Important Update – 30th March, 2010:
It seems, as of the last couple of days, that Blogger has changed its attitude towards using Blogger blogs to funnel traffic towards affiliate sites. See this thread in the Warrior Forum, and note the 11th and 13th comments.
As a result, I strongly urge you to check the terms of service of Blogger (and, of course, WordPress.com) before deciding how you’re going to use them.
Original article starts here:
Several times this week I’ve seen questions asking which is the better blogging platform – Blogger or WordPress.
It’s actually not a simple case one or the other, because they both have their strengths and weaknesses.
I maintain blogs on Blogger, WordPress.com and my own self-hosted WordPress site, and here’s my take on it.
Both Blogger and WordPress.com blogs are free, easy to set up and get indexed quickly by the search engines.
With WordPress.com, however, you cannot use Adsense and you cannot use it to drive traffic to an affiliate site or a landing page. If you do they’ll suspend your blog, as I discovered to my cost some time ago.
Blogger doesn’t have those restrictions.
With both Blogger and WordPress.com you’re at risk of losing your data if something happens to the servers they’re running on, although with WordPress.com you can export your blog to your PC in an xml file. This effectively enables you to back it up.
The themes available in Blogger are much nicer now than they were a while ago, but you still have that bar across the top of the page (with Blogger hosted blogs) which I really dislike.
WordPress.com offers quite a wide choice of themes and there’s no obvious WordPress branding (like the Blogger bar across the top), so I generally prefer the look of a WordPress.com blog.
The most flexible of these platforms, though, is self-hosted WordPress.
With self-hosted WordPress you don’t have any of these restrictions. You can use it as you like and you can publish what you like.
Although a large and increasing number of hosting providers now offer 1-click installation for WordPress, you do still need to know how to use FTP for uploading new themes or plugins. You also, of course, need to pay for a domain name and hosting!
However, you can customize your self-hosted WordPress blog almost infinitely with the huge range of plugins (mostly free but some paid) that are available. You can even configure it to act as a static site if you want to.
And you have total control over your data, as long as you carry out regular back ups! If something happens to the server you’re on you can be back up and running within an hour or so.
Self-hosted WordPress blogs are not as attractive to the search engines as WordPress.com or Blogger blogs are when you first set them up.
This is because they’re sitting on your domain, and your domain needs to establish its credibility with the search engines – unless, of course, your domain already has the pulling power of WordPress.com..!
But there are loads of SEO related plugins you can use to make your self-hosted WordPress blog stand out more for the search engines. As your blog becomes established, you’ll find that your new posts are indexed very quickly. My new posts are consistently indexed on Google now, within 4 – 6 hours of being published.
And, for a brand new domain, you’ll find that it will start to rank in the search engines more quickly if you’re using WordPress (with the proper plugins) than it would if you were just building the site with a site builder, unless you’re a demon SEO expert!
So which is the best?
Well – I use self-hosted WordPress for this blog, and I have both Blogger and WordPress.com blogs as satellites, pointing towards it. This helps to give it more search engine love by creating a larger online footprint and a few more inbound links.
So the answer to the question as to which is better really depends on how you want to use the blog. My suggestion is to first define clearly what you want to use your blog for, and then select the platform that best meets your specific needs.
And the most effective blogging strategy may be to use all of them in ways that complement each other.
Which platform do you prefer? Leave us a comment!
Update – 31 March 2009
This post was originally written in August 2008. Since then Google has made some updates to the blogger platform that address some of the points I made above
Here they are:
1. Exporting your content
You can now export your blogger blog to an XML file, which you can store on your PC. There’s a specific link for doing this in the settings screen. There’s also a link for importing your posts.
This means you can now back up your Blogger blog content and re-import it if you need to. It provides the same functionality as WordPress.com blogs
2. Custom domains
You can publish to a custom domain (i.e. a domain that you buy and host). This will effectively get rid of the Blogger navigation bar across the top of the screen, although you are limited to Blogger’s ‘classic’ templates. This provides the same functionality that WordPress.com offers. Plus you will need to pay for a domain name and hosting.
Monetisation of your Blogger blog is even easier now with a monetisation tab that offers you options for where you want Adsense ads displaid. Simply point and click. (You’ll need to sign up for an Adsense account first, though).
4. Editing your template
The HTML edit screen includes the CSS settings for your blog as in-line CSS. Therefore, editing and changing styling is simply a question of editing the attributes and saving.
These changes (and there are probably others that I haven’t noticed) have improved the features of Blogger without making it more difficult to use for people new to blogging.
Good moves 🙂
Now, given that the differences between Blogger and WordPress.com are so few, I’d suggest thinking about what you want to do longer term with your blog.
Are you just starting out but plan to be in this for the long haul?
If so I’d suggest you go for WordPress.com and here’s why:
Both Blogger and WordPress.com have limitations but, as I’ve explained above, WordPress.org (self hosted WordPress) provides you with almost infinite scalability – which you may want to use in the future.
And if you decide to move to WordPress.org the transition will be easier from WordPress.com than from Blogger – simply because you’ll already be familiar with the way WordPress works.