There are millions of weblogs (blogs for short) online, but many never get read. One reason: blog overload makes it hard to find the good stuff. That changed last week when Google launched blogsearch.google.com a cool new indexing tool that points to the latest buzz on any keyword or topic. Google's effort, while useful, is not unique. Here are three other ways to navigate the blogosphere. --By Jeremy Caplan
HOW TO BE A BLOGGER Itching to get in the game? New tools make it easier than ever. Here's a guide to publishing and publicizing your blog:
Beginner's Kit Blogger is the easiest software to use, promising a free blog within 5 min. After quick registration, use any Web browser to write or add links and even photos. Other easy and free options: LiveJournal, Yahoo! 360 and Friendster.
Spreading the Word Start small--e-mail your address to friends. Remember blogging's golden rule: Link unto others so they will link unto you. The more links you get from other sites, the higher your blog will rank in search results.
Beyond the Basics To make your blog stand out visually, step beyond Blogger's 30 simple templates to more advanced tools like Movable Type or WordPress. Both require some technical expertise but give you greater flexibility.
Six Tips from the Pros 1. Pick a specific topic and stick to it. 2. Keep your design simple and your posts concise. 3. Let links and photos speak for themselves. 4. Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. 5. Post often--frequent updates keep people coming back for more. 6. Check facts.
Technorati.com Long the best blog-search option on the Web, Technorati indexes by topic, allowing you to find, say, just those blogs that rant about cats. It also lists the most popular terms people are blogging about and features a nice Top 100 list.
Blogdigger.com Want to know what your neighbors are blogging about? Type in a search term, city and state, and Blogdigger lets you see how many blogs within a 5- or 100-mile radius are writing on that topic. Try it out for tracking nearby buzz.
Icerocket.com This is a good resource for looking up blogs on a particular topic, such as Hurricane Katrina, or for searching for blog entries by a certain author or within a specified time period. Another snazzy feature lets you seek out cell-phone snapshots by subject.
TOP 5 BLOGS Technorati's greatest-hits list ranks blogs by the number of sites linking to them. Here are the ones with the most links:
• Del.icio.us calls itself a "social bookmarks manager." It offers a dizzying collection of cool links but no commentary. • Boingboing.net is a general-interest site featuring everything from tech how-tos to Supreme Court reporting. • Engadget.com runs daily updates on nifty new devices. Hunting for the next iPod-like phenomenon? Look here first. • Dailykos.com posts left-leaning political analysis from a variety of commentators. •Instapundit.com is a Tennessee law professor's right-leaning take on key political issues.
BLOG BOOM Every day thousands of new blogs appear online. Technorati now tracks 1.5 billion links on 17.2 million sites.