As someone who is a full-time blogger and a website builder, I’m often asked for my opinion on the best website builder. I’ll give you my honest Google Sites review, including the pros, cons, and who the Google Sites free website builder is best for.
I created this review by starting one of the google sites from scratch, not using a template. I used the Google sites editor to add content, images, and video.
What are Google Sites?
Google sites is a free drag & drop website builder that anyone can use to create a simple website or blog. All you need is a Google account to get started. Once you’re logged in, you can choose from various templates to create your site. You can add text, images, and other media to your pages.
My Honest Google Sites Review: No WOW Factor
I believe Google sites is not one of the best website builders for a professional website. I find the Google Sites website builder to be very basic, not offer much in the way of customization, and lack certain features that are important to me (like SEO).
To me, it’s more of a landing page builder or personal website. You can build multiple pages, customer colors, and fonts and add elements like Youtube videos and a table of contents. But it’s not intuitive and is certainly limiting compared to the content management system (CMS) that I use, WordPress.
I also find the Google Sites interface to be very dull and not at all visually appealing. This can make it difficult to create a website that looks professional and polished. Google site websites work well with other Google apps such as google maps, Google forms, sheets, Google docs, and other google tools.
While I found Google sites limiting for my needs, I very much appreciated the easy-to-understand help files. You can create a basic website without problems if you’re a beginner. Just be aware that you won’t be able to create something too complex or custom.
So while I wouldn’t probably use Google sites to build a small business website that I want to rank on the search engines, the free website builder can be used to create a simple site in a few hours.
If I were to build a new website today, here’s what I might choose depending on the niche:
- eCommerce: Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce
- Blogger with no experience who wants to write: Medium
- Basic, easy to use, nice looking website: Squarespace or Wix
- Professional website with growth capabilities, robust SEO options, no limitations, content management system, but has a learning curve: WordPress.
- Free, basic, willing to follow the help files, nothing fancy: Google Sites
The Pros of Google Sites:
- Google sites is a fully-functioning website that is free to use.
- Some say it is easy to use.
- You can create a website without any design skills.
- It’s a good starting point if you’re new to website building.
- It integrates with other Google products like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Drive.
- You can use your own domain name with Google sites.
- The new sites are mobile-friendly and responsive on all desktop and mobile devices.
- You can add custom fonts to your website to make it stand out.
- You can add YouTube videos, maps, forms, and other content to your website without any issues.
- The support team is very helpful if you have problems using the platform.
- It’s easy to duplicate pages or sections of your website if you need to make changes.
- There are no ads on your website.
- Easy-to-use help files
- Google Sites and Google Analytics are integrated, so you can see how people find and use your website. You can see which pages are most popular, how much time people spend on your site, and more. You can also see which keywords people are using to find your site.
The Cons of Google Sites:
- The free website builder is not as flexible as other website builders because there are certain limitations on what you can do with your site.
- The design options are somewhat limited compared to other platforms like WordPress or Wix.
- If you want to switch to another platform, it’s difficult to migrate your site from Google sites since it uses a proprietary system that only works with their platform.
- No WOW Factor. Your site might not look as professional as a site built on another platform because of the limitations in design options.
- Other platforms offer more features than what’s available on Google sites.”
- Building a complex site on Google takes longer since certain limitations exist.
- Some people find the interface confusing and difficult to use.
- If you’re not careful, it’s easy to accidentally delete content or make changes that can’t be undone.
- The templates and themes are not as varied or customizable as other platforms.
- Although Google Sites is constantly being updated, it doesn’t always happen in real-time, so there can be delays in getting new features.”
- The user interface is a bit clunky
- A limited number of subpages
- Very few templates.
Google Sites Pricing
Google Sites is a free platform for G-suite users. However, if you’re not using G-suite, you can still use Google sites by signing up for a free account.
If you want to use your own domain name with Google Sites, you’ll need to purchase a domain name from a registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap. The cost of a domain name is usually around $10-15 per year.
Overall, Google Sites is a good platform for those who are looking for a free website builder.
Who is Google Sites Best For?
I believe Google sites is best for people who want to create a simple website or blog without design skills. It’s also a good starting point if you’re new to website building.
If you need a more complex website or online store, I recommend finding another platform like WordPress, WooCommerce, or Shopify. Google sites is not as flexible as other website builders because there are certain limitations on what you can do with your site.
Google Sites can be a great choice for certain types of websites, such as:
-Simple websites or blogs
-Sites for small businesses or organizations
-Portfolios or resumes
-Class projects or school websites
-Personal sites or family websites
Google Sites Features
Google Sites offers a variety of features that can be useful for building a website. I went ahead and played a bit with the elements that can be added to any page. These elements are in the form of content blocks.
A content block is a specific type of content that can be added to your websites, such as text, images, videos, maps, forms, and more.
Content blocks can be customized and rearranged on each page of your website. This gives you a lot of control over the design of your web pages and how visitors will experience your site.
I am a fan of content blocks. I use them with WordPress Gutenberg.
When building a new google sites website, you can use the editing tools to add content blocks such as:
Table of Contents: This Lets you add a table of contents to your page so visitors can easily navigate to the specific content they’re interested in.
Text: Add text to your page. You can format the text, add links, and insert images.
Headings: Add headings to organize your content and make it easier for visitors to scan your page. I didn’t like that these didn’t have the traditional H1 to H4 headings that I’m accustomed to. Instead, they are listed as Title, Heading, Subheading, and small text. Paragraph text is called “normal text.” It gets the job done the same way, but looks different.
Images: Add images to your page. You can upload photos from your computer or insert images from the web. The image carousel is a nice touch. This lets you create a slideshow of images on your page.
Buttons: Add buttons to your page. You can create links to other pages on your site or external websites.
Dividers and Spacers: Add dividers and spacers to help organize your content.
Social Links: Add social media links to your page so visitors can connect with you on social media.
Placeholder: Add a placeholder to your page. This is a blank content block that you can use to add your own upload, calendar, map, video, or something from your drive (like a Google doc or Google sheets).
Youtube video: This content block allows you to embed a video by quickly searching in the pop-up box or selecting a video from your channel. That’s a nice integration.
Google Calendar: Add a Google calendar to your page.
Google Map: Add a Google map to your page.
Google Doc, Google Sheets, Google Form, Google Chart, or Slide: Google sites make adding other google services to your website easy.
There are some limitations to the content blocks that can be added to a page. For instance, you cannot add an HTML code block or an eCommerce element like a buy now button or shopping items.
Compare Google Sites: New vs. Classic Sites
In 2017 Google decided to rebuild Google Sites from the ground up and launched a new version. The new version became available for all G-suite users.
The new website builder brought in new features like:
- improved usability
- draft and publish abilities
- image carousel
- a cloud search feature
- mobile friendly designs
- one-click integration of Google domains
- part of Google Drive
- Drive API
The classic Google site will eventually be phased out and replaced by the new Google Sites. However, there is no set date for when this will happen. So, for now, both versions are available to users.
If you’re starting with Google Sites, I recommend using the new version. If you have an existing website you built with Google classic sites, you can continue using it or migrate your content to the new version.
How do Google Sites Work?
Google Sites is a web builder that allows you to create a website without coding. It’s a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor that makes it easy to build a website without any technical skills.
The drag-and-drop editor makes adding content to your page and rearranging it easy. You can also use the editing toolbar to format your text, add links, insert images, and more.
There are three main steps to creating a website with Google Sites:
1. Choose a template: Pick one that best fits your needs or start from scratch.
2. Build your site: Use the drag-and-drop editor to add content to your pages and rearrange them.
3. Publish your site: Once you’re happy with it, click “Publish” to make it live.
Are Google Sites Good?
As with any Google product, there are both pros and cons. A completely free site builder has its advantages for sure. Google sites work best for simple websites that don’t need complex features, while a business website might be better off with a more robust platform. As far as search engine optimization (SEO) goes, it’s not the best.
Google has created a lot of great products. And other products either improve over time, change with user feedback, or get replaced by a better product. So while Google Sites might not be the best site builder right now, it could become one in the future.