Initially, the ideal of the blogroll was a good one. It was intrinsic to the social aspect of blogging. It was a way to pay homage, make connections or just share some kick ass blogs that you liked reading and wanted to share with your readers.
Blogrolls were your own way of advertising your little community of blogs. It was your special endorsement, letting everyone that visited your site know that these other blogs have your stamp of approval. It was a unique idea at the time that I could discover one blog that I liked and immediately be introduced to a number of other like-minded blogs that I might like as well.
It didn’t take long for blogrolls to get out of control with people adding 50, 60, 70 or more blogs to their blogroll. At some point that many links just becomes useless. But, for the most part, blogrolls were still around. They were still a good way to get a little juice from the bigger, more established bloggers. And of course, everyone linked to the big blogs already because they wanted some of that juice in return.
Then one day, people started to notice, hey, the big boys are trimming their blogrolls. And guess who landed on the cutting room floor? Yep, all the small blogs that all played their part in juicing those big boys as they were climbing the ladder.
Even as little as a year and a half ago, while I was running Metadish, a blogroll was still pretty normal practice. Smaller perhaps, more focused and possibly even geotargeted on some level, but they were still being used.
After selling the Metadish Network and taking a haitus from blogging for a while I launched jpoling.com (which soon became jamespoling.com) back in October. I did what any new blog owner would do. I immediately began looking around for like minded bloggers and sites to connect with. It didn’t take long to notice that while it’s still important to make connections, blogrolls were not the way to do it anymore. Virtually none of the sites I visited and liked, big or small, sported a blogroll.
In many ways I’m glad it’s gone. I can say that one of my least favorite things about running a highly trafficked site with a blogroll was getting bombarded with emails to exchange links. Ultimately blogrolls were bastardized into popluarity contests and Google juice tools. Not having a blogroll leaves you free from worrying about who to add, who to remove, which links are still working, who’s linking back to you etc.
It goes back to the keep it simple strategy. Worry about your content. Create good, usable content and you won’t need to worry about “marketing” yourself. Readers will find you.
Part of me is a bit meloncholy about the passing of the blogroll. In the early days it did mean something. A blogroll is like an old-fashioned jukebox (not one of those internet jukeboxes) in a dive bar. You can walk in, order a beer and all you have to do is take a look at what’s on the jukebox to tell what kind of joint it is and usually whether or not you would like it on a busy Friday night. A blogroll often did the same for the blog it was on.
That being said, no blogrolls is like trimming the fat. It leaves you to the important task at hand, creating kick ass content for you blog. It doesn’t mean you can’t network with other blogs or bloggers you admire or respect. It just means you’re going to have the chance to link them in a far more relevant way like in a post. And it means you won’t have to play good cop/bad cop when people ask to be put on your blogroll, because hey, you don’t have one.Photo courtesy of NeeZee/Flickr