As a blogger I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with blogrolls. There is definitely a benefit to having them, most of which has to do with search engine optimization and bringing in more visits to your blog. I find that a little crass, if that’s your main reason for having one. They’re a great way to promote other sites you like, but it’s kind of like having an advertisement on your site. The creative side of me doesn’t like ads; the business side of me doesn’t like unpaid ads. And we’re back to crass.
While I don’t mind endorsing other blogs and websites that I truly appreciate, I am a fickle blog reader; I might read the same blog for a year, then my interest will wane and I’ll stop reading, but I’ll forget to update the blogroll. I’ll start reading new blogs that I think are super-awesome-tastic, but I’ll forget to update the blogroll. Some blog I used to love might stop updating, or start posting stuff I can’t endorse, and I’ll forget to update the blogroll. Ugh. That’s too much like work.
Maybe it would be different if I used my own blogroll as a directory, but I don’t. I have bookmarks in my browser for that. Even if I wanted to use my blogroll for that purpose, I wouldn’t, because there are things I just wouldn’t want to link to from my website — you don’t need to see a link to boilerplate sites like Google, Facebook, and so on. There’s no value-add for readers for me to display that stuff.
They’re also terribly static in a social media-driven world. If I like a post on a website, how much better is it to add it to my Facebook status, or Tweet it, or do whatever you call it when you put something on Google Plus, where folks can see it immediately? If I a longer format to praise a blog, I can always write a blog post about it.
They also take up valuable screen real estate. I like my blogs to have a clean, open look. The more stuff I have to fit in, the more crowded the page looks. Blogrolls get cut from my sites for that reason more than any other.
So what do you think, readers? Is there was way to do a blogroll that gives it some, while mitigating all of the negatives I list above? Do you have a blogroll on your site? How do you manage it, and what benefit do you get from it?