Free Google workshops will be offered across the United States during the first week of May in an ambitious effort to help small businesses improve their online presence.
Why? Because only 37 percent of small businesses claim or update their local listings on search engines — and Google wants to change that.
Not only that, fewer than 50 percent of small businesses have a website.
Those are all things that can change for the benefit of small businesses.
“Our target goal is to help small businesses get online and succeed thereafter,” said Claire Mudd, head of Americas SMB Marketing at Google, in a phone interview. Google sees education and free assistance as a way for that to happen cost effectively for small businesses.
That’s why Google has partnered with local business organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico to host nearly 1,000 small business workshops during National Small Business Week.
Free Google Workshops and Training
Between May 1-7, 2016, small business owners and staff can attend one of the free Google workshops. Workshop training programs may vary.
Sessions are expected to last from one to three hours, so you don’t need to devote the entire day to it. Workshops will be hands-on and practical, said Mudd. “During many of these sessions representatives will actually sit down with business owners in front of a laptop to set up their website,” added Mudd.
But Google is doing more than offering workshops. As part of its “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” program, Google partnered with StartLogic to offer free websites, domain names and hosting to small businesses for one year to jumpstart their online presence. StartLogic is part of Endurance International Group, which bought the Intuit Websites business back in 2012. That program has helped 250,000 businesses create websites already, added Mudd.
Workshops will be carried out by local city partners, including organizations such as SCORE and the Small Business Development Centers.
Examples of some of the organizations hosting the free Google workshops include: Wayne Main Street in Michigan; Spearfish Chamber of Commerce in South Dakota; Newberry Area Small Business Development Center in South Carolina; and Garland Chamber of Commerce in Texas.
But with nearly 1,000 workshops taking place, so there’s a good chance you’ll find one in your area.
How to Attend Free Google Workshops
To sign up for one of the Google workshops, just go to this website: Google.com/smallbusinessweek
Once you are there, your browser should detect where you are located. It will show you a map with free Google workshops in your local area. Or, you can search nationwide for workshops.
Once you pick a location, you will see a form where you can register right online.
If you can’t attend one of the free Google workshops, no worries. According to Mudd, some session information will be available online.
Google’s Claire Mudd emphasized how important it is to get online as soon as possible — and make sure your presence is mobile optimized, too.
“We are in the midst of a big shift for small businesses and that’s the shift to mobile,” Mudd said.
“Four out of five consumers go online to find information. In everyday life people are grabbing their smartphones to find small businesses. Local searches have doubled in the last year and not surprisingly, 80% of local searches in the fourth quarter of 2014 happened on mobile devices. The unfortunate part is that small businesses today are behind the curve. So we really really want to help small businesses not only get online but be mobile-friendly,” she pointed out.
She added one additional tip for brick and mortar small businesses: not only should you update your Google My Business listing and make sure information is accurate, but add photos. “Photos are compelling,” she said.
“When businesses make these kinds of changes online, it makes a difference,” Mudd concluded.
Don’t wait to seek help (or you may get busy and forget). Sign up for free Google workshops here: Google.com/smallbusinessweek