Google has been slowly rolling out their “Get Your Business Online” free seminar/website initiative worldwide. They first offered a similar program to SMBs in the UK in February 2010. Earlier this year, Google rolled out the program in Ireland and Canada and apparently updated their UK program. Some of the programs have had some fine print but the most recent incarnations seem to offer real value for those businesses that want a minimal and easy to start web presence.
In July of this year Google offered up the first US based “Get Your Business Online” in Texas in conjunction with regional and national partners. Their national partners include Intuit, the Association of Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, and Meetup. The website offered as part of the package (with one year free domain) is a 3 page only version of Intuit’s Websites SiteBuilder. The Intuit commercial product is a 5 page site and costs $7.99/month.
Last week Google offered the seminar/free website program in Burlington and Rutland, Vermont. The kick off seminars in Vermont were done with a large number of not for profit agencies and business development groups including the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Vermont Small Business Development Center Network and others.
With the domains Texasgetonline.com & Vermontgetonline.com and on the ground programs in those two states it seemed possible that Google would be rolling the seminar and free website program nationwide on a state by state basis. On June 25, Google apparently transferred 100 domains to their servers in the format StateGetOnline.com & GetStateOnline for most of the 50 states and an additional overarching domain USGetOnline.com. While the move is certainly a defensive domain acquisition/protection strategy, it seems equally likely that free website program could soon be rolling out nationally.
Minimally the effort should put to rest speculation that Google just wants businesses to have a Places/Google+ pages on their servers and no independent web presence.
Here is a complete list of the domains transferred to Google at the end of June: