Google Sites is a free site builder from Google. But you know that already, as long as your research its pros and cons. So let's skip the introduction and get straight to the point.
Google Sites Advantages
It's free, simple, secure, fast, and it's a part of the Google ecosystem.
Google Sites is a free website builder. Period. It doesn't have a traffic, project, or time limitation. A paid plan for Google Sites does not exist. Well, at least for now!
Everything you need to start using Google Sites is a Google Mail account. Just like any other tool by Google.
You need an hour to become a master in all Google Sites features. The interface is intuitive, and all the options and tools you meet inside are familiar. Besides, Google Sites doesn't have a ton of them — just essentials to build a nice-looking basic website with a clean design.
Google Sites security is as strong as the security of your Google account. The main point here — you don't leave the Google environment. You don't have to share access with a 3-rd party, expose your credentials, create new accounts and passwords.
To level up your account security, you can set up 2-step verification and use an authentication app (also provided by Google).
When it comes to load speed, Google Sites is not the best platform, but it's definitely in the top 5—especially considering that you don't need to tune a server or CDN. Everything just happens.
Google Sites is not using many scripts and does minimal image compressing to make your website faster.
Watching your image size is the only advice you can follow to make your Google website even faster, especially on mobile. Large images are the pain point for Google Sites, so make them light.
Google Sites is fully integrated with all other Google products — Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Mail, etc. And not only do they work together and exchange data, they feel almost the same. This means that managing all Google tools is as easy (or hard) as one of them.
On top of that, you'll find out that your Google Sites website is nothing more than a file on your Google Drive (basically, this is your server). And you can copy, share or delete it just like any other file. Although downloading Google sites is impossible — there's no such option.
Google Sites Disadvantages
The downsides of Google Sites are design features, marketing features, 3rd-party integrations, SEO, ecommerce features.
This is true, but at the same time, contradictory. Google Sites hold simplicity at its core. That's how the developers what it to be. Giving Google Sites more design options will lead to making it more complicated and, as a result, more difficult to master and use.
The platform could use more blocks, background settings, button styles, or even basic animation. Many things are missing. But are they essential to create a website?
In practice, you can create a neat website for almost any purpose with what Google Sites have to offer and go online instantly. Then, if it all goes well, you can search for more complicated, in terms of design options, platforms.
And don't think that Google Sites developers don't have design options on their "to-do" list. They add them, but very slowly. It took them months to give us more text editing options. Imagine we couldn't choose fonts some time ago.
Another gap for Google Sites is marketing features. Although they have some, more are missing. Google Analytics and an Announcement banner are pretty much it. There're no pop-ups, subscription boxes, live chat. You can't add tracking pixels (like Facebook pixel) or social sharing buttons. And although you can use Google Forms as a subscription box replacement, it's not a business approach. So we conclude that Google Sites are not ready to host serious online businesses.
However, it's not that bad at the end of the day! Google Sites allow adding widgets — code injections that can be anything!
Google Sites don't have plugins, like WordPress, add-ons, or extensions. But it has an Embed block that allows you to embed a link or a piece of code to the website that can be almost anything — a live chat, a shopping cart, a subscription box.
But be careful using code injections as they significantly slow down the load speed.
As for now, Google Sites do not have an ecommerce feature. Meaning, you can't accept payments via Google Sites. Of course, you can add images with text and buttons and call it products, but to make money from them, you'll need another platform.
Google Sites is a website builder, not an ecommerce platform. But you can use it for landing pages, just like I do. And use another platform for selling your products on the subdomain.
But with growing ecommerce, something's telling me that Google won't be waiting on the side of the road for long. And integration of Google Sites and Google Shopping tab (with Google Merchant Center) is yet to come.
What Google Sites could really benefit from is SEO. Created by the search engine, Google Sites don't have so many essential SEO settings like meta title, meta description, open graph settings, redirects, sitemap, robots, schema.
All you can do is name your website, use on-page markdown (where H1 = page title) and edit page URLs.
Well, it is what it is. At least for now.
With all my respect and love for Google Sites, this is not the best website builder on the planet. But if you're looking for simplicity, a quick start, and can marry different solutions using domain infrastructure, you're going to love Google Sites.
Google Sites is for those who don't want to think about website building but need a spot online — freelancers, creators, writers, small local businesses.