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Blogger tips direction

Using Bootstrap with Blogger Templates

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Bootstrap logo
Well, some of you may have been waiting for my second part of the Wordpress vs Blogger review. But, I was sidetracked by a much more ambitious project - merging the dynamic Bootstrap web framework with Blogger. I knew initially that this would be quite a challenge to get it right - and was I correct in that assumption.

So just what is Bootstrap? You can go over to their site and read up, but, at a very high level it is designed as a starter kit for dynamic web UI layouts that utilize CSS and Javascript for a great user experience. If you've seen sites like this one, or this other one - you'll see how Bootstrap can be beautifully extended. In the case of Blogger almost all of their templates are very static and were designed in the 2005-2010 time frame. In the last few years the web has exploded with new, dynamic web frameworks that have reactive interactivity without page refreshes.

The easy path to my task would have been to strip out the entire Blogger template and add Bootstrap in its place as some of these template providers have done. But, if you read my Best Blogger Templates article you know that I am a stickler for keeping Google Blogger as pure to its original intent of a dynamic layout and user substitution of design elements vs a copy-paste of some Wordpress or other template like Bootstrap and just getting it to work.

Blogger vs Wordpress

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With the large number of free blogging sites out there, two still remain at the top for informational blogging - Blogger and Wordpress. Yes, there are other free blogging sites such as Tumblr, Weebly and Wix - but, they are not really my focus (other than Tumblr which I use for more visual blogging than informational blogging).

Invariably, however, someone will always ask me what's better - Blogger or Wordpress?  By Wordpress here I mean the free online version at Wordpress.com and not the software you download from Wordpress.org and manage yourself on external hosting platforms such as Bluehost (that would be like comparing apples to oranges - running Wordpress on a custom host is really more like building your own website except with a content tool installed). Of course, 'better' is a relative term depending on what you want to do with the tool. Given that, though, let's take a deeper look at both.

Search Engine Optimization - SEO

First, I have to call out immediately that within the last 1 to 3 years you get no advantage for SEO utilizing either tool. Google has completely changed its strategy so that internal formatting such as tagging, long-tail keywords and metadata within the HTML is not nearly as important as the authoritative content you write and highlight. You can build rank directly with content, so, I'm not going to dig deep into the template structures other than to reinforce that content rules today. (For more information  I agree with this SEO article generally but not as much with the keyword sections). This is an even tie for both tools.

Google Blogger - It's Future

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It's funny, but I have been pondering just what might be going on behind the curtain over at Google with their Blogger team and the platform's future. You've probably seen a number of articles stating that Blogging is Dead or Google will shut down Blogger all together. Not to mention, the number of posts on their internal Blogger Buzz site has dropped from 40+ articles a year in 2011 down to less than 10 a year since.

The future of Google Blogger
Source: DigitalRalph - Creative Commons
I really would not pay much attention to rumors like this considering the number of Blogger users in the world. In fact, Blogger is an excellent means for Google to get more people directly connected to Google+ -- not necessarily to be users of the social network, but to become more integrated into the Google ecosystem with profile information. This is extremely important since people with profiles utilize search giving Google a one-up on what people do online. Also, you may or may not have noticed that all of Google's official blogs are running on Blogger.

How to Use Blogger on the iPad

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As I noted in my previous post using the free default Blogger iPad application produced by Google can be done but has severe limitations. Thankfully I'm now sitting at the very same table using a different 3rd party application (which I will describe in a moment) that makes Blogger on the iPad a joy to use. In fact, I may just end up using this app more than my laptop for future posts. This isn't the only Blogger iPad application, I'm sure. But, it comes to the top of the list when you search the App Store at Apple. Let me dive in deeper on this.

My choice for Blogging on the iPad

The app I selected is called BlogTouch Pro (version 2.6.5) by Alexandru Denca. I had downloaded the free version initially but found immediately that the feature/functionality was so much greater than the Google tool that I just ended up buying it for only $4.99.


The first thing I noticed was the full editor feature set that was sorely lacking in the Google tool. I mentioned in my previous article that the smaller font size in the Google editor was driving my eyes crazy and made it mostly unusable for an iPad Mini (a larger iPad would probably be ok). Well, right away I altered this post's font size and now have a very comfortable screen to view and type on. I really like that the editor also fills the entire window with a very clean look.

Blogger on the iPad - Part 1

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Blogger for iPad iPhone
I love my iPad mini - in fact, I find myself using it more and more for most of my day to day work and even my home business work. Now that I have a Zagg keyboard for it as well I find it even easier. Some of the research I've been doing over the last few months is on what the best Blogger app is for the iPad. Blogging on the iPad is convenient and works great if you're traveling or on the move. Frankly, I hate carrying around a laptop on vacations and have fully adopted my both my iPhone and iPad for any remote work.

That said, there still are some problems with using Blogger mobile apps. The iPad mini is small and compresses your screen size significantly. Additionally, viewing web sites or using online tools becomes more problematic due to the sites switching to mobile modes which can be reduce usability especially for those sites that have been designed for full laptop or desktop work.

Google's Blogger Tool for iOS
I must say I was excited to see that right away Google had created an iOS tool (version 2.1.7.2) for both iPhone and iPad specifically for Blogger that was free in the App Store. I immediately downloaded it and began trying it out.

How to Add Google Analytics to Blogger

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There is probably not a more interesting real-time or site statistics tool than Google Analytics. If you haven't used it before you'll find that it blows away the Blogger stats tool in the Blogger editor. I haven't added it to Blogger Tips Pro earlier since I've been intending to create the tutorial - but kept putting it off for other reasons. I do use it for my other sites, however.

Let's get started. If you don't have a Google Analytics account yet you just need to sign into your Blogger Google account to start. Now, if you have a large number of blogs under a parent name or company then I would suggest you monitor all of your sites from a single account. You be the judge.

Creating a Google Analytics Account

Once you're logged in, simply go to http://analytics.google.com - you should see a page like this. Just select 'create an account':

Creating the Google Analytics account

Now that you're into the main sign-up page just click the 'Sign up' button to start:
Google Analytics sign up button

You'll now be presented with a number of options to get your account started. I chose 'Website' and 'Universal Analytics' as my options to start. I felt that the benefits of the Beta would be good to try out.

Best Blogger Templates - 2014

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So, this might be one of the most difficult posts that I have written on BloggerTipsPro.com. I have to start off by first apologizing to the creative authors out there that have produced some amazingly beautiful Blogger templates for the world to use. That said, I have some unfortunate comments to make to my readers that may or may not persuade you to use what Google provides out of the box or just to go get one of these templates.

Here it goes - I have spent many, many hours and days trying to find any template out there that qualifies as a 'best Blogger template' and found nothing - absolutely nothing. I've gone through hundreds of websites all pitching either free or paid Blogger templates and not a single one has made the grade of what a Blogger template should be. People have pitched their templates directly to me to add to this site but still did not qualify in my mind.

Blogger Templates are not Wordpress Templates

The problem - web designers totally understand page layout and design - however, they do not understand Blogger templates. Part of that must be blamed on Google for not adequately explaining the technical aspects of the template.