One of the great features of Blogger is the ability to map a custom domain to your blog: this enables you to use a top level domain (www.YOUR-BLOG.com) while taking advantage of free blog hosting, unlimited bandwidth and the ability to customize your template in almost any way you choose.
But would using a custom domain for your Blogger blog be the right decision for you?
In this post, I’ll weigh up the pros and cons of using a custom domain with Blogger to help you decide if your blog would benefit from this change.
The pros and cons of using a custom URL with Blogger
While having your own unique URL may seem beneficial, there are also reasons why you may not want to upgrade your Blog*Spot sub-domain.
To help you get an overview of how domain mapping will affect your blog, here are some of the main points to consider:
Who can use a custom domain with Blogger?
Blogger’s custom domain service is available to any registered Blogger user who uses the “layouts” style of template. It’s not available for those using “classic” templates, nor do Blogger have plans to make this available for those using such designs.
This means that if you use a classic template, you would first need to switch over to the newer widgetized layouts before considering using a custom domain.
- If you’re already using a widgetized layout (or don’t mind switching over to this format of template), you can change your Blog*Spot subdomain over to a custom URL easily, without having to alter your template.
- Those who have heavily customized their classic Blogger template, or are publishing by FTP to theri own domain will have a much more difficult time switching their existing template to one which is compatible with a custom domain.
How much does it cost?
Associating a top level domain to your blog is the only service which Blogger users need to pay for. This is because the domain name will be provided by a third party service, not Blogger (or Google) themselves.
At the time of writing, you can purchase a top level domain through Blogger for only $10 per year. This works out to be much cheaper than self-hosting a blog with WordPress or Moveable Type as there is no need to purchase additional hosting too.
If you already own your own domain name, you can associate this with your Blogger hosted blog at no extra cost (unless your domain provider charges for accessing the DNS).
- Cost Effective: $10 a year is quite a bargain for a professional domain name and blog, especially when you consider that Blogger will continue to host your blog (with unlimited bandwidth) for free!
- Yearly Renewal: Once you set up a custom domain, you will need to renew your domain name each year (or pay for a few years in advance).
- Loss of backlinks: If reverting back to Blog*Spot hosting: If you have used a custom domain for some time, backlinks will point to your custom URL. So if you decide to switch back to your free Blog*Spot subdomain, you will lose many of the links which you have built up during this time.
What happens to existing URLs and blog posts
When you set up a custom domain, all Blog*Spot sub-domain URLs will be automatically redirected to their corresponding custom domain locations.
Before I linked a custom domain to my own blog, my URL was http://blogger-buster.blogspot.com. If you type this URL into your browser, or use a link to an older page such as http://blogger-buster.com/2008/06/complete-list-of-blogger-widgets.html (opens in a new window), you will automatically be redirected to this same page on my custom domain instead.
However, when you first upgrade to a custom domain, your new URL will appear as a completely new site to search engines and Technorati. At first, your custom URL will appear to have a PageRank of 0 (which should be updated quickly enough during the next PR update. Also, you would need to register your custom URL as a new blog with Technorati; none of your existing backlinks or Technorati rank will automatically apply to your new domain.
- Automatic redirection of posts and backlinks: Blogger will automatically redirect any traffic to your new custom domain. You don’t need to set this up yourself, nor pay extra for this service.
- Existing rankings are temporarily inaccurate: For a few months, your PR and Technorati backlinks will not be applied to your new URL. Over time, readers will begin to link using your new blog URL instead, which will contribute towards your new Technorati ranking and ensure your PageRank returns to normal.
How to set up a custom domain with Blogger
Blogger does make it easy for us to use custom domains with our hosted blogs, especially if you choose to purchase a domain from Blogger’s dedicated service (rather than purchasing independently).
This video demonstrates how easy it is to set up your custom domain through Blogger’s easy to use interface:
If you would prefer more control over how the configuration of your custom domain, or if you already own a domain name that you would like to link to your blog, you may like to read these alternative tutorials:
- How to set up your Blogger custom domain (Blogger Buster)
- Blogger Custom Domain: Best setup for improving PageRank (Blog Bloke)
What do you think?
Most people consider that a blog which uses a custom URL seems more professional than one which is hosted on a sub-domain. However, there are many arguments against this too!
Many of the most successful Blogger powered blogs continue to use a Blog*Spot sub0-domain for their URL; their PageRank, authority and overall presence have not been affected by this in the slightest!
So what do you think about custom domains for Blogger? Do you use a custom domain yourself, or are you happy using a Blog*Spot sub-domain?