Google says it is giving local businesses a leg up getting on the Web through its launch yesterday of Texas Get Your Business Online.”
But I see a deeper advance into the culture of local business so Google can better template small business needs to the Google suite of services, most notably Google+.
Google was quick to say there is no connection between its effort to provide free websites to small business in Texas and the much awaited Google+ beta for brands.
“Texas Get Your Business Online is a totally separate program from Google+” said Rob Shilkin of Google’s communication’s department. “It is essentially aimed at getting businesses online.”
Well, of course. I’m curious because helping businesses move online is the same world occupied by 435 Digital. For 435 Digital, as the news moves to the Internet, it makes sense to help local businesses and causes — community members and potential online advertisers — understand all the marketing tools available to them, including the free tools of social media. [As important, 435 Digital offers web building and SEO services. ]
But in the Texas Get Your Business Online initiative, Google offers no social media support. This isn’t surprising – Google isn’t likely to encourage its new web owners to pay attention to its competitors, Facebook and now Twitter. But it is a gaping hole in assistance, since social media is an incredibly cost-effective tool for small businesses. Here’s what Google says it is providing through the yearlong program that it says it could expand to other states.:
How-to Guide for Getting Your Business Online
This workbook will show you what’s needed to get your business online and then walk you through the process. The chapters are easy to follow, with tips for success from some of the country’s leading marketing specialists. The tips are even broken down by time required and complexity. So dive in:
- Create your website
- Drive visitors to it
- Get found online in your town
- Build a loyal set of fans
- Serve your customers wherever they are
- Measure and learn what works
Of course, Google sees the huge number of businesses not yet online as an enormous market opportunity. Google cites these stats: 27.5 million small businesses operate nationwide; they constitute half the U. S. GDP; they create two-thirds of all new jobs. In Texas, Google says, 51% of small businesses do not have a website or online presence. That is an enormous market opportunity if one assumes all businesses will be online some day.
Google was the lead agency pulling together an impressive alliance of 10 economic development partners statewide to launch Texas Get Your Business Online. In terms of economic development, this is a beauty thing.
As I write, they are partying in Austin, the plan being that roll out events July 19 and 20 would attract at least 1,000 businesses to sign up. But Google says the sky is the limit: as many as 10,000 Texas businesses could sign up through Texas Get Your Business Online site, which promises a fully built website in 60 minutes. Intuit is the partner providing web hosting and building.
“Our role is one of connection,” said Rebecca Martin, senior vice president of marketing for the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “We want to connect our members to opportunities that will make then prosper. Martin said Google has a significant presence in Austin and that Google was the lead agency forming the partnership.
The Austin Chamber cited its innovative and hospitable small business culture as a lure for the Google pilot. “We’re a fun place to live and it is also the kind of place that nurtures start-ups, while supporting large and mid-sized companies that really are the backbone of the economy,’ Martin said.
Austin has served Google launches before, Google Places for one.
Since the launch of Google+ we are living in a world of shifting contingencies, a major one being that we don’t know how Google+ affects search engine optimization, although there is some speculation.
The Google folks I spoke with pointed out — as we reported here — that Google+ will be announcing its beta brand approach in a few weeks or months. OK. We look forward to that.
But I just had a crazy thought. What if there won’t be a brand approach within a social network called “Google+” like there is within Facebook? What if instead brands will be served on Google+ through a new variant algorithm/ SEO yet to be unveiled that will live large on the Internet? Could Texas be a beta?
This is sheer science fiction and speculation. So let’s call it a crazy thought for crazy times. One thing is for sure, we’ll know soon enough.