Google Wants to Help Get Small Businesses Online

Google is broadcasting free virtual workshops this week to help small businesses get their products and services online and in front of more customers.

Google wants to help and encourage more small, local businesses to get a presence online through its "Get Your Business Online Week" events going on virtually through Saturday, March 29.

Through a series of two-hour virtual workshops being conducted online in communities in 43 states, Google is presenting business cases for being online, helping with creating and posting Websites, advice and assistance and more during the events, wrote Amber Shapiro, a member of the Google Get Your Business Online team, in a March 24 post on the Google Official Blog.

The idea, wrote Shapiro, is that by adding an online presence to their business image, even small, local businesses can grow their sales and revenue by reaching out to new customers who are seeking their services and products.

"That's the inspiration behind Get Your Business Online Week, when we come together with local partners to get businesses in our communities online and growing," she wrote. "Starting today, we'll broadcast free virtual workshops for business owners, available to anyone with an Internet connection."

Participating businesses can take in the success stories of other small businesses that have prospered online, like Barkbox, GoldieBlox and Dollar Shave Club, as well as watch step-by-step demos on how to build Websites and get found by customers on Google Search and Google Maps, Shapiro wrote. The online events will also feature interviews with small-business experts who will give helpful advice, as well as workshops about Google tools for businesses, such as Google Apps, Google Trends, Google Alerts, Google AdWords and an introduction to analytics for measuring the success of your business, wrote Shapiro.

"We're also teaming up with small-business organizations across the country, including local chambers of commerce, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE chapters to host live broadcasts of our trainings," she wrote. "You can find a screening closest to you on our Website."

Some of the small businesses that have had success by going online include Green Mountain Bee Farm in Fairfax, Vt., which experienced a fivefold increase in sales, and Christine Fitzpatrick Hair and Makeup in Birmingham, Mich., which brought in 50 percent more clients, according to Shapiro. "Getting online can make a big difference for small businesses—and stronger businesses make for stronger communities. Online businesses are expected to grow 40 percent faster and create twice as many jobs as those that aren't online (according to a BCG Report, "The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity," March 2012), but more than half of America's small businesses currently don't have a Website."

Google has long advocated the idea of helping more businesses create online personas and sales through special events, online seminars and self-help courses.

In April 2013, Google began inviting local small businesses in Kansas City to create their own free Websites and receive a year's worth of free Web hosting so that they can offer their products and services to more customers on the then-fledgling Google Fiber network that was being installed in the area. Google Fiber started bringing its high-speed gigabit Internet and cable television services to the Kansas City area in the fall of 2012 and continues to leverage that investment by getting more local businesses online in an effort to drive the local economy.

Earlier this month, Google offered a free self-paced online course on Google Analytics Platform Principles to help marketers get more from Google Analytics.