This single-page web builder is pretty simple, and allows any business to create a basic web page in no more than 10 minutes. It’s not supposed to be a replacement for a full, multi-page website that many businesses already have, but to help young businesses that are just coming online. The tool is accessible via Google My Business dashboard.
The most notable features of Google Site builder are:
- Automatic updates
- Free to use
- Custom domain name (at an additional cost)
- Manageable via smartphone
- The ability to place ads on the site
In order to use this website builder, you need to have a verified listing on Google My Business. Business types include computer software and training, travel and tourism, real estate, and many others.
The tool lacks a number of features, such as control over title tags and meta-descriptions, structured data, social sharing buttons, and an easy way to create call-to-action buttons. On the other hand, this tool allows you to create a website in 5 minutes for a business with no web presence.
Google Site is free to use. However, if you want a custom domain (such as .org or .com), you’ll have to purchase it through Google domains. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a .business.site URL, which is less memorable to users and lacks the ranking potential of a website with a custom domain.
Google has big plans for the Google My Business Dashboard, and when Google Site is viewed together with Google My Business Chat and Google Posts, we can see the bigger picture. The company wants to create a place businesses will need to visit regularly.
These three products are direct competitors to Facebook’s ease-of-use and engagement for the small business management. This website-building tool is what Google really needs in order to take off in the developing world. Otherwise, they risk becoming irrelevant to small businesses.
Google doesn’t have a strong presence when it comes to smartphone apps and texting as a BC (brain-computer) interface, which gave Facebook and WeChat (in China) a great advantage over Google in the SMB arena. Thus, much of that information is not visible to Google’s bots. Google needs this website builder for two main reasons: to keep the “open” web relevant for SMB marketing, and to obtain and update SMB data.
However, it’s still not clear whether it alone will be of value in developed countries where websites are the norm, but it may be of value in developing countries. When paired with the previous efforts in the Google My Business Dashboard, it seems that Google has a fighting chance to level the playing field with Facebook, and maintain their leading role in the discovery of small businesses.
Google Site builder – initial impressions
How does this site builder hold up, especially with regard to SEO practices?
- Easy to create a single-page website
- Easy to add images, custom cover photo and business summary
- Can be highlighted on your Google My Business profile as your website
- Highlights contact and business hours info
- Embeds a Google Map with business location and directions
- Can be managed in your Google My Business profile
- No option for creating additional pages
- No Analytics integration
- No ability to add meta-descriptions and custom page titles
- Cannot implement additional call-to-action buttons
- Cannot add alt text to images
- No social sharing buttons
- No ability to add a structured data markup (which is very important for small businesses)
From an SEO perspective, there are quite a few downsides that we can’t turn a blind eye to. Google will, hopefully, continue to expand and update this tool to provide more robust functionality to businesses around the world. According to Quikclicks, it’s nearly impossible to rank for industry-related keywords with just a Google My Business page.
In mid-January of this year, there were 122,000 websites that were using Google Sites. In June, there were 269,000 sites with the URL used for earlier testing and 43,5000 websites at the business.site domain, with sites coming online at the rate of around 1,500 per day.
Should SMB owners use Google Sites?
The question of whether small business owners should or shouldn’t use Google My Business site builder depends on what they are after. You should do it if you don’t have the funds to have a full website built for you on a more robust platform. In that case, you should use this tool and at least purchase a custom domain (instead of using the default URL).
On the other hand, even Google’s Blogger.com (free blogging platform) is a more SEO-friendly alternative. However, if you want a simple website that you can manage from your smartphone and are not in a competitive local market, this is the right way to go.
** About the Author: Dan Radak is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, including closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and regular contributor to Technivorz.