Google has been in and out of the small business (SMB) web creation and hosting business since 2006. Apparently, it’s making a renewed effort at providing a very basic website creation tool to local business owners.
SMB survey data vary, but a still-meaningful percentage of SMBs don’t have websites. Mike Blumenthal has played with the tool, which is presented in Google My Business (GMB):
It is essentially a super simple single page website builder with very little opportunity for customization or change. Upon access to the Website tab in the GMB, it comes up with a default category specific background image and theme image.
It appears to be pre-populated based on the data on file, with several customization options.
Google’s first effort at something like this was in 2006, with “Page Creator.” That tool no longer exists; it was replaced in 2008 by Google Sites. But at the time of launch, here’s what Google said about it:
Google Page Creator has been designed with ease of use in mind. Its unique interface enables users to edit and create pages just as they appear online, without knowledge of HTML or other computer programming languages. Combined with a simple one-step publishing process, users can create attractive, functional web pages in minutes — hosted by Google for free.
Google Page Creator is a web-based tool, meaning no download is necessary. Users need only visit http//pages.google.com and sign in using their Gmail account to begin creating and publishing their own web pages.
The general rationale was: SMBs that don’t have sites can’t be found in search and, perhaps more importantly, can’t advertise because there’s no landing page.
Google will introduce a free mobile website creation tool in India this year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google has equally tried to help US small businesses develop mobile websites in the past and will likely make a renewed push at some point in the near future.
The GMB-based site builder is undoubtedly responsive (or some version thereof), so it works for mobile. It doesn’t appear that the tool is built on the AMP framework, although that’s not clear from what I’ve seen.
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