Robert's blog
Robert Važan

Blogger is all about Google's self-promotion

Posting blog entries quickly and easily is the core value of blogging. Blogger looks like a good free option, but there's more than one catch.

If you think that you are promoting yourself on your Blogger blog, you better look more closely at the layout. Self-promotion is a lame reason to start blogging in the first place, but even if one is building the blog for more sophisticated reasons, it comes as an unpleasant surprise that Blogger blogs are first and foremost intended to be an all-around advertising device for Google. Another post of mine details how to get rid of Google's stuff on your blog. I will focus on describing the problem here.

I don't mind a little link in the footer that can be removed if one wishes to do so. Blogger is a free service after all. But Blogger is totally and fully stuffed with Google's self-promotion, some overt and some hidden. Most of it is quite hard to remove for novice users. There's no guarantee that new crap doesn't appear out of the blue.

I am even willing to pay someone to give me crap-free blog hosting. It cannot be that expensive to provide with the continuously dropping bandwidth and data center costs. Unfortunately, all the companies in the market are trying to get rich fast with nasty freemium schemes that cost hundreds if not thousands over the years. Blogger is free, which is within my budget. And its core flaws are fixable as far as one doesn't need much in terms of customization, but more on that later.

Before you even open the blog, you are encouraged to open Google+ account first. This is Google's latest attempt to regain control over our eyeballs. All Google's services are affected. One password is okay, but have you seen what Google+ page says about you? Facebook déja vu except it's public by default.

Blogger toolbar that appears at the top of your blog has links to other Blogger blogs as well as to the Blogger service itself. It might have been cool in the past while Blogger was a niche. Today it looks severely lame when compared with WordPress blogs.

All layouts/templates in Blogger include compulsory footer link to Blogger website. The footer cannot be removed even though other parts of the layout can be freely customized or deleted.

Then there's the post footer that's shown under every article. It's also attached to every lead paragraph in the main post feed of the blog. The post footer includes many sharing buttons in order to look fair, but guess which sharing button is featured prominently? Yes, it's Google+ even though most people in the world still don't know what's that. Post footer also contain's author's name that is hyperlinked to your Google+ page.

Then there is the sidebar. Did Google leave this one alone? No way! There's an about section that pulls information directly from your Google+ profile and includes another link to your Google+ profile.

So back-links to Google properties are included at the top in the Blogger toolbar, at the bottom in the footer, in every post footer, and also in the sidebar. Great. No fewer that 7 links to Google's properties on every single post of your blog. Your home page will contain about 20 such links. Links are the primary weapon of online marketing and Google knows that.

Then there's the usual domain trick. Address of your blog includes Google's domain name (blogspot.com if I am not mistaken). It means that all links to your blog will advertise Google's services. On top of that, you wouldn't be able to move the blog elsewhere, because Google will own all your links.

Blogger has widgets, which allow you to add extra features like search into your blog. These widgets however aren't developed by 3rd party developers like in WordPress. All of them are developed by Google, which means they are consistently stable, but it also means the selection is artificially limited to whatever services Google provides.

If you somehow manage to fix all of these problems and you are now looking at your clean blog or mini-website, you might be caught by surprise two years later when you discover that your blog has a mobile version that was being shown to all mobile visitors all that time and it includes all the self-promotion links you thought you have already removed!

Once you start uploading images, you will notice another problem. Even if you used your own domain to host the blog, images are still hosted on Google's domain. So every image on your blog contains a link to enlarged version of that image and every one of those links point back to Google. Great.

It's not that bad though. Contrary to all the fancy freemium blog hosts, Blogger has a nice feature in that all the Google stuff can be completely removed. It's not easy, but it can be done. It's a one-time cost that you incur when you set up the blog for the first time. I wrote another article on how to get rid of all the crap that comes preconfigured by default on Blogger blog.