Are you about to lose your free Google website?

NewsCategory
5 min read
John Coomer

If you have a free Google website for your business via Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), then you need to create a new website before your Google site is permanently switched off on 1 March 2024.  

If your website address ends in .business.site, you have a free Google website.  

Read on to find out everything you need to know and do. 

What will happen to my free Google website after 1 March? 

Between 1 March and 10 June 2024, customers looking for your Google Business Profile website will be redirected to your Business Profile instead.  

Example Google profile

Your Business Profile contains basic information about your business like your: 

  • Physical address 
  • Business phone number  
  • Operating hours 

This information is used to populate Google Search and Google Maps. 

After 10 June 2024, customers trying to open your Google Business Profile website will receive a “page not found” error message instead.  

What to do before 1 March 2024 

It’s virtually impossible to run a business without a website these days. 

Nearly 80% of all Australian small businesses view their websites as integral to their operations.  

Over 97% of Australian businesses are classified as small businesses because they have fewer than 20 employees.  

While it may be frustrating that you must replace your free Google website before 1 March due to Google’s recent announcement, you can use it as an opportunity to improve your online image.  

Free Google websites have had many limitations, including: 

  • Not much opportunity to customise the design and text to suit your business needs 
  • Limited e-commerce functionality 
  • No blogging feature (which limited your site’s search performance) 

Since your free Google website is about to be switched off, you can minimise any disruption to your customers (and your bottom line) by following 5 simple steps.  

Step 1: Search for your own domain name  

Searching for an available and suitable domain name for your business is a crucial first step if you don’t already have one.  

A few tips: 

  • Keep it as similar as possible to your existing URL (without .business.site) 
  • Choose a name that is short and easy to type (one that doesn’t contain unusual spellings, abbreviations, numbers or hyphens, as these web addresses can more easily be mistyped) 
  • Use keywords that describe your business and the services you offer (learn how to find yours here) 
  • Include your geographic location, especially if you sell primarily locally 

Check to see if the domain name you want is available now

Once you’ve found the right domain name for you, act fast and register it as soon as possible. This will prevent any other person or business from registering and using your ideal web address. 

Step 2: Choose a DIY tool to quickly build a new website 

User-friendly tools like GoDaddy’s free website builder contain crucial features like: 

  • Pre-built templates that have all the coding already done for you – just replace the text and photos with your own 
  • Built-in tools for search engine optimisation (SEO) to help your new site get found online 
  • Easy-to-use blogging, social media and e-mail marketing tools 
  • Limited sales functionality (to launch an online shop check out Online Store)
  • SSL encryption that protects both your customer’s privacy and your business reputation 
  • Fast and reliable web hosting that keeps your site available and loading quickly 

If you’re after a custom look for your new website, consider affordable and professional web design services.  

Your website is often the first impression potential customers get about your business.  

Blooms by the Bay online store
Read how Hannah Manewell built an online store for her floral shop in NSW.

And as the old saying goes, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” 

Step 3: Update all your online business listings  

All your online business listings will need to be updated to point to your new web address. This includes your: 

  • Google Business Profile 
  • Social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and TikTok 
  • Google Ads and social media advertising campaigns that may point to your old web address 
  • Any local search directories that may contain your soon-to-be-switched off free Google website 

Making all these updates before March 1 will minimise any online disruptions to your business. 

Step 4: Update all your print material 

This includes things like: 

  • Letterheads 
  • Business cards 
  • Signage 
  • Brochures, flyers & catalogues 
  • Labels, shipping supplies and any other print materials that may have your old web address on them 

You’ll also want to change the URL on your email signature. 

Step 5: Tell all your customers 

Be proactive and inform your customers about your web address change as soon as your new site is live.  

Use all of the communication channels at your disposal to announce the change — email, social media, text. 

After all, you don’t want them typing in your old address and getting a “page not found” message after 10 June this year.  

If they do, they will probably mistakenly assume that you’ve gone out of business and go to one of your competitors instead.  

Key takeaways 

Few small business owners will welcome the news that the website they’ve been using must be replaced. But it’s your chance to sharpen and refine your business image.  

So to recap: 

  • Free Google websites that have a web address ending in .business.site are being permanently switched off on 1 March 2024 
  • Businesses that have these websites should complete 5 simple steps to avoid any online disruption 

This is your opportunity to enhance your online presence! 

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