Blogger is a fantastic stand-alone blogging platform. But when you consider the more than 20,000 addons available from Google, it becomes outstanding.
Google and other service providers offer some of the most useful and interesting add-ons you can imagine. And the vast majority are free and simple to use. Let's take a look at how you can use them to enhance the value of your blog.
Where to find Google Blogger Addons
The mother lode of Blogger Addons can be found on the Google Gadgets website. To find this site, go to Google and search for 'Google Gadgets For Your Webpage.' You do not want to go to 'Google Desktop Gadgets,' because you won't be able to use those gadgets on your blog. As of today, there are 22,119 gadgets available with more being added every day. Here are some of my favorites.
Fun & Games
Games and humor are two of the top reasons that visitors come back to the same blog and you can add tons of both with Google Gadgets.
Games include PacMan, Bowling, Tetris, Checkers, Hangman and virtually every other game you remember playing at the arcade. With respect to humor, you can add cartoons like Garfield, 9 to 5, SpongeBob, Bloom County and the Cartoon of the Day. Google offers dozens of gadgets to add lighthearted and comical information to your blog. Some of my favorites are Funny Cat Photos, the Bart Simpson Phrase of the Day (what does that tell you about your author?), Horoscopes and This Day In History. Your biggest problem will not be finding engaging gadgets for your blog, but knowing when to stop adding them.
On a more serious note, you can find gadgets that have to do with the news. These are some of the more common gadgets on both websites and blogs.
When people come to your Blogger blog they can see a gadgets that shows the local weather, breaking news, tropical storm warnings and even traffic reports in major cities. These are great gadgets to add if your blog is targeted to a local audience.
If you want to offer your visitors useful tools, you won't be disappointed with Google Gadgets. Many of my blogs are populated with these gadgets and I find myself going to them regularly.
This is a great place to find calendars, world clocks, dictionaries, driving directions and maps. You can create and add a video message to your blog with one gadget in as little as a minute. The list of useful tools you can add to your Blogger blog is amazing.
Communication and Technology
For those of you who enjoy the more technical side of the Internet, these gadgets are for you. Add a gadget that gives instant access to Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM Messenger, Hotmail and your Gmail account on your blog. You can add a Desktop Chat gadget and communicate with readers while they're visiting your blog. I've seen this tool used on some of the better customer service sites and it's great.
If you're interested in space, Google has a gadget that shows images from the Hubble telescope, NOAA satellite images, current moon phases and daily astronomy pictures. These gadgets are quickly becoming as limitless as the universe.
This is big. These gadgets are the equivalent of People Magazine. This is a great place to find the top five movies at the box office, Jon Stewart's quote of the day (always funny), music, bible verses, National Geographic photos and even live TV.
I'm a sports fan. I especially enjoy baseball and NCAA football. Thank goodness there are gadgets to keep me posted on the sports world. You can add gadgets to your Blogger blog that will show the BCS standings, live sports scores, body building tips, boxing schedules and what your resting heart rate should be. There is even a gadget for you to keep track of your workout routine, assuming you have a workout routine and aren't just an armchair quarterback like me.
As you can see there are more Google Blogger addons than you can imagine and they're remarkably easy to place on your blog. Just select the gadget you want to use, copy the code generated by the gadget and add it to your Blogger blog under the HTML tab. If you would rather add the gadget to your sidebar, you can do that too and it will show up on every page of your blog. You're going to love Google Gadgets and so will your readers.