With such a diversity of web design tools available out there, Google Sites seems to be quite an easy-to-use and intuitive platform to use. The system allows starting free websites without any coding skills and web design expertise required. Due to its integrated drag-and-drop editor, the process of launching a project becomes simple and hassle-free for beginners and web design experts.
Included into the Google Suite package, the website builder is initially geared towards the needs of first-timers. The service is quite convenient and understandable for all user categories and it has much to offer to each and every web designer. The only thing you should take care of in advance is a Google account you can register for free. If you have the one already, you can reach the website builder to proceed to your project creation anytime.
What is Google Sites
Google Sites – is a website builder, which features ease-of-use and convenience, being initially oriented on the requirements and skills of first-timers. The platform uses the WYSIWYG editor by default, although, its interface also works well for those users, who intend to manually edit website code to gain one-of-a-kind result.
With Google Sites, you can easily create and manage interactive and dynamic projects in a couple of clicks only. No programming skills or web design experience are needed to work with the system – just follow the tips it generates and explore the dashboard to proceed to the website development process.
If you are thinking about starting a website with the website builder, you should know that Google has recently announced its intention to stop supporting the current Classic Sites version since September 1, 2021. Thus, you will have to launch a project in the new version of the software and this is what we will discuss below. Here is a detailed walkthrough to help you figure out the must-have steps required to start a website for free with Google.
Choose Website Name and Template
As soon as you login to your Google account and launch the website builder, you will be redirected to the control panel. Here are the steps to be completed there:
- Specify your company name – click the title to do that;
- Change header image – you have an opportunity either to pick one of the stock images Google Sites offers or upload the one of your own;
- Pick a suitable header style (Cover, Large Banner, Banner, Title Only);
- Select a template – reach the “Themes” section available in the detailed menu found in the richt part of the screen;
- Choose header color and font style here – the available options are provided in the “Themes” section.
Speaking about templates, Google Sites doesn’t offer a default template for new websites to enable users gain full control over their projects. Instead, the website builder lets you choose one of the existing themes from the gallery. As to the variety of themes, it’s not that impressive, but there is still much to choose from here.
Edit Website Layout
While working on your website development, you’ll have an opportunity to pick and edit your website layout:
- Go to the “Layouts” section found in the right-screen menu;
- Pick the preferable option – all in all, there are 6 layout variants to choose from. These include one-, two-, three- and four- column layouts;
- Click the one that corresponds to your needs to replace the default layout;
- Start editing the block – enter the text, upload images.
You can add as many images as you need to provide the niche-related content – that’s easy, hassle-free and fast. Just make sure to pick a suitable layout that will present all the required info.
Add and Customize Pages
As soon as you are done with the layout choice, it’s high time to add new website pages. Google Sites allows adding the unlimited number of pages that differ in their implications and types. To add a page, complete the following steps:
- Switch to the “Pages” tab in the right-side menu of the control panel;
- Click the “+” button available below;
- Name the page or/and specify the custom path to insert it;
- Click the “Done” button;
- Add as many pages as you need or duplicate the existing ones to save your time and effort. You can also hide the page from navigation;
- If needed, add subpages to the existing pages and assign special properties to them.
You may create and add standard web pages to feature your content and attach documents, announcements to post company news and updates, start pages, list pages as well as file cabinets to store, manage and share files.
Once you have customized the pages, it’s high time to proceed to one of the most time-taking, responsible and bulky parts of the entire website creation process – content uploading. With this purpose, you should do the following:
- Reach the “Insert” tab in the control panel;
- Pick the type of content to be added. The choice of the most suitable option will depend upon the source the files are initially stored in;
- “Text Boxes” section will let you add and edit texts (set up font styles and parameters, insert links etc.);
- “Images” section is where you can upload your own image files or pick from the system collection;
- “Embed” option allows embedding content via code integration;
- “Drive” lets you upload files from the device you use;
- Select the type of content to upload to the web page – the “Insert” button unveils lots of variants that cover the prevailing amount of users’ needs: Table of Contents, Image Carousel, Button, Divider, YouTube, Map, Calendar, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms and Charts. Whatever element you will choose, you’ll be able to further customize it with regard to your website specialization;
- Pick and integrate standard “gadgets” (if required) – calculators, news feeds, Google Search Console for better search engine optimization of ready-made projects, Google Analytics etc.
As a Google-powered website builder, Sites allows integrating any G Suite extensions you consider important and necessary for your project. Mind that no third-party add-ons or plugins are needed to integrate the required elements – just have a look at the set of extensions and pick those you currently need (Google Docs, Drive, Collections, Jamboard, Blogger and what not).
Review Website Management Options
Prior to unveiling your new project to the world, you should set and configure some of the most critical elements and website management options.
- Go to the “Settings” section to connect site analytics, upload or select logo/favicon images, browse viewer tools, adjust custom website URLs, set up the announcement banner, assign website sharing rights etc.
- If there is still anything you don’t understand here, just access the “Take a Tour” button to see what’s behind the system settings.
- In case you plan to work on website creation with a team of web developers, the system allows adding multiple contributors to the project. You can also subscribe to recent project changes to stay aware of all the edits and changes made at the website.
Whatever settings you intend to make, all of them are within reach – either in the corresponding “Settings” section or in the control panel of the project.
Pick a Domain Name
There is one more thing to do before making it accessible on the web. You have to pick the domain name for your project.
- If you have a domain name already, you can publish a website under this name.
- Another option is to get a completely new domain name from Google – reach the “Custom Domains” tab available in the “Settings” section and enter the name you’d like to have for your project.
Mind that your domain name should be remarkable and easy-to-remember. It should not only be associated with your business niche, but it should also be unique and memorable for the target audience. Don’t make it too long, however, to avoid bulky URLs.
Adjust Website Access
There is a convenient opportunity to share the ready-made project with other users. To set the access right, do the following:
- Reach the “Share with Others” tab in the control panel;
- Pick the Draft Mode to leave your website unpublished while it is under construction;
- Select the “Private” option to prevent other users from accessing your project;
- Choose individual users or groups of people, who will have the right to edit the project;
- Publish the project to make it accessible to everyone;
- If you wish to invite anyone to edit the website with you, the system allows doing that by specifying the emails of these people and sending invitations to them;
- In case you want to safeguard your project, you can tick the button that makes it possible to prevent other editors from publishing the project, changing access rights and adding new people without your awareness;
- Use the Preview option before the final project publication to make sure it looks properly on desktop, tablet and mobile screens.
All in all, website sharing feature is very convenient for people working in a team or for those users, who are involved in the development of custom-made websites for clients.
Connect Google Analytics
Google Sites makes it possible to connect Google Analytics to your ready-made project. That’s a must-have feature, if you wish to stay aware of the major parameters of your project and factors that affect its performance as well as SEO rating. To connect your website to a Google Analytics account and to get insights/metrics on project use, complete the following steps:
- Access the Settings section;
- Choose the “Analytics” tab;
- Enable analytics by means of entering the corresponding measurement/tracking account ID.
Integration of Google Analytics will help you find out traffic flow and fluctuations, amount of users visiting your website during the specified period of time, conversion rates, traffic destinations and sources, website abandonment rates as well as lots of other crucial parameters that may eventually make or break the entire website performance. Awareness of these characteristics will help you fix the potential problems on time to avoid more serious consequences.
Adjust SEO Configurations and Publish the Website
There is one more essential thing you should do before you make your website available online. We talk about Search Engine Optimization now. Google Sites lets you adjust the major SEO parameters to ensure high search engine ranking of your newly created project:
- Reach the “Settings” section;
- Find the SEO tab;
- Fill out the main fields that are related to your website SEO positions and check out the info twice;
- It is recommended to connect Google Search Console that will make it easier for the search engines to index your project.
Now that your website is 100% ready for publication, just click the “Publish” button and watch the result!
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced coding-aware developer willing to make a website on Google, you will easily master it with Google Sites help. It is quite a functional system, even though, it has minimalistic design. No special programming knowledge is required to launch and manage projects with Google Sites. The control panel is intuitive and easy-to-explore, while the result is worth the effort in the long run.
The website builder makes it possible to create only simple web pages with rather limited functionality. It works well for small projects, while launching full-featured websites will hardly be possible. If you have an intention to keep working on further project development and promotion, it makes sense to pick a quality feature-rich website builder from the start. Wix, uKit, Weebly or even CMS like WordPress will easily cope with any task. Everything depends on your web design skills and experience.