Should You ‘Get Your Business Online’ or Use an Agency?
Continuing its quest for total domination of the interwebs, Google launched Get Your Business Online. It started overseas and was slowly extended to different states in the U.S., until this current point, when small to mid-size businesses (SMEs) in all 50 states are eligible for free assistance establishing a web presence through this program.
Maybe Google’s desire to conquer the planet may be less insidious than I lead on, though, because this initiative turns out to be, basically, a new product backed by the power of Google (on the Web side) and Intuit (on the business side) aimed at helping businesses bring their products and services to the Internet. Which is useful, for your business and your customers, regardless of whether you wish to directly sell online.
The good news is, to begin building your site through Get Your Business Online, the majority of your options are offered for free initially.
Small Business Website Freebies
Each account comes with:
- Domain name (free for the first year)
- Web hosting (free for the first year)
- Website (free)
- Business email service (free for the base package)
- Tutorials and guidance for web success from Google
Their simple process, which takes less than an hour to complete, will get even the web novice businessperson up and running. The domain name is registered through Intuit and is offered free for a year. Following the introductory period, keeping the name will cost you a mere $2 a month.
Hosting is also provided by Intuit and is only $4.99 a month. The “website” is free and not much more robust than other free options on the market. You have your choice of designs to go with, and a simple drag-and-drop editing process allows for easy copy and image updates.
They also offer a range of widgets to be used for social media and creating other functionality for your website. Intuit offers a community, as well as expert advice on SEO, and managing the website during the first year is free also. You will have slightly more freedom with the design of your homepage because Intuit offers a sort of fast food version of the web development process for the homepage that goes like this:
- Discuss business needs with a project manager.
- Discuss design motifs and styles.
- Their team will make updates, present revisions, and finalize changes for a price that is a fraction of working with a web agency, but the final product also appears to be a fraction of what you would get for a custom solution if you used an agency, according to what I see in their gallery – http://www.intuit.com/websites/design-services-customers/
- Well, what more do you want for paying next to nothing?
Google also offers e-commerce engines that allow you to sell products on what is boasted as a simple one-page checkout process. This, too, is offered free for a month, but to continue the service, it is $34.98 a month. One bonus of this service is the ability to instantly integrate with Intuit products like QuickBooks, which would certainly streamline business efforts.
Where Does Google Come In?
Well, the process starts with creating or using your Google credentials to open an account. From Google, you get $75 worth of credits for AdWords to start driving users to your new site, along with a Google Local business listing. In addition to support from Intuit, Google provides lessons in their Learning Center for using their suite of products, such as Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, to optimize your site’s traffic and performance.
This is an international effort that could open doors to e-commerce in a quick and efficient manner for anyone with a business and access to a computer. The numbers around the world are staggering when considering the reach of this initiative. Even the numbers just in the U.S. are interesting. When landing on www.gybo.com/florida, you are greeted with this statistic: 68 percent of small businesses in Florida do not have a website.
This website-in-a-box concept is not new at all, but this business-centric effort by Google and Intuit could change the game by pushing more businesses to the web, enriching both companies’ bottom lines while increasing the demand for modern web marketing professionals, like SEO experts, as small businesses around the world set out to carve their niche in the Worldwide Web. Everyone wins?
Bottom line: If you have an $8-15k budget to establish a custom web presence, then don’t waste your time– go pro. But if this website concept is completely new to you and/or you don’t have a large budget, Get Your Business Online is an excellent way to test the waters. It provides a way to learn how to manage and grow a website, understand your online customers, measure, grow, and then make the decision to step it up a notch later, if necessary.
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