A blogroll is a list of links to other blogs you read and like. Many blogs have them, and they’re one of those “bloggy” things that make blogs what they are.
Many bloggers create them without much thought going into who’s on it or how the blogroll serves the readers of the blog. Some blogrolls are so long and have so many links it’s hard to believe the blogs listed are truly valuable to the blogger. Other bloggers don’t have a blogroll at all.
Are there any advantages to having a blogroll? Is there any reason why you should not have a blogroll?
Yes, and yes!
Now that we’ve cleared that up…
It’s not up to me to just tell you what to do, but I can talk intelligently about the pros and cons of blogrolls.
Blogrolls: The Good
Allow you and your blog pack to promote and send blog traffic to each other
When you form a deliberate cross-promotion and link-building alliance with other bloggers so that you all help each other out, I call that a blog pack. Having links to your pack mates in your blogroll is just one of the things you can all to do help promote each other and send each other traffic.
Give your readers more of what they’re interested in: good blogs on a topic they care about
The original reason to have a blogroll is to have a “roll” of links to other blogs you like, and which your readers might like, too. Since your readers like your blog, chances are good they’d like other blogs about the same topic. Having a blogroll is another way to provide value to your readers, turning your blog into a relationship hub of activity around its topic.
Linking to other bloggers lets them know you exist
Linking to other bloggers is an unobtrusive way for them to learn you exist (blog software tells you when others link to you). Once other bloggers knows you’re out there, there is a reasonable chance they’ll visit your blog. Once that happens, several benefits could be yours:
- The other bloggers subscribe to your blog, which leads to increased likelihood of links and other opportunities down the road.
- The other bloggers add you to their blogroll and send you some of their traffic, which may subscribe to your blog.
- The other bloggers find something great in your blog to link to immediately.
Even if the other bloggers just make a mental note about you, you are now on their radar. Future links and contact will have a context–you won’t be coming from out of nowhere.
Blogrolls: The Bad
Problematic SEO benefits
While blogrolls can be good for traffic, I think they’re problematic when it comes to SEO benefits. Why? Because you may be passing authority to other blogs who may not be returning the favor (subscribers to the WordPress SEO Secrets newsletter will get an in-depth article about this when the newsletter goes out in the next couple days).
Who makes the cut?
With blogrolls, you have the problem of deciding who to add and who to deny. If your blogroll is huge, your readers and those you link to will perceive your blogroll links as having little value, because it seems you’ll add anybody.
On the other hand, a small blogroll means some people won’t make the cut. If another blogger adds you to their blogroll, but you didn’t add them to yours, they may feel a bit put out. Reciprocity is a powerful psychological force in human relationships. If other bloggers add you to their blogrolls, they feel like you owe them the same as a return favor.
Having a blogroll means you have to deny link requests and people will want to know why. “Because your blog sucks” is probably not what you want to tell them. Far easier to simply not have a blogroll at all, because then you just say “I don’t have a blogroll,” and that’s that.
Blogrolls are work
You have to maintain a blogroll. Dead links in a blogroll aren’t cool. If you have a blogroll and you get any kind of traffic, people will check out the links. If they find blogs which haven’t updated for a over a month, that’s going to reflect poorly on you, because you’re tending your blogroll. You have to weed your blogroll like a garden at least once a month.
What’s Your Take on Blogrolls?
Do you have a blogroll? How many links are on it? How do you decide who should be on it? Tell us in the comments!