Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Monday, June 20, 2005
Blogger Hacks
This post has been extended. Please check out Blogger Hacks: The Series.

Original Post: 6/20/05

Boost your blog with free add-ons and services. Here’s info and pointers to the external services that I’m using to add functions to Freshblog.

Some of this will not be news to most Freshblog readers, and I guess most of these tips & tricks aren’t really hacks, they’re add-ons, but they’re making my blogging experience much richer and adding to my traffic, so I wanted to share.

I've broken this post out into clickable sections. I'm adding the occasional new one too, so keep coming back to see what's here. Please feel free to add other ideas and pointers in the comments, or trackback to your own blogger hacks post. I’d be interested to know what works for you…

1 - [Categories] 2 - [Tagging] 3 - [Blogroll] 4 - [Trackback]

9 - [Outbound Tracking] 10 - [Favicon] 11 - [Template]

12 - [Syndication] 13 - [Graphics]

1. Categories: The biggest news ‘round here at the moment, & the post that has people linking in to Freshblog, is my how-to post that describes the use of to add categories to blogger., a social bookmarks manager lets you categorize any page that you view with any series of tags that you like, and bookmark it so that you can go back & check it out again later. They provide a bookmarklet that will post to the site. There's also code out there for making in-post "post to delicious" links like the ones you see on Freshblog. If you only bookmark your own posts, then your tags become substitute categories.

You can see your tags as a cloud thanks to

There is a discussion happening about whether it is worth the effort to categorise this way, but I think once this is set up it is worth the effort, especially if your blog isn’t a single issue blog & you like to link to all sorts of material. I wonder whether Blogger, the Next Generation will get on the categories & tagging bandwagon?

2. Tagging: The side benefit of this categories method is that you also generate technorati tags into the bargain. These are keywords that are searchable in technorati & mark your post to appear in search results alongside other related posts. People are talking about how useful technorati tags actually are as search tools, since the service seems to track all instances of a give word but only display the most recent 20 posts.

To add technorati tags to your blogger posts (if you're not going to use for categories) use one of the two bookmarklets linked to in my how-to post to generate the code, then simply add it to your post by pasting into the "edit html" side of the create post window in blogger. Publish your post, & watch technorati grab the tags!!

3. Blogroll: I manage my blogroll with blogrolling, because it is much faster than making a manual template edit and then republishing my entire site every time I want to add or delete a link. There’s a “blogroll it” bookmarklet that can put a site on your sidebar with one click. On the downside, if their site is down, so is my blogroll, but that’s v. rare. There's also an occasional script bug when my blogroll loads where my trackback link should load,but a refresh takes care of it.
I am also reading multiple blogs at once thanks to my kinja digest and bloglines blogroll. I favor Kinja because it can find feeds using the site’s regular URL & there’s a one-click bookmarklet on offer there too. My kinja digest makes it easy read a lot of material and find post that I’d like to link to / comment on, & speeds the blogging process. Update 7/23: I'm finally coming to grips with bloglines, and investigating the use of the "clip" function as a way to save stuff that I want to blog about later.

4. Trackback: I use Haloscan to add trackback to this blog. Trackback lets a blogger who has referred to someone else’s post leave a link and an excerpt on the original post that inspired them. Upside: My trackbacks appear in search-engine results. Downside - It is a multi-step & multi-window process to send a ping with haloscan, & I have to confess that no-one has ever sent me a trackback ping (sob…) but trackback has also been eclipsed, I think, by the technorati link cosmos.

Update 7/25 - Fritz suggests some limitations of Haloscan:

A drawback from Haloscan that you don't mention in your blogger hacks is that the trackbacks aren't true trackbacks that search engines can follow. A lot of people blog, frankly, so that people will find them and bloggers know that "Google loves blogs." Search engine spiders don't follow Javascript (although there are rumors that Google has an experimental spider that parses and runs Javascript).

Hence, my links to you aren't really reciprocated with links back to me, as far as Google's search engine ranking goes.

5. Searching: Blogger offers a search utility as part of their nav-bar, but once again Technorati trumps the standard service. I have found the technorati searchlet much more effective at finding my recent posts than the blogger nav-bar search box. The added benefit, of course, is that with one click you can transform the searchlet to search all technorati listed blogs & see what other bloggers are saying about your topic. When you sign in at Technorati & claim a blog, you get the code for the searchlet box & you can past it into your sidebar. Update 6/27: The new Technorati roll-out has modified the searchlet.

My keywords on are also very helpful in searching for older posts, because now they’re categorized and I know that “the thing I linked to about the rusty theme park” was probably tagged “public-spaces.” This may mean more to me as the tagger than it does to a reader at this point, but it works. One searching caveat: Obviously casual grammar and punctuation are hard to find when you’re a search box…, so my fondness for three dots & a comma is getting me into trouble!

6. Traffic: How many of them are there? - I track stats with sitemeter, & I’m only scratching the surface of their data, I think, with the weekly “unique visits” & “page view” data that they send to my e-mail. I think that I could do more with my stats if I thought about it, & logged in to the site to see what other stats were on offer. My traffic is on the rise, & I’m interested to know whether that’s due to technorati tags, bookmarks, or having a couple of posts that people want to read…

Update 7/9 - Sitemeter now allows you to block your own visits from being counted, either by IP Address or using a cookie to block a specific browser. Excellent.

7. Inbound Tracking: Where do they come from? There’s a lot going on here. Who Links to Me will tell you, oddly enough, who links to your site. There are often 100’s of returns, & I find this less useful as I’ve been listed in more places & muddied the water with my own trackbacks &c. For me, the section that analyses is the most useful because I’m still on a fairly small number of blogrolls & this page lets me know if there’s a new one!! I’m also a big fan of the truefresco referrer’s script. For a while there were problems with this tool, in that it was full of spam links that referred back to adult sites. It seems to have been clean for a while, though, and is often my first hint that there’s a new inbound link out there since it displays links back to pages that have brought traffic to your site in the last 24 hrs. One script in your template also provides separate lists for your main page & post pages. Excellent. Now on to the Granddaddy of inbound traffic tracking tools:

8. Link Cosmos: Technorati tracks the links between posts, & so can provide an automated list of who links to any given URL. I have two different cosmos links on this blog. In each post’s footer is a [link cosmos] link that works from either the main page or the post page. This will give a list of all the technorati-listed inbound links to that individual post. In the lower right-hand sidebar is a technorati speech-bubble that works from any page, & that shows all inbound links to Freshblog. The code for both the post page link & the site-wide link is from A Consuming Experience, and also appears when you register a blog with technorati & post their link-back to your blog. Update 6/27: The new Technorati roll-out has modified their claim embed to include a "who links here" link automatically.

Bloglines offers a similar service with their bloglines citations feature. I find this a little less useful, though, and it makes me look like more of a schmuck, because it lists all the times that I’ve linked to myself!!

Update 7/23: There are two new services that will track your inbound links. Icerocket and BlogPulse. Icerocket doesn't filter out self-referencing links, but BlogPulse does.

9. Outbound Tracking: Where do they go? - Mybloglog will tell you how people leave your blog, & therefore which of your posts they found interesting. I tend to pollute my own data at the moment, because I visit my site a lot when I post, but when I settle down this might be useful info. The free service tells you who went where from your blog yesterday, & includes a top 5 customizable meter to show in your sidebar. The pay service will give you today’s exit stats.

10. Favicon: How do you change the icon in the address bar of your browser to brand your site? This was the first of the add-ons that I figured out, after a couple of challenges. My how-to post describes the tools that I used and the code that you need.

11. Template: Maybe this should be the first mod on the list, to save on a whole lot of cutting and pasting, but as you see I'm using a template that is not one of the ones provided by blogger. My template came from, where there are more than 16,000 templates to choose from. There are lots of ways to browse for related templates once you find one that you like, so go ahead... backup your site and change your template!!

11. Syndication: How to make it easy for people to handle your feeds? Add a section to your sidebar that has links to your feeds, as well as one-click links for your readers to add your material to popular feedreaders. To give your readers options, it's useful to have an RSS feed as well as the atom feed that blogger automatically provides. has a tool that will generate an RSS feed for you, although they'll include an advertisement with your material unless you pay. Better still, use feedburner to generate a smart-feed that can work with both RSS & Atom, and manually edit your blogger template's meta-tags to point feed-seeking readers there instead of to the default atom feed. Easier than it sounds, I promise. See how-to. Feedburner format your feed v. nicely on it's own page, and include all sorts of one-click subscription options for people to syndicate your stuff. Check it out.

Graphics: The more observant amongst you will have noticed that I'm not exactly Mr. Photoshop. Here's a couple of resources that help me get around my graphical challenge!!
New Freshblog logo produced using the CoolArchive logo generator. Easy, quick, and with lots more options than other logo-makers that I tried. I suppose you want one of those little two-tone rectangular buttons that bloggers like to use to link to places too, huh? Well, here's a buttonmaker tool that will make one for you.

This sounds like a lot of bells & whistles, & a lot of time & effort to make them work, but many of these services make use of bookmarklets, which are making my information management challenges less challenging!! Please let me know what works for you & whether there's anything out there that makes your blogging more straightforward.

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Posted at 1:36 PM by John.
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Blogger Melly said...
I know, I know. Lots of comments today, but I had to. I've been coming here regularly to learn more from you on how to improve my blog and this post (which I've read a few days ago already) was great. Thanks.

So today I've decided to catch up also on letting you know that I'm around and that I appreciate the stuff you put in your blog.


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Blogger yash gupta said...
hey i think blogrolling has gotten very takes a long time to load my page even on a broadband connection so i`m looking for other ways to have a blogroll...maybe u`ll post a new hack for it soon.

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