Looking to build a new website or give your current site a makeover? Google Sites let you quickly create and customize websites with an accessible and easy-to-use platform.
If you’re an experienced website builder or consider yourself particularly tech-savvy, Google’s framework provides plenty of web development and deployment options to leverage at your leisure.
Meanwhile, if you’d prefer a more step-by-step approach, we’ve got you covered with this in-depth guide to Google Sites.
Google Sites is a free webpage creation and publishing platform. Its “classic” version looked a lot like Google Docs, while the new iteration of Sites works more like Google Forms with the ability to add different elements to the page via a straightforward "what you see is what you get" interface.
If you’ve got a Classic site already up and running, it’s a good idea to make the switch — the new Google Sites design framework is much easier to use thanks to drag-and-drop design elements and the ability to quickly insert text, images, and videos.
How to Use Google Sites
- 1. Open Google Sites.
- 2. Open the Google Sites Support Page.
- 3. Add layouts, text, and images.
- 4. Use free or paid templates to help your site stand out.
- 5. Click “Publish” when you’re done.
- 6. Let others view or edit your website.
Not sure how to get your Google Site off the ground? Start with our step-by-step guide.
Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail.
1. Open Google Sites.
Head to Google Sites to start creating your new website. Click the "+" in the bottom corner to get started.
2. Open the Google Sites Support Page.
Since you’ll probably have some questions during the process, it’s worth opening the Google Sites Support Page for a list of some of the most common Google Sites functions. Keep this tab up as you build your website.
3. Add layouts, text, and images.
Using the right-hand sidebar, you can add layouts, text, images, and videos to any Google Sites page.
4. Use free or paid templates and themes to help your site stand out.
Free templates are available directly from Google, allowing you quickly change things like fonts, color schemes, or layouts. You can also purchase and install new themes and templates. I’ve included a handful of top templates and themes below.
5. Click "Publish" when you’re done.
Choose a new URL or link your site to a domain name you already own.
6. Allow others to view or edit your site.
Just like Google Docs, you can get a shareable link to let others view your site or edit your site.
Seems easy, right? It is — for the most part — thanks to Google’s efforts in streamlining the creation and publishing process. But let’s dig a little deeper; here’s a step-by-step guide for how to make a website for free on Google.
How to Make a Website for Free on Google
- Open Google Sites.
- Name your Google Site.
- Title your first web page.
- Choose your Site layout.
- Create additional pages.
- Expand your Site content.
- Choose and add a theme.
- Publish your Google Site.
- Choose your web address and set viewing rights.
- Incorporate your own URL.
1. Open Google Sites.
Head to Google Sites to get started. Click on the multicolored “+” button in the bottom right.
2. Name your Google Site.
In the top-left of the screen click Enter Site Name and choose a name for your new website.
3. Title your first web page.
Click on Your Page Title and enter a title for your page. You can change the font size, add bold or italic text, and include links.
4. Choose your Site layout.
On the sidebar, you’ll see multiple options for page layouts including single images with text, multiple images, and more. Click on the layout you prefer or drag-and-drop it into your new website.
5. Create additional pages.
As you create more web pages, add titles and body text in the Click to edit text area, then click on the “+”. This brings up a menu that lets you upload media — an image from your computer or Google Drive, a video from YouTube, or a Google Maps image.
6. Expand your Site content.
Add additional context and content using the menu on the bottom-right of the screen. Here, you’ll find options to include collapsible text menus, tables of contents, image carousels, and even buttons. Need inspiration? Check out our Google Sites examples below.
7. Choose and add a theme.
Click Themes and choose from six available free themes with multiple color schemes and fonts. (I’ve included a few top themes below.)
8. Publish your Google Site.
When you’re happy with your site’s layout and content, click Publish in the upper-right hand corner.
9. Choose your web address and set viewing rights.
You can now select a web address and select viewing or editing rights for your site, allowing visitors to simply view your site or make changes.
10. Incorporate your own URL.
If you prefer to use a URL you already own, visit this Google Support page and follow the steps listed — you’ll need to verify you own the URL, point your URL to your Google Site through your hosting provider’s platform, and then directly assign your custom URL. You can also register a new domain name for your Google Site.
Google Sites FAQs
1. Are Google Sites free?
Google Sites are completely free with any standard Google account. Users can make as many websites as they want and enjoy 15GB of storage for files — although it’s worth noting that this storage is shared with all your other Google apps.
2. Is Google Sites a good website builder?
The answer depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re building your first site to generate customer interest and establish a digital presence, Google Sites is an ideal starting point because it’s free, easy to use, and naturally integrates with other Google services.
If you’re looking to build a more robust sales or service website, however, you may be better served by more robust site design tools that come with a monthly or yearly cost.
3. How do I upload to my website on Google Sites?
Uploading files to your website is simple: Open your site, select “Insert” select the file you want to upload, click Insert again, and then Publish in the top right-hand corner. Worth noting? Google’s official help page recommends first publishing your file in Docs, Sheets, or Slides before uploading to improve response times.
4. How do I earn money from Google Sites?
While it’s possible to sell products or services on your Google site — especially if you have a Google Business account — the easiest way to earn money is by displaying ads using Google AdSense.
First, create an AdSense account. Then, head to the More Actions menu at the top-right of your site and click on Manage Site.
Next, click on Monetize on the left-hand side of the page, then Monetize this site. You’ll be prompted to log in to your AdSense account — once that’s done, open any of your site’s pages in edit mode, select Insert, and then AdSense to insert ads directly onto the page or into the sidebar.
You can also customize displayed ads to ensure they match the overall theme or tone of your site — and if users decide to click through, you get a small payment for facilitating the click.
5. How do I point my domain to Google sites?
When you make a Google site, the URL will display as sites.google.com/a/domain/yoursitename — and while this works for personal pages, you may want a custom URL if you’re planning to use your site for professional activities or product sales.
To point your own domain to a Google site, start by registering your preferred domain with a domain name registrar. Next, head to the Sites setting of your Admin console and select Custom URL then click Add, Continue, and enter your current Google Sites domain. Select Continue again and then enter your custom URL and click “Add Custom URL.”
6. How do I delete a page on Google Sites?
To delete a page on Google Sites, click Pages on the right-hand side of your site, then select More for the page you want to remove and choose Delete.
Made a mistake? Sites pages are stored as files in Google Drive Trash and can be restored. To permanently delete a page or site, you also need to empty your Google Drive Trash.
Google Sites Examples
So what does a great Google site look like? Here are some great examples.
The Jirvus Technoloiges website was made using the Modern template in Google Sites. It’s simple, easy-to-navigate, and includes an eye-catching image.
The KeyIngredient website uses a custom-built Google Site that includes an image carousel. All the images can be clicked and take users to specific recipes, making the site easy to navigate.
The JSVFOTO website is extremely simple but effective: Each image links to a specific photo category. Without large blocks of text and thanks to the generous use of white space, this site easily stands out.
4. Filip Rzepka
Filip Rzepka is a Czech videographer and video editor with commercial and set experience and a focus on storytelling with the camera. The homepage of his site is striking with its dark colors, white text, and subtle movement.
This organization provides IT consultancy services, auditing, and project work to businesses ranging from manufacturing to financial services. The user is met with big, bold text and a cool color scheme the moment they hit the page.
PCS is a professional technical sales organization in the electrical industry, and they use a dynamic, compelling image of a power plant on their home page. This coupled with the hexagonal icons to guide the user through the site makes for a streamlined user experience.
While Google Sites may have limited functionality as a website builder, graphic designer Joshua Pomeroy uses a simple full-width grid layout to let his work speak for itself.
Best Google Sites Templates and Themes
As noted above, Google Sites offers several free templates and themes. Here’s a look at some of the most useful.
1. Creative Website by Namecheap
Domain name registrar Namecheap offers several Google templates to help streamline your site-building. Its Creative Website template is eye-catching and also offers a gallery preview to showcase your best work for visitors who click through to your home page.
2. Consulting Experts by Steegle
Consulting Experts is a full-width website that comes with an image carousel and Google Maps integration, making it perfect for B2B-style single- or multi-page websites.
3. Learning Journey by Google
This template offered by Google provides a great starting point for teachers looking to encourage student development. By giving them a customizable space to talk about their achievements, strengths, and goals, this template makes it easier to manage learning journeys across multiple online classes.
4. Accounting Team by Steegle
Accounting Team has a full-width and mobile-responsive layout, and it's equipped with an icon set and social media buttons. You'll enjoy the bold look and clean lines.
5. Child Care by SOS Templates
This template provides a springboard for child care companies looking to build their online brand but who may not have the technical expertise or time to create their site from scratch. The template comes complete with topbar navigation sections, along with useful links for interested parents.
6. Event Template by Google
Another built-by-Google offering, the Event Template offers a built-in RSVP button along with sections for day-by-day detail breakdowns, speaker profiles, and venue information.
If you’re ready to get your site up and running, Google Sites makes it easy to design your own page with a simple interface and multiple templates. Prefer a helping hand? Try CMS Hub — our certified agency partners can help migrate or redesign your site and let you focus on running your business.
Google Sites Tips
Want to make your Google Site stand out from the crowd? We’ve got you covered with some great site-building tips.
1. Build CTA buttons.
If you’re looking to capture visitor attention and drive sales or service conversion, you need a strong call to action (CTA) that clearly communicates what your brand is about and what you offer. Along with compelling copy for your CTA, it’s also a good idea to add CTA buttons that let users click through to newsletter signups or download pages that offer immediate value.
2. Create a table of contents.
For pages that have a substantial amount of content, it’s a good idea to create a table of contents (ToC) that makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for with a single click. Here’s why: If you make users scroll and scroll and scroll to find specific information, they’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
3. Take advantage of Google tools.
Slow pages frustrate users and make it hard to capture attention. As a result, it’s a good idea to leverage tools like Google Page Speed Insights to see how your site is performing and where it can be improved.
4. Improve your contact page.
It’s also a good idea to boost the impact of your contact page. This means going beyond basic email addresses to offer multiple ways for customers to get in touch. Where possible, include a contact form, email address, phone number, and social accounts to cast the broadest net possible.
5. Streamline navigation.
Keep your site simple to encourage repeat visits. This means keeping on-screen links to a minimum — while one CTA button may be compelling, seven or eight are irritating. It’s also a good idea to choose one organizational structure and stick with it.
For example, you might choose top-bar menu navigation or opt for a side-bar approach. Both are workable — but pick one to ensure streamlined navigation.
Get Started with Google Sites
Google Sites is an easy-to-use website-building platform that lets you quickly create and publish new sites. While it can’t compete with some more in-depth, paid, and freemium alternatives — such as Squarespace or Wix — it’s a great way to get your site up and running without the costs of professional design and development.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jun 14, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated June 14 2021