More than 50% of Australian small businesses now have a website, according to new Google research, with one in three saying their website has resulted in more customers and sales.
The research comes one year after Google and MYOB launched the Getting Aussie Business Online program, designed to help small businesses make the move online.
The research is based on a survey of 500 SMEs who use the internet for business purposes. According to Google, more than 30,000 businesses have created websites through the program.
Furthermore, two thirds of the businesses that have used the program are located outside of major cities, highlighting the increasingly important role of the internet for regional businesses.
Interestingly, the research reveals Tasmania – not Queensland – had the highest proportion of tourist sites created as a result of the program.
Almost 10% of all Getting Aussie Business Online sites in Tasmania are tourism-related – which is nearly three times the national average – while nearly one in four came from retailers.
However, Queensland had the highest percentage of websites created outside the capital city (84%), while South Australia had the lowest at 49%.
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Not surprisingly, mining state WA leads the country when it comes to websites created in the construction and trades category, which represent nearly 25% of the websites created there.
But overall, NSW had the highest percentage of websites created via the program, at 32.96%, followed by Victoria (26.12%), Queensland, WA, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.
Claire Hatton, Google head of local business, says Google has “learned a great deal” from the businesses that have participated in Getting Aussie Business Online.
“First, the most successful business owners use their websites like a 24/7 employee, allowing them to help their customers around the clock,” Hatton says.
“Second, websites create clicks that you can feel in your ‘bricks’ in the form of more customers to your store.”
“And lastly, a website is just the beginning for most SMEs. They’re building on it to help reach their customers, be found and grow their business.”
Similarly, MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says exploring the demographics of the program participants has been “fascinating”.
“It’s provided a deep insight into the types of business owners who are astute enough to harness the internet’s power to boost their business profile and profit,” Reed says.
“Third-party word-of-mouth flows through to revenue but only goes so far – a website allows the business owner to create their own noise.”
“Getting online also enables them to break down geographical limitations and test out customer demand for new products and services, which… is a top focus for SMEs in 2012.”