Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Google Wants You ... Online, With a Free Website

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 11:34 AM


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Google, indexer to trillions of web pages, is prepared to help Idaho small businesses negotiate Internet traffic. In order to assist more Gem State employers stake their own claim on the Web, the Mountain View, Calif., company is sending a team of Googlers to Boise Friday, July 13, to build free websites.

“It started with some research that we did this year that showed that in Idaho, 58 percent of small businesses don’t have a website,” said Scott Levitan, Google's director of small business engagement from his office in the Bay Area.

Google launched a national effort to help American businesses build websites, in partnership with Idaho's Small Business Development Center, score.org and tech company Intuit. Levitan said companies without websites are missing out on new customers and sacrificing potential new revenue.

“$500 billion is spent on products researched online but purchased offline,” said Levitan.

According to the study, 97 percent of people look for local products and businesses online. Potential customers want access to information on hours, specials, directions and more, he said.

“If you’re looking to go somewhere, or something to eat, or having a plumbing disaster, you look online,” he said.

Yet business owners often shy away from the task of assembling their own website and purchasing domain space, he said, because of concerns that the process is expensive, difficult or time-consuming.

“It boils down to the perception that getting online is really hard, and if I editorialize a bit, it’s a little scary,” said Levitan. “We want to change the perception that getting online is hard.”

To do that, a team of 15 Google employees will make the trip to the Linen Building in Boise, armed with computers and website-building software. Local business owners are encouraged to build a free website, with a year’s worth of free hosting.

“We’ve had tens of thousands of businesses attend our workshops in person, but we’ve had close to 3 million people experience it online,” he said.

After the first year, hosting costs less than $10 per month, according to Levitan.

Idahoans can take advantage of the offer by attending the Google workshop Friday, July 13, between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., or at the Idaho Get Your Business Online website.

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