Google politely asks Minnesota's small businesses to get a website

Categories: Business
Google: Still a twinkle in Minnesota small business owners' eyes.
Google, one might think, has this whole internet thing figured out. And Minnesota, one might think, is a technologically sophisticated state, wired from corner to corner.

As it turns out, Minnesotans have a lot of room to grow in terms of internet usage, and Google is essentially saying, "Come on in, there's plenty of room."

According to Google -- which, at this point, knows almost every fact there is -- 60 percent of Minnesota's small businesses don't even have a website. If you take "small business" all the way down to the most basic level of a single, self-employed person, that could mean as many as 400,000 Minnesota businesses that don't have a web presence, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Because it needs full participation in its "take over the world and then Step 2" project, Google's offering Minnesota's small businesses a free crack at joining the rest of earth on the world wide web.

Google's one of the sponsors of the "Minnesota Get Your Business Online" -- not to be confused with "Vermont Get Your Business Online" or "Ohio Get Your Business Online" --  as part of the company's bossy new promotion to push old-fashioned small businesses into this internet thing. Other partners on the project include both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Chambers of Commerce and the Minnesota Association of Non-Profits.

Thumbnail image for eric schmidt google franken testimony.jpg
Google CEO Eric Schmidt can't explain search results... maybe try Googling it.
Speaking of nonprofits, Google's end of the deal is that Minnesota's small businesses will get one free year of website hosting from the California behemoth. Earlier this month, at a conference in St. Paul, 900 local businesses took them up on that offer, MPR reports.

The national numbers Google provides are pretty staggering: Something like 97 of Americans look online for products or services, but 59 percent of small businesses don't have a web presence. This sounds like a great recipe to make small businesses into tiny businesses.

So, Google's asking them to cast out into the darkness, taking Google's hand and believing in CEO Eric Schmidt's strong assertion -- "I think so," he said -- that its search results are fair.

Steve Grove, head of news and politics at Google and Youtube -- man that sounds like an important job -- told MPR that a lot of reluctant business owners think that getting their stuff online will be too expensive or too complicated.

"People think, 'Oh, I need to have like a special IT guy' or 'I need to know how to write computer code in order to get on the web,'" Grove said. "But in fact it's actually super easy."

Oh, no. Is this going to be like when your grandparents got an answering machine? Are the small businesses of Minnesota now going to flood Google's search results with a ton of websites called "Website name here" and "Peggie's Venison Jerky Website name here"?

Come on, small businesses. Minnesota's got a good reputation online. Don't screw this up for us.

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A PERSON HAS “THE RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN” on the internet! One has the right to not have their name show up in Google or other search engine queries. A person also has the right to control what and how any information shows up about them in any search engine query. The same goes for other social media, technologies and web services like US Search or Facebook. A person should also be allowed to NOT be tracked by your cell phone/tablet/PDA. It's gotten way too easy and TOO DANGEROUS. This needs to be changed. I WANT THE ABILITY TO OPT OUT OF GOOGLE / SEARCH ENGINE QUERIES and anything that tracks my whereabouts. It’s that simple. It’s my right. It’s a Constitutional issue. It’s time to start contacting our legislators and begin agitating for this.


I wonder if Google is trying to shoe-horn their way into the state in hopes that the state government, which currently has their email hosted with Microsoft, will switch over to Google email.  

Kerrigan Marois
Kerrigan Marois

I agree with the idea, but yes, this will definitely hurt local freelance professionals. Many small business owners still don't have the time to set this up. As of now I am creating a new product. Setting up your template, content and hosting for them. 

Irving Briscoe
Irving Briscoe

Whoever wrote this is awesome lol. Great article. 


This seems kind of like bad news for local freelance web designers & programmers as of yet lacking national clout. Way to support local small-business Chamber of Commerce.

Peter Gamache
Peter Gamache

Google says, "One year free." just like the local crack dealer says, "First hit free!"

Frankly, lots of small businesses don't need a website.  As for the ones that probably should but don't put forth the effort; that's fine.  Thinning the herd and making room for new, tech-savvy competitors is the way of the world.

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