I received a request over the weekend from a new blogger, to add one of my clients' blogs to a mutual "blogroll." I hadn't received a request like that in a long time, and was amazed that bloggers are still doing that, and that a new blogger would even know about it. I don't know if he was a blogger during the time these things were popular, and was just re-entering the blogging world after a long absense, or if he had just been given some bad advice.
Either way, I've decided to take this opportunity to remind our WebRev readers to just say "no!" to blogrolls, and ditch the sidebar flair.
For those who aren't familiar with the plague of yesteryear (circa 2005) known as "the blogroll," the purpose of this invention was to help blogs get page rank in the search engines. The theory was that search engines liked sites with more links, and this was a good way to get that badly needed page rank, and build a community of like-minded bloggers. So, bloggers with similar interests would e-mail each other and ask to be added to other bloggers blogrolls, wiht the promise of a mutual add to their own blog rolls. Then, every few months, the bloggers would have to go through their blog rolls, and cull the blogs that had become inactive, disappeared, or were no longer linking back. These blogrolls were usually kept in the sidebar, and became miles long.
Soon, bloggers were spending more time maintaining the blog roll than they were blogging. At the same time, the search engines changed their algorithms to discount these links, and make them counterproductive. But by now, the bloggers were addicted to blogrolls. They had spent hours decorating them, and adding fancy scripts to make them scroll in their sidebars. Even the ones that understood that the links were hurting, rather than helping their page rank began adding code to the blogrolls so that those links would be ignored by the search engines, and their (less informed or more stubborn) fellow blogrollers would not blacklist them.
Eventually, most moved their blogrolls to a post or page of their websites, then slowly phased them out. But every once in a while, as a webmaster or blogger, you'll get a request for a "link exchange" or to be "added to your blogroll." Just say, "No!"
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.