(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

Google's about to have its second tenth birthday. In late August, Blogger will officially turn 10 years old. As our birthday draws near, we thought it would be interesting to share some fun facts about Blogger:
  • Every minute of every day, 270,000 words are written on Blogger
  • Millions of people worldwide use Blogger to publish to their blog each week
  • Almost two thirds of Blogger's traffic comes from outside North America (What's the #2 country after the U.S.? Brazil, followed by Turkey, Spain, Canada, and the U.K.)
  • The most popular sport for our bloggers? Soccer (that's football to the rest of the world), more than four times larger than the #2 sport, baseball
While we're really excited about this milestone, we want the focus to be on you and the remarkable stories that you and millions of people around the world document on Blogger. After all, blogs are one of the true building blocks of the web, constantly updated not only with news and personal stories, but any kind of information you can imagine. Just this week, there's an Iranian student documenting the minute-by-minute proceedings in Iran, while a British woman is uploading nightly blog posts from her satellite phone while rowing solo from Hawaii to Australia, while an American college student is running from Amsterdam to Athens with nothing but the pack on his back. There are literally millions more.

What's your story? Did your blog help you find a job? Learn a language? Interact with your fans? Master a new skill? Battle an illness? Turn a hobby into a career? We read as many blog posts as we can, and what we do read is often brilliant. But we want to know more — we want to hear from you about what Blogger has meant to you over the past decade.

Do what you do best: tell your story. Write a post, and then let us know about it by filling out this form. Keep an eye on Blogger Buzz, where we'll be sharing some of our favorites over the coming weeks.

To the millions who have depended on Blogger to help you tell your story, thank you. To those of you who have yet to tell your story, creating a blog couldn't be easier: just visit to get started. We can't wait to see what the next ten years bring — and stay tuned for details about the tenth birthday itself.

Blog better using ZemantaImage by chucks via Flickr
We're always looking for tools to make blogging easier, and a number of us on the Blogger team have become big fans of Zemanta. Zemanta is a browser plug-in for Firefox and IE, and is available as a bookmarklet for Chrome and Safari. (More details here, you can download your version of Zemanta here.)

Here's how it works: while you write your blog post in Blogger, Zemanta opens up a sidebar next to the Blogger post editor. After you've written a few sentences, Zemanta analyzes the words in your post and suggests images and video that are relevant to your post; with one click, it inserts them into your post. (The Zemanta screenshot from Flickr in this post was inserted with just that one click.)

In addition, Zemanta looks for words/phrases it's familiar with, and makes it easy to link those words to URLs it knows about. The phrases appear immediately below the post editor in Blogger, and by clicking on them you automatically create the links Zemanta recommends. No more highlighting text, clicking "Link", pasting the URL - just click the words you want linked, and Zemanta handles the creation of the link - to webpages, maps, videos or pictures.

Blogger Labels are easier to use with Zemanta, too: Zemanta automatically suggests labels for your based on the text of your post, and creates the labels for you if you like. Finally, "Latest Update" gives you a list of blog posts from other blogs writing about similar topics. It's a great way to discover sites talking about similar topics, and if you'd like to point your readers to those articles for further reading, clicking on them in the sidebar inserts them as "Related reading" links at the bottom of your post (see below).

If you have a few minutes, the following video review by Blogger user Plug in SEO does a good job covering how Zemanta helps save you time while enhancing your blog posts. The blog post accompanying the reivew is also worth a read.

We'll keep our eyes open for other tools that make your blog better. Stay tuned!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Many of you have asked about Blogger templates. You've posted in the help forums, you've tweeted, one of our engineers actually got stopped in a coffee shop to talk about Blogger's classic templates. And by "classic" we mean "old". We found that many of you weren't aware of a wealth of third party sites offering quality Blogger templates, so we wanted to share some recommendations from your fellow bloggers about where they go for improved templates that work with Blogger.

Earlier this week, I asked you for your recommendations, and a number of you responded. In no particular order, here's what you suggested:

  • BTemplates. A free directory of user-submitted templates, classified by type and/or features.
  • The Cutest Blog on the Block. Run by Becky and Ashley of 2 Moms Talk, this site offers free, premade layouts, as well as customizable backgrounds.
  • Blogger Styles. Gallery of submitted templates, ranked by visitors and includes detailed configuration instructions.
  • FalconHive. Conversions of WordPress templates upon request, along with archive of past conversions.
  • All Blogspot Templates. Templates in 1-, 2- and 3-column options. Also includes AdSense-ready templates.
  • Zona Cerebral. Spanish site with dozens of templates to choose from, including several converted WordPress themes.
  • Quite Random. A number of free templates, and several Blogger-specific tutorials regarding setup and layout editing.
  • ChicaBlogger. In Spanish, templates designed primarily for women.
  • Deluxe Templates. Hundreds of templates, including many converted WordPress themes. Also has a nice "tips & tricks" section for customizing Blogger.
  • Pyzam. Thousands of templates, browsable by category and sortable by recency or popularity.
  • Our Blog Templates. 160+ free templates, all well-labeled for easy browsing to find the one you want.
  • eBlogTemplates. Combination of free and premium templates, and a wealth of tips for tweaking your Blogger blog.
Note: for the most part, sites above provide templates for Blogger's "Layouts". If you still see a "Templates" tab for your blog, you need to upgrade your blog to take advantage of these new features. This help article has some more information about using Layouts.

Finally, cheth shared a recent post he wrote where he finds his favorite templates (many taken from the sites above). It's a good overview, and gives you a good visual indication of just how varied Blogger templates can get.

Now would be a good time to remind you that before you make any changes to your template, you should download the current template and put it in a safe place. (Click "Layout", then "Edit HTML" and then "Download full template".) And just in case it's not clear from this post: every link above points to a third party site. Blogger cannot provide support for independently created templates. If you choose to use a template built by someone else, make sure to figure out how easy it is to reach them if problems arise.

We'll have more to say about Blogger templates later this summer; in the meantime, thanks to everyone who shared a recommendation. We hope the list above gives you some variety when picking the next design for your blog!

Today we’re bringing the Search Box gadget out of Blogger in Draft and making it available to everyone. With this gadget, your readers will be able to search not just your posts, but web pages linked from your blog, your blog list, and link lists.

To add the gadget, go to your blog's Layout page, then click “Add a Gadget” and click on “Search Box.” Configuration is easy: just select which elements you want your readers to be able to search.

Since its launch on Blogger in Draft we’ve made several enhancements to the look and feel of the gadget. It now provides simpler defaults, picks up your blog’s style and colors, integrates more tightly with your blog, and allows you to configure search across specific blog lists (in addition to link lists) The gadget uses the AJAX Search APIs to provide a tightly-coupled inline experience, and creates a Custom Search Engine for your blog that automatically updates when you update your blog, blog lists, or link lists.

Please let us know what other features you'd like to see in this search gadget.