Virginia Get Your Business OnlineRecently, Google® (with very short notice) announced that it would be doing this Virginia, Get  Your Business Online two-day Small Business educational, free conference. The basic premise of the event program was, according to Google’s literature, to provide small businesses with “an easy, free, and fast way to get your business online.” They provided a website courtesy of Intuit® (including a domain and hosting for one year), a free Google Places listing for your local business, and additional free resources and information on their website. These programs are a series of worldwide events being hosted by Google in partnership with several other businesses and economic development organizations. I wanted to point out the good parts of the program still accessible online (even if you missed the live events), some of the items to avoid, and some highlights from the program materials.

What’s Online

THE GUIDE
Google provided a fantastic guide  [PDF] (if that link doesn’t work, I’ve uploaded it here [Google Docs PDF] for safekeeping if VGYBO goes offline for some reason) with some valuable resources and information for the enterprising Small Business entrepreneur looking to get online. It’s a worthwhile investment to read and digest the materials. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and Ray will be happy to help answer questions.

THE SITE
The website itself offers free and affordable resources, most importantly the partner-organizations (such as the small business development centers, economic development authorities, tourism and convention bureaus, chambers of commerce, and membership organizations that support Small Business). If you’re a Small Business in one of the states already or soon to be in Google’s Get Your Business Online events, I’d give a healthy review of the sites that partner for the events because they probably have free or low-cost solutions for you to enhance your marketing and operations.

ADWORDS CREDIT
They give you 75$ worth of AdWords credit. ‘nough said? Learn more about google.com/ads/learn and google.com/adwords/onlineclassroom to become a savvy eAdvertiser on the world’s most popular advertising platform.

Avoid

1) The free domain and website through Intuit. Based on my anecdotal experience and that of my clients, I’ve seen too many horror stories of people getting duped into staying with a sub-par service of large conglomerates that are not in the Web design and hosting service primarily. They’re capturing your business because they have the brand awareness to tack on a less-than-stellar service by making it sound easier than it really is. If you’re going to launch a Starter Website, go with Google Sites and pay ±10$ to control your own domain name.

2) AdWords Express. It’s expensive. It’s generic. And, AdWords allows targeted, affordable and effective advertising online.

Tips

1) Share your story.

2) Make sure to claim your Google Places listing and add Offers (coupons/value-adds) immediately! –  google.com/placesforbusiness

3) Head over to Google Webmaster Central and learn about how the tool will help you manage your website better for greater SEO and less technical headaches. – google.com/webmasters

4) Add the +1 button to your website as soon as possible and get familiar with Google+ (annotations show to Gmail chat buddies, Google contacts, Google+ circles, Google Reader followers, and more to come). – add Google +1 button code

So, that’s how to get your business online with Google! We hope you go ahead and check out some of the resources and please let us know in the comments what you find is the most helpful (or not) about the program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Your Business Online with Google
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