Yahoo! Adds Site-Building Tool

Yahoo on Monday released a new site-building tool for businesses, as the portal adds to its services geared to small-and medium-sized enterprises.

Subscribers to Yahoo’s Web hosting service will now have free access to Yahoo SiteBuilder, a design tool allowing businesses to quickly and easily design their own Web sites. The drag-and-drop interface requires no prior programming experience.

With the tool, Yahoo continues its push to tap into the lucrative market for small businesses. In addition to Web site hosting, Yahoo offers an array of small-business services, from email to Web stores to micro ad buys. In February, Yahoo teamed with Cisco to build an information center that helps small businesses figure out their networking needs.

In 2002, there were 22.9 million small businesses in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration. It defines small businesses as independent entities with fewer than 500 employees.

The acquisition last week of paid search giant Overture Services, which boasts 88,000 advertisers, was intended to add to these tools for small businesses, as well as add a huge number of potential new clients for Yahoo’s many business services.

SiteBuilder offers over 200 templates for businesses to choose from, with different designs for industry types like professional services, interior design and real estate. Users can tap into Yahoo tools like maps, instant messenger, and search.

The service is free to subscribers to any of three levels of Yahoo’s web hosting service, which offers packages ranging from $11.95 to $39.95 a month.

While Yahoo remains wedded to advertising for the majority of its revenues, the company has grown its premium services greatly. In the second quarter, it took in $69.9 million in fees revenues, a 43 percent increase from the same period a year ago. The fees segment includes Yahoo co-branded DSL service with SBC Communications, its personals business, Yahoo Platinum, and event Webcasting. Fees made up 22 percent of the company’s total revenues in the second quarter.

Competitor Microsoft also offers small-business services through bCentral, which includes email hosting, accounting solutions, and email marketing.

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