Blogging service shootout: Blogger vs. WordPress
If you're at all serious about your blog, you'll want to know what kinds of traffic it gets, how the traffic is getting there, and usage patterns. Traffic management tools can be as simple as showing daily page views, or as sophisticated as revealing the referring site URLs and keywords that led people to visit your blog.
Given that Google owns Blogger, one would expect that it would do a good job providing traffic statistics. I found it met those expectations.
First off, it provides the basics: page views for today, yesterday, last month and during the entire site's history. You also get lists of the most popular blog posts and their page views.
In addition, you're provided with stats about referring URLs and referring sites, as well as keywords that were used to draw people to your site. There's also a list of page views by country, as well as a map showing the relative traffic from different countries using color-coding. You get a list of page views broken out by browser or operating system. And all this information can be sliced and diced so you can see it by the day, the past week, the past month, or all time. As with WordPress, I found nothing wanting in Blogger when it comes to traffic management.
As it does with site management, WordPress shines when it comes to traffic management. And probably for the same reason: Because it is associated with a higher-end product and shares many of those features.
When I clicked Stats on the Dashboard's navigation menu, I found traffic-management heaven. Want to see page views by the day, the week or the month? You can do that, as well as seeing on what day you had the most traffic. Want to see what sites are referring traffic to you, and how much they refer? Yes, you can get that as well.
You'll be able to see the most popular posts and pages, pages that link to your blog, and more. You can block your site from being indexed by Google and other search engines if you want. You can create a site index. And you can even see how many spam comments have been removed automatically from your site using the Akismet tool.
All in all, I found WordPress had every tool I could want for traffic management, including many I never thought of. And they were all easily accessible, and simple to use and understand.
This one's a toss-up -- both offer excellent tools for tracking traffic, getting data on referring sites and more. You won't go wrong with either one.
Extra features/power tools
Looking to make some pocket change -- or possibly more -- from your blog? Want to add nifty features such as displaying a different design for iPad users? Want to publish blog posts from your Android or iOS device? Then you'll want a host of power tools and extra features.
Blogger has been designed for people without much technical experience, so -- not surprisingly -- I didn't find a lot of power tools here. There are some, though.
If you have more than one blog on Blogger, you can easily switch among them. A main screen lists all of your blogs and shows you basic statistics about each, including the total number of page views, the total number of posts, and the last time you've posted. In addition, you can follow other Blogger blogs from the same page.
There are apps that let you create and publish blogs from Android or iOS devices. That includes both text and images; you can also add location information and labels. And you can sync posts between your computer and mobile device, so that you can start a post on your PC, for example, then finish it up and publish it on your mobile device.
You can sign up for Google AdSense, which places advertising in your blog, and then pays you based on the number of click-throughs. You can access an earnings report and a summary of payments.
WordPress has a cornucopia of tools, and most of them within easy reach. (You'll find them right on the Dashboard itself, sometimes one level down, such as in the Widgets section of the Appearance menu.) For example, if you've created a blog on another site -- such as Blogger, LiveJournal, Posterous, Moveable Type, Typebad or others -- you can easily import all those posts and associated comments into WordPress. Similarly, you can export your posts and comments via an XML file. You can also have your site transferred to your own server for a $119 fee.
In addition, I was able to change just about any setting, including how to display the time and date and what language to use. There's also a nifty bookmarklet that runs in your browser and lets you grab snippets of text and images to use in your posts. Given that WordPress can sometimes be confusing to use, I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to change settings or add the bookmarklet.
You can create custom menus for your blog and display a special theme for people who visit your blog using an iPad. There are several dozen free widgets that let you build a search form, automatically display your top-rated posts, and create a word cloud showing the most popular keywords on your site. In fact, I found so much that I spent far too much time trying them all, and soon had a page filled with more gadgetry than anyone would want to see -- so I quickly cut back. Still, it's nice to know that it's all there.
WordPress offers an extremely wide range of tools, including plenty of free widgets, the ability to customize just about everything about your blog, and even a theme that will display when people visit using an iPad for optimal viewing. Blogger doesn't offer as much, but if you have dreams of making a few dollars from blogging, it makes it easy to use Google AdSense to try to bring in some revenue.
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