I just purchased Growing Your Business with Google and can’t wait to start reading it. Here’s my questions. What are the major differences between Blogger and WordPress and why would I want to use one rather than the other?
At its core, blogging is a pretty simple task and the critical capabilities are fairly easy to implement. If you eschew reader comments, it’s even easier, which is why so many different Web systems out there toss in blogging as a capability: if it’s just another few hundred lines of code, why not?
The problem is, there’s a world of difference between a ‘checklist’ blogging tool and a powerful, professional solution that takes into account all the blogging best practices, smart techniques and most popular capabilities. Oh, and you need to have some powerful and constantly updated anti-spam tools too, because unfortunately comment and trackback spam are just a fact of life in the blogosphere.
So what are the very best possible blogging tools or platforms to use? Well, before I answer that I have to admit that I have a bit of a bias against free tools and services. Yes, you read that right, while I almost always am a proponent of open source and other free software (heck, I’ve written some of it myself) in this particular instance there’s a very good reason why you might want to think twice before you sign up for a free service.
It’s what I call the bad neighborhood problem and if you go to a free blogging service like Google’s Blogger.com, you’ll see the problem instantly: when blogs can be set up for free, they are, and they’re almost always spam, hate sites, porn, gambling, or other appalling stuff that really isn’t helping grow or improve the Web at all. Instead, they’re just creating a bad neighborhood, and when you decide you want to start blogging, is that where you want your blog to hang out?
It’s telling that Google owns Blogger.com, but I don’t know that I have ever, even once, seen a page from a blogger.com site show up in the search results.
If you like metaphors, think of it in terms of a shopping mall. Do you want to save money and open up your new store in the worst strip mall in town, or the fanciest, hoping that you’ll get the benefit of a better clientele walking past your facade?
Not every blogger agrees with me, of course, and there are many who are using free tools and getting splendid results with their blogs. But I can’t help wonder what kind of traffic and visibility they’d see — and what greater editorial freedom they would enjoy — if they were self-contained and running their own blog, rather than relying on a third-party service.
Wordpress itself is split into two, since you mentioned it. There’s WordPress.org, where you can download the splendid open source blogging tool that’s preferred by many of my colleagues, and there’s WordPress.com, which is their free hosted blog service. I used to be fairly enthused about the latter, but since it’s come to light that they enforce their no-commercial-content terms of service in a rather scattershot manner (see Is WordPress the Blog Police? for an explanation), I no longer recommend that you use this service for your blog, nor any similar service. After all, how painful would it be for you to try and log in to your blog just to find it’s “Shut down due to violations of our service terms. Good bye.”
But not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, WordPress the downloadable blogging software package is really a strong contender for any blogging effort, whether you want to become a movie reviewer or whether you’re a Fortune-50 company ready to take the plunge.
Nonetheless, what I recommend are the blogging tools from SixApart.com, notably TypePad, their not-free-but-darn-inexpensive hosted blog service, and Movable Type, their commercial grade blog package that I use here for AskDaveTaylor, among many other sites.
I hope that helps you find clarity between these different tools and start out with the platform and service that best matches your own needs and goals in the blogosphere.