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