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.
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.