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Google has just launched a new way for small businesses in Canada to get online. This move sees the search engine monolith ensuring that small business have a web presence.
Google has partnered with San Francisco-based web hosting company Yola Inc., a company specialising in do-it-yourself websites.
The initiative, titled Canada Get Your Business Online, offers free websites, web hosting, web addresses and a bonus coupon for US$100 worth of advertising with Google’s online ad network AdWords for Canadian companies.
“We work with tens of thousands of small businesses, and the one thing we found is that those who have a website have an easier time of attracting customers,” says Chris O’Neill, Google’s country director for Canada.
Google estimates that less than one million of the 2.2-million or so small businesses in Canada have a web presence – a remarkably small figure given Canada’s status as a emerging market.
Yola.com, founded by current CEO Vinny Lingham in South Africa will work on a 12-month trial basis with Google as the project hosts websites for small business across Canada.
“As a small business website creation provider, we are excited to be part of the ‘Canada Get Your Business Online’ initiative,” explained Vinny Lingham, in exclusive discussion with Memeburn. “A professional online presence is one of the best tools that a business can use to connect with their customers, promote their services and ultimately grow their business. By providing Yola to Canadian small businesses for free, we want to help everyone get past the online barrier to entry quickly and easily.”
According to an Angus-Reid survey commissioned by Google 71% of small business owners considered that they should have a website, but many just didn’t have the time to learn the necessary skills to create one from scratch.
However, nearly two-thirds of respondents said setting up a website was beyond their technical know how, while nearly half felt they couldn’t afford the costs of establishing an online home, according to a report by the Financial Post.
“One of the things Google is very good at is simplifying things for consumers and for small businesses,” O’Neill said.
So what are the benefits to Google? O’Neill says everybody, including technology companies like Google, wins when consumers have access to more businesses online.
While Google’s actions may sound benevolent, they certainly are useful – and they make clear business sense for the world’s biggest search engine.
“When the internet is better for consumers, when it’s better for business, it’s easier for anyone with an internet business to make a return on that,” acknowledges O’Neill.
“Our focus is really to make the internet a great place for small businesses and really help them out,” he added.
The set up is simple enough. When users visit the new Google site, they will be asked to select a web address, choose a template and then upload the necessary information to kickstart their online venture. Once the 12-month free trial is up, Google says companies will have the option of continuing to host their site with Yola, or move the site to a different hosting company.
At present there is no limit to the size of a company that can sign up for the program. Google first launched the Get Your Business Online initiative in the United Kingdom and has also launched the service in Australia. Google has yet to launch the service in the United States or an emerging market. Most believe it’s simply a matter of time.
Its current partnership with Yola for the rollout in Canada is a new addition. Yola has over five million registered users, four million published sites and is localised for translation into six different languages