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Google to offer free websites to small enterprises

Search giant looks to expand footprint

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To bring small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India to the online space, internet today launched an initiative to offer free website, domain and hosting services to SMBs.

The initiative, dubbed 'India, Get Your Business Online', would provide Indian businesses tools and resources to establish a website, find new customers, and grow their businesses. India is the nineteenth country where Google has launched the service.

With this initiative, Google plans to introduce 500,000 SMBs to the online world in the next three years.

"The initiative aims to break the barriers that stop small businesses from going online by offering quick, easy and free tools to set up and host a website," said Rajan Anandan, managing director and vice-president (sales & operations), Google India.

On how Google would benefit from this initiative, Nikesh Arora, senior vice-president and chief business officer, Google India, said, "We recognise India as a high-growth and high-potential internet market and we are committed to play the role of a catalyst to bring the benefits of the internet economy to SMBs in India."

According to Google, India is home to an estimated eight million SMBs, but only about 400,000 have websites.

The move has been widely cheered by the local advertising and online communities. Arnab Mitra, national director, Starcom MedisVest Group, said, "Empowering SMBs is the need of the hour. I believe the growth of the internet, if it comes, would come from the 'already-not-in' community, be it business or consumers. And, if that is true, who can do it better than the most known, once a of the Silicon Valley, and now the biggest business of the world, Google."

Indian SMBs can log on to www.indiagetonline.in to register for the initiative and get their free domain name. They would, however, need to furnish an identification document, either a permanent account number, or a tax deduction account number or a corporate identification number.

SMBs would be allowed to use the tool to get a free, easy-to-build website and web hosting for one year, and this would be powered by web host firm HostGator. HostGator is partnering Google for the initiative. The web firm would also offer free support in creating, hosting and managing the website for a year without any cost, through its toll-free call centres.

"Businesses often believe that getting online is too complex, costly and time-consuming. This perception prevents many SMBs from taking the first step towards building an online presence. Google India and HostGator plan to change that through this initiative," Anandan said.

After the first year, SMBs would have to pay a nominal charge if they wish to renew their domain name.

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