Category Archives: Blogging

Information on blogging.

egret-rhino

Hosting Your Own Domain Name on Blogger

The popularity of Blogger has made it so that the Internet is littered with thousands of blogs that look something like this:  http://myblog.blogspot.com.  What about those bloggers who wish to take advantage of all the benefits of blogging from a Blogger account (free hosting, easy customization, gadgets, etc.) without making it so obvious that they’re part of the thousands of blogging freeloaders, riding on Blogger’s back like an egret on a rhino?

 

Many bloggers might be surprised to find out that a domain name can actually be mapped to a Blogger URL so that the blog that exists at this address:  http://myblog.blogspot.com can be accessed by going to this address:  http://www.mydomainname.com.  Here’s how to do it.

Changing Your Domain Settings at Your Registrar

Changing the location of your domain name begins at the same place you registered your domain name.  I use Netfirms.com to register my domain names ($6.99/year), so the screen shots you’ll see here come from Netfirms’ control panel.  The interface for other registrars may be a bit different, but the concept is the same.  You need to create a CNAME entry for the www sub-domain of your site.  You also need to edit the A Record entries for your root domain to have Blogger IP addresses .  

To begin, I click Domains->Domain Manager. 

From the Domain Manager screen, I click the Add button.

Now I’m taken to a page that allows me to add a domain, transfer a domain from another registrar, or set up a sub-domain.  I click on the Sub-domain tab, and enter www for the sub-domain.  I click on the CNAME box to set up a CNAME entry corresponding to the sub-domain.  In the Host Name field, I enter Blogger’s address:  ghs.google.com .

After I’ve entered the www sub-domain and associated ghs.google.com as the CNAME entry corresponding to the account, I click Add.

Now I need to change the A Record for my domain.  From the Domain Manager, I click on the domain I want to redirect to my Blogger account, and I click on the checkbox next to A Record.  I then enter the information that transfers my naked (meaning not prefaced with www.) domain name to be hosted on Blogger.com.  Here are the IP addresses for Blogger.  You should enter these addresses into the first four fields of your A Record list.

216.239.32.21
216.239.34.21
216.239.36.21
216.239.38.21

After I enter these addresses in my A Record fields for my domain, I click Update so that the changes will take effect.   At the point, I’m finished making changes at the domain registrar.  The changes will take about 24 hours to propagate throughout the web.

Changing Your Blogger Setting to Complete the Domain Switch

After your domain settings have been propagated throughout the web, you are now ready to tell Blogger to receive your domain name and associate it with the account you have set up with them.  Login to your Blogger account, and click Setting->Publishing to set up the domain redirection on Blogger.  The default page you see involves purchasing a new domain.  Instead, you should click on the “Switch to advanced settings” link, which will allow you to enter the domain information for the domain you’ve already configured to be hosted on Blogger.  On this page, enter your www sub-domain name (that is, include the www in your domain address), and click the box that redirects your domain name without www to the same site as your www sub-domain.

At this point, open a browser and enter your domain into the address bar.  You’ll notice that the contents on your Blogspot account are now visible.  Your old blogspot.com address still works too.  You can access your blog using either address, but now at least you can make it appear as if you are on your own hosting package.

Creating Google Gadgets

Google gadgets are small modules of functionality (e.g. a clock, a game, etc.) that can be added to Blogger blogs, Google’s personalized  iGoogle pages, and other places on the web.  You can even add them to your own website.  Most users of Blogger are familiar with at least three of these objects.  The default list of Blogger templates automatically come with Followers, Blog Archive, and About Me gadgets installed.  The Followers gadget allows people to connect themselves to blogs by signing on as followers.  The Blog Archive gadget displays old blog posts.  The About Me gadget displays a blogger’s profile.

There are hundreds of thousands of gadgets that have been developed and made publicly available.  Google has a directory of gadgets that can be added to your Blogger site or to a website hosted outside of Blogger.  It’s obvious that Google promotes the development of new gadgets.  They have even developed an extensive programming interface to allow independent web developers to tap in to their system.

What is a Google Gadget?
Google gadgets are made up ultimately of an XML file, which gives instructions to Google regarding the configuration of your gadget.  To submit a gadget to Google, you simply enter the URL of the location where your gadget XML file exists and click submit.  Google finds your gadget, verifies that it works correctly, and then adds your gadget to its database so that it can be presented to millions of gadget users across the Internet.

Gadgets can be as simple as a line of text, as in the following “Hello, world” example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>
<Module>
  <ModulePrefs title=”hello world example” />
  <Content type=”html”>
     <![CDATA[

       Hello, world!

     ]]>

  </Content>
</Module>

 

On the other hand, gadgets can be complicated pieces of JavaScript code that run Flash applications and interact with databases.  The complexity of your gadget determines to some extent its usefulness.  Depending upon your intentions for developing a gadget, you may need to improve your JavaScript, Flash, and other programming skills.  If you create an appealing gadget and submit it to be included in Google’s directory, it could mean a lot of traffic for your website.

Google publishes a fair amount of technical information to help gadget developers.  You can read more information about developing gadgets at Google’s gadget page:  http://code.google.com/apis/gadgets/

Blogger Trick: Using the pageName Variable Instead of pageTitle for SEO

The default templates available for blogs hosted through Blogger.com use a variable called data:blog.pageTitle to create the text that goes in the <title> tag of a Blogger post entry.  If you go to Layout -> Edit HTML to look at the XML code that makes up your current Blogger template, you will likely see this section of code:  <title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>.  If you want to optimize each of your blog pages for the search engines (thereby bringing more traffic to your blog), you can change this tag so that the keywords displayed in the title tag for each of your pages aren’t watered down.

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