Google’s free website builder for small business in South Africa, Woza Online, is pulling the plug on thousands of sites in March 2015.
Google Business Sitebuilder websites for users who signed up through the South Africa Woza Business Online program will no longer be visible from 28 February 2015, Google said.
Site owners will have to recreate their sites on another Google service or migrate to a different host.
Admins will still be able to log in to their accounts to retrieve photos and text until May 1 2015.
Woza online launched in South Africa in 2012, and quickly grew to host over 40,000 SME websites on the platform.
However, the platform became a hot-bed for online fraudsters and scammers, notably with reported cases of credit card detail harvesting arising from fake sites.
Online marketplace Bidorbuy.co.za previously warned its users against scams arising from the Woza Online platform, and fraudulent sites database, Artists Against 419 noted a number of scams coming from the service.
Where to now?
Woza Online will be ‘replaced’ by Google My Business, another free business service which creates a public profile for businesses, offering easier visibility on Google Search, Google Maps and Google+.
Google says that Woza users can either recreate their basic business information on Google My Business, or sign on with its “trusted partner”, Hostgator (a paid-for service), to continue their website, with My Business integration.
Google said the Woza online switch-off would not affect any existing Google accounts or emails, but any purchased domain names would need to be transferred onto a new hosting platform.