Editor's note: This article is cross-posted from the Google Official Blog.
The web is where we go to find things—somewhere to eat tonight, someone to cut your hair or someone to come quickly to tend to your plumbing disaster. Ninety-seven percent of Americans who use the Internet—pretty much all of us—are looking online for local goods and services. Businesses need to be where their customers are. In 2012, that’s online.
Yet, more than half of all small businesses in the U.S. don’t have a website. Many of those businesses are completely invisible in the one place people are looking for them. The impact of being online is real: Businesses that make use of the web are expected to grow 40 percent faster and are nearly twice as likely to create jobs. Since small businesses make up half of the U.S. GDP and contribute two-thirds of all new jobs, the potential impact of getting these businesses (more than 15 million of them) online is enormous. We wanted to help spur a new wave of SMBs on the web, and change the perception that getting online is hard, expensive and time-consuming.
In July 2011, we went to Austin to get Texas businesses on the web. Texas Get Your Business Online helped any business in Texas get a free, easy-to-build website as well as a free, customized domain name and web hosting for one year. The tools and resources made it fast, easy and free for any business in Texas to get online.
The response from the small business community in Texas was tremendous—thousands of businesses started to get online at events throughout the state and on the web. So we decided to expand the program, going state-by-state to get businesses online. At the end of August 2012, we went to Alaska and Hawaii. These were our 49th and 50th states. Just over a year after our experiment in Austin, we’ve brought America Get Your Business Online to all 50 states, with help from ASBDC, Score, Intuit and over 500 local partners. We’ve had more than 20,000 small businesses attend more than 200 events throughout the country.
This is just the beginning of our commitment to get businesses on the web and succeeding online. Today, small businesses throughout the U.S. can get online for free at www.AmericaGetOnline.com. Businesses get a free, easy-to-build website as well as a free, customized domain name and web hosting for one year. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s free.
If you’re a small business, get your business online today. Or, if you know a great business that is not online, use this tool to invite them to the web. Getting America’s businesses online may very well be the fastest, easiest step we can take to grow our small businesses and our economy.