and not California, Washington, etc.? Austin is the most “techy” in the state, for sure, but it wouldn’t hold its own against the west coast. Could it be that the most problems with the Places listings are there? Will this initiative make it outside of Austin? I’ve lived in east Texas for a short while, and those folk need the phone book and that is about it. Also, will this somehow be integrated with the Google+ business listings that will be coming out some time within the year? All-in-all, this is going to be great for the little guy. It should make owning a site more manageable.

    Thanks for the post, Matt. I didn’t know about the pushes in Canada and Ireland. It shows that Google is serious about this new initiative.

  • http://ifdebug.com Alistair Lattimore

    Google & MYOB announced the Getting Aussie Business Online in March 2011, aiming to get 50,000 Australian small businesses online.

    While I don’t advocate the cookie cutter approach for a website as they can be a little lack luster in quality, the hurdle for most small businesses is getting online in the first place so that t hey can begin to realise the benefits of the internet and the opportunities it can bring.

    Ultimately, I hope they are both a raging success – it is good for business.

  • http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/ Linda Buquet

    Re: Canada,

    After I broke this story at my blog yesterday, Jim Rudnick commented:

    “updating @Linda, the GYBO program up here in Canada….in early June, my last update from a Google contact within the Canuck program…there have been 6000 brand new websites created and 7000 brand new domains created at the same time! ”

    T.B. asked: “Will this initiative make it outside of Austin?”

    Yes according to the source I quoted yesterday “Many more stops are planned, including one in San Antonio later this week.

    Google hopes to get at least 100,000 of the 2.5 million small businesses statewide online within the next year, helping to make its Google Maps and Google Places offerings even more robust. ”

    Interesting strategy and must be costing a boatload when you look closely at all the resources they are tying into this campaign. But they’ll likely make it back in spades from all the new Adwords/Boost customers this will bring them.

    Linda

  • http://www.backyardstudios.net Roberto X Miranda

    This is really great news for small Texas businesses, unless of course the company you work for is a San Antonio website design company. I’m curious and a bit nervous to see how successful this venture turns out to be.

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