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Yay Or Nay: Blog Rolls

For some reason the other day, I started thinking about blog rolls. And how ineffective they seem to be.

When I first started blogging, I did check out blog rolls, but I honestly don’t remember the last time I clicked on someone’s blog roll or scrolled down their list of recommended blogs. In fact, as I thought about blog rolls (probably in the shower, where the most random thoughts pop in my head) I couldn’t remember if I even moved my blog roll over when I switched from Blogger to my own domain back in September.

In case you were wondering, yes, I do have a blog roll. But it’s pretty pathetic and definitely not full of all the blogs I read. In fact, it hasn’t been updated since September. And since September? I’ve added A TON of new and fabulous book, writing and publishing blogs to my Google Reader. The thing about blog rolls is that mine is ever-changing. I add new blogs to my Google Reader daily, so keeping my blog roll up to date is almost impossible. Additionally, I read over 300 blogs with a variety of different topics; what good is providing a list of more than 100 links with no context.

When I first started blogging, I thought a blog roll was a nice way to show the blogs I featured that I admired their writing and the content their blog provided. However, how many of those blogs actually know they are on my blog roll? Probably not many. Just as I’m not aware of the blog rolls I’m featured on.

This got me thinking about other meaningful ways to show a blog you appreciate their content, as well as share with your readers how awesome you think their blog is. I came up with two pretty simple solutions:

1. Comment on these blogs regularly. Want to show the blogger you love their content? Leave meaningful comments and get involved in the conversation. This way, you start to build an actual relationship with the blogger, rather than just slapping a link on your blog that they may or may not ever see.

2. Link to them on your blog. Blogs like YA Highway, Super Librarian, Nathan Bransford and more do a round up each week of links around the blogosphere they found especially interesting or useful. Even if you don’t do a complete roundup, you can still mention different bloggers in your posts, when relevant. For example, if one of my book blogger friends selects a great book for a Waiting on Wednesday post that I choose to use the next week, I make a point to reference them and say something like, “I saw this book on _____’s blog last week and just HAD to feature it too.” Easy peasy and guarantees that anyone who reads that specific post, will at least see that you reference a link, and might choose to check it out themselves.

Additionally, according to my Google Analytics, in the past month, my links page has only been viewed 16 times. Yikes! Seems like a waste of one those nice fancy tabs you see up there if it’s only been clicked on 16 times in 31 days. I could be using that space for something more interesting/more useful to my readers. I’ll definitely be changing that sometime soon, perhaps even this weekend during Bloggiesta!

So, what do you think? Yay or Nay to blog rolls?

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20 thoughts on “Yay Or Nay: Blog Rolls”

  1. OMG – I can’t believe you wrote this post. I have one exactly the same scheduled to go up next week!

    I was thinking exactly the same thing. Blog rolls were great when I first started blogging because that’s how I found new blogs (I was also guilty of checking to see if I was on anyone’s blog roll and when I saw my name I got so excited!)

    But once you have a bit more time behind you you never look at them. In fact, I recently removed mine from my blog because it had over 100 blogs (all fo which I read) and was just taking up way too much space.

    I will be eagerly looking forward to reading other people’s responses.

  2. I’ve been pondering the same thing. Ever since I finished my manuscript last month, I’ve been trying to focus on my neglected blog. I upgraded to wordpress.org and am downloading all these great plug-ins and actually have been scanning bloggers’ blogrolls as I build my Google Reader subscription lists. I write about several very different types of topics and I even went as far as to create different sidebars for each. That’s where I think the blogrolls could be really useful. On my “women’s fiction” category, I could post links to people like you, as well as author websites. On my “travel and adventure” category, I’d post links to rock climbers who blog, travel beta bloggers, etc. The problem is, I’m doing the behind-the-scenes work on my blog myself and I can’t figure out how to match my special sidebars to my categories. (Internet research tells me it involves writing code…that frightens me to no end.) So, I’m left with no blogroll or a super-long, one-size-fits-all blogroll.

    Thanks for addressing this! I was starting to feel guilty that I didn’t have a blogroll and now I don’t feel so bad. I probably eventually will, but if it has to be a one-size-fits-all-categories blogroll, I’m going to do something like pick the ten blogs where I’m most exicted to see new content posted in my reader.

  3. I actually love blog rolls and spend a lot of time clicking through others’ links! I’ve never quite adjusted to Google Reader — I went through a month-long stint where I used it religiously, but then found myself still wanting the experience of actually “visiting” a blog with their unique layout, etc.

    On my blog roll are the blogs I visit daily — basically, all my favorites. Selfishly, I keep it there mostly because that’s how I remember to visit all the places I love each morning! I do notice that those links get clicked quite frequently, though, so it makes me happy that I might be introducing others to the bloggers I love.

  4. LOL.. I have a post called “What the hey-ho-dolly is a blogroll anyways?” in my queue for next week. It all started because my boss was soo confused when I was trying to explain blogrolls so I thought it’d be a perfect post to talk about what a blog roll is and how it can be used and if it was effective!

    Great minds think alike! 🙂

  5. I still check out people’s blog rolls to kind of see where they fit in the internet scheme…it helps me figure out if the author thinks of him or herself as a mommyblogger, or a dating blogger, or a book blogger, or whatever. I’ve also discovered some great blogs that way (though I add them to my Google Reader, to which I am slavishly addicted.)

    I like the idea of linking more to other bloggers in my posts though. I like that.

    (And I still get excited when I see myself on someone else’s blogroll. Like, really excited.)

  6. Great post. My co-author and I do have a blogroll. We call it “Lovely Links” on our site, and it’s very small. It started off with only 2 links, and it’s taken us over 4 months to grow the list to where it is now. (http://serendipityinthestacks.wordpress.com/lovely-links/)

    We decided to only add our absolute favorite blogs/websites to the list and provide a brief recommendation as to why we included them. The only reason we do this is because we both love finding new sites to read, and the easiest way to do that is to see who our favorite bloggers recommend. Unfortunately, I can’t see what sites the bloggers I love are commenting on and it can be hard to go back through archives to find external links to other sites. While the page does get less traffic than the rest of the site, it gets some so I know at least a few people find it valuable.

    As you said, I don’t think it’s necessary to include every single site you read on a daily basis in a blogroll, but I am sad to see these lists falling off sites as they can be such a valuable resource in finding new blogs to read.

  7. I need to update my blogroll. In general, I like them. I find some great blogs that way and I like seeing what other people are interested in.

    That said, I am not a fan when blogs have 100+ blogs on their blogroll. It feels like they are just listing a bunch of people to get listed back. that is just irritating.

  8. You are absolutely right. It has been a long time since I’ve clicked on a blog in someone else’s blog roll, but I did check a couple of my favorite or new bloggers out just the other day to see what they’re reading and if we share any common blog interests.

    I have a blog roll, I think with the title of the latest post, but it only shows 10 of my MANY blogs at a time — based on most recently updated. That way, those who post regularly get the spotlight, and my blog roll is constantly changing.

    I do like your suggestions though.

  9. This is interesting, because I HATE Google Reader. The only way I keep track of blogs I love is through my blogroll, and I pay very close attention to other people’s blogrolls. I look at the titles of posts and decide what looks interesting based on how much time I have to browse. (That’s how I found this post!) So, I’d say YAY blogrolls, but it sounds like I’m in the minority there. =)

  10. I never really figured out blog rolls so I just stopped using them. I’m all about google reader – it is just the easiest thing for me to use. I get that it doesn’t fit everyone but it really fits me. And I love your suggestions: I think that meaningful comments are hard to find. But even short comments that let the blogger know that he or she is being read are really nice. I know that any comment I got when I was beginning meant the world to me And I love the idea of a round up. I’m not sure I could commit to a weekly one because I’m not always great about getting to other people’s blogs on a weekly basis but maybe building up a monthly one might be nice. It’s nice to get a shout out, right?

    1. @Jennifer, BTW, you totally need to watch Mean Girls (per the other comment you left me) It’s really good!

      But also, how amazing is Google Reader? It’s the only way I stay sane blogging!

  11. I do have a blog roll, but it’s been months since I’ve updated. There’s a few blogs listed that I don’t really read anymore, but even more that I do read that aren’t listed. Every once in a while, at least when I has the time, I do check out blog rolls for new blogs to read. But at this point it hard for me to keep up with the blogs I already follow, let alone fine new ones

    1. @Shoshanah, Exactly! When I used Blogger, it was pretty easy to keep it updated because you could import directly from your RSS feed, but now that I have to manually put all of the links into my blog, it just doesn’t seem worth it, especially since it was only clicked 16 times.

  12. I haven’t had a blogroll in awhile now but have considered putting one up again. I was considering maybe switching it up each month and putting different blogs on it. Mostly for myself though. I have a few blogs I read diligently but other then that I usually go through Saturday Situation and read the posts that sound interesting (like this one, lol). I rarely click through others, but I never look at my google reader so sometimes, like Saturday and Sunday I’ll click to other IMM’s from people’s blogrolls. I got in that habit when Kristi wasn’t having the linky up for several weeks. Other then that I don’t pay much attention to others.
    This is a great post though and makes me feel much better about not having one up!

    1. @Candace, I’m so glad you found me through Saturday Situation!

      I’m so loyal to my Google Reader that I rarely ever look at a blog roll…I guess I need to remember those who don’t use Readers though. Lots of people seem to use blog rolls to find their favorite blogs!

  13. Interesting post! I don’t think I’ve checked out other people’s blogrolls in a long time, but I did use them when I was a new blogger. My current blogroll is a list of my favorite blogs, as it’s too unwieldy to list all of them. So I vote yea, as I think they can still be useful!

    1. @Alexia561, So interesting to read everyone’s responses. I literally thought no one used them anymore! I guess it does make sense that it would be the first place a new blogger would look!

  14. The blog roll on my sidebar is purely a personal effort, as I manage to check out these 10 or so favourite blogs by who has updated recently.

  15. Just found your blog. Very nice! I actually have my blog roll also for a personal reason. I list them and can easily see who has updated their blog with a new post. However, I have never used Google Reader and I am embarrassed to say I am not sure what it is. I will tell you I am about to figure it out though! 🙂 Sounds like something I would like.

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I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

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