Google Sites Review – 5 Reasons Why It’s The Best FREE Website Builder

David Utke •  Updated: January 27, 2024 •  Website Builders

I love Google Sites. It’s an excellent and free website builder perfect for personal websites or any topic where you want to create a simple, effective 5-50 page website. In this Google Sites review, I will explain why this is one of the best free website builder options for the proper use case.

It’s not perfect mind you, and I’ll share both the positives and negatives of using Google Sites so you can make an informed decision. So why Google Sites?

You may be a YouTuber or an online personality and don’t want to get a hosting account. You may be a coach for a sports club or you want to create a website for an organization. You may be a digital artist and need a portfolio-style website.

Google Sites is perfect for you.

First off, What is Google Sites?

Google Sites is a free website builder for personal, not intended for commercial use. With it, you get free hosting, you can set up a custom domain, and you get an SSL certificate.

I would describe Google Sites as an “unstructured” website builder similar in style to Wix. There are a handful of templates to choose from, but the goal is to design your site from scratch. You get limited control over the header and footer design of the website, and overall, Google Sites tend to look a bit cookie-cutter.

But, if you’re looking for a free option to set up a custom domain name with a great visual, real-time page builder, you’ll need help finding something better than Google Sites. The one caveat you should be aware of is that it is for personal use as part of the terms of service, so don’t expect to run advertising on your Google Site.

Google Sites Pros and Cons

Is Google Sites the perfect website builder? No of course not. It has both strong points as well as weak points and may not be right for everyone. Let’s cover what you need to know.

There are a few stand out reasons to use Google Sites for your next personal project. After having used Google Sites for years and having created multiple website with it, here are the main things I like:

Google Site Pros:

Totally free with no hidden costs

Google Sites is free, actually free with no hidden costs. There is nothing to upgrade to, there is no catch to using Google Sites, no you don’t have to display ads or are limited on how many people can visit your website or can only create a limited number of pages.

Google Sites is totally free and you don’t have any annoying limitations built in like you do with other website builders trying to get you to upgrade to a paid plan. If all you’re looking for is a way to create a simple, yet effective website then Google Sites is a fantastic option.

You can even set your own custom domain for your Google Site if you like. The only thing you need to get started with Google Sites is a free Gmail account.

A secure custom domain

You can set up a custom domain name with Google Sites that’s secure (https) so people can subscribe to your email list or send you a message via a contact form. Not only is this important from a user experience perspective, but it’s also crucial for a website to now be secure and encrypted.

Many website builders allow you to get started for free but limit your design to being on a subdomain. With Google Sites, it’s free, and you can have it set to your domain name at no additional cost.

Please note that the domain name is not free; this is a separate cost. What’s free is the ability to connect a custom domain name you that you own to your Google Sites website so that it’s yourwebsite.com instead of yourwebsite.googlesites.com.

This single feature is not available for free on Wix, Squarespace, and other commercial website builders for that matter. For more on setting up your Google Site, checkout my Google Sites tutorial.

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Beautiful, responsive design.

A Google Site’s overall look, feel, and design are modern and professional, so much so that someone asked me “what WordPress theme are you using” for the demo Google Site I setup.

Compared to other website builders with very dated templates, Google Sites templates implement many modern design trends people have come to expect.

Last, this website builder is responsive and looks great on any device without you needing to do anything special to optimize your design. It comes with a built-in preview feature where you can view how your design looks on mobile and make changes as required.

Perfect free option for personal use.

Google Sites is the superior option for anyone looking to have an online resume, share pictures, or create a simple website for a club, organization, or personal website for free.

It comes with all the tools and features needed to create a great-looking website from scratch and the ability to set up a custom domain name that is secured with an SSL certificate.

What’s also helpful is the integration with other Google services like Google Drive for documents and images and Google Domains for setting a custom domain name with your website.

Google Sites Limitations

There are quite a few negatives to be aware of if you decide to go with Google Sites. Again, this website builder is ideal for casual use, and if you’re expecting to create a profitable website or blog, Google Sites is not for you. Here are the main drawbacks:

Not for commercial use

Google Sites is acceptable to use for personal use, for a club or organization like a city department, education, and a small local business that needs a simple website to own their online presence.

But, it’s not designed or intended for commercial use like running ads, affiliate marketing, selling products, scheduling appointments, etc.

If you’re interested in Google Sites as a way to create a free website for commercial use, then there are better choices. You should instead learn how to create a website using Bluehost that is for commercial use or use a feature rich website builder like Squarespace.

Limited templates and themes

Google Sites only has 13 templates for three categories:

These templates aren’t meant for selling products or promoting your small business specifically. They’re intended for any person or organization that needs a simple, cost-effective website up and running fast.

You may wonder whether you can build a unique-looking website with this builder since there are only a few templates. The good news is that you can modify any templates to your liking. The only static layout is the header and footer of all Google Sites.

*A custom Google Site design.

You do not have complete creative freedom, but you may alter colors, font styles, and even the layout of your text and pictures. For customization, you can also add a large hero image or video to play in the background on your homepage.

Font types are restricted to three choices: “classic,” “light,” and “heavy.” Even so, using the options accessible, it is entirely feasible to create a distinct website.

No naked URLs

A naked URL is the non-www version of your website. Most websites today are non-www. All websites powered by WordPress are non-www. It’s something you’ve probably never noticed, but your URL must be https://www.example.com with Google Sites.

Again, it’s okay if you’re building a simple website.

Naked URL’s do not redirect

If you try to visit the naked domain name version of your custom URL (https://example.com), it does not redirect properly to the “www” version.

This is an issue because most web browsers assume you’re looking for the non-www version and will attempt to visit that first, then redirect you. But with a Google Site, you will land on a 404 page if you try to visit the naked URL.

Google Sites URL and your custom URL are available

Your Google Sites URL is still available even if you set up a custom domain name. Meaning visitors can visit both and get the same content. Again, not an issue if it’s a simple site, but just be aware that your Google Sites URL does not redirect to your custom domain name like you think it would.

No control over metadata for your content

With WordPress, you can control page titles, meta descriptions, etc. Not with Google Sites. It’s not SEO-friendly, so don’t expect to create a website that can rank for anything.

You cannot control the title and metadata for your pages and homepage within Google Sites. Not a big issue for personal sites, but I hope this is something that gets improved upon in future updates.

Home link required

You must set a page to be the home page. Not a big deal; the issue is that it’s then added to your menu bar as “home” and has its URL path, https://www.example.com/home, and has the same content as your custom domain name.

Thus you end up with a website with two URLs with the same content. I have no idea why Google Sites loves duplicate content so much.

Can not run AdSense

One fun aspect of blogger.com is that you can run AdSense ads on your blog and make a 100% passive income website with no costs other than your domain name. Blogger.com provides free hosting, you create the content, and it’s free, like YouTube.

With Google Sites, however, it violates their terms of service to run AdSense ads. However, not a huge deal breaker as the Google Site platform is explicitly designed for personal (and not commercial) use.

Not for blogging

Google Sites is not designed for blogging. Within your dashboard, all you can do is create pages. Blog posts are typically categorized by a specific category, and pages are webpages that serve a singular focus (like your about page or contact page).

So while Google Sites allows you to create as many pages as you want, you could technically set a page to be a “blog” and then additional pages as a child page of the blog page. Hence, you end up with a permalink structure of example.com/blog/page-name.

It’s not designed for blogging and content marketing, partly because of the other negatives I’ve laid out, like having no control over the metadata of your content. If you want to blog, use a self-hosted WordPress blog or Ghost.org.

Google Sites FAQ

With Google Sites, I’ve created numerous tutorial on how to use this platform and have been asked the same questions a few times. So here are my responses to the most commonly asked questions regarding Google Sites.

Is Google Sites Free?

Yes, Google Sites is free. There are no paid plans and nothing to upgrade to. The only requirement is that you have to have a Google account.

How do I access Google Sites?

To get started, log into your Google account. Click on “More from Google” from the drop-down menu for Google apps. All Products should be visible at the bottom of the screen, and you should be able to spot the Sites app.

I need help with Google Sites

Google Sites is a free platform and does not provide any sort of live chat or ticket support like more robust website builders. With that said, Google Sites has a very active community and you can jump into the Google Sites Help forum to ask any question you may have.

Can you make an online store with Google Sites?

Online store functionality is not natively supported by Google Sites. However you can embed a 3rd party shopping cart solution into your Google Site.

Is Google Sites free with a domain name?

Google Sites is a free website builder, but you’ll need to purchase your domain name from a domain name registrar.

Is Google Sites good for SEO?

No, Google Sites lacks user control over essential on-page SEO data.

Google Sites Tutorial Conclusion

Google Sites is my favorite website builder for casual use. Ideal for an about me style website, personal website or landing page builder for your YouTube description if you’re in need of wanting to link out to a website.

As it’s for casual use, it has a lot of drawbacks if you’re needing something for a bigger commercial project. But for what it is, it’s one of the best free website builders around. To get started is free but I do suggest getting your custom domain name at Namecheap.

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It's all my fault

Hey I'm David. I'm a blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated UX consultant on Fiverr. My writing, videos and courses have helped tens of thousands of people make their first 1$ online. I write this blog to show you the "how to" for turning knowledge into income so you can live life on your terms.

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