Google Australia recently announced a business stimulus offer, to help Australias 1.88 million SMEs speed up in the economic slowdown.

Google is offering them a complimentary $75 search marketing campaign, to help them to reach new customers and drive sales in tough times.

In the current economic climate, Australians are increasingly heading online to research products and services, with search engines central to online navigation, research and comparison shopping.

The announcement will help put Australias small businesses in front of potential customers at the precise moment that theyre looking for information.

SEM has become increasingly popular in Australia over the past 12 months, with thousands of businesses embracing the benefits of measurable, cost-effective and targeted advertising programs such as Google AdWords. SMEs who are new to Google AdWords can access the Google $75 stimulus offer before 30 June 2009 at google.com.au/stimulus.

Julian Persaud, Google Australias head of online, said:

At Google, we want to help propel the Australian digital economy. The Internet drives efficiencies and opens new markets. Encouraging more Australian businesses to connect with customers online is a major part of that vision.

Jaye Radisich, CEO of the Council of Small Business of Australia, said:

COSBOA welcomes this initiative which will give many small businesses a kickstart in the important online environment and potentially put millions into the small business sector. Wed like to see more companies supporting Australian small business with creative offerings like this, as this will boost the overall economy and directly assist a sector that employs over four million Australians.

Both online and bricks-and-mortar businesses will benefit from the stimulus offer. Research shows that many Australians are doing their research online and then heading in-store to buy. Monashs Australian Centre for Retail Studies has found that 50% of Australian shoppers research their retail purchases online before they get to the store to buy.

The same trend is evident for Australians researching holidays, and even businesses buying corporate supplies.

In Australia, weve seen strong growth in search queries over the past 12 months. Australians are going online to research their purchases more carefully, whether its a new lamp, a restaurant booking or a business stationery supplier. Google is in a great position to help all Australian businesses capitalise on this increased activity, Persaud said.