Hundreds of small business owners showed up Tuesday for the first of two days of free workshops and tutorials at the Florida Get Your Business Online event organized by search engine Google in Miami.
The goal: to help entrepreneurs set up a site; teach them how to grow their business online and show them how to promote their companies online — demystifying a process that has kept at least 60 percent of small businesses in Florida from launching a Web presence, said Mark Lopez, a Google executive based in Coral Gables.
Jack Phillips drove from Palm Beach Gardens to Tuesday’s sessions to learn how to update game site. His team had paid a young relative to help them set up the site, but communications specialist Phillips, 53, wanted to be able to add videos, photos and text “when the inspiration struck.”
By noon, Phillips said he was happy to know “how to do the basics,” without needing to hire someone.
Entrepreneurs Sharon Kremen and Mercedes Conrado came from Pembroke Pines to learn how to promote the site for their months-old business, mymushymonster.com, which lets children make monster pillow dolls by adding such accessories as eyes, noses and mouths to stuffed pillows.
The two women relished in personal tutorials from Google volunteer Amjad Asad, 22, who taught them basics on how their site might show up higher on search results using keywords on such search engines as Google.
“We had no idea that less is more and not to go overboard with keywords,” said Kremen. “We learned to keep it simple and be specific about what we do,” linking to such words as stuffed animal or plush toy and not tangential terms like candy.
In all, more than 1,000 people from across South Florida were expected at sessions at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami, part of a series of similar events that Google has been organizing in other states for at least two years, Lopez said.
Walk-ins are encouraged for Wednesday’s session from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Entrepreneurs also can go to the site, FloridaGetOnline.com, for the next 12 months to receive online tutorials and set up a site that will be hosted free for the first year by Google’s partner Intuit, Lopez said.
Deicy Martinez of Delray Beach set up a site at the event Tuesday for a business she’s launching, Green Clean Deep, which aims to offer cleaning services for industrial and commercial properties using eco-friendly products. She found tutors helpful and Intuit’s free hosting for a year a welcome bonus.
Yet the savvy Martinez already was thinking ahead to next year to see if it might be cheaper to have a different company host her site later. “I’ll have to compare prices and see what makes sense,” she said.
Google is organizing the events “to build an ecosystem” that will draw more customers to its search engine and allow for more ads on sites it searches, among other services, said Lopez.