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Google and partners offering free .ca domains and hosting for Canadians

Last Tuesday, Google and several partners in Canada including RBC Royal Bank, Rogers Communications, The Globe and Mail, and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) launched the "Get Your Business Online" initiative targeted at small businesses in Canada. This exciting new move offers small businesses in Canada a free .ca domain for one year, paid for by Google. There are also free hosting and free website creation tools provided by San Francisco-based Yola, and free resources tailored for small businesses provided by the other GYBO partners. And finally, as a small cherry topping, Google is including a $75 coupon for advertising on Google AdWords.

Although designed for small businesses, individuals can (technically) take advantage of this offer provided they have a credit card with a Canadian billing address. Don't be alarmed though - the credit card is only used to verify an individual's residency in Canada and will not be charged. In addition, users who prefer to use another hosting service other than Yola may choose to migrate their domain away at no charge after 60 days, as per the CIRA rules.

So what is Google's motivation behind this initiative? According to the Financial Post, in a survey conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of Google, only a million of Canada's estimated 2.2 million small businesses have an online home. 71% of small businesses did consider having their own website, but 66% of respondents felt they lacked the technical expertise to create and maintain web pages, and less than half thought the costs of maintaining these sites was out of their reach.

By boosting the amount of businesses that exist online, in turn that will - in theory - increase advertising revenue for businesses that have a heavy presence online, particularly Google. It's a win for Google, Canada's small businesses, and 80% of Canada's population connected to the Internet.

To get started, head over to www.gybo.ca.

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