Ad.Money.Web // Googlepages Review
Articles with Tips, Tricks, and Issues about the Internet, Advertising, and Websites.
Google is on track to revolutionize the free web hosting business, and more importantly the relationship between host and publishers. If they play their cards right, the repercussions for the industry could be at least as big as what happened when G-mail came out. That is a very good thing for you and I.
But they have some pretty big hurdles to cross first and perhaps a bit of soul searching to find a direction before they're ready to make a splash. Have faith ye Google followers - they're still working it out in the labs (and haven't even released their services into the near universal "beta" mode yet.)
Google Page Creator is a simple WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") editor that gives you professional site designs almost from step one. All the available templates have that slick web 2.0 or bloggy feel to them, and are very adaptable in terms of including or excluding headers, banners, sidebars, and columns. The websites are hosted on googlepages.com with a storage space up to 100 MB (compared to other services' paltry 15-25 MB, a big selling point that will likely force rivals to also increase their storage space much like what happened when Gmail released with a Gigabyte of free e-mail storage.)
The big advantage over competitors: The websites appear without any intrusive advertisements or popups.
The Page Creator itself is simple and streamlined - anyone familiar with Blogger will feel right at home with its edit and Publish style. Even complete newbies will have a professional looking site within minutes. Seriously. You'll likely wind up publishing a whole lot of professional-looking nothing before you get the hang of this product, but it is pretty quick to learn.
The client runs in your browser and automatically saves progress as you go, which you can then publish to the web when you want. The Page creator comes with an automatic image editor, so you literally have all the tools you need to create a basic web page from any computer anywhere. All you need is content.
For more advanced users, the Page creator allows you to insert snippets of raw HTML code in places, upload your own files and images, and make use of up to 5 different subdomains per account. Subdomains can contain periods in them, so you can have johndoe.googlepages.com as well as john.doe.googlepages.com under your control. Anyone familiar with SEO should know why this is a huge bonus.
The Page creator is simple. The Host has lots of space. More advanced users can do some fun things or mostly just make use of googlepages as an ad-free host. Google allows the inclusion of some pretty fun "gadgets" to spruce up your site like a Google Maps client. Using the HTML insertion, you can include your own Google Adsense Ads on your page, earning both you and Google profits. Since the Googlepages.com domain is well on its way to being well known, Adsense publishers will be able to take advantage of the Site-wide ads it will attract. (Read more about the advantage of free sites like googlepages here.)
The Revolutionary Potential:
Autosave, image editing, and free webspace space without forced ads are welcome additions to the world of free webhosting solutions. But profits have to be made sooner or later, and that's when advertizing will reenter the equation. Luckily, this is where Google can gain an edge and redefine the relationship between host and publisher. On most free web servers, annoying ad code that ruins the design of your web page is inserted by the server, either causing annoying popups, the inclusion of big ugly banners at the top and bottom of the page, or a window-scrunching frame at the top or side to display ads so they can make money off of your hard work. Google doesn't do this. They display no ads at all. Afterall, why should they?
They have their Adsense program that has proven to be the most profitable web advertising setup in history by splitting pay between themselves and publishers like you and I. With Googlepages, they will probably gently encourage users to make use of it on their Googlepages, much the way they have on Blogger. If they follow the blogger model, they will facilitate successful publishers in setting up advertisements in the most effective manner possible, rather than ramming it down everyone's throat like with Yahoo! Geoshities
Suddenly the advertizing becomes a partnership between host and publisher, rather than a grudging exchange. Ads placed by the user at their discretion will likely have a higher clickthru rate than something automatically inserted way up top or down below - especially if the user has an incentive in making it work. In the end, while fewer websites will have ads on them than those hosted by competitors, each site on Googlepages with ads will be probably many times more profitable to both the user and Google than a comparable site for the competitor.
While the results of what you get with Page Creator look professional, it's mostly an illusion. A real web professional wouldn't touch this program with a ten foot pole right now. It's too limiting. You can't edit Meta information, include CSS in the header, or make any sort of major modifications to the designs of the templates outside of choosing how many columns you get. There seems to be no support for any server side languages like PHP. The program is very simple to learn, but even intermediate users should feel frustrated and limited by its capabilities pretty quickly. It's like chess, "Easy to learn; impossible to master."
Just using Googlepages as a host isn't really a fully viable option yet for the advanced user either. You can upload HTML pages as files if you wish, but you cannot currently set set the home page to one of your uploaded pages - you have to use one of those templated pages. So in the best case scenario, you are forced to create a glorified Splash page that will clash with everything else. Also, the page creator cannot edit created pages of your own -- you are stuck with the available themes.
Then things just get downright retarded. It seems that almost, if not all of the page templates are incompatible with many formats of Google Adsense ads. Could they really have been that sloppy? Horizontal link units and fullsize banners simply do not fit within the designs of the templates. Look at this very website for an example of the incompatibility. If they ever hope to turn a profit, let alone compete, basic errors like this are simply unacceptable.
Googlepages has to potential to change the way we do web design and publishers interact with free web hosts. But it's not there yet. The service is biased towards beginner users, but there are enough advanced features present to indicate Google is hoping to capture more savvy users as well. They need to pick a direction, or possibly offer two services/editors for beginners and advanced users. Advanced users who know how to and will voluntarily put ads on their websites are the ones who will help Google create an economically competetive business out of free web hosting, yet their concerns are severely underthought in the design of the service.
The potential for synergy with Blogger integration within sites (or at least common templates between Blogger and Googlepages) exists, and the potential profit for ads and offering other Google services means Google can have an easy winner, but they aren't there yet. I wouldn't recommend changing hosts to them for anyone but the most novice of users or more advanced users who are taking a longer term look at the free-hosting world.I'm betting Google will win this game, but they have a long way to go.