Alternatives to Google Sites for Building a Website

google sites alternatives

Alternatives to Google Sites

Google Sites was a simple solution for small businesses to have a web presence with minimal effort.  Unfortunately, Google has decided to shut down this service March 1, 2024.

If you have not converted your site yet, or made a copy of the content on your business site created from your Google Business Profile, here are a couple quick tips to save a copy now.

Are you looking for an alternative to Google Sites since it’s shutting down?  This guide will explore other options with some popular website builders, both free and paid, to get you back on track. Whether you’re a small business owner or an individual needing a simple online presence, there’s a solution for you.

Free Website Builders  –  DIY Solution

  • Wix: This user-friendly platform offers a drag-and-drop interface, perfect for beginners. While the free plan has limitations, paid plans start at $13/month and offer more storage, bandwidth, and the ability to remove Wix ads. View Plans and Pricing.
  • Weebly: Another beginner-friendly option, Weebly also offers a free plan with limitations. Paid plans start at $6/month and provide increased customization and features. View Plans and Pricing.
  • WordPress.com: A hosted version of the popular WordPress platform, WordPress.com is great for basic websites and blogs. It includes a free plan and paid plans starting at $4/month for more storage and design options . View Plans and Pricing.

Pros of  Free Website Builders

  • Cost-effective: The have a low monthly cost to use.
  • Easy to use: You don’t have to know how to code.
  • You can get a web page build and on the Internet quickly.

Cons of Free Website Builders

  • Limited features: Free plans often restrict storage, bandwidth, and customization.
  • Less professional look: Free templates may appear generic compared to custom designs.
  • Ads: Many free plans display ads on your website.
  • Most free plans do not allow you to have a custom domain name, so you have to use something like this: accountname.wixsite.com/site-name
  • While they are easy to use, you still have to put time into learning how the software works.
  • If you decide to move your website somewhere else, you have to rebuild it. You can not take the code with you.

Paid Website Builders  –  DIY Solution

These sites do offer a free trail, or a low promotional rate for the first billing term so you can try it out first.

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Pros of  Paid Website Builders

  • Paid plans offer more features like being able to connect your domain name, more control over SEO, marketing integrations
  • Web Designs/themes are higher quality and more to choose from
  • More storage space and bandwidth
  • No Builder branding or their ads showing
  • Better customer support for help and troubleshooting problems

Cons of  Paid Website Builders

  • Monthly fees, plus addons for addition features you may need.
  • The more features and complex software is, the steeper the learning curve. This can be time consuming and frustrating to get through.  Even though they may promote “drag and drop” page builder, building a website involves a lot more than putting text and images on a page.
  • If you decide to move your website somewhere else, you have to rebuild it. You can not take their website code with you.

Paid site builders offer more polished templates, extra features, and dedicated support. But subscription costs and addon features can add up quickly. Plus you still have to invest time in learning the platform and building your site.

Consider your website’s purpose, features need, budget, and technical skills you have when making your decision.

Hiring a Web Developer – Hands Off Solution

Hiring a web designer /developer to get a  simple, one-page website up and running quickly is an alternate option. Many web designers focus on small business websites and offer affordable website packages that  include everything you need to get your website online. The best part is that they do everything for you.

  • Domain name setup: Your unique website address (e.g., [yourbusinessname].com).
  • Web hosting service: The home for your website’s files and data.
  • Professional one-page website design: A visually appealing page with content integrated from your Google Business Profile.
  • Mobile-friendly design: Ensures your website looks great and functions smoothly on all devices.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices: Implemented to improve your website’s ranking in search results.
  • Ongoing maintenance and support: I’ll handle updates and security for your peace of mind.

This stress-free and budget-friendly package is the perfect way to get online quickly without sacrificing quality or ability to grow down the road.  With a self hosted website, you don’t run into problems that you do with website builder services like, outgrowing the limited features they offer, or if you want to move your website somewhere else, it can just be moved, it does not need to be rebuilt.

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Why Consider a Professional Web Developer?

While free website builders and paid website builders will always come out on top when it comes to pricing,  the whole “do it yourself” mentality with website builders is a big turn off to many small business owners.

  • You have to learn how to use the software.
  • You have to have some technical understanding of how website building works in terms of domain names, connecting other services and publishing websites.
  • You have to have the time to build and maintain your site.
  • If you really want your website to promote your business and gain new customers, a free website is never going to rank well in search engines.
  • If you want to develop and grow your website as your business grows, website builders fall short here.

 

In Summary:
DIY builders vs. Professional website builders (designers/developers)

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Website Builders

  • Pros: Cost-effective, good for basic needs.
  • Cons: Time-consuming, requires learning curve, limited design options, potential for technical issues.

The biggest downside to working with a website builder is that they have full control over your website. If they decide to shut down, you are out of luck.  It doesn’t matter if they are a large established website.  Google, the biggest monster on the Internet is shutting down their Google Sites service. Other huge companies have shut down in the past that I have rebuilt many websites for small business owners because of it. Magento Go in 2015 and more recently Webs in Aug 2023 to name a few.  This affected hundreds of thousands of small businesses.

Hiring a Web Builder

  • Pros: Professional design, SEO expertise, mobile-friendly, stress-free development, ongoing support.
  • Cons: Costs more than website builders.

Hiring a professional to rebuild your website saves you the time and frustration of learning how to having to do it yourself. Every small business owner needs a website to compete with every other small business out there.  Having a professional web site will make a difference in potential customers contacting you.

With Google Sites’ closing, you need an alternative solution fast if you want to keep your web presence.  Whether you’re considering a DIY approach with free or paid site builders or thinking about the hassle-free route of hiring a web designer, weigh the pros and cons based on your specific needs and expertise. If you’re leaning towards a stress-free, hands off solution,  check out Freelance Web Programmer’s affordable 1 page website package, designed  specifically for small business owners that are getting hit by Google Sites going away.

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