Google is announcing a new way to promote and get people to sign up for events online — a gadget powered by Google Friend Connect, the search giant’s service for letting developers add social features to web pages.

Setting up an event is pretty easy: Just enter the basic details like time, location, and relevant images, and Google will generate HTML code that you can add to your site. Then, when people visit your site, they’ll see an event description and a button asking them whether they want to attend. They can sign in using Friend Connect (with a Google, Yahoo, AIM, or OpenID account) to give their answer. The advantage here is that the people see the event and sign up right on your website, rather than visiting another event service like Facebook or Evite. And when a Google user signs up for an event, it’s automatically transferred to their Google Calendar. You can see a sample event here.

Besides offering a cool tool for website owners, this is obviously a good way for Google to promote Friend Connect. (Facebook’s similar service, Facebook Connect, integrates with event sites, mainly so they can publish and promote their events on the social network.) Of course, this is basically just a widget, so it’s better for pared-down event promotion, compared to the more customizable pages offered by Evite or Mypunchbowl. But the biggest drawback is the lack of a central social destination or newsfeed. It’s nice that someone viewing the event description can see that I’m attending, but it would be even better if there was a profile or feed where my friends could be notified.

Of course, that’s a problem inherent to Google’s social initiatives, not just the event gadget, as VentureBeat writer Eric Eldon brought up when Google Connect started rolling out in December.