This year, Google says it is going to "help businesses, great and small, get the most out of the Internet." The company has selected five small businesses from different areas and given them $100,000 in AdWords spend for the year, along with free consultations with AdWords reps, and free wireless service for the year.
But that's not all. They gave the businesses brand new laptops and smartphones, free "green" environmental consulting, a year of free accounting and financial services, and a free webmaster.
Good PR and marketing for Google services? Obviously, but the company does say it will be helping small businesses like these grow their businesses online for the rest of the year.
"We're looking forward to making big investments in small businesses far beyond these lucky five," says James Croom, Product Marketing Manager with the Google Small Business Team. "Small businesses have long benefited from Google products and services; now our hope is that all small business owners can have greater access to the tools and training they need to develop a cohesive strategy for doing more business online. We started last year by creating the Google Small Business Center and asking small business owners about their biggest wishes for 2011. We received an overwhelming response from business owners who, like the owners of these shops, want to do more business in the clouds in 2011."
It's almost as Google's painting itself as the "savior for small businesses," but that's what Groupon is, according to CEO Andrew Mason. In case you don't get the reference, a new forthcoming Google product called Google Offers was discovered this week, and it is a direct competitor to Groupon, and it looks to be an important part of Google's strategy in the local and small business department.