Should You Use Google Sites To Build/Host Your Website?

While counseling small business owners, I hear many complaints about free website design and hosting solutions. For entrepreneurs starting out on a tight budget, this will have to do until they can afford something more sophisticated that offers the controls and customization they may eventually want.

I’m often asked about Google Sites. Technically, it has functionality that a do-it-yourself entrepreneur can grasp. While it might be fine for personal sites, your online resume, or activity groups, I do not think of Google Sites as a good method to build and host your business website.

The purpose of this blog post is not to definitely tell you what to do. I’m just sharing my observations based on trying to help other people who used Google Sites.

You can:

  • Create and host multiple websites on Google Sites.
  • Host a website without registering a domain name.
  • Choose from variety of templates to get you started with layout/design.
  • Use widgets to incorporate a variety of functionality.
  • Track site visits with Google Analytics by simply entering the account’s unique id code.

[Here’s how]

  • Map your Domain to your Google Site [Here’s how] This is awkward. You can make domain name with leading www. resolve correctly. But the domain without leading www. will resolve to the default path (e.g.,
    Here’s how Google explains it: “Mappings are restricted to sub-domain level only, such as www.example.com, wiki.example.com, or support.example.com. You can’t map your domain to what is known as a naked domain, such as http://example.com.”
  • Create a contact form so you don’t expose your actual email address. But it’s ugly and you see links like this below it:
    example Google Docs Links
  • Embed PayPal buttons.
  • You can’t:

    • Change the footer text. It automatically displays:
      example Google Sites footer links
    • Map the “naked” domain name as explained earlier in this blog post.
    • Easily migrate the site code, content, functionality to a non-Google website hosting provider.

    I hope this was helpful. If you’ve used Google Sites, please share your experience in the comments below.

    Thanks!
    -Roland

    About the Author:

    Roland Reinhart is a Digital Marketing Consultant in NJ specializing in digital marketing for your business/organization. Contact Roland about Website Design, Search Engine Optimization, PPC Advertising, Email Marketing, Video and more. Call (908) 344-5688.

    13 Comments

    1. specifications January 21, 2014 at 5:42 am

      Why not? Google's the de facto search engine almost anywhere.Google sites is like a toy website and you are dictated on how Google implement it. If you want fast and easy set up for some non business site maybe you could use it.

    2. Casey October 10, 2013 at 8:19 am

      Everybody who is at least a little bit serious about owning a business will create own property and won’t rely on 3rd party. Web2 and similar sites can decide one day to another to destroy you without reason, or with their own “fake” reasons saying you don’t comply with something they think its right.
      Don’t get me wrong, its good to have couple of free websites too, it can help, but just don’t use this tactics solely…

    3. webdesign wordpress August 27, 2013 at 6:47 am

      Any free website hosting and domain will not do good to business owners. My advise is this. One of the member will purchase shared hosting. This process will allow the member to have free cost of annual fee. They will only pay for the domain. Domain is cost $5 a year so it is no BS. WordPress CMS program is free and there are lot of available template online. Now if you want customise let me know.

    4. homepage August 3, 2013 at 2:10 am

      Owners have full permissions to modify design and content of the entire Google Site, whereas editors cannot change the design of the site.

    5. The Box night club April 19, 2013 at 5:36 am

      Quite a few fine ideas in this article and really did not have a clue regarding almost any of this previously so
      thanks a lot for your knowledge

    6. Rose Clayhanger April 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      Google sites is like a toy website and you are dictated on how Google implement it. If you want fast and easy set up for some non business site maybe you could use it.

    7. my2p2 March 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog.
      I’m hoping to see the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own website now ๐Ÿ˜‰

    8. Oliver October 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Why not? Google's the de facto search engine almost anywhere. Even the most independent-thinking web developers from perth can't deny that tying up with Google will have its benefits.

    9. Google Sites September 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Google Sites are very good for entrepreneurs that need a basic informational website. The problem that I see with Google Sites is the lack of functionality and aesthetics. The main advantage to having a free google site is that Google prefers Google Sites in terms of Search Engine Rankings. Since the domain Google.com has a page rank of 10 and the sub domain sites.google.com has millions of backlinks, you will be essentially hosting your website with a ton of built in SEO that you would normally have to pay thousands of dollars a year for. I have build serveral Google Sites and had them rank at the top of organic search results within hours of publishing the website. I have also noticed that Google does not apply it's Panda & Penguin algorhythms to Google Sites. I am speculating that the reason why is because if they applied their spam filters on their own domain, then that would probably remove a bunch a of their own services from the index or cause those websites to rank lower.

      Anyways Google Sites are a great way for small businesses to get a new website or are a great way to create an external website, or link wheel that pushes link juice to your main website. While I do not favor this method, I have a competitor that has over 50 Google sites with duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and link wheels. Google does not seem to care as I have contacted them numerous times and they do not care about spamming their own websites. So I will have to figure out a more ethical way to exploit these findings.

    10. Prestidigitator August 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      I disagree with your point on domain mapping. I have linked my personal domain name to google sites and both www. and without www simply displays my domain name, without resolving it to the default google sites link. Making appropriate changes to the DNS records with the domain registrar does the trick.

      • Roland Reinhart August 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm

        Thanks for commenting. Glad you managed to get it to work for you.

        I checked it out to see if something has changed since I wrote this blog post. Unfortunately it still doesn't work for me. In this particular case I tested a domain registered with GoDaddy, which allows DNS changes to the CNAME records.

        So I checked the Google Sites support pages. This one still says it doesn't support resolving to the non-"www." version of the domain: http://support.google.com/sites/bin/answer.py?hl=

        "Mappings are restricted to sub-domain level only, such as http://www.example.com, wiki.example.com, or support.example.com. You can't map your domain to what is known as a naked domain, such as http://example.com."

        • D-ORM September 11, 2012 at 5:19 am

          It worked for me for few weeks using a naked domain but now all my website is not working with Cname configuration. ๐Ÿ™
          I think they restricted my website due to that.

    11. @GoogleSitesWD April 14, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks for writing about Google Sites. My company, Kirksville Web Design, has been working with Sites for about three years now and I think you’ve made some good comments on the platform.

      “While it might be fine for personal sites, your online resume, or activity groups, I do not think of Google Sites as a good method to build and host your business website.”

      This is the kind of assumption we are breaking down. We design awesome business public-facing Google Sites. You can check out our portfolio at http://www.kirksvillewebdesign.com/google-sites

      There are some limitations, I must agree, but overall it’s a versatile platform worth taking a look at, which I believe you agree with. After all, it’s free thanks to Google. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the article!

    Comments are closed.