Your blogroll links are important in the minds of Google, and they can add or subtract points in your PageRank scores. You better take your blogroll links seriously, ensuring you are linking to blogs that will complement yours as well as complement theirs.
As part of this ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, let’s take a look at how we are abusing and misusing our blog’s blogrolls.
It’s All About the Links, Right?
Discussing out-of-control blogrolls in a workshop lately, the number one justification I was given for these kilometer long list of lists was: It’s all about the links, right?.
“Page Rank and all that. You have to all have those links in order to get good ranking with Google. Right?”
Remember, folks, Google is not the end-all-and-be-all of judgment on the web. There are a lot of different ways people can find your content. That’s not the point here either.
If you are worried about SEO in terms of Google’s Page Rank and Trust Rank algorithm, it is “who” you link to that matters, but more importantly, it’s who links to you that counts in the great algorithm-in-the-search-engine-sky. While those who link to you help, who you link to helps more.
It’s not just a link that matters. Google’s algorithm considers content-matching-content. If your site is about knitting and an automotive-oriented blog links to yours, why? What does car repair have to do with knitting? Something to do while you wait for your car to be repaired? A car repair shop that also sells or hands out knitting to give waiting customers something to do with their hands while waiting? I’m not seeing the connection here – nor does Google.
If a knitting blog links to a knitting blog, there is clearly a relationship. The keywords match, the content subject matter matches, and therefore the great SEO wizard algorithms say, “This is a great blogroll match!” If they don’t connect, you get no score or lose points, if you thrive by the SEO rules.
If you aren’t into SEO, then why have all these links?
“These are my friends, blogs by my readers, blogs I like!”
These are good reasons to have them on your blogroll. You like these blogs. You like the bloggers. You want to recommend them to others, right?
THAT is the core reason to have any link on your blogroll. Every link on your blogroll is a mini letter of recommendation to your readers.
Each link says, “These are blogs I recommend and encourage you to leave my blog and read these blogs, and be so happy, you will back to me to say thank you for the recommendation.”
That is a lot of value to put on each of these links, so think carefully before cluttering up your sidebar with links that aren’t important or don’t relate to your blog content.
Blogroll Links Are About Trust
In order to server your readers better, your blogroll links must have value. They serve as your recommendations. If you are sending your readers away from your blog, and you want them to come back, those blogroll links better be damn good ones.
When a link goes into my blogrolls, I like to think of them as a member of the family. We share a common bond. We’re related. While these blogrolls links are “mine” they are actually more for my readers than me. They are my recommendations.
Let’s stop here for a moment and consider that statement: My blogroll links are my recommendations. And I want my recommendations to matter.
Have you ever glanced through a set of blogroll links and spotted an interesting blog name, only to click through and land on a blog totally off-base from the blog you were just on? Did you think WTF?
I have, enough times to make me ignore the blogroll links. I don’t trust them.
I want my my readers to click through and visit these sites and return back to me, so the blogroll links should have a strong connection with me and my blog. When my readers click the links, I’m telling them, “Trust me. These are worth visiting.” Every link must be vetted thoroughly because your readers are trusting you to guide them through the rough and tumble sea of the blogosphere.
If your recommendation is good, they will be back for more. If your recommendations are bad, or disconnected from what brought them to your site, do you think they will be back for more?
I don’t trust bloggers with 600 blogroll links in their sidebar. I don’t even trust those with less than 25. How can you trust 25 bloggers to stay consistent, on-topic, and related to my blog content?
How can you trust someone who really can’t decide or restrict their recommendations to only a few. I like inclusive people who want everyone to be their friend, but If I’m asking for a recommendation for a dentist, I certainly don’t want a recommendation of every dentist in 40 states just because they don’t want to exclude anyone. I only want someone they really know, have experience and history with, and is someone they trust.
Play serious favorites with your blogroll. Make each one count. Make each one speak well of you and your blog, and teach your readers to trust you.
Blogrolls are very important if you decide they are. Don’t dilute them nor confuse your readers. Remember, blogrolls aren’t social competitions – no one is really counting, are they?
WTF Blog Design Clutter Articles Series
- WTF Blog Design Elements: Are Blog Archives Working for Your Blog
- WTF Blog Design Clutter
- WTF Blog Clutter: Pictures of Our Bloggy Friends
- WTF Blog Design Elements: Most Recent Comments and Shout Boxes
- WTF Blog Design Elements: Twitter, Tumbler, and Microblog Babble
- WTF Blog Clutter: Unrelated Ads Angst
- WTF Blog Clutter: Feed Clutter
- WTF Blog Design Clutter: Incoming Feed Clutter
- WTF Blog Clutter Design: How Many Feed Icons Do You Need?
- WTF Blog Clutter: How’s the Weather on Your Blog?
- WTF Blog Clutter: Where Are You?
- WTF Blog Clutter: Video and Pictures
- WTF Blog Clutter: What to Call Your Feeds and Ads
- WTF Blog Clutter: Are You Ignoring Your Uncategorized Category?
- WTF Blog Clutter: The Death of the CAPTCHA