At this time I strongly recommend that you avoid using Blogger blogs for any internet marketing purposes. It seems that Google has changed the rules and even totally legitimate blogs with good content are being flagged as spam and are being taken down and deleted.
Where should I host my niche blog projects? Should I purchase a hosting package and a domain and self-host WordPress? Or should I simply setup a free Blogger/Blogspot site and save some money? These questions get asked quite often. Other bloggers have talked about it from time to time. So I thought I’d examine this topic by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of each in several key areas and putting in my own inflation adjusted two cents worth (I’m not including WordPress.com hosting because they don’t allow any monetization.)
Blogger is free. You can’t beat that price. You can start as many Blogger blogs as you want. Some people have hundreds of them and it doesn’t cost them a cent in hosting costs.
For a self-hosted WordPress site you’ll need to buy a domain, which is usually between about $2 and $50 a year depending on the top level domain selected (.com, .net, .info, .tv, etc.) and additional features, such as private registration. Then you’ll need to buy a hosting package that usually start around $5 and go up from there depending on the features. This will give you a monthly fixed cost of at least $5 and probably more. Multiply this out over 50 or 100 niche blogs and it can really add up.
Blogger is owned and operated by Google. Your blog is subject to their whims. While they’re unlikely to make massive changes to Blogger anytime soon because they probably make considerable Adsense revenue there, you are still subject to their rules. For example, many Blogger blogs saw a decrease in readership when Google changed commenting rules in December. You don’t have any control over these gyrations. Plus Google
owns controls your data, even if you self-host Blogger on your own domain. Also, there is a ‘flag as spam’ button where malicious people can make your life on Blogger more difficult plus the Google/Blogger anti-spam bot that can flag innocent sites as spam when an algorithmic flag is flipped by accident.
Self-hosted WordPress is subject to the rules of the hosting company. That’s why you’ll need to find a host that fits your needs and has a good reputation for customer service. You can even use co-location where you rent or even own the server where your blog runs if you want. If you need to move to a new host, this is relatively easy to do.
Blogger runs on multiple servers that are generally well protected against hacking and huge traffic surges. The only disadvantage here is that you won’t get your own Blogspot based email address.
If you run self-hosted WordPress site on a shared server you’ll not only be at the whim of the hosting company but of other users, maybe even 1000 or so, on the system. If one of them does something stupid or malicious, your site goes down too as the server crashes. If you co-locate, you’ll have to pay a considerable amount of money to purchase the security Blogger provides for free. In most cases though, you will get multiple email addresses.
Blogger provides a simple blog interface that’s hard to extend and customize. While some have done it, it isn’t the easiest thing to do. If you want to keep it simple and color inside the lines, Blogger will work for you. But, many find it lacking if they try to go beyond this.
WordPress is a full blown content management system (CMS) in a blogging software disguise. There are so many things you can do with it in terms of modifying the core PHP code or constructing themes and plugins that it boggles the mind.
While there are Blogger add-ons and templates available they’re fewer in number than those available to WordPress users.
There are a huge number of WordPress plugins and themes available with new ones appearing every day. There are many designers and software developers who know WordPress well and who can create new ones to fit your specs.
Search Engine Optimization
Google loves Blogger blogs. It’s no wonder, it’s their company. Do their algorithms give Blogger blogs an unseen advantage? In a way, yes. First, by being a subdomain off of an established Google owned domain this seems to allow them to get recognized quicker than comparable self-hosted WordPress blogs. Second, the default Blogger templates are rather SEO friendly and can be made even more so. Lastly, you can find a keyword targeted URL name easier than you can in the domain marketplace although the Blogger names are also becoming more competitive.
Many WordPress themes are poorly optimized for SEO so you will need to take this into consideration. You will also have the challenge of getting Google to recognize your new domain. While rapid indexing techniques can help you’ll sometimes encounter domains that Google stubbornly refuses to recognize for various reasons. Lastly, finding a keyword rich domain name for your niche blog can be difficult. You may have to buy one from a domain broker or auction which can be pricey.
Let’s face facts, Blogger blogs don’t have the best reputation. Many blog directories and services simply won’t recognize them. As of July 2009, you can’t use them with eBay’s EPN advertising network and many other advertisers shun them as do many paid review and link brokers. Many people see them as spammy. Other’s find their interface, particularly for comments, user unfriendly.
WordPress is considered the premier blogging platform in the world today. While they can be used for ill purposes or have exceptionally ugly themes, they generally have a much better reputation in the web marketplace.
You can’t resell a Blogger blog because it’s against the Google terms of service. While resells do go on under the table from time to time, the price is generally much lower than a comparable separate domain since discovery of the deal by Google would destroy the transaction.
A well established WordPress blog on it’s own domain can sell for thousands of dollars.
The Bottom Line
For a social blog, the choice is clear, self-hosted WordPress is your best bet. The advantages beyond the basic operating costs are enormous. But, with niche blogs, which is best? It depends a lot on your goals with the blog.
For establishing a quick niche blog on the fly for free, Blogger is the ticket. It’s quick, cheap and easy. You can go from concept to execution in minutes with no money out of your pocket.
But, if you’re wanting something more long term, particularly if you want to setup domains for resell, develop a presence beyond simple search engine marketing, establish a local niche blog or have a greater degree of control then a self-hosted WordPress install is what you want.
My own niche blog strategy is evolving around using both, Blogger for the quick and cheap niche or for testing ideas and WordPress for the long haul niche development. What’s your strategy?
Do you have anything to add to the differences for using Blogger vs. Self-Hosted WordPress for niche blogs?