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Google Sites

Once you set up an account with Google you can easily create and manage a website.

On www.google.com or www.google.co.uk on the menu bar click on the "More" menu and select "Even More". Under the heading "Home & Office" on that page click on "Sites".

There is a button "Create" click on it to create your website which will have a URL like this;
  • https://sites.google.com/site/mysitename/
where "mysitename" is the name you chose and you could leave it there.

Google Analytics (GA)

Google Analytics gives you a picture of who is coming to a website, how many hits a site gets, how people are finding the site and what content is popular, so its a nice thing to set up. Just click onthe above link and then "Create an Account".

It is fairly self evident but I did have a few problems that were not answered by google. The lack of a tree structure in the forums means you can only reply to the main query. So here are a few points that caused me and are still causing me problems. Notably this only applies if you're using google sites.

Inserting google analytics tracking code on google sites

When you register with google analytics how do you insert the Javascript tracking code? You don't. GS does that for you but if you can't see any visits it might be for the reasons below.

0 People visited this site

Why can't I see a count for visits I know have happened? Two possible reasons;

  1. It can easily take 24 hours for Google to count a visit.
  2. Just below the top right on most pages is a date range. If you don't set this to cover the dates you want you will see 0 just about everywhere. It seems the application starts up, in my case, covering the month before I actually started the website!

Don't count own visits

If you are using google analytics on google sites, how can you stop your own visits to your own site being counted?

1. Go to the dashboard.
2, On the top left on the orange bar click on "Analytics Settings"
3. On the bottom right, click on Filter Manager.
4. On the right of the grey bar click on "+ Add Filter"
5. Choose any Filter Name you like for the filter you are creating e.g. "ExcludeMe"
6. Select "Custom filter"
7. Select "Exclude"
8. In the Filter Field choose "User Defined"
9. In the Filter Pattern write "admin" (without the quotes).
10. Your website URL should appear under "Available Website Profiles" add it to "Selected Website Profiles"
11. Now click on "Save Changes" and your done.  

How do I add an account for another Google Site?

You have to click "Admin" on the top right. The site page opens.with three columns the first is labelled "ACCOUNT" and just under that wort is a drop down menu box. The last item on the menu is "create new account". Fill in the form and it will give you an Analytics Web Property ID‎ which will look something like UA-12345-12.

Go onto the google site, click on "More" then choose ""Manage site". Look down to find the heading "Statistics", tick "Enable Google Analytics" and enter your Analytics Web Property ID.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is designed to provide a picture on how a website is seen by a search engine. Specifically, GWT provides information about crawling, search results, links, site configuration, diagnostic problems. Details can be found here.

I ecountered the following problems;

0 URLs in web index

I have submitted a sitemap and have a green tick under status, but there are 0 URLs in web index? I'm still waiting to see what happens myself on this one but I think its probably just a wait. Sorry.
OK probably a month later and the figure appears 3 months later and I have 70 URLs

Keywords No Data Available

I have submitted a sitemap and have a green tick under status, but there are no keywords shown for my site? Even though Google is crawling your site it doesn't do its analysis quickly. It took just under 2 weeks and then the words were there. Notably the day before they appeared I changed my site description to include phrases I thought people would search for. You will notice that the title of this section is not the whole question but a simple phrase that google can match more easily. If your here it possibly worked! Again 3 months later I have a list of sensible keywords.

Crawl Errors

When I changed URLs for my pages I submitted a new sitemap so why do I get my first crawl errors based on the old sitemap submitted days before? My suspicion is that sitmaps to be crawled are sent by google to various of their computers and queued. So a sitemap update will not always catch up with an old sitemap in time. A shame since it took a week or more for the first sitemap to be crawled and disappointing since it was a waste of time to crawl it. Never mind.

Wrong Key Words

It does make you wonder when the top key word for this site is energy and although the second is money, that lands my on my comments about making money from this site, on my home page! A search for "mydropintheocean" will land on "low energy light bulbs" one of the minor topics of this site. I wonder if a title like "FOREX Folk Law" would bring me people wanting to look at folk law, or foreign exchange, as intended. I trust that it is a learning process for google.

I wish google sites had a way to not publish individual pages.

Three months later and google has correctly key worded my site without me faking anything or repeating words for no reason. It just happened.

Your Own Site Name

When running a google site you can customise it and make it appear as your own site e.g. www.mysite.com here is how.

If you have not verified your site name with google you will need to do so first.

Verify Site

Go to Webmasters Tools and click on the "ADD A SITE" button on the top right. (If you don't have an account you will need to open one.)

Enter your site name www.mysite.com and then click continue.

Choose the "Alternate Methods" Tab.

Choose "Domain name provider"  then enter your domain name provider if its not already there, for me that is Fasthosts.co.uk where I have an account.

Now almost at the bottom of the page is the option "Add a CNAME record" click on it.
Google then gives you;

"CNAME Label/Host" and a code
"CNAME Destination / Target:" and another code

These go into the DNS CNAME record "Host Name" and "Points To" fields on the  fasthosts.co.uk website.

WARNING: The CNAME Label / Host provided by google already contains the site name which is then added again by fasthosts. Check that your provider isn't adding this again also.

You will also need to create a second DNS CNAME record at fasthosts.co.uk with "Host Name" as www and "Points To" as ghs.google.com

You will also need to create a third DNS CNAME record at fasthosts.co.uk with "Host Name" empty and "Points To" as ghs.google.com this stops nasty people like GoDaddy picking up when people forget the www when they type the URL.

Once they are saved wait a minute or two then you can go back to the Google Sites page and click on the "Verify" button. After a few seconds it should come back saying "Congratulations, you have successfully verified your ownership www.mysite.com

Now continue to add your domain name below.

Add Your Domain Name

In the GS Editor at the top right choose More->ManageSite. On the left hand side menu choose WebAddress. In the "Add a web address:" field enter www.mysite.com and click on the "Add" button above. It appear in the list headed "Web addresses for this site:".

It can take 5 or 10 minutes before your domain will work. They say up to 24 hours but I have never found it to be that long.

(C)2010 Tom de Havas. The information under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.