Need Free Blog Hosting? Try Blogger With a Custom Domain
There are few popular blogging platforms including Blogger, Typepad, and WordPress. So why should you use Google’s Blogger? Because it’s free and has a strong backend infrastructure support from Google. Although free hosting is a bad idea, Blogger doesn’t compromise on features, and it’s easy to get started.
Once you get a custom domain of your choice, you can start blogging with a small investment. This step-by-step tutorial will help you register a domain name and connect it with your blog. I assume that you already have a Blogspot blog.
What Is a Custom Domain?
When you sign up for Blogger, you get a domain like “yourblog.blogspot.com.” Your blog is under the sub-domain of blogspot.com. In contrast, the custom domain is a top-level root domain in the form of “yourblog.com.” They appear in the address bar of web browsers.
You do not have to be a technically savvy person to set up a custom domain, but it may help to understand a few key blogging terms.
- Domain name: They’re a vital part of internet infrastructure . Without them, you would need to remember the exact IP address for each web site you visit.
- Domain extension: Also known as Top Level Domains or TLDs, it refers to the last section of your domain name. For example, “.com” is the commonly used domain suffix.
- Domain registrar: These are companies like Namecheap, GoDaddy, Google Domain, and many others that host or manage domain names for an annual fee.
Many newbie bloggers who begin with a free blogging platform or hosting don’t invest in a custom domain. They keep on blogging for several years with the blogspot domain.
And when their blog starts getting traffic, they switch to a custom domain. That’s not the right strategy. You should invest in a custom domain if you are interested in doing this long term. It has many advantages. And you can search for domain names easily with online tools.
Advantages of Blogger on a Custom Domain
Buying a Domain Name Is Cheap
Registering the domain typically costs between 10-$15 per year. Google doesn’t charge anything for hosting the content on Blogger. There are many domain registrars available, choose anyone and stick to it. Unlike WordPress.com, you don’t have to pay any money to set up a custom domain on Blogger.
A custom domain helps you to establish your blog as a professional brand. They also look better in advertisements, business cards, and in other marketing material. It also removes the impression that you’re using a free blog for promoting spam.
Better Exposure in Search Engines
A blog with a custom domain generally gets higher search engine ranking than blogspot.com domain. You’ll also get new readers, search traffic, and social media credibility. Having a custom domain also ensures trust among other website owners and increases the chance of backlinks.
If you decide to get a full featured website in the future, it is possible to switch to a different host yet keep the same domain name and search engine rankings. But if you use a blogspot address and later on change to a custom domain, you lose all the domain authority, backlinks, traffic, and analytics you had built up.
Custom Email Address
A custom email address is always in the form of the name attached to your domain name. You can get this type of email address only when you buy a custom domain. It’s easy to set up an email address with your domain on Google Apps.
Google Adsense for Blogger
With Blogger, you can make money by running ads on your blog. You’ll see a Sign up for AdSense button right in your Blogger account backend. If you don’t see the button, it means your blog might not qualify for AdSense. Check out the AdSense eligibility checklist to find out why. With a custom domain, the chance of getting AdSense approval increases.
Register Your Domain With Google Domains
Google Domains is a domain name registrar. You can use Google Domains to search, buy and manage domains, transfer a domain you already own from another registrar, and more. Google Domains is only available for users in selected countries including US, UK, India, and more. Check your location in the country availability checklist.
To search for a domain, navigate to Google Domains and click Get a new domain. Enter a few keywords in the search box, then review the results to find out if the domain is available.
Note: Make sure that you log into Blogger with the same email ID you use to log in to Google Domains. Also, confirm that you add the domain owner as an administrator of the blog.
Filter Your Search
When you search for a domain, Google Domains automatically searches for that domain with several domain suffixes (for example, .com, .net, .org). Click the Filter Domains button to further refine your search.
- You can search for a specific ending suffix. Under the Endings section, choose a relevant domain suffix from the dropdown menu.
- Type in your preferred domain name and let Google Domains show you some available variations. Toggle All Endings at the top of your search results page to view all the possible domains. There is also a price filter to list domains within your budget.
Buy the Domain
Once you identify the domain you’d like to buy, click Add to cart. Review the following settings:
- Enable Privacy protection is on to keep the contact information private. If someone tries to look up your data in WHOIS, then they’ll see alternate contact information given by a third-party provider.
- Enable Auto-renew is on, so you don’t have to worry about domain expiration.
Click the Checkout button at the bottom of your cart. Enter the Contact information for the domain. Select your payment method and click Buy.
Connect Your Domain With Blogger
Step 1: Sign in to Blogger and select the blog you want to update.
Step 2: On the left sidebar, click Settings > Basic.
Step 3: On the right panel, under the Publishing section, click +Setup a Google Domain URL for your blog.
Step 4: Enter the sub-domain you want to use or leave it blank to keep www.
Step 5: Select your domain in the list under Google Domains settings and click Save.
Redirect Non-WWW to WWW
To change your domain (example: bloginoptometry.com) to www.bloginoptometry.com, set up a redirect. Under Publishing > Blog Address, click Edit.
Check the option which says Redirect mydomain.com to www.mydomain.com. Click Save. Google will then take care of redirection part, and if anyone opens your blogspot address, they’ll get automatically redirected to your new custom domain name.
Turn On HTTPS for Your Blog
Users expect a secure online experience when using a website. We recommend you to adopt HTTPS to encrypt their traffic with your website, regardless of the content on your site. Blogger lets you enable HTTPS easily.
To turn on HTTPS for your custom domain blog, click Settings > Basic. On the right, under HTTPS availability and HTTPS redirect, select Yes.
Even if you don’t use a custom domain, HTTPS is automatically turned on for your blog, but the HTTPS setting remains hidden. And when you turn on HTTPS redirect, visitors always reach the encrypted version of your blog.
Once you set up your custom domain and enable HTTPS, it’s time to check everything. Type in your blog address, and you should be able to access your website without any errors. If not, wait for a few moments and let Google take care of all the technical steps.
Blogging With WordPress
Ease of use and simplicity are the main advantages of Blogger. Once you buy a domain from Google Domains, it just takes a few minutes to start your blog. The whole process may look technical, but once you’re inside the Blogger dashboard and follow all the steps in this article, it’ll be easier for you to implement.
After getting used to the basics of blogging, your next step should be to migrate from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site.
We highly recommend managed WordPress hosting with WP Engine, which takes all the headache of running a website out of the picture. Need something a bit more affordable? MakeUseOf readers can get a special discount at InMotion Hosting by signing up using this link.
Then check out our guide on how to set up your blog with WordPress .