Google launches free websites for US small businesses

With so much headline space being devoted to Google+ in recent weeks - and Google itself admitting that its new social networking product isn’t ready for businesses just yet - business users may have been feeling a bit unloved by the company of late. But while Google+ may not be the best home for businesses right now, a new Google initiative renews the company’s commitment to driving growth in small businesses through online opportunities.

The first of a series of “Get Your Business Online” sites launched yesterday in Texas and will be the model for a range of sites that will soon sweep across the United States. TexasGetOnline.com offers an easy three-step sign-up process for small businesses in Texas that provides them with a simple three-page website including hosting and a domain name, and is free for a year. After that, you can hold onto the domain for $2 a month and hosting will set you back $4.99 a month – or you can choose to cancel instead. Email-only support is only offered free of charge for 30 days.

The initiative also provides a website builder tool as well as a free business listing on Google Places, and $75 of credit to use on Google AdWords. Serial entrepreneurs with multiple businesses will be pleased to hear that they can sign up each of their companies for the deal.

Google points out that some 51% of small businesses in Texas still don’t have any kind of online presence (whether in the form of a dedicated website or through social networking services), and that the Get Your Business Online service aims to debunk the perception that getting online is too difficult or expensive to be worth the bother.

Amy Chang, Director of Product Management at Google pointed out that most small business owners already understand the value of the internet as consumers and that by helping them to easily and quickly get their businesses online, they can tap into the “huge opportunity to find new customers, increase sales and grow their businesses.”

With the initiative set to spread to other American states in the months ahead (indeed, Google has already registered dozens of domains in preparation for this roll-out), this will no doubt generate additional business relationships for its new Groupon-style daily deals service, Google Offers (currently in beta).

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