Google Integrates Google+ Into Blogger

Google continues to integrate its social networking site Google+ with the other services that it offers. Today, Google announced the Google+ integration for Blogger, enabling users to share their thoughts with their friends on Google+ in few easy steps.

The new integration lets Blogger users connect their blog to a Google+ profile or page. This means that you will be able to connect your brands, business, or other organization’s blog to your Google+ profile, essentially making it easier to unify your online identities together.

For instance, if you’re an author at a particular blog, with the Google+ integration it is possible to link the author page to a Google+ page. Additionally, you can also notify your friends and followers when you publish a new article or blog post. With the Google+ share box integrated, you can make an update and notify your followers about the new blog post.

On the other hand, if your followers find your articles interesting enough, they can even +1 or re-share your post with their network on Google+. Google calls this as the ‘ripple effect,’ which exposes links to your content to a wider audience.

Google Plus Blogger Integration

Besides the Facebook Share box, you can also added Google+ gadgets. Google+ also offers an easier way to add gadgets like the +1 button and the Google+ Badge on your Blogger site. You can go here to read more about on how you can add the new gadgets to make your blog better with Google+.

To begin integrating your Blogger site with Google+, you need to click on the newly created “Google+” tab in your Blogger dashboard and then click on the “Upgrade” button. However, if you have already using Google+, you will provided with steps to associate your blog with your profile or a page.

Google says that it will introduce several new options in the coming future: “We’ll be introducing more settings on this tab in the future, so stay tuned for additional ways to get more out of Blogger with Google+.”

Just yesterday, Google announced that it has replaced the usual Google video chat with Google+ Hangouts, which promises to “deliver higher reliability and enhanced quality” to your chats.

How To Add rel=canonical to Blogspot Blogs

Google recently started redirecting blogs to and other country specific domains. The reason being that Google wants to give more freedom of expression to users while also being able to adhere to removal requests from different governments.

The country based redirection was first rolled out in India thanks to some recent stupid court judgments against websites in India. However, this will highly inconvenience Blogspot blog owners in India since they will not have duplicate content. Even though Google has promised to minimize the  negative effects of this change, you can definitely take an initiative to minimize the problems this will cause.

Google had introduced the rel=canonical meta tag to overcome this issue. This tag allows users to point tell search engines the actual location of the content if there are one or more URLs which have the same content, thus avoiding duplicate content on your website.

If you are Blogspot blog owner, you can avoid duplicate content by adding the following content to your template. Please note that you will have to edit the HTML code of your Blogspot template and add this before the </head> tag.

If you are using a HTML template for you blog, you should add the following code:

<ItemPage><Blogger><link href='<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>’ rel=’canonical’/></Blogger></ItemPage>

On the other hand if you are using a XML template, you will have to add the following code to include all meta tags:

<b:include data=’blog’ name=’all-head-content’/>

Or also individually include the rel=canonical tag by using:

<link expr:href="data:blog.url" rel="canonical"/>

Once you have added the tags, make sure to save your template and then view source of your browser to check if the tag is added to your template. That’s it. Once you have added the rel=canonical tag, search engines will only index one page instead of creating duplicate content.

Blogger Blogs Redirecting to Country Specific Domains, India BlogSpot Affected has historically redirected to country-specific versions. For example, if you are in Australia, typing in the browser will redirect you to and in India, it would redirect you to This redirection has been in place so that Google can serve up local content to the users. However, Google is now expanding the country specific URLs to Blogger based blogs as well.

Google OS is reporting that BlogSpot blogs based in India are redirecting to from The new redirection policy has been made available in a Blogger help page (emphasis added).

Why does my blog redirect to a country-specific URL?

Q: Why am I seeing a URL change?
A: Over the coming weeks you might notice that the URL of a blog you’re reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or “ccTLD.” For example, if you’re in Australia and viewing [blogname], you might be redirected [blogname] A ccTLD, when it appears, corresponds with the country of the reader’s current location.

Q: Why is this happening?
A: Migrating to localized domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law. By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD.

As per the Google help page, the move to country specific domains is so that Google can allow free expression for bloggers and also comply with valid removal requests from local authorities.

So, why this move? Several social networking websites like , and Google have come under fire recently from courts (Read: Indian Government and Courts Ignore Common Sense and Laws of the Land in a Drive to Leash the Internet) in India asking them to remove derogatory and inflammable content from their websites. Google however has not yet complied with the requests, but this change will allow them to remove country specific content.

Currently, this changes will only affect blogs and will not affect custom domains. The implementation of the domain redirection has already started in India where Google recently faced problems (read above story).

Also Read: How To Add rel=canonical to Blogspot Blogger Blogs for SEO

Majority of BlogSpot blog owners would be worried about the SEO for their blogs. However, Google has said that they will try to minimize the negative consequences of hosting BlogSpot content on multiple domains. They are also suggesting users to add rel=”canonical” directive to their blogs.

Q: Will this affect search engine optimization on my blog?
A: After this change, crawlers will find BlogSpot content on many different domains. Hosting duplicate content on different domains can affect search results, but we are making every effort to minimize any negative consequences of hosting BlogSpot content on multiple domains.

The majority of content hosted on different domains will be unaffected by content removals, and therefore identical. For all such content, we will specify the version as the canonical version using rel=canonical. This will let crawlers know that although the URLs are different, the content is the same. When a post or blog in a country is affected by a content removal, the canonical URL will be set to that country’s ccTLD instead of the .com version. This will ensure that we aren’t marking different content with the same canonical tag.

If you are a reader of Blogger blogs, you can request to stop the redirects by adding “/ncr” to the end of the URL. NCR stands for “No Country Redirect” and will always display Blogger blogs in English.

So You Want to Kick the Google Habit? [Editorial]



Google Everywhere

It is hard to go online today without touching one or more Google products or services. If it is not search, it may be email, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Docs, or Calendar. Google has truly blanketed us with their web-based app offerings. Heck, even the Google Doodle is a conversation topic!

In this editorial, I shall discuss how you can kick the Google habit, what I am using now as alternatives and why you probably won’t be able to replace certain Google products today. Ready to move away from Google? First, some background.

Why un-Google?

Some of the reasons I personally decided to look for alternatives:

  • Google became a part of virtually everything I did online. I used GMail, Google Reader, Google Finance, Blogger, Picasa, Picasa Web, Google Docs, Google Search, Google Calendar and Google Maps. I felt uncomfortable putting such a large portion of my online life in Google’s hands.
  • Google morphed from the cool little startup building fun stuff for consumers, to a dominant public company whose revenues essentially came from just one product. That’s the key most (96%) of its revenues (and profits) came from search advertising. In other words, it needed other ways to make money. The most obvious way to do so would be to extend the arm of advertising, their main revenue-generating product, into other products. I realized I was the merchandise.
  • Google seemed to get Apple and Facebook envy. Apple was growing rapidly across all their product lines and at very high profit margins, and Facebook was taking eyeballs and key talent away from Google. This led to some bad attempts to mock Apple and Facebook publicly, which of course delighted the Google developer and enthusiast community but came off as being negative to me. If you make a great product, you don’t need a negative campaign.
  • Aside from philosophy, some of the competing products started becoming better, and Google’s products started getting worse (more on that within my descriptions) prompting me to start Project Un-Google which was an effort to use fewer and fewer Google products, hopefully reaching a point where I did not depend on any Google product at all.

Whether it is for philosophy, or hedging your web app bets, it is good to know there is life outside Google when it comes to products and services online and offline. There is usually a strong resistance to change, especially if you have a long history with a product. There is a high cost for transferring the old stuff, and learning your way around a new product/service. However, these challenges are not insurmountable, and I hope you take a look at some or all of the products I list here as an alternative to Google. If you have ideas of other products I may not have mentioned, please let me know!

Popular Google products

Here are some of the Google products/services I will be comparing to competition:

  • Search
  • Picasa
  • GMail
  • Calendar
  • Documents
  • Groups
  • Finance
  • Blogger
  • Chrome
  • Maps/Directions
  • Talk/Chat/Voice

I realize Google has many more products, appsand services, but I did not look at products like Book Search which are very niche. My attempt here is to look at the commonly used products and services only.

Google to Drop Picasa and Blogger Brands in Wake of Google+

If you are an active user of Google’s Picasa photo management tools or their Blogger blogging platform, you should prepare yourself for a change. News has broken that Google intends to drop those names from the products. This move is part of the Google+ service, which seems to be leading to a rebranding of Google’s web based tools.

Blogger and Picasa will not be shut down, however. The two service are among the most popular for the internet giant. They will simply be renamed to “Google Blogs” and “Google Photos” respectively. It is rumored that these two are the first of many services to get the Google rebranding treatment. Sources indicate that YouTube will not be changed.

The total rebranding is due to take place over the next six weeks. This time table will likely align with the full public roll out of Google+, which is rumored to be by the end of this month. Its important to keep that date in mind, as it will be the day when private Google profiles are deleted.

The combination of these service with Google+ makes sense. While Google+ has a photo service already, it is easy to notice that it is integrated with Picasa and Picasa’s technology. The Instant Upload feature of the Google+ Android application uploads to Google+ and Picasa simultaneously. It would make sense to drop the branding and combine the two parts officially.

If you want some sort of proof for this pending rebranding, simply look at the screenshot above. Across the top navigation bar, you will see a link that reads Photos. Clicking it takes you to Picasa Web, the web based portal for Picasa. If that doesn’t convince you, then I don’t know what will.


Blogger Is Back. Resumes It’s Services, Finally!

After 20 hours of suspended services and outage, is finally back online. Folks at Blogger have toiled real hard to get Blogger live in action. According to the Blogger team, the cause of this outage was because of some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior.

Eddie Kessler, Tech Lead/Manager, Blogger at Blogger, wrote in a post on the Blogger Buzz siteWe’re nearly back to normal — you can publish again, and in the coming hours posts and comments that were temporarily removed should be restored”
Eddie continues,

during scheduled maintenance work Wednesday night, we experienced some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior. Since then, bloggers and readers may have experienced a variety of anomalies including intermittent outages, disappearing posts, and arriving at unintended blogs or error pages. A small subset of Blogger users (we estimate 0.16%) may have encountered additional problems specific to their accounts. Yesterday we returned Blogger to a pre-maintenance state and placed the service in read-only mode while we worked on restoring all content: that’s why you haven’t been able to publish. We rolled back to a version of Blogger as of Wednesday May 11th, so your posts since then were temporarily removed. Those are the posts that we’re in the progress of restoring.

nRelate Is An Excellent Related Posts Widget For WordPress and Blogger

My journey with related posts widgets has been very diverse. I first started out with an excellent native WordPress related posts plugin called YARRP. However, I had to get rid of it because of the massive database overhead it had and had to go with LinkWithin, which I quickly ditched for Outbrain.

I have come to love Outbrain a lot, however, over the time that I have been using it, I have found a major problem with it. Relevancy. The Outbrain related posts are not as relevant to the article as I would want them to be.


For example, take this post. The related posts widget continues to show you posts which are mostly unrelated to the article, thus resulting in lesser clickthroughs. After all, doesn’t related posts have to be related contextually to the content you are reading?

As usual, I had to find an alternative for Outbrain which really did the relevancy job well. I could always have used one of the related posts plugins available for WordPress, but for a high traffic blog, database overhead is really unwanted. You might ask “Don’t widgets add site overhead?”. Well it does, but I would trade a little bit of site overhead with database overhead any day.

So, did I find anything? Yes, indeed. I found an excellent related posts service called nRelate, which not only does the job well, but is astonishingly accurate at providing relevant content for the article people are reading. The screenshot below you the related posts nRelate served for the same post that Outbrain did.


I am thinking of switching to nRelate completely, but I still like Outbrain for the ratings widget it provides and will continue to use it. I am still making a transition to completely make the switch for all related content to nRelate, till then I will continue using Outbrain.

One thing I liked about both Outbrain and nRelate is the support team is awesome and always respond to my queries. It is definitely a great team to work with.

If you are interested in trying out nRelate, you can do so by visiting their website at Big thumbs up to them for the awesome job they did with their widgets. They also have some other things they are working on, including popular posts and more. I definitely look forward to them completing those and using them.

Google To Give Blogger A Modern UI, New Post Editor And Content Discovery Tools is one of the best platforms for budding bloggers who are new to blogging.

Almost all of my online friends have had a blogger blog at some point of their life. Agree Blogspot does not provide complete control and customizations when compared to WordPress and other blogging platforms, but without doubt it’s one of the easiest ways for non geeks to start a blog in minutes.

The good news for Blogger users is that Google has decided to revamp Blogger’s UI and add new features e.g content discovery and an advanced Post editor amongst others. The upcoming changes at is not visible as of now, Google is showing a sneak peak of it’s new user interface at SFXW and plans to roll out these features in the coming months.

The Newer Dashboard of   Blogger

At first glance, it looks like Blogger has slightly mimicked the user interface of WordPress. The colors and style attributes look quite similar, though the arrangement of different elements is slightly different


The newer dashboard of Blogger is much clean and shows recent blog posts from blogs which you’re following. On the left sidebar, there are links to create a new blog post in any of the blogs you own or contribute at. Google says that the newer design of is powered by Google’s Web toolkit, delivering the latest in web technology. The newer post editor of Blogger has also been polished, as seen in the following screenshot


From the above screenshot, it appears that the functionalities are still the same while only the design has been prettied out. We are yet to see the changes being rolled out but considering the growing influences of other free blogging platforms like Tumblr, Posterous or Blogger must act now and bring something new to the table. Just giving a coating to existing inventory won’t attract the eyeballs.

The content discovery tool appears interesting, it will allow bloggers to find interesting and related content based on the blog you’re currently reading. The following video shows in brief what changes are about to come at

Video link

Google’s Blogger Might Be The Biggest Spam Source, But It Stays Up Alright

Google’s free blogging platform and competitor to WordPress, Blogger, might be one of the biggest source of spam websites and douche bags who leech our hard written work, but it surprisingly has a 100% uptime record in tests conducted over two months by Royal Pingdom.

Blogging Service Downtimes

In a new report released today, the folks at Pingdom tested several blogging platforms including Blogger,, TypePad, Tumblr and Posterours. Surprisingly they left out Drupal from their tests.

Nevertheless, according to their test results, the Blogger platform had the best uptime, which was 100% and was followed by WordPress and TypePad. The worst service was Tumblr, who have been facing some terrible downtimes due to database crashes and 4Chan rage. Over a period of two months, Tumblr was down for over 47.5 hours, their database outage itself had lasted for more than 24 hours.

WordPress and TypePad did have downtimes too, but they had fairly good uptimes at around 99.99%, so most of the downtimes were negligible. On the other hand Posterours were down for 2.1 hours in the past two hours, which is not bad considering that they are seeing a huge influx of casual bloggers posting there.

Overall, Blogger was the winner, however, the amount of spam out there is really concerning. One of the major reasons why you see more spam on Blogger is because unlike WordPress, free Blogger accounts can use advertisements on their websites. Hopefully, Google should work more towards cleaning up the spam on their property, after all they do that all the time for Google Search.

Outbrain – Excellent Related Posts Alternative For LinkWithin and YARPP

Outbrain LogoI have been a big fan or Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) which also can be used to display images in related posts and also has a in-built template to do it now. However, I had to drop YARPP from the site due to it being database intensive. After YARPP, I started using LinkWithin, which provided a good solution to integrate related posts through a third-party service.

LinkWithin Related Posts Problem

After using LinkWithin for a while I wasn’t that happy with the performance and also got complaints from out team about it using advertising images as post images if none existed in the post itself. (Check screenshot above)

Now, I was trying to find a related posts plugin which did not use internal database resources and was really good. That was when I stumbled across Outbrain. Outbrain is an excellent third-party related posts widget, which works pretty well and also provides users with an option to view post click statistics and also make money by placing links to external sites in the related sites widget.

The click-through rate on Outbrain is pretty impressive too and users usually see a click through rate of anywhere between 3-12%. Another good thing about Outbrain widget is that it blends into your website without having to do any CSS manipulations.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Techie Buzz Recommended Software

Outbrain Related posts widget can be used on WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, TypePad and almost any type of website you have using a JavaScript code. The plus point of this widget is that it does not use your database and is perfect for a high traffic site and that is also provides you with easy stats. Oh and yes it also has a recommendation widget using which people can rate your post.