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Should I Have a BlogRoll on my Blog

Speed-Posting@SalesBlogcast asks – “What’s the difference between haveing “links” vs. a “blog roll?” Benefits? Chosing wisely?”

Ultimately the word ‘blogroll’ is just a different term used to describe a list of links, usually on the sidebar of a blog. It’s just a different label for the list of links I guess.

When I first started blogging everyone had a blogroll but these days I don’t see as many. One of the problems with them when your blog grows is that they can become quite political to maintain. I ended up giving up on having one on ProBlogger as I had so many requests to be on it – now I just have one with my b5media co-workers.

The other thing about blogrolls is that I hear people trying to get on them because of the SEO benefits of doing so. I’m sure there is some Google juice passed from blog rolls but suspect it’s not massive. Google seem to have more of an emphasis on links in content rather than links that appear on every page on sidebars/footers from what I can see these days.

I’d be interested to hear whether others have blogrolls, why they do (if they do) and how they decide who is on and who isn’t?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I have a blogroll on my blog to show my readers the blogs in my niche that I enjoy reading and that I think are worth while. I also put blogs on my blogroll that I occasionally write for or am associated with.

  2. Steve J says:

    I suppose it depends on what you want your “blogroll” to be. Do you want it to be a reward of traffic to those who helped you out (or you have some relationship with) or do you want it to be a useful list of resources for your readers? I think this will generally be dictated by the style of blog and whether is informational or more personal.

    Personally, I don’t have one as I feel that they are more trouble than they are worth with requests to be on them and complaints when a link is dropped. :)

  3. mahdi yusuf says:

    yes, and i should be on it for your tech source!

  4. DB Ferguson says:

    I definitely think that for my blog, a blogroll is a positive contribution to my site and to the fandom of which I report. As my blog is considered by most to be at the top of my niche, I am very careful about who I put in my blogroll. I don’t put sites which basically look like they’re more ad driven than subject driven. I also only add sites which look like they are adding substance and a different perspective on the fandom. I pretty much insist that a site be established before I add it. I also make sure that I use my blogroll as a tool to help develop relationships with the webmasters who blog in my niche.

    However, I totally agree with you that maintaining a blogroll does become extremely political at times. There have been fan sites in my niche that have literally demanded to be put on my blogroll, and whose readership badmouthed me on their forums when I did not. I’m glad I held to my principles, however, as the sites eventually went sour and I was thankful I was not affiliated with them.

    I appreciate when bloggers have blogrolls and I’m included, especially high-status sites, because I think that if a blog is considered an authority in the field, that having a blogroll link is considered to be a very high compliment. For example, my blog is listed in the Comedy Central Insider blogroll, as well as the blogroll of a former writer of the show I report on. I’d like to think that many of the fans of my site feel as good about being listed on my site as I do being listed on the CC Insider blog.

  5. Great topic Darren! This is something that’s been buzzing on the net for a while now, I constantly see blogs removing their “blog-roll” as most think it comes off as “unprofessional.” I’ll get to that in a second but first I must say I agree with Steve J, it really all depends on what links you have listed there and their reason for being there. Are they there for SEO reasons? Or are they there as a useful resource for the readers of your blog? So as far as it being “unprofessional” all depends on that. If you have links there for simply SEO reasons I feel this is “unprofessional” as it’s not useful for your readers which is what all content on your site should be, and there are other more effective ways of SEO to get a high PR so there is no need to do SEO via “blog-roll.” Just my opinion, once again great post Darren, this is a hot topic on the web right now.

  6. Jaffer says:

    I don’t have a list of blogs in my sidebar but
    I use the Simple RSS Fetcher plugin for WordPress, to fetch latest headlines from my top 5 favourite blogs.

  7. I have a blogroll on its own page and it’s derived from my favourite ‘daily’ reads via Google Reader. I don’t think that page is viewed a lot but it is occasionally.

  8. Si Philp says:

    I have a blogroll on my site and I have to agree that maintaining it can be a pain. At one point I had over 15 links. Problem I found was that some of the blogs i linked to were slowly going down hill in relation to the content that was on them or lack of updates. If I find a good resouce I like to share/give credit.
    I now just have friends on there but review it fortnightly :)

  9. No Blogroll here. Most of the people that read my blog know that I refer to certain sites all of the time. I give credit and a link (in content) when discussing what was on another site.

    I hardly ever click on blogrolls. So it makes me think that other people don’t click on them either.

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  10. Eli says:

    For my blogroll I mostly have link exchanges. But I was worried about if Google would see it as text links, as the links aren’t no follow.

  11. I’m very pro-blogrolls. I get a fair amount of traffic via other people’s blogrolls, and I’ve heard the same from friend. I include links to relevant blogs I personally enjoy, and to organizations I have experience with.

    I’ve found some of my favourite blogs via the blogrolls of blogs I enjoy.

  12. Hadassah says:

    I have a short blogroll, which works well since I have a small niche. When I see a really long blogroll on another blog, I don’t usually bother to check any of those blogs out.

  13. Lightening says:

    I actually find keeping my reasonably up to date a bit of a headache as my “regular reads” are quite changable over time. However, my blogroll page is one of the most read pages on my site so it’s obviously something my readers are interested in (what other blogs I read). Either that or they’re just checking to see if I’ve gotten around to adding them yet???? I don’t update it very often. :(

  14. Rasmus says:

    As I see it, blogrolls are really about two things: Respect & Support

    Respect: You put blogs that you enjoy on your blogroll to show your respect and/or admiration. This is useful especially if it is a blog that your readers might also enjoy, because it then helps get you goodwill from both readers and possibly the owner of the blog you like.

    Support: Friends’ blogs you just want to promote or recommend. This might be better suited for personal style blogs, unless your friends are writing about the same things as you.

    I don’t update mine very often, but I do keep a blogroll on all my self-hosted blogs for the reasons given above.

  15. Jarkko says:

    My wife and I decided not to use blogroll or a list of links like Darren puts it. We decided that we will always add links when and where we see fit and shy away from making it too calculating an effort. This way people have very simple way to land that link on our new site, write something that we notice and like and the link will be yours.

    Looks like more benefits come from actual cooperation than from mere linking. Therefore we are going to focus on working instead of linking. Creating article series with visiting writers seems like a good idea to us.

    Learning from others is smart move. Personally I like the way Darren places featured articles as “Best of Problogger” list. In my opinion this approach will work much better than presenting a list of links, which direct visitor to elsewhere.

    Highlighting articles, which have evergreen glow on them, gives better on-site experience to the occasional visitor, hence one’s site has good first impression. Now, if these articles also introduce other sources, they have a valid reason to be there. This joins power of personal recommendation and content association. Isn’t that what you actually want to give your partners, instead of a link?

  16. Syed Balkhi says:

    I have blogroll in my site my also which links to some of my co-worker’s sites. I have given up about giving out free links as well because It just gets annoying with the requests.

  17. Darren, I think you have to start an independent blog just to give your commentators links. ;-)

  18. david cheong says:

    Some of the web actually didn’t include or have it on their blog, many case it could be some personal issue.

    To be honest, not many of my blog have it. Might be thinking of having one soon. Nice post given.

  19. Kelvin Kao says:

    I have a blogroll on my site, mostly because it was a built-in feature. My blog doesn’t have that big of an audience anyway, so I just use it as a friendly gesture to sites I like. Since I am not big, there’s not really politics involved. What if I somehow become a big-time blogger? Then I would be a lot more careful with my blogroll policy, I guess.

  20. Michael says:

    I’m thinking of making my BlogRoll Ajax, really want to unclutter my sidebar.

  21. Fabien says:

    I think a lot of people have stopped having blogrolls nowadays because they are very afraid of Google and what might happen to their rank in the SERPS. I have tried to reduce the amount of links I have in my blogroll and I monitor when people add or remove my link from their own blogs. If someone I did a reciprocal exchange with has a NoFollow on my link – I return the favour.

    I’ve actually been thinking of getting rid of my blogroll altogether – only because I am constantly being pressured by the search engines (namely, Google). In order to reduce the possibility of being penalized by them. But for now I’m keeping it because I’ve decided that I don’t have an overly huge amount of people on it.

    I definitely agree that having links to other sites in the actual posts are preferable than having a blogroll. When you have a link to another site in your actual post, it just makes things look better and it’s more contextual. You are also giving people an incentive to come to your site more because each time you’ve linked to a different post of their’s from a different post. More visitors are always good.

    I think if I do decide to ditch my blogroll, I will create a separate page with those links still available so the people linking to me don’t feel totally rejected. It will be good to create a resource list of quality blogs, as this is what I have wanted to do for a while now – and yes, ProBlogger.Net will be one of the top blogs I link to.

  22. Rúben M. says:

    I thins a little bit of my blogroll, and then i use a no follow plugin :) only share traffic no pagerank, only 1 on my blogroll have follow

  23. Chetan says:

    I prefer not to have blogroll on my blog, as i dont love giving the link juice to any websites from the whole site. There is already a top commentators section, where my readers get benefited for commenting, so blogroll dont seem that important for me.

  24. I think they would be too political to maintain as well.

    On the other hand, they’re also my favorite way of being linked to. There’s something very gratifying in the fact that someone enjoys your site so much that they would recommend it to their readers on every page of their site. Especially if it’s just a short blogroll, and you’ve managed to get in there!

    It’s the nicest complement in blogging I think. :)

  25. Gala says:

    I link to the websites I find around the place that really push my buttons, but I admit my links page needs an update — some of the sites on there have stopped updating or gone downhill.

    Whenever I hear the term blogroll I think of a link exchange or trade, which I don’t do because to me it’s totally meaningless. I work hard to bring my readership good quality content, & I think everything else on my site should reflect that. Having a bunch of links to sites that don’t offer any value is kind of dishonest, I think, & linking to crappy sites just to see a link back is really more about ego gratification than anything useful.

    I’m more than happy to link to sites that may never link back — it doesn’t really matter that much to me. It’s more important to me to pass along the good stuff that I see; I don’t need a kickback, traffic-based or otherwise.

  26. Andrea says:

    Havign played aroudn with this a bit, I’m not sure hpw much it affects google, but if you’re on enough blogrolls, it does affect your technorati rankings. In mommy-blogging circles there are a lot of “blogroll exchanges”, where you sign up, put the blogroll code on your site, and get included. Instant couple-hundred links right there.

  27. Tony Kummer says:

    On smaller religious oriented blogs, the blog roll is a way for the blogger to identify their type of religion. Like emerging church bloggers will link to a different group than a catholic apologist type blogger.

    The net result is readers trust you if you link to people they already trust in your blogroll.

  28. I have a blogroll and I maintain it for my own daily reading purposes.

    While I still subscribe to blogs in Google Reader, I only do so for research purposes (ie– “search all”). I never read in a reader any longer.

    Therefore, my blogroll is a list of who I want to remember to read. But yeah, it’s a pain to maintain.

    Pssst… I also use it as a way to promote newly published posts via other bloggers’ incessant “referral link” stat-checking.

  29. Rob O. says:

    We have a “Favorite Links” page that’s essentially a categorized blogroll, but for the most part, I prefer to liberally pepper my posts with links rather than maintain a blogroll.

    A static link list is fine, but when you include inline links within your posts, you’re not only offering your readers a link, but you also have the opportunity to “sell” that link – to give your audience some reason(s) why you think they should click it.

  30. Daniel says:

    Due to the requests I received to add somebody to my links (blogroll) or to the fact that the reasons for the adding alinks were so different, I decided to make dfferent blogrolls, i.e. “Blogs I read” is separated from “Friends of mine” and “Interesting blogs”.
    I think it’s the best way for your readers. So they why you linked somebody and they can imagine before clicking on them what the should expect to find (personal blog, professional blog…)

  31. Tom says:

    I have a Blogroll but it includes sites that relate to the content I write about, plus a site I used to write for. In addition, I have ProBlogger on there because it is my favorite Blog. I use it to link to related content, not to add other bloggers that don’t don’t have content that relates to my blog. Since ProBlogger is such a great resource I include it so others that may want to blog know about it and it is my way of paying homage to a great site.

  32. It’s especially hard for me. I run a NY Mets baseball website and there are always new blogs that start up every day. I won’t always add the links if they ask me, but track them for a few days and see if they stay consistent / good.
    If so, I throw them up on the bar, if they already have mine up, that is.

  33. Ryan McLean says:

    i don’t have a blogroll but this is mainly because I don’t have many blogging friends yet that I can showcase. If anyone in interested in forming a relationship with me and trading links on our sites I would be very interested. Maybe I can start my blogroll as a result of this post. Thanks Darren
    Just leave me a comment everyone

  34. Rajaie says:

    Well, there are three kinds of blogrolls in my opinion.
    The really long ones where the blog owners have exchanged links with every single blogger in their niche. The ones that really do list interesting blogs that might have helped the owner or that the owner likes reading. The third kind, are the ones where you have to pay to get your site listed, I consider these as advertising, and a great way too.

  35. Fadzuli says:

    Why not have it on a separate page specifically for this. At least you still can refer to your friends if you forget the URLs.

  36. I do not have one. But I plan to put one in the future. There are so many good blogs and I find it hard to single out a few.

  37. Jimson Lee says:

    I think we are seeing a trend towards site-wide Blogrolls, to home page only blogrolls, and finally eliminating Blogrolls completely.

    If they do exists, most Blogs are putting them on the bottom of the page instead of the sidebar.

  38. Sangesh says:

    Gee, man yes you should and I would love to be in your blogroll as well.

    cheers :)

  39. Carl Pruitt says:

    Mine is mostly just a list of links to reference materials.
    But I do reference some useful related blog. I removed the
    term blogroll from the list though and just call it Resources.

    But mine is a mortgage industry related blog and not one
    on the subject of making money online or on blogging so
    the effects are a little different,
    Thanks!
    Carl Pruitt

  40. Rob Williams says:

    I used to use a blogroll also. Then I switched to showing my Bloglines public list to say “read what I’m reading”. Then I switched to gReader and there really isn’t a way to show everyone the feeds I want to point to. However I can share items, not entire blogs. And I think that is probably better. The URL I linked my name to in this comment goes to my tumblr blog that aggregates gReader shared items with delicious, flickr, and digg (most everything I find interesting and want to share). That is RSSed into the blog as “the blogroll” now.

  41. I have avoided putting a blogroll on my site because of the politics. There are blogs that are written by friends of mine that I just wouldn’t recommend for various reasons – how do you tell a friend that???
    So for me it is easier just to avoid the whole issue and not have a blogroll.

  42. Rob O. says:

    I agree, Fadzuli. My Favorite Sites blogroll is on a separate page that’s available via my navigation menu from any other page.

    That page doesn’t get many hits or get a lot of attention from my readers, so I don’t put much into maintaining it – I’d rather expend my efforts on actual content…

  43. paz says:

    I agree with you about the Google juice thing: a link in the content is worth much more than a blogroll link. But I don’t think that blogrolls are over: I still see many blogrolls in small blogs and I like to look at them as “suggestions”.

  44. Not all blogrolls are created equal.

    Be weary of the built in wordpress blogroll, it’s not google friendly. For a more Google friendly, and safe to show off, blogroll do the following.

    Go to Google Reader (where you can see which blogs you follow via RSS) and create a folder. Place all of the blogs you follow in that folder. Make it public, grab the Google widget code for that folder – paste it to your site.

    It’s javascript so you lose no juice and it displays who you really do follow via RSS. Try it.

  45. TSciacqua says:

    I love a well-edited blogroll. They are usually one of the first things I look for when I start reading a new blog. I think you can tell a lot about the blogger by what’s on the blogroll — how tuned in she is to the niche, what she finds interesting. And it’s a really good way to find other blogs that the user might not know about.

    All that being said, I think the key phrase is “well-edited.” I don’t think blogrolls should be rewards for others linking to you. The blog has to have some value for your audience. And you have to check them regularly to make sure the link still works, the blog is still what you thought it was, etc. (I subscribe via RSS to all the stuff on my blogrolls so I can see what I’m sending people to.)

    I’ve seen a few blogs where the list gets unruly. Subcategories can help with that. You have to make it easy for different types of readers to find what they are interested in specifically.

    I wonder though, do you think blogrolls should be alphabetical or do you think they should be listed in descending interest value? I go back and forth on what I think is more user-friendly.

  46. C. Douglas says:

    Still have a blogroll, depends on the site, on some client blogs I use the Blogroll Page plugin if they have a ton of resources and don’t want to clutter up their sidebars.

  47. David says:

    I have one, but I call it “Blogs I Read”. I have not listed every blog I read, but the ones I read pretty much daily or every second day. I would not post any that I would not personally read myself.

  48. I do not have blogroll. But I do have links to my favorite blogs. I do not call them blogroll, I call them Blogs I Admire. This means I do not just put a link on my sidebar for SEO purposes. I blog for humans, not for software.

    Thanks.

  49. Luis Cruz says:

    I haven’t put up a blogroll on my site. Instead, I link to other sites if I find posts worth writing about, and I “dofollow” comments.

  50. bgrundon says:

    I use WordPress which allows you to categorize your blogroll. Rather than just trading links I like to use our blog roll as a list of resources readers may find useful and helpful. I like checking out other sites that have this set up, it always a good way to find resources and is a good way to build trust.