How to Use Blogger to Make a Good Website in One Day
Did you know you can use Google’s Blogger to host a regular looking website? It’s not just for blogging anymore. Blogger gives you the ability to create great looking websites in less than a day.
I did it with a couple of sites and I’ll explain how it’s done with Blogger’s easy-to-use templates and a few changes to eliminate blogging necessities. You’ll feel comfortable creating your own website without needing to know HTML programming.
I’ll also show you how you can monetize Blogger with AdSense and other affiliate links, such as Amazon.
New and Improved Blogger
In case you had tried Blogger in the past, read this section.
Blogger has come a long way over the years with great improvements. A few years ago one couldn't do what I'm about to tell you. It didn't have the flexibility to tweak the layout and it was very limited with few themes to choose from.
When I went back to examine it again, I saw that Google completely upgraded Blogger. Now it's much easier to use, and advanced users can tweak anything they want.
You can even program your own templates and create your own themes if you wish. There are no longer any limitations. In addition, many more templates and themes were added, so non-programmers have a lot to choose from.
Everything I’ll mention about specific programming in this article refers to the new blogger tool.
The new version includes powerful features such as:
- Quick access to editing options on your dashboard as you see here.
- The ability to drag and drop gadgets from one location to another in any template. (These used to be called widgets in the prior version of Blogger).
- Ability to create “labels” for posts, which is very useful for giving your viewers options to filter specific topics.
If you started using Blogger a long time ago you may have the old version and you will get confused trying to follow my examples. Everything is so different now.
I recommend upgrading since the new version is so much easier to use. To upgrade, go to your Dashboard and look for the “Switch Now” button.
Let’s Get Started
Here is a rundown of what you’ll learn.
- I’ll first explain what elements you should remove since you’ll be using Blogger to create a regular non-blogging website.
- Then I’ll go over items that are needed for a thorough website.
- I’ll also discuss how to fine-tune every detail, such as font selection, color schemes, and template manipulation with the Template Designer.
- We’ll go over some Blogger facts worth knowing to put to your advantage.
- Finally, I’ll show you how to monetize your site and view site statistics.
Activating Your Blogger Account
If you already have a Google account such as for Gmail or AdSense, then you already have Blogger too. Log into Blogger with your Google user and password.
You can create multiple blogs (websites) with the same Google account.
Remove Blog Related Items
Since the purpose of this article is to make a regular web site using Blogger, you need to remove the things that are meaningful only for a blog site.
Remove Time-stamp on Posts
If you don't want your posts to be related to specific dates and times, then you should remove the time and date stamps. This is only required for blog posts. It’s better to drop them with a regular web site.
Click on “Layout” from your dashboard options, edit the “Blog Post" gadget, and uncheck the options you don’t want, such as the date and the time. See image below.
You may also want to remove the “Posted by” and “Location” options. They also only apply to blogs.
Remove the Navbar
The Navbar appears at the top of all pages. It has links to create a new post and to template designer, but this is available through your dashboard too.
The Navbar also has a link to the next blog to bring traffic to others, and a signon link for you to log in. Why have a signon link on a website? You can always logon by going to blogger.com or if you are already logged into your Google account, you’re good to go.
These are all the reasons to remove the Navbar. There is an option to remove it in the "Layout" settings. Just click “edit” on the Navbar gadget and select “off”. Then save it.
Remove the Blog Archive Gadget
This gadget appears in the sidebar of new blogs by default, but it’s only meaningful for a blog site. For a regular website you probably won’t want it.
You can remove it by going to the layout option in your dashboard and edit that gadget. Then click “remove” at the bottom of that gadget.
Remove Blogger Profile Gadget
If you're using Blogger to create a regular website, not specifically for blogging, then it's not necessary to have a blogger profile. When you create a new blog site, the layout defaults to having the "Blogger Profile" gadget in the sidebar (unless you never created a profile).
If you don't want a reference to your profile then just edit that gadget and select the delete option to remove it. Your profile will remain intact in case you want to use it in any of your other blog sties.
Include Website Related Items
There are several features most bloggers don’t use, but you will want to take advantage of these for the creation of a regular website.
These are created the same as posts expect that they don’t fall into the blog timeline as with blog posts. You can also include images and videos in the pages with full control of layout within each page.
The Pages Gadget
You can use the “Pages Gadget” to provide links to each page in tabs on top or a vertical list on the sidebar.
When you put this in the header it displays as tabs. When used in the Sidebar it creates a link list. You can drag and drop the gadget from one location on your layout to another to see how it looks. You can also have more than one if necessary.
IMPORTANT: You will want to come back to this gadget when you add new pages to your website. Each page title will be listed in this gadget and you need to put a checkmark on each one that you want to include in the tabs or in the list.
Link Lists vs. Tabs
I mentioned the “Pages Gadget” earlier to create a list of links for your pages, but I need to explain something important about its placement so you have the best results.
In some cases you might want tabs. For other things a list may be better. Tabs can be used to place links to important pages on your site. Each template displays the tabs in a different format, so you may want to experiment with how they look.
For cosmetic reasons, keep your tabs limited to one row. Tabs are meant to offer a quick view of the most important pages. Don’t litter it with a link-list, which is better when placed in a vertical column in the sidebar.
You can drag and drop the “Pages Gadget” to the sidebar and back to the header to see how it looks in each position without losing the links you already placed in the list. When the gadget is in the header, it displays as tabs. When it’s in the sidebar it automatically displays as a vertical link list.
Adding labels to your posts is a way to create a reference to the content. This can only be done for posts, not for pages. You add one or more labels to each post.
The beauty of this feature is with the "Labels" gadget. Include that gadget in the sidebar and it automatically lists all the existing labels that you had used. This is actually an active link list.
You can program the way you want your labels to appear, as shown at the right.
When the visitor clicks on any label in the list, all the posts that have that label come up.
Try it to get to know what it can do for you. That’s the best way to learn how useful this feature is.
You might have reasons to add text directly in your layout. This gadget can be placed anywhere in your layout.
Adding images to your posts and pages is easy. You just open your directory list in another window and drag and drop an image file. Then drag it around the text you have on that page to position it where you want.
If you prefer, you can upload an image to a page (or post) by clicking the image icon in the options at the top. It’s the second from the left in the image below.
When you’re editing a post or a page, you can click the video icon (third from the left in the image above) and select the method you want to use from the top row.
For example, if you want to insert a YouTube video, select “From YouTube” and enter the URL of the video.
By default, all posts have a comment box at the bottom for visitors to leave comments. You can hide that globally under “Settings > Posts, Comments and Sharing” and change “Comment Location” to “Hide”.
If you do want to accept comments, you should set the options in this menu to be sure you are moderating new comments to avoid spam.
You can use the “Contact Form" gadget to include a form in your layout as shown here.
This gives people the ability to send you a message via email without knowing your email address.
Blogger will send the message to the email address registered with your account.
Your Copyright Notice
I always like to include a copyright notice. There is a field for that and Blogger places it in the footer for you. Edit the footer in your layout and fill in the copyright field.
Meta Tag Description
Meta Tags are used in HTML code to provide information about a webpage (metadata) to search engines. The "description" Meta Tag helps Google index the page properly, and it may also be used in search results.
You can enter your site’s description for this in the “Settings > Search preferences”, then Blogger will create it for you in the HTML code.
Note that this field is different from the description you type in the “Settings > Basic” section. That description appears under your title in your banner.
Search Engine Traffic Considerations
I see a few people mentioning in forums that they have poor traffic views with Blogger.
The fact is that traffic is dependent on the quality and usefulness of the content. It has nothing to do with an individual platform that’s not shared with other articles under the same domain or subdomain. Blogger separates your site from others since you have your own subdomain (YourSubDomain.blogger.com).
Therefore you should create a good Meta Tag description to improve search results, and a useful description for the Title Banner since that's the first thing people see on you site.
Blogger Template Designer
If you want to fine tune things, which I recommend you get used to doing, you can go to the Template Designer and change backgrounds, layouts, fonts, colors, and so on.
The wonderful feature of Blogger is that you can quickly switch from one template to another to see how your finished product looks with alternate templates.
From your dashboard click on “Template” and then click “Customize” under the sample image. This opens the Template Designer.
Under advanced settings in the designer you can change text fonts and text sizes of each part of the site individually.
For example, I made the text size larger for the titles of gadgets. That made the titles of the right sidebar links larger.
You have to experiment. The advanced section of the designer shows you which section you are changing as you click on various options. Nothing affects the live site unless (and until) you click “Apply to Blog” in the top right corner of the template designer.
One-Minute Review of the Template Designer
Blogger Facts Worth Knowing
Blogger Sitemap and Search Discovery
I noticed that the sitemap of each blog only contains the posts, not the pages. Search engines will know about all the posts from the sitemap.
However, the only way search bots would discover your content that is created as pages is by following links from other posts, or from link lists and tabs created with the Pages Gadget.
Therefore, make sure to keep this in mind when creating a site.
Considering the URL when Creating Page Titles
When you create a page or a post, the URL is generated automatically from the title. However, if you later change the title, the URL remains unchanged. This is done purposely so that any incoming links don’t get broken.
For this reason you might want to think about the URL when creating posts or pages. Why? I always like to be sure the URL is general enough so that it makes sense in the future if I drastically change the title. That’s why.
Posts: You can override the URL when you create a post by selecting the Permalink option under “Post Settings” and change it to “Custom Permalink” as shown here. Then type in the URL you wish to use.
Pages: Pages don’t have the option to override the URL. However, I discovered a trick. You can publish the page with a temporary title that you want for the URL, then go back, change the title, and save it. The original generated URL will remain.
Keeping a Static Home Page
I like to make my home page a welcome message. However, Blogger always displays the newest blog post on the home page. This is because it was designed for blogging. I found a way to maintain the desired fixed content there.
It’s not automatic. You’ll need to do a little work each time you add another post.
Whenever you add content with a new post, view your blog and click home. You’ll see the newest post you just made. You’ll need to remember to copy and paste the correct content into a new post each time you do this. Then you can delete the prior home content post.
When you do this, you can copy and paste the same title, no problem. Blogger will append an extra string to the URL, but that won’t matter. No one even sees it. Only the site’s top domain is shown in the browser when on the home page.
Making Money with Blogger
Monetize with AdSense
There are two ways to use AdSense with Blogger. Both methods are with gadgets.
The easy way is to include an “AdSense Gadget” anywhere you want to place an ad. You can also use an HTML Gadget, but then you need to go to your AdSense account and copy the generated HTML code.
Either method requires that you have been approved to use AdSense with Blogger. To get started, go to the overview page for one of your blogs and click on “Earnings”.
If you don’t see a “Sign up for AdSense” button then you need to wait until your “blog” qualifies for AdSense. You may need to add more posts or pages and then wait a few days or more. Keep checking it. It took only three days for me, but some people told me they waited much longer.
When you see the “sign up” button, click on it and follow the steps. Be careful not to ask to create a new AdSense account if you already have one and you want to use it for your Blogger site. A single AdSense account can be used on multiple sites.
If you are using the authorized sites feature, you'll need to add your Blogger URL to your “owned sites” list in your AdSense account before you can continue. Then come back to Blogger and go to the Earnings page again.
Now you can click the button that says “Create or use another account” and follow the steps to associate your existing AdSense account to your Blogger account. If you did it right you should see:
The AdSense widget has been added to your blog template.
You can see your earnings in your Google AdSense reports. Go to "Performance Reports” and click on “Common reports > Sites” for a listing of all sites that had traffic. It shows you the views, impressions, clicks, and earnings.
Monetize with Amazon Affiliate Links
If you have an active Amazon Associates account, you can add Amazon products to your posts or pages with either of three methods: text links, image display, or image with text.
For either method just go to that product page while logged into your associates account. You will see the Amazon Associates SiteStripe on top of the page as shown below. Select the type of link you want to use.
Copy the HTML code that was generated and paste it into the gadget. Then save it.
If you want to have a text link that you assign to some anchor text for the product, click “Text” next to “Get Link” on the Amazon SiteStripe and copy the link address that it gives you.
Then in Blogger, highlight the anchor text, click the "Link" option (see below), and paste the saved link address.
Website Data Statistics
Google Analytics can be linked to your Blogger account so you can track your visitor statistics.
First you need to go to your Analytics Account and create a new Property ID to assign to your blog. You need to create a property for each blog in case you have more than one, so you can track them individually.
After creating a property for your blog, go to "Settings > Other" on your dashboard. The last item on that page is a field for your Analytics Web Property ID.
Note: Google Analytics is not supported on classic templates such as the “Simple” templates. I confirmed that it does work with “Dynamic Views” and “Picture Window” templates, including all mobile templates.
Blogger has its own Stats page that shows some useful information. From your dashboard, go to “Stats” and review each section: Overview, Posts, Traffic sources, and Audience.
Ignoring Your Own Views
Go to your “Stats” from your dashboard and click on "Manage tracking your own pageviews" to tell blogger not to count your own views.
One problem I discovered is that you will need to enable this option each day you start working on your blog because the cookies are not permanent.
Additional Help Topics
What you learned from me today is all you need to know to create an outstanding website with Blogger that will make you feel proud.
There is much more to Blogger than I covered here. You can learn more from the help pages at Blogger.GoogleBlog.com including latest tips. I recommend spending time reviewing the tutorials available there.
As you get to know more of its features, you’ll find yourself becoming creative with clever web designs. Have fun and enjoy the flexibility of Blogger.
© 2016 Glenn Stok