Google offers free Web sites to Ky. small businesses

Searching for better results for your small business? Online search leader Google is searching for you.

The Internet giant announced Tuesday that it is offering free Web sites to small businesses in Kentucky and hosting a free one-day session in Louisville to train owners and employees on how to best use the online platform.

Business owners may visit to sign up for the sites, which are free for a year. After that, the cost is $2 a month for the domain name and $4.99 a month for Web hosting. Google is rolling out similar plans in other states. The company has partnered with Intuit to use the latter's Web site design tools to create the pages.

In organizing the "Kentucky Get Your Business Online" promotion, the Internet giant based in Mountain View, Calif., partnered with organizations including the Kentucky Small Business Development Center and Commerce Lexington.

"As you might guess, when Google does things, they do it in a big way," said Becky Naugle, state director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center at the University of Kentucky. "They did a very good job of telling us the format and who it would be good for, and that made it easy for us to reach out to our clients and constituents."

After hearing about the program in other states, Naugle said, she and her colleagues had asked Google representatives at trade shows when Kentucky's program would be launched.

"We were really excited when they said they were coming," she said.

Among the business owners who already have taken advantage of the service is Susan Vanstone of Steampunk and More Jewelry in Richmond.

Vanstone, who started, said she found the process easy, "which was very helpful to me because I don't do a lot of Web site design."

"It's really a nice site," she said, "and is coming out well."