April 5, 2011


GYBO 110x175I went to the launch of Google's Get Your Business Online initiative on March 29, 2011 and was underwhelmed. Been there. Got the t-shirt and lanyard.

Google is providing a free .CA web domain for a year (worth $10-15 at retail) and a free build-your-own website from Yola (already free).

What's The Big Deal?

You already get free sites with Weebly and Google Sites. You can even use a free blog platform as a website. Why the hoopla?

One statistic.

Only 1 million of Canada's 2.2 million small businesses have a website. That's as shocking as a business card without an email address. Maybe the publicity will wake up some companies.

Google feels that two obstacles stop businesses from getting online: cost and complexity.
    That hasn't been my experience. Costs are low and complexity can be outsourced. There's a bigger hurdle.

    The First Step

    The first step is to get online personally. That's because the first thing you sell is yourself. If you're not findable or appealing, what else matters?

    The best way to get online is with LinkedIn. You're guided through the entire process of completing your profile to 100%. You can add content for your company too. Again, you just follow the steps.

    Now you and your business are listed in the modern directory and visible to Google. Congratulations!

    The Real Obstacle

    Businesses stay offline because they need help to get online. Who can they trust? What will it cost?

    There are so many social media fakers with plausible claims. Are any of these familiar?
    You must hire a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert. Twitter solves all problems. Adwords gives you revenue 24/7. You must have an ecommerce-enabled website. Competitors will steal your intellectual property. You can('t) do it yourself. You must start with a marketing strategy. Update your branding first.
    They happen to sell exactly what you need. Predictable.

    What Would Help

    How about removing the risks with
    • Approved vendors with user-generated ratings
    • Fixed price bundles for different kinds of businesses (e.g., products/services, ecommerce/non-ecommerce)
    Costco guarantees your satisfaction with the outside vendors they select for services like printing, painting, air conditioners, etc. There must be some way Google can provide assurances too. Maybe there's an opportunity to partner with schools to help students gain experience (and possibly jobs).

    Maybe Google's initiative will show business that getting online is essential as having electricity. That would be success.


    PS After you get a website, you're still behind since the web is in decline ...


    1. Excellent post Promod. This GYBO offer is little more than a rehashed upsell with loss leader bait.

      You make astute obsersrvations that the hurdles this offer is attempting to overcome are hardly the problem.

      Reading the terms of Service from Yola, one finds they also claim you CANNOT transfer the domain away from them, which is entirely contrary to CIRA's Registrant Agreement. Add that to the fact they want $38 to renew it the next year PLUS their hosting fee... and the rosy glow of the offer quickly fades.

    2. Everything you have pointed out is 100% accurate and true. I was looking through many of the "free website" offerings, and the limitations prevented me from taking advantage of any of them. I figured the GYBO offer was similar, and you've just demonstrated that my assumptions were valid. A lot of hype for nothing. They are just trying to reel in some fish who will then pay too much money for too little in return. I pay $10 a year for my .CA domain with 2 free pseudo email addresses (with email forwarding), I have free hosting and a nice looking free template. Luckily my HTML skills are strong enough to modify the template to my liking. I'm not a pro, but it does the job. I can upload the files via FTP to the server myself. For those who are not computer or software savvy, it might be better to pay somebody $500+ to create a simple, functional and nice looking website. At least you can get something that is somewhat unique looking and you have more control over what you are doing.