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How Google can help small businesses create an online presence.
When you are looking for a job, it's easy to think that almost every company has a website. It seems that these days, most of the business of connecting with companies takes place online instead of in person. While it's true that the majority of companies use their websites to promote their products and services and as a starting point for prospective new employees, not everyone is taking advantage of this digital era of connectedness.
Did you know that more than 50 percent of small businesses don't have a website? Without an online presence, these businesses are virtually invisible. When local people use their smartphones and other mobile devices to look for resturants, coffee shops, bookstores and the like, they end up missing out on these places. It's a shame, and both the business owner and the customer lose out. However, Google is trying to change all that.
Here are the two ways that Google can help:
- Google Places - Google Places is search engine that allows users to search for places near them and get reviews and even direction. For example, using my mobile device, I can search Google Places for bookstores and see a listing of all of the bookstores in the local area. I can scroll through the results that include customer reviews, store hours, locations, phone numbers and even directions for finding the place. It's very useful for companies that have an online presence, but those who don't are often left out. Now, Google has started a new service that helps even the playing field. With the addition of City Pages in mid-June, Google has been able to give local businesses in certain areas a tool to control how their business is presented on Google Places and other Google services. City Pages makes it easy for users to search for local businesses by keywords like "vegetarian", "fun atmpshere" "family friendly" and so on.
- Free websites, provided by Google - This project is still in the early stages, but it might be the most promising of all. In addition to the expanded Google Places capability, Google has also started an initiative to help those same small businesses get a website up and running. Here in the U.S, the first roll out of the campaign is in Vermont. The project "Get Vermont Online", offers area businesses a free domain name, an easy to use website builder and one year of free web hosting. Here is a video explaining the program.
If you don't live in Vermont, but want to take advantage of the service, don't worry. It seems as though this same program is going to be launched nationwide at some point. Recently Google has purchased about a hundred new domain names in the "Get
It will be interesting to see how these initiatives will help and what type of differences will going digital have for local businesses and customers.
What do you think about this project. Do you think that many companies will participate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for FinancialJobBank and Nexxt. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.