I’ve been asked this question many times — Why WordPress? To help answer that question, I’m posting my response to a personal email I received a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully this will explain why I chose this platform. It doesn’t mean that other platforms are bad, it just depends upon your reasons for blogging, and each blogger must chose the platform that is best for their purposes. For me, WordPress is the best choice for a number of reasons.
Specifically, this reader had asked why use WordPress, since Blogger now allows custom domain names, so I begin by addressing that in my reply. I corrected a couple of spelling errors and clarified a few phrases, but other than that, this is the direct response I sent to that reader:
For those who aren’t blogging to make money or build a large audience, Blogger is probably fine. I used it for a couple of years and am still involved with a group blog that is hosted by Blogger. But my reasons for choosing WordPress are more than just domain names.
Optimization — It’s not that I hate Blogger as much as I just love WordPress. I do a little coding from time to time to tweak things on my blog. There are certain SEO tactics that just don’t work on Blogger. For instance, Blogger is heavy on the code-to-content ratio, which means it hinders search bots from finding the actual content. Yes, Blogger blogs do rank well in some instances, but over all, WordPress is king when it comes to SEO. Interesting, since Google owns Blogger. I once hosted a guest blogger at On Blogging Well and by the end of the day, my post ranked ABOVE two of her own blogs (hosted by Blogger) for her name. She had been blogging on those blogs for over a year, but my post ranked #3 on page one less than 10 hours after it posted, with her two blogs coming in at 4 & 5. That’s very important if you have a message to spread widely or if you’re wanting to monetize your blog.
Part of it is perception. I’ve been reading a LOT of blogs about blogging since I started this site, and within the blogging niche, Blogger blogs are simply considered amateurish. I’ve seen some amazing looking Blogger blogs, so I know you can do a lot more with them than you could at one time, but most of the pro-blogger types claim WordPress is the only way. I don’t give many Blogger tips because I don’t use it enough to give out advice for that platform. There are some Blogger blog tip sites out there, though, which is good.
A lot of it is control. There are just certain things you can’t do with Blogger that you can with WordPress. It’s so flexible. For instance, with Blogger you don’t have access to your entire database. Yes, you can use the export feature as a makeshift backup, but that’s not really your entire database. Using a MySql database backup system, I can take my entire blog and upload it into a blank WordPress directory and it will look IDENTICAL to the way it looked when I downloaded it. If you simply use the export function, (and I’ve had to do this), there is still a lot of work to get links to work, images to display, etc., but a complete database upload works perfectly.
But in addition to that, the main thing I have against a hosted blog is that you don’t have full control over your blog. In fact, you don’t really “own” it. You may own the copyrights to it, but if the entire blog can be deleted by someone other than you without your knowledge or consent, then it’s not really yours. Blogger, being owned by Google, is probably fairly stable, but some freebie sites come and go. I’ve even read of more than one blogger who lost their entire blogs — and a few were even on Blogger — because they were flagged as being a SPLOG (spammer blog).
Yaro Starak, one of the most respected bloggers in the pro blogger arena, tells about his friend Steve, who was making about $2K/month average on a Blogger blog. Even though Steve was working legitimately, Google flagged him as a Splogger and deleted his blog. Poof — it was gone. He contacted them, but was told, “Well, it’s been deleted. Sorry.” Because my blog is self-hosted on a shared server, there is the possibility that someone on that server could be flagged for illegal activity & yes, the entire server could be confiscated for investigation (VERY rare, but it has happened — not to me, though). Because I have an auto-backup of my entire database, within minutes I could have my entire domain transfered and my site uploaded to another host.
Anyway, that’s just a few of my personal reasons for moving away from Blogger. When I did move (and the blog I had there isn’t active any more), I didn’t know what I was doing — had no idea what SEO was or really anything about blogging other than I’m a writer and I knew writers were supposed to have a blog.
As far as the expenses involved in self-hosting (via a shared server), it’s not free, but it’s pretty cheap. The domain name reservation is about $8/year, and you can get hosting from HostGator for as little as $5/month, so for an investment of perhaps $75/year, bloggers can have peace of mind. (Yes, you can pay more than that, but the basic packages are probably sufficient for most blogs.)
I hope this explains my reasons for choosing WordPress. Thanks for asking me that question — I may have to convert this email into a blog post!