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 - SEOFirst, 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.
TemplatesProbably the most visible comparisons between Blogger and Wordpress are the out-of-the-box templates. Clearly, Wordpress has the advantage for a much better and beautiful set of templates. In fact, I've always been surprised that Google hadn't upped its template library for Blogger in the last 5 years.
|Sample of Wordpress.com default templates.|
|Sample of Blogger default templates|
In fact, if you saw my earlier post on creating a Wordpress template in Blogger you now understand the motivation of attempting that. The reality is that both sites allow easy template substitution without impact (if you use Blogger out-of-the-box). But where Wordpress really shines is that they also offer professional paid templates that are already integrated into the toolset.
You can buy 3rd party Blogger templates but you have to integrate the template manually, and, as I noted in a previous post, most do not follow the Blogger template patterns. For ease of use and professional style - Wordpress.com wins on templates.
Both Wordpress and Blogger have layout editors to assist with the look-and-feel of your site. In Blogger it is very easy to find in the left menu under the 'Layout' item. In Wordpress you must first go into your Site and then select the 'Customize' left menu. The first noticeable difference is that Blogger has a much more flexible layout editor. You can drag 'gadgets' around and arrange them positionally within the chosen template. The default templates also allow you to rearrange the basic structure of left and right sidebars, footers and headers.
Wordpress, however, has a much more constrained view in its Customizer by only allowing you to work within the theme (a template) you've picked. The designer of the theme sets the positions and views so that if you want a different look you must pick or purchase a new template. You can see below that I can modify components of the layout but not actually rearrange it.
Some Wordpress themes have more options that allow you to change and update the parameters, but that is theme/template driven and not layout driven like Blogger. If you really need to alter the theme then you have to pay Wordpress a monthly fee to get more custom design access. In the free version you are constrained by the theme directly.
One additional feature I should mention about Blogger is the template designer selected from the Template menu item. I mentioned that Blogger allows more layout flexibility than the Wordpress Customizer. In the Template Designer you not only have the ability to set fonts, colors, accents, and widths (which Wordpress can do too), but to rearrange sections in the Body and Footer independent of the template you choose. (Please read my article above about 3rd party Blogger templates! Most of these types of sellers do not create them to Google's specifications and limit or disable this functionality).
You can see that sidebar and column layouts can be selected for all of the templates not just by theme/template. In my opinion Blogger wins on this feature-function with the slight edge on separating the layout from the template/theme - granted, finding templates that look as nice as the free Wordpress ones is difficult.
Gadgets and Widgets
Blogger is all about gadgets whereas Wordpress is all about widgets. In essence they are really the same thing. They are components you add to your template to enhance functionality with lists, stats, links, social media, calendars, profiles, etc. The functionality to add these to both tools is nearly identical. The most common components bloggers add are search, tags, archive links, top posts, profiles and some social media plug-ins for sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Blogger out-of-the-box gadgets are easily accessed from the Layout where you can simply select 'Add a Gadget' and select from this sample list:
All-in-all they're very functional and cover most of the cases bloggers need. However, Blogger also has a 3rd party set of gadgets (919!!) that are simply awful and haven't changed in years. Why they keep this list around with poor designs and some ridiculous functions is really beyond me.
Thus ends Part 1 of this comparison. I'll be digging deeper in Part 2 to talk about posts, images, advertising and site features. If you have time just sign up for both tools and give them both a tryout.