I have a few minutes to myself here in Memphis tonight, and I’d like to describe a couple of cool new features that Blogger has rolled out. As I mentioned earlier today, I have a new URL for this blog (doublebassblog.com). This is the sort of endeavor that normally produces much angst and pain for a blogger/website administrator. Changing a URL normally messes up your ranking in the search engines, kills old links, and causes confusion among your readers.
I don’t have to worry about any of this, because Blogger just rolled out an awesome new custom domains feature. If you publish on Blogspot (like I have been doing) and own your own domain, you can set up Blogger to host your blog for you at your new domain. Google is essentially providing free hosting with all of the features one normally gets with Blogger, but you own the site.
Since Google is hosting your blog (and also owns Blogger), it automatically forwards all links to your blog (including links to any individual posts) to your new domain. You get all of the new features of Blogger (layout, widgets, labels, etc.) on your own site, and you get a seamless transition from Blogspot blog to your own domain. Blogger has allowed FTP publishing to your own site for a long time now, but you need to purchase hosting yourself, and the new features of Blogger (widgets and the like) are not available.
The Blog Bloke has some great reasons why this is a significant development for Blogger users and for bloggers in general. I think (and this sentiment is echoed in the Blog Bloke’s post) that Google is really offering a compelling product with their new Blogger.
In order to activate this new feature one has to go register with Google Apps for your Domain (how-to provided here) and do some moderately technical stuff with your domain registrar. After a couple of days, however, your blog is ready to go. I had to poke around for a while to get this to work correctly (feel free to contact me and I can walk you through the process), but once it is set up it is really great. You get to have custom e-mail (like firstname.lastname@example.org), extra subdomains (students.doublebassblog.com, resources.doublebassblog.com, etc) and much more.
It is a somewhat technical process to get this set up, but it is a really great feature and an example of how Google continues to continually change the landscape.