Google Offers Free Website & Hosting For Local Businesses August 31, 2011 by Brett Prince Google is constantly striving to enhance products for businesses, and has rolled out a change for San Francisco, CA and Charlotte, NC – city pages will now highlight Google Places pages and Google Offers for small, local businesses within these areas. City pages were introduced back in mid-June, available for Austin, Texas, Madison, Wisconsin; Portland, Oregon; and San Diego, California. City pages present website owners with a local dashboard, allowing them to see their local business analytics from products such as Google Offers and Google Places. City pages are also valuable for general users, allowing them to search for top rated places, finding deals of interest, reading about community spotlights, search for upcoming local events, and filter through options that Google presents, using a descriptive word such as “vegetarian” or “coffee”. It will be interesting to see how city pages continue to evolve and what sort of presence they’ll begin to have on Google+. Want a Free Website? Google’s Here To Help Google Places can be great for users to research business and get a feel for what they’re about, however Google is about progression, and they want more local businesses online. To do so, they have launched an initiative targeted to small business owners to help remove the barrier of web development, helping them get a website up as quickly as possible with minimal cost. This program originated in the UK, and with success, has also spread into the Canadian and Australian markets. It is now creeping its way into the U.S. “Get Vermont Online” is an initiative that offers a local business a free domain name, access to a website builder, and one year of hosting to get everything started. Google also appears to be preparing for a nationwide campaign, registering “gettexasonline.com”, as well as others. Google is working with partners to offer the program for free, including Intuit, who has provided a limited version of their website builder that will allow a new webmaster to design up to three pages to create their website. The reality is that 50% of small businesses do not have a website and are therefore invisible to the 90% of consumers who are searching online for local businesses. By launching this initiative, this gap has big potential to close by supporting businesses as they’re introduced to the online world.