Google India, in partnership with ICICI Bank and HostGator (the web hosting company), has launched a new program called India Get Online where they make it easy for you to setup a website for your business for free (see video).
As part of the deal, you get a free .in web domain (provided it is available) and free web hosting for one year. The .in domain will registered to you while Hostgator will manage the website hosting* though you can move the site to any other web host for free.
Such free offers are always a goldmine for spammers but Google India has made it mandatory for businesses to enter their Permanent Account Number (PAN) or Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN) at the time of registration. Since these numbers are unique for every individual / business, you can’t avail it more than once.
Your website will be integrated with Google Apps so you also get access to other Google products like Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Docs and more. You also get Google Adwords coupons worth INR 2.5k for free to help you advertise your website on Google and AdSense network sites.[*] If you have purchased a web domain already, you can also use Google App Engine to host your website online for free.
You can visit vijashiviinternational.in or khoslaprinters.in to get an idea of how sites created with the “India Get Online” look like. There’s a set of ready-made web templates, pick one that matches your business profile, you can customize the text and pictures of the pages and your site is good to go.
Google hasn’t exactly specified the amount that businesses will have to pay to renew their website registration and hosting after one year except saying that it will be a “discounted fee.”
Microsoft had a offered a similar service in India called Office Live for Small Businesses but they recently discontinued it in favor of Office 365 which is less about website hosting but more about running your business in the cloud.
How to Create a Website with Google
The following video will walk you through the whole process of registering your .in web domain and then setting up your website using one of the available themes.