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Blogger vs Wordpress: Which is best for SEO and How Does Self-Hosting Fit Into the Equation?

Introduction to the Big Blogging Debate

This is becoming an age-old question in the world of blogging and SEO. Many will argue that Blogger is a better platform among the free blogs, being that it's owned by Google. Others will argue that Wordpress offers more to the average blogger. In reality, each blogging platform has its own features & benefits which make it a viable choice for the average, amateur blogger. However, when it comes to blogging for your business and becoming an authority blogger, only one platform makes the cut. I'll explain why and which platform will work best for specific functions.

Blogger vs. Wordpress: The Breakdown

In order to compare Wordpress and Blogger, it's important to know their features and how they affect your experience. We'll start with Blogger. Blogger is a quite user-friendsly and doesn't require any knowledge of HTML, CSS or experience with web hosting. It allows bloggers of all experience levels to get up and running in just a few minutes. Blogger also allows added functionality, including the ability to incorporate widgets, videos, polls etc. in the sidebar of your blog. What's more, Blogger's interface allows you to easily drag & drop different sections into place any time you want to change the look & feel of your blog. In terms of policies, Blogger pretty much allows you to blog about anything and everything, making it a good platform for affiliate marketers. However, in terms of SEO Blogger is not your best bet for showing up in search engines, despite now being owned by Google. When it comes to Google as a search engine, you're more likely to see relevant tags and searches from Wordpress than from Blogger. I have experienced creating a blog on Wordpress and over the course of 4 months easily reaching 150+ hits per day and a Google PageRank of 3, while moving the same blog to Blogger (after some issues with Wordpress' Terms of Use) and only achieving a PR of 2 and about 30 to 40 hits per day in the same amount of time.

The first thing to understand about Wordpress is that there are 2 different versions. The first version would be the free, shared-hosting version at wordpress.com. This is usually the easiest option to get up & running in just a few minutes. The second version is self-hosted and available as a download from wordpress.org. For this version you'd need to purchase your own hosting. Wordpress' free, shared-hosting version is much better in terms of SEO than Blogger. Not only do blogs show up in Wordpress' high-traffic directory, popular tags are often listed in organic search results of Google & Yahoo! linking to the most recent/popular blogs using that tag. Wordpress blog posts also tend to show up separately in organic search results more readily than Blogger or any other blogging platform. Wordpress' interface is a little more advanced than Blogger, though still with some drag & drop functionality. Unlike Blogger, Wordpress limits what kinds of widgets you can add to your blog's sidebar. Certain forms of HTML and JavaScript are not allowed, limiting your ability to embed flash slideshows etc. Furthermore, Wordpress specifically states in their Terms that blogs about certain topics such as home business & affiliate marketing are not allowed. So even though the free version of Wordpress is better for SEO, it's not the best option for bloggers who are involved in home business or affiliate marketing.

So Which is Best?

Well, that really depends on what the main goal or function of your blog is. In a nutshell, if you're reasons for blogging have anything to do with business or monetization through programs such as Google adsense, I'd suggest purchasing your own hosting and installing the Wordpress.org platform. If your blog is purely recreational in nature, but you'd like added functionality such as incorporating flickr photos, YouTube videos or other widgets, I suggest going with Blogger. While the free version of Wordpress is great for SEO, there are limits to what you're allowed to blog about and even more limits as to what functionality you can add.

Self-hosted Blogs: The Benefits

Now, if you're blogging for your business and looking for a solution that offers both functionality and great SEO capabilities, it's best to purchase your own hosting and install the Wordpress platform from Wordpress.org. First off, you won't be bound to the same restricting Terms of Use as you would be with the free, shared-hosting version of Wordpress (wordpress.com). This means that you're blog can be completely commecial in nature and include as much or as little self-promotion and advertising as you feel necessary. Furthermore, free plug-ins allow you to add a variety of functions to your blog, from external SEO and traffic stats to external RSS feeds, widgets, geo-tracking (maps which show where your readers are coming from) and even social bookmarking icons and the ability to update your Twitter account each time you make a new blog post. The use of HTML and JavaScript are also allowed so that you can embed flash slideshows, videos and widgets, whereas this functionality is blocked with the free, shared-hosting version of Wordpress. Last, a self-hosted blog can be attached to your business's website, providing fresh content each time you create a post or someone leaves a comment. This improves the SEO and search engine ranking of both your blog and the website it's attached to, meaning that you don't have to update your actual website to as much to increase your rank. Finally, self-hosted blogs come with a much larger variety of templates, allowing you to create a more original look for your blog (as opposed to the set 20 or so templates that are available with the shared-hosting version). And if you know a little HTML and/or CSS, you can take it a step further and customize your blog to match the look & feel of your website for a completely unique look.

While many stray away from this option because of the perceived costs, hosting can cost as little as $7 a month. Not to mention, if you've already got your own commercial website then you've already got hosting! Many hosting providers such as Yahoo! already have the Wordpress platform installed; you need only to activate it and choose your template to get started!

The only draw-back to creating a self-hosted blog is initial set-up. While you don't have to be completely techy, it does help to know things like CSS. It also helps to know a bit about hosting & FTP clients in order to properly install the Wordpress platform. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials out there that can teach you how to install Wordpress into your hosting account, and plug-ins usually come with install instructions as well. If you're willing to sit down for about 2 hours, you can successfully install a blog that's fully equipped with SEO built in and ready for the web! And for those who don't want to bother with the extra hassle of optimizing your blog for the search engines, there are plenty of programs which offer pre-optimized Wordpress install packs with the proper plug-ins already incorporated. It may take more time to get up & running than the free, shared-hosting version, but the benefits are far greater!

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