August 12, 2018

Give your blog independent identity without hosting costs!

Many of our visitors and followers are those who are scared of technology and have created a blog on a free host because it does not demand any tech know-how. 

That leaves the blogger with many constraints. For example, the free blog cannot have advertisements, cannot apply a new theme and cannot use plugins.

In most such cases, i.e. when the blogger is interested in just sharing his thoughts with the world, even the free blogs are good enough. The Blogger ( blog even allows placing of ads and optimizing the blog for search engines.

But what the free blog on these platforms does not get is AN INDEPENDENT IDENTITY. The blog is seen as a casual or amateur blog and not as a professional one.

In this post, let me tell you how you can shed that .wordpress or .blogspot easily and without spending much money. In case of .blogspot blog, the only money you spend is a small amount needed for buying the domain and annual charge for keeping it with you. In case of .wordpress blog, there is additional cost that Wordpress charges every year.

By this approach, you get good features of free blogging without any need for learning technology or spending big amount on web hosting.

Getting the blog an independent domain

I will summarize the basics in just two bullet points. I will then discuss the nitty-gritty of actually going about it. The 'mapping' your present blog to an independent URL, involves just this:

  •     Buying a new domain name.
  •     Mapping the free blog to this domain name.

Your current blog remains where it is, and you retain all the resources and design of this blog on the same platform. And yet, your blog gets an independent ID - its own unique brand!

Let's compare the expenditure that you incur on maintaining a free blog, hosting a blog independently and what I am suggesting here (mapping) [prices are indicative only]:

Free blog: No expenditure on hosting and domain name. No expenditure on web designing.

Self-hosted blog: about $10 per year on domain name plus about $50 per year for a low-end hosting plan (or a package with name and hosting, for $100 per year. If you do not have skills of web designing, then one-time cost of buying a theme could start from $20 for a routine theme.

Just mapping: about $10 per year on domain name (for .blogspot blog) and additional $15 a year (for .wordpress blog).

Let's go in a bit detail on the underlying concepts and how to change the domain on Blogger and Wordpress platforms:

Advantages and disadvantages of free and paid paid web hosting, for a blogger

Free hosted blogs have, etc suffixed to their operative name. What it means is that there is a big domain and your free blog is part of that domain, along with thousands of other similar blogs. In the case of a website/ blog with independent domain name (e.g. instead of, the site exists there alone.

In the case of a free blog, you don’t pay anything for opening and maintaining the blog. You use the platform's resources for keeping the blog available on the web, your use their blogging tools free, and you store your images and videos on their servers. For maintaining a stand-alone blog, you pay for (i) designing the blog, (ii) buying the domain name, and (iii) hosting the blog on the web.

A free blog has the platform and the community that creates free widgets, apps, themes (templates) etc, answers to queries, troubleshoots issues and discusses new developments. Independent blogs lack this support other than the limited tools provided by the web host and its customer support (which is not great in case of low-end plans).

The middle, golden, path of blog hosting: just an independent domain, no paid hosting

When the blog has a distinct identity, it is looked upon as a professional blog. This identity remains even if the blog is not hosted independently! The independent identity

  • shows that you are serious, as you are spending money on the blog.
  • helps in the long run, as your blog is seen as a stand-alone entity on the web.
  • gets higher web authority and popularity as search engines tend to attach a low value to free blogs.

So, the golden path is to register a free domain name through a Domain Name Registrar and map the free blog to it. 

There are dozens of domain name registrars on the web, including GoDaddy, BlueHost, HostGator and inMotion. The domain names these days are not very expensive unless you want a popular or special name.

The next thing is to map this domain with your blog.

Blogger does it FREE. Take the following simple steps and you are there:

1. Go to Settings on your Blogger dashboard.
2. In the Publishing option, your blog's present address is given. There are two links below that:
a- Set up a third-party URL... If you have already purchased the domain name, put it here. Click on  Submit and your new domain ID is mapped to the current blog.
b- Buy a domain. Select this option to buy the domain name from Google itself. It will take you to Google Domains, where you can select the name of your choice and make payment, and come back to the Settings.

In both the cases, it takes only a few seconds/ minutes to map your blog to the new independent identity.

In the case of free Wordpress blogs, this mapping comes with an annual fee. Therefore, many bloggers on Wordpress prefer to go for, and pay for both hosting and domain name - an option better than paying just for mapping the domain name because then they get all the independence that comes with paid hosting.
(If you are confused about and, please visit this article: Wordpress confusion: created deliberately? )

1. On the dashboard, select your blog.
2. Choose Plan option, and then Domain.
3. Choose Add Domain.
4. Select the domain name that you have already purchased or go for the domain offered by Wordpress. Make payment and the mapping is over.

At the given link, you may visit the first post of a 3-part series on choosing the right domain name, web hosting and related matters in greater details.

August 6, 2018

Hindi best blog directory compilation begins! हिन्दी के सर्वोत्तम ब्लॉगों की डाइरैक्टरी का संकलन शुरू!


The next edition of the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs is to come out on 30th September, 2018. The last edition came on the same day, in 2017, and had the best 140 Hindi blogs.

The blogosphere is undergoing a big transformation since the fast rise of social networking, social sharing and instant messaging apps and websites. Non-English blogospheres are affected much more and are facing sort of turmoil due to it. 

Even earlier, we had seen that established blogs suddenly went into hibernation or stopped altogether, and many blogs of the earlier editions were replaced by new ones. We apprehend that it might happen in a bigger scale this time. 

Whatever the case, we are committed to bring out the list, and with the same parameters. Fair play will be our hallmark.

We invite visitors to suggest blogs for the latest  edition of the Hindi directory. We will be able to consider any blog suggestion that we receive by the end of August. We already are surfing the web for good blogs and have found a handfull of good ones.

So, friends, expect a more compact Directory of Best Hindi Blogs on 30th September. As always, your suggestions for improving ITB listings are always welcome.

Best wishes. ITB team

अब समय है हिन्दी के सर्वोत्तम ब्लॉगों की डाइरैक्टरी के अगले संस्करण का। पिछले संस्करणों को कई मित्रों ने सराहा था और हमें आपके बहुत सारे सुझाव भी मिले। साथ ही आप लोगों ने कई नए ब्लॉग भी हमें सुझाए। धन्यवाद।

अगर आप हमारे पिछले एडिशन को देखें तो पाएंगे कि बहुत सारी पिछली प्रविष्टियाँ नई लिस्ट से बाहर हो गयी हैं। हालांकि हमें अपने पिछले ब्लॉगों  को फिर से डाइरैक्टरी इत्यादि में स्थान देने में खुशी होती है, लेकिन जब ब्लॉगों को परखने की बात अगले साल आती है तो हम बहुत सख्त हो जाते हैं। आशा है, आप quality के प्रति हमारी इस ज़िद को समझेंगे। 

इस बीच फेसबुक और व्हाट्सएप्प जैसे सोशल नेटवर्किंग तथा चैट की वेबसाइटों के प्रादुर्भाव की वजह से भी ब्लॉगिंग पर खासा असर पड़ा है और हिंदी का ब्लॉग-संसार इससे अछूता नहीं रहा है। फिर भी हम नए और उन्नत ब्लॉगों की डायरेक्टरी आपके सामने लाते रहेंगे, यह हमारा वादा है।  

अगस्त अंत तक नए ब्लॉग सुझाते रहिए ताकि हम इस वर्ष और भी अच्छा संकलन आपको प्रस्तुत कर सकें। हिन्दी ब्लॉग का 2018 का संस्करण हम 30 सितंबर को प्रकाशित कर पाएंगे।
itb टीम

July 30, 2018

Voice search is going to rule the search universe in future: should you be worried?

With a number of virtual assistants available on desktops/laptops, mobile phones and standalone devices (e.g. Google Home, Siri), people are going to search more and more by giving voice commands. 

Voice search will take natural language search forward by leaps and bounds. Are present search engine optimization (SEO) actions geared towards this change?

Will voice search ever be popular or is it just a hype?

Talking is easier and less boring than typing. You need not be in a particular posture and tied to the device with fingers working on the keyboard. You can give the command while you are doing another task. Voice commands are unobtrusive and instant; you remember something suddenly or you need some help while doing a chore - and you speak to the device for an answer.

The trend may take some time before it breaks out in full swing and then becomes the norm. 2020 could be the time when voice search would have started becoming mainstream and  2021 when it becomes the preferred search option.

Voice queries are more conversational

Voice queries are likely to be more like our natural commands/ queries to a guide, an assistant or a friend in real life. So, search engines would need to learn the contextual meanings of  queries better than at present.

Before that, the voice recognition technology will have to be perfect. At present, there is a lot of gap between the spoken word and what is interpreted by the software due to voice quality issues and different accents.

Voice search will need to produce multiple results

Right now, virtual assistants are geared to give specific answers to specific questions. However, such single answers are not always sufficient. Bookmarking, opening multiple tabs, expanding the query with more specific queries, and saving useful links for future are other actions that searchers on desktops or tabs often take immediately after the first search query. 

On mobile phones, whether voice activated or typed, we often ask for nearby malls, restaurants, fuel pumps, directions etc and get instant results on screen with a great deal information attached to them. There are multiple answers and one can make  comparisons too (e.g. restaurants, based on customer reviews). However, such search and further actions are either not possible or are prone to error when searches are made for non-specific, nuanced and complex queries.

When there are no screens (e.g. with standalone assistants), display of answers is required even if the search engine is able to correctly figure out the query. That would mean another display hardware attached to the assistant or virtual solutions might emerge.

From a technology observer's point of view, voice search - for that matter, all voice activated ICT actions - will be a major development. For bloggers and website owners, the takeaway is that they have some time in hand to make their content better optimized for queries in natural language and they must make the best use of it.