Yahoo pitches SiteBuilder for small businesses

In an effort to expand its services for small and medium-sized businesses, Yahoo Inc. is set to introduce a Web site building tool Monday that will be offered free to the company's Web hosting customers.

Yahoo SiteBuilder is just the latest effort by the Sunnyvale, California, company to woo smaller business users, which represent a cash cow for the Internet giant. Yahoo already offers business e-mail, domain registration, Web hosting and e-commerce and marketing services for the sector. Additionally, the company announced last week that it was snapping up commercial search provider Overture Services Inc. to expand its paid listing services.

The combination of these offerings are aimed at creating a one-stop shop for small and medium-sized business users to take care of their online needs, said Rich Riley, vice president and general manager of Yahoo's Small Business group.

SiteBuilder was designed to be a quick and easy site building tool that also offers users the ability to create a unique identity for their businesses on the Web, Riley said.

The tool is aimed at do-it-yourself users, with 206 templates across five vertical industries, such as legal and medical professions, said Tim Roberts, director of product management at Yahoo Small Business.

"We did a lot of research about the kind of tools that are already out there and we think ours is different," Roberts said. SiteBuilder allows users to work offline and to easily view the pages they are building, as well make adjustments, resize images and drag and drop different Web elements, he said.

"SiteBuilder is very intuitive and leads users through step-by-step," Roberts said.

Users can also integrate other Yahoo network tools such as instant messaging. SiteBuilder is based on open standards so if users decide to take their Web site to a developer to work on, the elements they have created can be preserved, he said.

Another differentiating feature of SiteBuilder, according to Roberts, is its navigation management tool, which help users make changes across multiple pages of their site.

The company is also offering over 1,100 copyright-free images that users can add to their sites, and plans to make more available.

Yahoo has aggressively gone after the small and medium-sized business sector in recent quarters and the strategy appears to be working.Yahoo reported earlier this month that its second-quarter revenue jumped 42 percent, partly thanks to the fee-based services it offers to small business users.

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