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Reviews and expert opinion Google Sites

Sophia Conti Sophia Conti Website Development Expert

I really wanted to like Google Sites, but ultimately I was disappointed in its lack of ability to create a fully functioning website. There are some really useful features for certain contexts, but if you’re trying to build a site for yourself or your business, you’ll be better off with a builder like Wix that offers more design and function options.


The Google Name Sets High Expectations. Does Google Sites Meet Them?

You would think a website builder with the Google name behind it would be powerful, intuitive, and user friendly, right? I hadn’t heard of Google Sites before Website Planet asked me to review it, but I was excited to give it a try since I love Google Docs and other Google products.

Did it meet my expectations? Sort of.

If you’re looking for a simple, free way to present information online and don’t need fancy features, it can be a useful tool. However, if you want to build a fully functioning website to establish your business’s online presence, Google Sites won’t cut it. You’ll get far more templates, design options, and freedom with Wix or another more robust website builder.

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The user experience of Google Sites is on par with any other Google product. It’s a clean and simple interface that doesn’t get too complicated, and it seamlessly connects to every other Google product, like Google Analytics and AdSense  a must for nearly every website these days.

But Google Sites hits its limitations very quickly. It started out as a tool for creating project wikis (i.e., an online text document for teams), internal company sites, and other internal projects. And while the company’s improved it in recent updates, it still doesn’t go much further than the original.

In this review, I’ll highlight elements that demonstrate exactly how you can use Google Sites effectively – and where it falls short.



With So Few Templates, Can You Build a Unique Site?

Google Sites offers just nine base templates with names like “Portfolio,” “Team,” and “Project” – names that hint at the platform’s limited intent. These templates aren’t made for showcasing products or promoting your small business. They’re designed for online projects with a smaller scope.

Google Sites template options
Google Sites templates lend themselves well to collaborative projects

Since there are only a handful of templates available, you might be wondering whether you can create a distinctive-looking site with this builder. But the good news is, you can customize any of the nine templates a fair bit.

We’re not talking about complete creative freedom, of course, but you can change colors, font styles, as well as the layout of your text and images. Font styles are limited to a few options that include “classic”, “light”, and “heavy”, but even so, it is entirely possible to build a unique website using the available options.

Google Sites template with instructional filler text
Google Sites template layouts match their stated purpose well, like this Project layout

And another thing I like is that each template comes with snippets of filler text that provide instructions and recommendations for content, instead of the good-old “lorem ipsum” filler. You still have a sense of what the text will look like on each page once it’s published, and you also get a bit of guidance in terms of copy.

Explore Google Sites Templates



Is Integration with the Google Suite Enough to Add a Wow Factor?

I was hoping that Google Sites would have a few innovative features that would really impress me, but unfortunately, the main attraction is its seamless connection with all other Google products. Noticeably missing are many standard website builder features, like SEO tools or the ability to add third-party apps, which often had me thinking, “This would be a great tool if only it had…”

There are a few really wonderful features, but these alone don’t make Google Sites a powerful enough website builder to compete with the major players in this space, like Wix or Squarespace.

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Incorporate Content from Nearly Any Google App

Since Google Sites is part of the massive suite of Google apps, it’s incredibly easy to connect files from various tools and group them together on your site. Your site is connected to all of your Google accounts via your email address, so you have instant access to anything saved on your Google Drive.

Google Drive sidebar - Google Sites
Your Google Drive files appear in a sidebar in the Google Sites editor

You can embed files on any page, and they will appear as a thumbnail preview. You can adjust the size of each thumbnail and link to charts, spreadsheets, documents, etc. You can also link to the actual files – just be sure to set the permissions so the right users can open them. This is incredibly useful for aggregating project files, resources, or other documents related to a project.

Here’s each app you can directly incorporate content from:

  • Docs
  • Sheets
  • Slides
  • Calendar
  • Forms
  • Charts
  • Maps

Search Google Images or YouTube Directly from the Interface

Adding documents and such from your personal Google Drive is useful, but not really unexpected: Google likes to connect all of its products. What really impressed me – as in, I said, “This is so cool!” out loud – is the ability to directly search Google Images and YouTube from the Google Sites interface (and then add those images or videos to your website).

In other words, if you want to embed a YouTube video, you don’t have to use a separate tab in your web browser. You’ll search from a pop-up box and place the video wherever you like on your page.

Google Sites built-in YouTube search feature
I love that you can embed virtually any video directly from the Google Sites editor

You can do a Google Image Search in the same way. This search box filters images to bring up those labeled for commercial reuse, which means you can legally use them without paying fees. Just be sure to verify that commercial reuse is actually allowed (since Google warns that the filter isn’t perfect), and give credit to the original source if the owner requires it.

The cherry on top of the built-in Google Image Search is the ability to filter results by their dominant color. I’ve tested a lot of website builders and I haven’t seen this feature on any other platform. It’s extremely helpful when searching for images to match your design’s color scheme.

Google Sites built-in image search with color filter
I wish all website builders had a color filter option to narrow down photo choices

Collaborate on Your Site in Real-Time

If you’re used to collaborating with others and sharing files on Google Docs, you’ll find that Google Sites works similarly. You can provide editing access to the collaborating team members, and those with draft access can edit in real-time, just as you would in a Google Doc. This is a huge asset to collaboration, regardless of what you’re working on.

You’ll also have extensive control over who can view your website. Google Sites can be published only to certain people or groups, such as an internal team or your entire company. And of course, you can also make it public so it appears in internet searches like a typical website.

Sharing permissions for Google Sites
Set separate permissions for your site draft and the published version

Announcement Banners

This last feature is really useful and I was impressed by its simplicity. You can easily add a customized announcement banner to your site with the option to place it sitewide or on a single page.

Google Sites homepage with announcement banner
Adding an announcement banner (in purple above) can provide an eye-catching CTA for visitors

Customization for the banner is limited to color and text, but it’s a simple way to provide visitors with important information or direct them to a useful resource for getting started on your site.

See full list of features

Ease of use


Is Google Sites as User-Friendly as Other Google Apps?

Google is good at understanding users’ needs and meeting them effectively. This carries over to Google Sites, which offers an intuitive, streamlined interface without a lot of clutter. Here are some ways Google makes this tool easy to use.

Clean, Simple Interface

The Google Sites editor interface is really pleasing to look at and almost soothing to use. It is free of clutter and expanding menus, focusing only on the essentials. There’s really only one place to look to find what you need, so it’s very straightforward and you can start building your site quickly.

The Google Sites editor interface
I like how the Google Sites editor is organized, but wish it had more content block and font customization options

The bad news? This simplicity is only possible because Google Sites doesn’t have a lot of features. There’s no need for expansive menus because there just isn’t that much you can do. But since the purpose of this tool isn’t really to build a complex website, I think the simplicity is more of a benefit than a disadvantage.

Premade Content Layouts

Google Sites uses a drag-and-drop editor on a grid layout. Essentially, you can move elements where you want them, but they’ll always snap into the existing design grid to keep everything aligned. You can use individual content blocks to design your own layout, or you can choose from a small selection of existing layouts to save time and effort.

Content layout options - Google Sites
Google Sites’ layout templates streamline your design experience

If you want to design your own layout, spend some time exploring the different content blocks you can add – there are a few unique ones that I haven’t seen in other website builders. These include collapsible text (so the paragraph text is only visible when the subheading has been clicked), a table of contents, and a placeholder block that you can later fill with embedded content from your Google Drive, Google Calendar, or other sources.


Like other Google products, your Google Site will automatically save any changes you make in real-time. It also keeps a version history so you can review edits made by different collaborators and revert to earlier versions at any point. You do need to manually click Publish to ensure your changes go live, but you’ll never lose your work if your system crashes.

See if Google Sites is Right for You



There’s No Live Support Option. Do You Even Need It?

Google Sites has very little in the way of support. There are no live support options – not even an automated chat – so you’ll have to rely on the series of support documents and the community help forum if you have issues.

The support documents are fairly comprehensive, but I still found questions that they couldn’t answer. The community help forum is pretty hit-or-miss – it’s always worth checking to see if someone asked your exact question and received an answer, but there are a lot of repetitive questions along with ones you could solve by reading the support documents.

This support setup might seem odd for a huge company like Google, but think of Google Sites like Google Docs or Sheets. You wouldn’t expect live support for a word processing or spreadsheet application, and this is basically an extension of that tool set. There are 24/7 support options available for those who subscribe to G Suite, a set of business tools that provides a few extras on top of the standard free Google Apps.

Google Sites troubleshooting support documentation
Google Support attempts to help you solve issues on your own, but doesn’t always succeed

All of that said, one thing I really appreciate about Google’s support documents is that they list specific error messages you may receive and give instructions for dealing with each message. In other words, they don’t just provide generic troubleshooting to work through the most common problems – they give you steps to directly solve the problem you’re experiencing, like in the example below.



Google Sites Is Free. What’s the Catch?

Google Sites is completely free and comes with your Google account. Every feature and function is available for free on personal accounts (except for 24/7 customer support). Your Google Site will also include unlimited storage and the ability to add up to five custom URLs to your site. You also won’t see any Google ads or branding on the published site.

If there’s a catch, it’s that you get what you pay for. Google Sites is more of a collaboration and presentation tool than a fully functioning website builder. In fact, in some ways, it’s even more limited than the free versions of more well-known website builders. For example, there are no blogging tools or e-commerce features. And while you could set up a site that looks somewhat like a blog or online store, you’ll still lack the management features that you get with the free version of Wix.


How does Google Sites match up to the competition?

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July 16, 2021
Be creative

Behind an interface that seems simplistic, Google Site actually lets you do what you want! You just need to be imaginative and creative. But it seems people are more used to choosing from a list. I concede that at first, it is a bit confusing, but after doing several minisites, I have realized that the possibilities are much greater than they seem. You can resize and organize everything as you like. And finally, it goes a lot faster and is a lot more fun.

April 05, 2021
Google Sites is great!

If you want a simple interface that you can easily work with, Google Sites is perfect. It's modern-looking, clean and unencumbered. The only ones who don't like are web-techies and websites like this who can't earn income from it. The web isn't all about business and income, so website building should be judged against those criteria. But sites like this are driven by referrals and $, so they would never recommend a freebie like Google Sites. If you are service- or people-oriented, if you want to pass on information in a simple, clean way OR if you are your own web techie, then Google Sites is ideal.

Destination Bangalore
January 26, 2021
Google Adsense can’t be used

Good insight, however, you have mentioned that on Google Sites it is easy to use Google Adsense. What I read on Google Sites terms and conditions that no advertising is allowed on their platform. Google Adsense can only be used for websites deployed on Google Cloud, which is a paid platform.

November 26, 2020
Google Sites does the job for a simple website without any features

Funny how you guys show the "Get a Wix website" pop-up. Seems biased to me :D and this is just the option that gives you the highest commission. As stated above, google Sites does the job for a simple website without many features. You can use it to write blogs, present your services and products (not sell them though) and have your virtual business card in place. Why spend money on more if you don't need more?

November 26, 2020
It could be better, but I’m happy

I use Google sites for fun, and it meets my needs... mostly. The problem is that there's no way to put a comment in there. Basically, I have to create a Google form, copy the link, and then create a button on my site and put the link in it! I have to check my email all the time for comment forms, and then manually put the comment on my website! It's exhausting, and unlike other websites, the comment won't be there immediately! But besides that, and no blogging tools, I like Google sites.

October 03, 2020
It’s very good IF you have the appropriate context

My business use Google Sites and I'm happy. To evaluate a product, you need criteria. - Fast to build (imply less functionality) - Secure for informative website (no vulnerable stuff to manage) - Very easy to put in place (no server or infrastructure) - Cost effective I was ready to accept many constraints, like. - Simple design - No application (informative website) Google sites respond to all my criteria. Can I find a better solution? Yes, absolutely. But, it will require more efforts...

Great Britain
August 16, 2020

I'm very disappointed, My old site was simple and looked good. Now you can't select the typeface you have to go with a Theme with less choice. The conversion has done all sorts of nasty things to my site. It's an archive for an old art project space I ran and I don't want to have to redesign the whole site a fresh. It reflected the time it was designed. The atmosphere of my old site has been destroyed.

Great Britain
August 14, 2020
The good points of new Google sites

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Ultimately, I’m pretty disappointed in Google Sites as a website builder. There’s so much potential to be a really simple but powerful tool, but it settles for providing a few nifty tricks rather than becoming a website building powerhouse.

Google still offers a great user experience, and it lives up to its reputation of connecting all your work across Google apps and tools. However, Google Sites isn’t meant to be anything other than a collaboration and presentation tool, and sadly, trying to make it into a full-fledged website builder just won’t work. 

That doesn’t mean Google Sites is completely useless though – if you need a free builder to create a quick, simple site for an event, a professional portfolio, or a different kind of small-scale project, it can be a solid option. But if you’re looking for something more, I’d recommend Wix. I’ve also tested and reviewed a lot of other website builders, and you can read my recommendations in our list of the best website builders for 2021.


Is Google Sites really free?Yes. Google Sites is an app that you can access for free, so long as you have a Google account. Since there are no paid plans, all features are available by default. That said, these features are fairly limited, which makes it particularly difficult to built a blog, an online store, or any other more complex website. Most of our top 10 website builders for 2021 have free plans with access to more templates and built-in functionality. Is Google Sites any good?That depends on what you need. If you want to publish a very simple landing page or portfolio, Google Sites might work for you. But if you’re looking to build a proper website with a contact form, booking system, small store, or any other extra functionality, you’ll be better off with a more comprehensive solution like Wix or Squarespace. How can I access Google Sites? From your Google account, access the drop-down menu for Google apps and click on “More from Google”. Scroll down to see All Products, and you should be able to spot the Sites app straight away.What is the best website builder?It depends. Do you want to customize every aspect of your website to build a truly distinctive look? Then you might like Wix. Otherwise, if you want to spend less time building the site, but you still want it to look fabulous, Squarespace might do the trick. Or, if you’re looking for a super simple way to get online, SITE123 has the most intuitive editor around. You’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan to use a custom domain with any of these builders, but if you want to start for less money, you can always check our coupons page for the best deals in 2021.

Sophia Conti Sophia Conti
Sophia is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. She specializes in digital marketing and B2B content for small businesses and entrepreneurs. When not writing or editing, she can be found searching used bookstores and watching the penguins at the San Diego Zoo.

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