I started blogging around a year back. And Blogger as expected was the first service I used. It was weird and it was simple. Never before was web publishing so much fun. Blogger.com made blogging as easy as web mail. You sign for the service, chose a name and simply start blogging! It was really as easy as type and click. Then in later days, I got myself some web space and started publishing to my domain. Blogger was still fun. It stored my FTP details and did all the dirty job of rebuilding and uploading the latest files.
Then Google bought Blogger and revamped the service. It made the service better as a big brand got associated with it. But unfortunately for me, one fine day the FTP service simply died on me. It started giving errors to my working FTP settings. I tried everything but could not get it to work. That day, I switched to B2 (later to WordPress) and never looked back…
Today, I got the news that Blogger was revamped again. And they fixed some of the most basic flaws of the original services. They added comments! And Blog by mail. Totally awesome. Late but still not bad. Time to see what Blogger has in store for me now!
The new interface actually rocks. I love the simplicity of the new interface. Step by step tour, the direct approach to various Blogs from the dashboard. Starting a new Blog is as simple as adding a new title, URI and selecting a template and you are ready to go. It is really push button publishing. Of course, the user is still free to customize all the aspects of templates and other settings.
The things that are new are the ability to enable comments for the posts and post by email. Comments can be enabled/disabled by post and default settings can be set in the preferences. Blogging by email could not have been simpler. Blogger let you make a unique email id (email@example.com). And to Blog by email you just have to email at this ID. Subject of the email is taken as the post title and mail content as the post content. There is no complications like login ID or password! This makes community posting incredibly simple. But also, if some malicious individual get hold of this ID, he can simply junk post on your Blog. So, a unique ID is preferred.
2 weird things I noticed while testing Blog by posting. I had the comments set to enable by default in settings, still all the posts by mail had comments disabled. Maybe this is for security reasons. Also, all the mails sent to the specified address bounced back, still the posts were published. Initial hiccups perhaps.
Web standards… Google has not been very popular for these. The new Blogger actually does something on this front. The new Blogger has 26 new templates created by some of the brightest web designers and the templates are said to be standard compliant. Still when I tried to validate the test Blogs, they had many validation errors. Blogger’s homepage too does not validate. Maybe these issues will be sorted out with time.
Google also introduces post pages. This means all individual posts now can have their own pages. This makes for excellent content management resulting in great Search Engine optimized pages with nice title tags. Also new is the ability to publish images (for FTP enabled Blogs) and inserting them into posts. For bloggers without access to FTP servers, Google has partnered with a service called Hello.com to provide free space for hosting images.
Who is Blogger for?
Casual bloggers comes to mind. With comments and Blog by mail features, this makes it a better and more complete blogging service. Community features are introduced with profiles but still it is no competition for LiveJournal. You can search other bloggers on the basis of keywords but there are no friend’s pages. Maybe Google will introduce more community features in the future. And of course you don’t have to pay for anything!
Bloggers with their own web space but little expertise with installing web based packages or without PHP/MySQL facilities are also good candidates for Blogger. Most of the other Blog tools out there such as MT or WP need some or the other scripts and databases support. Blogger only requires FTP access. Thus you can host an advertisement free Blog on your domain using Blogger. No need to install and worry about Blog tools. Blogging is of course about writing not programming!
Who should avoid Blogger?
G33ks. People who like to do stuff their way. Who just cannot stand staying within limits. Who like to add their own features.
Bloggers who don’t like rebuilding the whole Blog structure every time they make a minor change in the template. Blogger actually has some publishing bugs. If you change the location on the FTP for archive files, rebuilding don’t remove the old files! Also, space consumption for static HTML files can be a problem in long run too. Rebuilding Blogs with lot of content does not sound fun too.
I for myself am pretty content with WordPress. But Blogger for once really excited me with the simplicity and the beauty of one click posting. I would really recommend Blogger to first time bloggers. For old timers, well… Comments and Post by mail are not exactly revolutionary. LiveJournal still rocks with its community features. But knowing Google, it’s not a surprise… Google’s Blogger.com still is the most used Blog tool out there and with these new features, it will grow only bigger!
How do Blogs do in Search Engines?
Blogs do surprisingly good in search engines. Google especially like Blogs. Blogs are simple, full of content, gets updated frequently. Also, they are about the current happenings. All these factors make for great fodder for search engines. If you Google a lot, you would be surprised to see how much Blog features in top results. And good Blog tools make pages that are optimized for Search Engines. Blogger’s new post pages are custom made to do well in Google. The post title also comes in the title tag of the HTML thus becomes a great tool to optimize the post for search engines!
Start blogging with Blogger.com
Sushubh Mittal is the Tech Columnist at Blog Search Engine Blog and also the publisher of TechWhack, an upcoming Blog Portal on technology.