Software

How to embed content from the web to your Google Site

Feature content from Twitter, an RSS feed, or the web with this new change to Google Sites to easily access information in one place.

Illustration shows Google Site, with Twitter, RSS, and web site parts pointing to a Google Sites page
Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

As of December 2017, the new Google Sites lets you embed HTML and JavaScript, as well as other websites. That's a big change from a year ago when the new Google Sites mostly let you share items from Drive, YouTube, and a few other Google sources.

The changes make the new Google Sites an even more useful website and intranet site creation tool. Remember, a Site may be published either for anyone in the world to see, or restricted to only people at your organization. Embeddable content benefits both public and private Sites.

Embed Twitter content

For example, you can now embed content from Twitter in a Google Site. Obviously, on a public site, that serves as a way to embed recent Tweets. You can embed not only tweets, but also all sorts of other Twitter content, such as a collection, a list, a moment, a profile, or a hashtag. To embed any of these, copy the link to the content you want to embed, then go to https://publish.twitter.com/, paste the link in the box, choose how you want to display the content, then copy the embed code.

Screenshot of publish.twitter.com (shows URL box, with Twitter content options, such as collections, moments, profile, etc. displayed)

Go to https://publish.twitter.com to generate an embed code to customize how content from Twitter displays on your site.

Google Site embed

To embed content, choose "Embed," then select "Embed Code" (instead of URL) and paste your embed code into the box. Choose "Next" to see a preview of your embedded content. Select "Insert" to add it.

Screenshot of Google Sites' "Embed from web" feature (box with insert URL and Embed code options)

While editing a Google Site page, choose Embed, then paste a URL or Embed code.

Embed RSS

Google Sites also allows you to embed RSS feeds. Many news sites still serve RSS feeds: TechRepublic offers an RSS feed of all Google-related posts. You may also choose to receive Google Alerts via either RSS or email — so you can receive an alert whenever a new web page with a search term you choose appears.

To embed an RSS feed on the new Google Sites, I suggest you use a third-party tool, such as FeedWind or FeedGrabbr. Copy the link to the feed, then paste it into your third-party tool. Customize settings, then copy the embed code generated. Paste the embed code into your Google Site as above.

Screenshot from FeedWind widget with TechRepublic Google news RSS feed as the selected source.

To show content from an RSS feed on the new Google Sites, use a third-party service, such as FeedWind shown here, to generate an embed code.

Easier access

Embedded content on a Google Site makes it simpler for many people to access information. By embedding tweets or an RSS feed, people can see the latest news even if they don't actively use Twitter or an RSS reader. In a company, this may make a Google Site a great way to focus attention on relevant industry news. In a school, you could feature streams of content from teachers, parents, or for a specific classroom.

Screenshot from sample Google Site, with Twitter, RSS, and a website embedded.

As with most content on the new Google Sites, embedded content adjusts to display clearly on every screen size. This sample Google Site shows embedded content from Twitter (left), RSS via FeedWind (right top), and a website (right bottom).

If you block third-party content in Chrome, you may need to adjust your Chrome browser settings to allow Google Sites to show embedded content. When I first attempted to embed content from Twitter, nothing displayed. In Chrome, I went into Settings > Advanced > Content settings > Cookies > Allow. Then I added an entry: [*.]googleusercontent.com to allow Chrome to always access content. After that I was able to continue to block other third-party cookies, and embedded Google Sites content appeared as expected.

Screenshot of chrome://settings/content/cookies/

If you block third-party content in Chrome, add access to [*.]googleusercontent.com to allow embedded content to display properly on the new Google Sites.

Other Google Sites changes

In the last half of 2017, Google Sites received four other updates. First, Sites now include search: select the magnifying glass, then enter a search term (or if you use G Suite Business or Enterprise, the Cloud Search app searches the content of Sites in your domain). Second, Sites now supports a structure of up to 5 levels of nested pages, instead of two, which is welcome for more complex Sites. Third, organizations may appreciate the ability to add a single site-wide footer to a Site. Finally, it is now easier to share the URL of a Site: select the "Copy published site link" near the top of the page while editing.

Your thoughts?

Has the ability to embed content made the new Google Sites useful for you or your organization? Let me know what your experience has been in the comments or on Twitter (awolber).

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About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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