Archive for : June, 2015

Blogger – Before making changes to templates

Now, since you have moved on to learn how to make customizations/changes as per your preference in the template for your new blogger blog, there is something that we think is an absolute must before you proceed with the changes, more importantly when these changes are in the layout of your blog, or when done inside the blog template’s HTML code. In the last post we showed you how to make changes in your blog’s appearance using the blogger template designer, a way which can safely be used to make some of minor changes in the blog colours, backgrounds, layouts widths and such. And changes here can be safely reverted back to original by clicking the Reset to Default button. However this is unfortunately not true to the full extent when it comes to making changes in the template from the template html, layouts, and more importantly when there are certain changes you would like to keep while discarding some that screwed up your blog’s template/layout.

In such a scenario it becomes important to have a backup of your blog’s template. Imagine a situation wherein you added a css-javascript driven menu to your blog, and were doing some more changes which went horribly wrong and screwed up the entire layout of your blog. In such a scenario, having the latest backup of your blog’s template becomes an absolute necessity, so that you could upload the template back on blogger and your blog comes back to normal. And anyone who has ever worked on writing long codes for anything, be it a small website or a web page, a desktop or a web application, or simply anything, he/she will always suggest you to keep backup copies of your code before you proceed making major changes, so that, in the event of something going wrong, you don’t need to go back and do it all from the scratch. Wise enough? Yeah, we know!

So, just because you are new to blogger, there is a small possibility that you still might not be knowing all the tricks of trade, and hence we decided to do a post to guide you on how to go about making changes to your blogger blog and be safe from anything unforeseen. Just keep reading below to learn how can you accomplish this task of keeping a backup of your blog’s template.

Basically, there are two simple ways, to take a backup of your blogger blog’s template. One that blogger provides as a standard feature, the other one that is customary to most people who’ve interacted with writing code. First let us introduce to the easier way. As we usually do, we will go around with some screengrabs of the pages while trying to explain the stuff that is happening in the pages to help you understand the things in a proper way.

Blogger Dashboard

Blogger Dashboard

As usual, we start off from the blogger dashboard, for accessing which, you need to have signed in in your google account. Once in there, just navigate down to the link – Template to access the page settings.

Blogger - Template Backup

Blogger – Template Backup

Once in the Template settings page, on the top right hand side corner,  under your name, you can see a button Backup/Restore. This is the button which you will be using in creating/restoring a backup of your blogger blog’s template.

Blogger_db_Template_backup_2_download_template

Once you click on the Backup/Restore button, you get a pop over like the one shown above. You get options to Download or Upload a template backup file. Click on the Download full template button and your blog’s template will be downloaded in a single file with an extension .xml. XML stands for Extended Markup Language and is a standard that is used by all of the web today to communicate between different computers connected to the internet. This xml file contains all the data required to recreate the design of your blogger blog, all the settings, style settings in terms of font colours, faces and sizes, background colours and images, and even the javascript/CSS, jQuery code, all rolled into a single xml file.

Once downloaded, you can keep this xml file someplace safe in your computer or on the web, with some cloud storage account of yours, like say, Dropbox. This will be helpful if you ever need to revert back to some changes you made long back, and can no longer go back because you don’t really recall what changes you made, and also you don’t want to revert back to the default template. It’s a good idea to take backups of your blog and your blog’s templates once in a while to ensure that you have the most recent backup.

Let us check out the second way to take a backup.

This way is somewhat different as in here, you are supposed to get into the blogger template’s html code, and copy the entire code to take a backup.

Blogger Template Backup - Edit HTML

Blogger Template Backup – Edit HTML

To take a backup this way, just navigate to the Template page in your Blogger dashboard, then click on the button Edit HTML. You will be taken to a new page that looks like the one shown below. All the HTML, CSS, JavaScript code that creates your blog what it is, is here.

Blogger Template Backup - Edit HTML

Blogger Template Backup – Edit HTML

Once you’re into the page, just select all the text code from the window, by either using your mouse or using the Ctrl+A shortcut and copy the contents. Once copied, you can paste it and save it as a text document using Notepad. To use it back, all you have to do is copy the code from the text document and paste it down in the same Edit HTML page, replacing any code that presently exists in there, and your blog’s template will be copied in its entirity.

With that we believe it’s time to wrap it up all for this post. We hope that the above post will help novice bloggers to play safe and will also help them sort out a lot of issues with their blogger blogs, since, the blog’s template is something that is visible to the visitor and if it’s not proper, your blog might get grossly neglected. Do let us know your views on the above post, and do share with us if you have some other way to take a backup of your blog’s template.

Shutters down!

Get yourself a new identity – Custom domain setup on Blogger

You started your blog, and it’s doing good. It became quite famous among the people you know, and based on the great contents you create, it’s doing good, and has amassed a lot of loyal members/visitors for your blog, who find your blog a reliable source of information on whatever topic you have been blogging on. A few months into blogging, you suddenly realize that your blog doesn’t have a proper brand identity, ensuring your web presence. One of the most important aspects of building a brand and marketing it is to secure its identity, in as many channels as possible. That’s one big reason businesses secure the various brand identities before unveiling the products. That’s where registered trademarks and logos and registered brand and product names come into play.

You spent lots of efforts in creating a brand identity from scratch, giving in tonnes of hard work, putting in hundreds of hours of your time in creating your blog, and its contents and once it takes off and gets the visitor attention you have been trying to achieve, you decide to get your product the online presence that stands apart, and then you realize that someone else took away the domain name of your blog, thus taking away the very online presence of your blog. You now have just a few options left. Either approach the current owner to sell you the domain name, since that person/entity had a better presence of mind and cashed in on the opportunity. In such a scenario, you have nothing going in your favour. You have to give in to the demands of that person/entity, the current owner of the domain name you wanted for your blog. The other way is the hard way, where you have to change the very identity of your brand, since you were late in realizing the importance of brand identities, working up again to build a brand reputition once again.

The above described is one common scenario that happens in blogosphere a lot. There are millions of people blogging, and bloggers really are a varied lot. It’s always a fight to find yourself the domain/sub-domain name you wanted, unless, ofcourse it was something so unique that no one ever thought about it, or so weird that no one bothered to get it for them. Apart from the prospect of someone else cashing in your brand’s identity (your blog’s popularity), there are other factors which should be considered before changing domain names midway. If you are a blogger, like most other bloggers, you must have at times worried about various ranking metrics and other statistics which place your blog in comparision to dozens of other blogs and websites on the entire web. Be it the SERP rankings, the Alexa Rankings (which is gradually losing its importance), Moz Rank, or Google Page Ranks, to name a few, every blogger might have worried about one of these once in a lifetime in their blogging careers. Since all these work on the URL (the domain/sub-domain name) of a web property (website/blog), a change in the URL has a drastic impact on one/all of these, and the rankings are supposed to take a plunge down, thus, it is usually adviced that you get your blog a top level domain (TLD) for your blog, if you, even in remote thoughts, ever thought to monetize your blog, or to carry it over to the next level.

Blogger, unlike most of the other free developer-hosted blogging platforms, gives the blogger-you, the ability to get their blogs an online identity for their blogs with the help of custom TLD’s, that too for free, given that you have purchased your domain name. This seemingly easy task however confuses a lot of people when they are trying to get their newly registered domain names attached with their blogger blogs. We decided to do a detailed post on the task, to help our visitors complete the task easily. This post describes how you can proceed with setting up what blogger calls a 3rd party domain (a sub-domain or a top level domain name). Before we proceed with the setup guide, there are a few prerequisites, that we think you should complete before going through this walkthrough. First of them all is deciding upon a domain name. Usually, most bloggers have setup a name for their blogs, and based on that name only, they decide the sub-domain name they will register with blogger or wordpress.com or any other blogging service. The same applies with top level domains. And in this world of internet, it is not possible for everyone to get the domain name they ever thought, so, you have to be either extremely lucky on that front to get the domain name you wanted, or, you should be ready to come up with alternative domain names, but make sure that they do not have a negative effect on your blog’s prospects, which means, the domain name planning has to be done in a manner with some of the basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) guidelines in consideration. First and foremost being the use of very long domain names, like for example, we could have gone on to get the domain name bloggingresourcecenter.com or thelearningqubebloggingresourcecenter.com, but considering the importance of SEO, we decided to go with a sub-folder under thelearningqube.com. SEO best practices guides for domain names suggest that one should avoid domain names longer than 15 characters, since the longer the domain name, the harder it is to remember and share with others. Also, it is advisable that you should try to get yourself a domain name much more common, like one with a .com extension, or one specific to your country, ccTLD (short for Country Code Top Level Domain). Domains  with extensions like .co.in, .ca, .co.uk, or .com.au are all examples of ccTLD’s. Going deep into SEO for domain names will be out of context for this post, so, we’d leave that to experts. YOu can take a look at one of these helpful guides for points to consider while selecting a domain name – SEOMoz-Domain12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name.

Now, moving forward to setup your new custom domain name to redirect your your-blog.blogspot.com blog to your swanky new domain you just purchased, we need to sign in to our blogger dashboard, and head right up to Settings Page.

Blogger - Setup custom domain

Blogger – Setup custom domain

So, as visible on the page (Settings > Basic), Under Publishing, there’s something called blog address. WHile you can edit your current blogspot.com sub domain by clicking that blue Edit link, the other link Setup a 3rd party URL for your blog lets you do it, i.e. setup the domain you just purchased. Clicking the link gives you a new section where you are supposed to enter your domain name. Please do note that blogger does not support linking naked domains (i.e. domains without any prefix like www. or any other sub domain address. So, if you try that, you will be prompted to correct the address. If you don’t want to redirect your blog on a sub domain, like blog.yourdomain.com, you can always put a www before yourdomain.com, and blogger will happily accept it.

Blogger - Add Custom Domain

Blogger – Add Custom Domain

Once you add the address of your new domain, name, blogger will try to connect with it to try and establish the ownership of that domain with you. It will fail, as there’s no way it will be able to get through, as there’s nothing to tell it that the domain name you just entered belongs to you. Here comes the role of CName records (CName, short for Canonical Name) is a part of DNS (Domain Name System). CName records sets up and tells DNS Servers that any address that you will feed in the DNS Cname records for your blog is same as your domain name, i.e. an alias to your domain name. This address will help the server at blogger’s end identify any request for your particular domain’s cname records and respond the query with contents from your blog.

Blogger - Setup Custom Domain (Add Domain Name)

Blogger – Setup Custom Domain (Add Domain Name)

So, the cname records which blogger wants you do feed in the DNS records of your domain name are:

1. www                 ghs.coogle.com

2. somevalue      someotherlongvalue.googlehosted.com

These values are supposed to be added in the CName records under DNS settings for your domain, and has to be registered with your domain registrar, which can be GoDaddy, Hostgator, or any other domain registrar you purchased your domain name from. With most of the domain registrars, the DNS Settings can be used to add these Cname records, where the first value is to be added under Name/Label or Host field, while the second value has to be added under Destination field.

Blogger - Setup custom domain (Cname records)

Blogger – Setup custom domain (Cname records)

To make things easier for you, we are including a few screengrabs from some popular domain registrars showing how and where to add the cname records provided by blogger. In domain registrars like Bigrock, Once you log in, scroll down to reach DNS Management, and click the link Manage DNS. Resulting page will look like the one on the right hand side, except, that to make things easier, we have shown you directly how to add cname records, by clickinng the CNAME Records tab, and feeding the values as shown by your blogger dashboard. Once both the records are entered, you can save and log out, and wait for DNS propagation to take place before your blog could be redirected to the new domain name.

Bigrock Cname Records Handling

Bigrock CName Records Handling

GoDaddy DNS Records Handling

GoDaddy DNS Records Handling

With GoDaddy, the procedure remains same, however, the way it’s done is a bit different, thus confusing a lot of people. On Logging in with your credentials, it lists the domain names you currently hold. Once you click the green Manage button agains the domain name you would like to connect with your blog, you are taken to the settings page for the domain as shown in the below screengrab. Here, you are required to click on the dab DNS Zone File to reach the settings for A Records, CName records and other such records. Add the required value, and save it. Voila, your new domain has been linked with your blogger blog.

GoDaddy DNS Records Handling

GoDaddy DNS Records Handling

Once setup properly, you will be able to save the settings here on blogger settings page without any error, and blogger should start displaying your new domain name in the Basic Settings Page, under Blog Publishing. After a few hours, your blog will start getting redirected to the new domain.

We hope this detailed guide to setting up a custom domain name has helped you setup the custom domain name for your blog easily. Do share with us your experiences, and also, if you are facing some kind of issues. We will be happy to help you in resolving one of these.