What Is Google Sites?

Google Sites is a website builder software available for anyone with a Google Account for free. It lives on Google Drive and is marketed with Sheets, Docs, Drawings and more.

If you have a google account, you can create a free Google Sites website here. But before you jump in, read more below about the Pros and Cons of Google Sites as well as other solutions that might be a better fit for you.

Google Sites | Simple Analogy

Using Google Sites is analogous to leasing a table at a farmer’s market, where using a Wix site is like running a business in a leased storefront. Running your own WordPress website on a self hosted account is like owning your business and running it out of your building on your property.

Google Sites PROS

1. Price : Google Sites

FREE! ‘Free’ is the most compelling aspect of Google Sites.
When signed into your personal Google account, you can go to sites.google.com to get started.

If you’re a paying G Suite for Business user, Sites is bundled with your subscription along with all the backups, administrative controls, and guarantees that come with your account.

2. Integration : Google Sites

Sites is fully integrated with Google’s products. With the new Google Sites, it has all the same Material Design conventions of Google’s other products.
Your site is saved directly in your Google Drive, you can access it anywhere with any device, and you can download it along with your other data from Google Takeout.

There are no additional passwords or account setup and it’s fully integrated.

3. Simplicity & Security : Google Sites

Google Sites is simple and straightforward to use. A multi-page functional website can be quickly created.  Google handles your security issues which is the same as your email account.

4. Speed & Sharing : Google Sites

Google handles speed considerations well, resulting in lean HTML / CSS product on fast servers and available worldwide.

Since it is fully integrated with your Google Account – Sites is simple to share & preview. You can create & collaborate on a website as easily as you can on a Google Doc.

Google Sites CONS  (Many!)

1. Limited Features

Google Sites is  feature-limited and not meant for long-term website projects, but good for short-term, quick projects.

There are very few templates to choose from, and  templates limit what can be edited.

2. CSS can’t be added or edited

No CSS means that we cant customize the site to display as we want it to look.

3. Can’t Embed Details

The tools are all Google Drive related design tools, and there’s some embedding, but can’t edit the embed details.

4. Edit Layout Details Can’t Be Edited

Although templates look good, layouts can’t be edited or any of the core parameters.

5. Templates impose strict limitations

Templates look good on all devices but impose strict limits on everything.
Building brand identity or a custom build design is impossible.

6. Limited SEO & Marketing Features

Google Sites marketing features are very limited. We get limited Google Analytics access with only critical data like Sessions and Pageviews. Facebook Pixel, Share Buttons or Redirects can’t be added. SEO is very poor. It’s not possible to edit  Title tags or meta descriptions.  Check out Seo Services for Small Business to learn more about my SEO service.

 If you plan to grow your business,  Google Sites is not a good option.

7. Custom Domain Setup

All Google Sites use https://sites.google.com/[yoursitename] as the default domain name. There is no option to add a custom domain name. The lack of a custom domain name is a major negative for Google Sites. A custom domain name is necessary for any serious business or long-term project.

8. Future-Proofing

Google is known for killing off products and they could kill your website in the future!   Google Sites does seem to be a core part of Google’s productivity suite but that could change at any time (such as happened to Classic Google Sites).

9. No FTP Access

While you can export your data as part of Google’s Takeout program, there’s no way to directly export or access your account via FTP within Google Sites.

Google Sites Comparison

Google Sites is a decent FREE product that serves a limited purpose – but how does it compare directly with other products in the website builder universe?

Google Sites vs. Squarespace

Squarespace is expensive and has a learning curve, however if you have a long-term project and you value well-done templates that display high-quality photography, then Squarespace will likely be a better fit for you.

Google Sites vs. Wix

Wix has a free plan where you use a [yoursitename].wix.com domain name – so in some ways it’s similar to Google Sites. However Wix has premium plans and access to custom domains, and offer more features on their free plan. Wix has it’s own lock-in issues and more of a learning curve than Google Sites, so for simple small projects on a free budget, I’d recommend Google Sites. You might also like to check out my article WordPress vs Wix | How to Build the Best Website in 2019

Google Sites vs. GoDaddy’s Website Builder

Godaddy has less features than Google Sites and it’s a paid product. If you have a small budget and want a custom domain, but do not want/need many features – then GoDaddy’s Website Builder might work better for you.

Google Sites vs. WordPress.com

WordPress.com has a free plan that is limited to [yoursitename].wordpress.com domain name. The setup is focused on blogging – but they have website features & plenty of upgrade options – including a custom domain option. Unless you have a specific reason to use Google Sites, I’d recommend the FREE WordPress.com builder for their design features and upgradeable setup.

Google Sites vs. Self-hosted WordPress

If you’re serious about your business, the self hosted WordPress site is the only way to go. All my sites and client sites use this option. The self hosted WordPress site is also the best long-term option for businesses investing in their online presence.  Owning your own WordPress website on your self hosted account is like owning your business and running it out of your building on your property. The only limitations are your imagination and budget!

Google Sites Conclusion & Next Steps

You can use Google Sites for a free, do-it-your-self, short-term site, with no customization, if you don’t mind a funky domain name.

The next step up is WordPress.com.  It offers the option to expand to premium plans and to a self-hosted WordPress website.

If you’re serious about your business, you’ll need the self-hosted WordPress.org website complete with custom domain name and unlimited customization options.

All of my sites and client sites use this option. Contact me to get started with your own self-hosted WordPress.org website.