Clark Howard: Google wants you on the map

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If you’re a small business owner, it’s easier than you may have heard to establish a web presence.

After launching the Get Your Business Online program several years ago, Google has now re-branded the effort and is calling it Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map.

By logging on and selecting your state, you can have access to the following:

  • Free, easy-to-build website
  • Free customized domain name
  • Free web hosting for one year
  • Free online tools and training
  • Learn how to put more information about your business into Google
  • Get your company verified for Google searches
  • Add information such as location, hours of operation
  • Add photos to enhance the listing
  • Get a diagnostic tool to see how you can improve your listing and visibility

After the first year, you’ll have to pay $16 annually for your domain name and $6 a month for hosting. Additional email support is available after 12 months for a fee.

So the easy part is getting your site up and running. The hard part is getting traffic to your site and updating your info online all the time. Google is hosting free seminars across the country to help you with that part.

For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, you might want to post your daily special each day. If you’re a retail storefront, you’d probably want to post at least a weekly special. A static website that doesn’t get updated won’t engage people. They’ll visit once or twice online and never come back again.

While I like the Google options, my new favorite choices for small business websites are SquareSpace.com and SmallBusiness.Yahoo.com.

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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