I was just reading with interest about the Get Your Business Online program from Google, essentially an effort to help small business owners start their own Web sites and get more active on the Internet.
The giant Internet company is rolling out the program across the United States, state by state. It believes that only about 40 percent of small businesses, in any given state, have actually put up a Web site. Its partners in the program include the Association of Small Business Development Centers, SCORE and Intuit. The program was launched at the grassroots level in the summer of 2011.
Some of the latest places to go live under the Get Your Business Online have been California, Georgia and South Carolina. Although the different benefits might vary state-to-state, one of the promotional items intended to inspire smaller companies to get involved is the fact that Google will let small businesses set up a free three-page Web site, along with a free custom domain name and hosting for up to one year. You can also get your small business on Google Places, which is pretty attractive for small businesses trying to reach beyond their local geography.
You can find out the state of your state's participation in the Get Your Business Online program by adding your state name to "getonline.com" (for example, www.newjerseygetonline.com).
OK, yes, Google has a big ulterior motive here in getting more small businesses to make their Web sites searchable on the Internet. But this is a pretty simple program to understand, which is really its beauty. It is another example of how Google tries to make easier to reap the advantages of technology advances, which is ever so important for small-business owners. What will happen beyond the first year is anyone's guess, but I guess we'll find out in the fall when small business owners might actually have to pay for some of these benefits.