If you asked me to list the top ten free site builders with reliability, ease of use, and a custom domain, Google Sites is definitely up there. However, as I shared in our Google Sites review, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not the strongest department of Google Sites when we compare it to competitors such as WordPress, Wix, and Blogger.
Yes, you can use Google Sites to sell digital products and services and even for affiliate marketing. But, there is one thing missing when it comes to Google Sites, which may be crucial for your business.
It’s SEO on Google Sites.
Google Sites does not offer a sufficient number of SEO settings.
So, can’t you optimize your Google Site for SEO?
Well, technically, you can.
In our previous guide to Blogger SEO, we shared how you can optimize Google’s hosted free blog platform, Blogger, for search engines. However, in this guide on Google Sites SEO, you can find tips to ensure your Google Sites has an advantage over competitors regarding Search Engine Optimization.
Is Google Sites SEO-friendly?
But that does not mean you cannot rank on Google (or any other search engine). Nowadays, it’s not just about the SEO tools on a site builder but how you deliver value to users, which will ultimately help you achieve a higher rank in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Google Sites SEO Guide: How to do SEO for Google Sites
Make site indexable
The first step should be making your Google Site publically accessible, and search engine crawlers such as Googlebot can crawl the content.
Ensure the site is set to anyone on the internet who can find and open it.
Use a custom domain name.
When you make the site published, the URL for the site will look like: https://sites.google.com/view/<NAME-OF-SITE> (ex: https://sites.google.com/view/ads-arbitrage)
However, how often have you seen websites like that (i.e., Google Sites without custom domain names) rank at the top of Google? Sure, there are circumstances in which sub-domain websites rank on Google, especially for low, competitive keywords. However, if you want to represent a serious business entity among Google users and Google, you have no choice but to use a custom domain name.
The good part is it’s cheap to set up a domain, mainly popular domain extensions like .com.
First, confirm if your dream domain name is available to buy. How do you do that?
Use one of the domain name checker tools.
Once you find an available domain, do not be late, as some weird things can happen to your just-searched domain! Use a registrar like NameCheap, Porkbun, or Cloudflare to buy it.
Once bought, I recommend using a DNS management service like Cloudflare to host it. It comes with many useful features, such as free SSL, protection from attacks & bots, and analytics.
Now, set it up for your Google Site.
Set up a custom domain for Google Sites
Enter the domain name you want to add to the Google Sites. You can add the root domain or a sub-domain (e.g., www.example.com, pages.example.com). In my case, I added gs.chamal.co as the domain name for this particular Google Site.
Click on the link with “Verify your ownership,” and in a new tab, you will be directed to the Google Search Console. You can verify it on that page. If you manage the domain via Cloudflare, you will see a screen similar to the one below.
Click on “Start Verification” and confirm the new TXT record.
Now, under custom domain setup in your Google Sites, click on the “Next” button.
Add the final record manually.
Turn on Proxy to enable Cloudflare’s protection.
That’s it. Now, you have set up the custom domain name for Google Sites.
A custom domain name alone is enough for Google Sites’ SEO. Keywords are the next important thing to optimize Google Sites pages for search engine rankings.
Keywords are popular search terms search engines use to find content online.
For example, take the Apple Vision Pro. It’s pretty sure millions of people search Google for the details related to Vision Pro. So, “Apple Vision Pro” is itself a keyword, which is also known as a broad-match keyword as there could be prefixes and suffixes to it like Apple Vision Pro features, how to sideload games on Apple Vision Pro headset, accessories for Apple Vision Pro for carrying.
Including keywords in your Google Sites helps search engine crawlers understand what your page(s) are about.
How to find keywords for Google Sites SEO
The keywords should be related to your content, sprinkled naturally, and not stuffed everywhere.
Here are a few guides to help you with keyword research for SEO:
- How to find low-competitive, high-volume keywords
- The beginner’s guide to Semrush’s keyword research tools
Where to use keywords in Google Sites
Using keywords properly is also as important as researching them.
Here is how to use them:
- In title — Keyword implementation in tile is, in fact, paramount. Having your main keyword in the title will help get more clicks on SERPs, a search engine ranking factor. (source)
- In content — Add the keyword and its variations within the content. Try to use the main keyword within the first 10% of the content.
- In headings — Heading tags H1 – H6 are used to structure and organize content. H1 is the most important heading, while H6 is the least important. That does not mean you should always use the H1 or H2, not H5 or H6.
- In images’ ALT tags — The alternative tag of an image is the indicator for search engine bots to know what your graphic or image is about. Make the ALT text (i.e., alternative text) descriptive and use it to include keywords.
User experience is a big part of any marketing campaign. It’s the same for Google Sites SEO as well.
Use proper heading tags, bullet points, font sizes, colors, Google Sites template, white space, and visual content to structure content.
To structure the site, add subpages under a main page.
These links will appear on your menu bar and probably in Google search (as Sitelinks).
Internal linking is a big part of the on-page SEO of Google Sites. Internal links give many benefits:
- Users can navigate to related content
- Search engine bots will crawl linked content
- Passes link juice or the power to the linked content
- Improves user engagement signals such as the average time on site and decreased bounce rate.
Use keywords in anchor text to take advantage of SEO for Google Sites. SEO audit software such as WebSite Auditor helps with internal linking stats (inbound and outbound links, anchor texts). Check the review on WebSite Auditor to learn more.
Optimize the title and permalink.
These two things are two of the most overlooked aspects when it comes to Google Sites search engine optimization. It’s pretty simple things to do as well.
For the title optimization, ensure the content is within the allowed pixel length for desktop and mobile users. What does that mean?
Google truncates excessive characters in the title. You can check how your title might look in Google SERPs using a simulator like Mangools.
Similarly, the URL should be concise, to the point, and easy to recall. Therefore, customize the permalink when creating a page.
Create valuable content
At the end of the day, the purpose of your content should be to serve your users. Google does not want fluff or misleading content ranked at the top of Google because it loses Google’s users and might use a competitor like Bing.
Therefore, research SERPs for the topic you want to write on and find which type of content ranks on top and which Google prefers as the most helpful.
Integrate images, slideshows, videos, and downloadable resources to make the content more helpful. You can embed PPTX, PDF, and XLSX files on your site using a file viewer widget.
If your content is lengthier, add the Table of Contents to the article so readers can jump into sections easily, and search engines might add them on SERPs.
Check out our ultimate guide to Google Sites Widgets and Plugins to find a list of essential tools for Google Sites to upgrade your site.
Submit your site to search engines.
One of the essential parts of Google Sites SEO is submitting your site to Google Search Console and other webmaster tools.
This allows you to track which keywords rank on Google (and analyze their rankings, positions, CTR, and compare performance), add a sitemap, check page experience reports such as Core Web Vitals, and remove a page from Google Search.
Here are tutorials to learn more on this topic:
- How to add your site to Google Search Console
- How to verify your website on Bing Webmaster Tools
- How to submit your site to Yandex
Another benefit of submitting your site to search engines is that you can manually force index particular web pages. This allows you not to wait weeks and months to get Google Sites pages ranked on Google.
Integrate a dynamic, indexable content feed.
Dynamic content feed adds content periodically to the Google Sites. This regular accumulation of new content gets the search engine bots to crawl your site regularly and, importantly, make your site rank for more keywords.
One of the best dynamic content feeds for a website is a blog. Even though Google Sites is not a blogging site, you can still create a blog for Google Sites.
EEAT stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust.
These are a few factors that determine your site’s rank on Google.
Here are a few tips to improve EEAT.
- Add an About page and include links to other websites, social profiles, and business addresses. Create an embeddable map with multiple locations if your business has multiple locations.
- Create a Contact Us page and add a phone number, email address, and physical address. Use one of these widgets to add a Contact Us form with custom fields and autoresponder.
- Build backlinks to your site by creating linkable resources and following up with related sites.
- Build up the topical authority of a niche by covering all aspects of the niche but just one part of it. For that, you can use a topic research tool like WriterZen.
Content publication frequency
There is a clear difference between a site with ten pages and one with 100. Sure, in some circumstances, a site with ten pages can have more traffic and sales than the other. However, it is mostly specific cases.
You have to publish and cover a lot for most niches to make it work. The more articles your site has, the more doorways to your site and the more keywords it ranks for.
Prepare a content plan and quickly produce quality content. That is one sure way of getting the eyeballs for your site in the age of heavy competition.
Conclusion on Google Sites SEO
Google Sites SEO settings are literally non-existent. However, with Whitehat SEO, you can use common on-page SEO strategies to boost organic traffic.
Also, tracking your keyword rankings is recommended to monitor the progress and visibility on mobile and desktop devices.