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What is a Blogroll? Why Would I Want One?

Below I hope to provide a plain English explanation of Blogrolls and their power in the Weblog community.

My definition: A blogroll is a listing of websites that often appear as links on weblogs. This list of links is used to relate the site owner's interest in or affiliation with other webloggers.

 

Note: Let me start by saying that “blogrolling�? is a brand. Jason DeFillippo of Blogrolling.com created a tool that has become a standard for easily adding links to a web site. Like Kleenex is to facial tissue, Blogrolling is to related links on weblogs. For simplicity sake, I’ll refer to the related links as a “blogroll�? from this point on.

Why would a Weblogger want a blogroll on their site?

Blogrolls are used to express connections between weblogs. By having a blogroll, you are saying to the reader “Here are other weblogs that I like- you should check them out too.�? Further, you’re telling other webloggers. “I like your site and I think my readers will too.�? On a high level, the blogroll says “Here is my community of webloggers- I fit into this group.�?

How does it work?

Tools like Blogrolling.com have made it ultra-simple to add a site to your blogroll. Using a tool like Blogrolling.com, you can visit a site and add a link to your weblog in two clicks. You add a piece of code to your weblog template and then just use the blogrolling.com site to add the links. No html, no files or templates from then on- it’s just pushing a couple of buttons and a new link appears in your weblog.

Please note: Blogrolling.com is a “hosted�? tool. This means that Blogrolling.com is responsible for the hardware and software that displays the links on your weblog. If Blogrolling.com breaks or goes away- so too do your links.

Does it cost to have a blogroll?

Placing links on your website is always free - if you know how. Further, using Blogrolling.com to make it easy is currently free. However, to remove the Blogrolling.com branding and get extra features, you will pay a small amount.

Does a Weblog have to have a blogroll of some sort?

No- blogrolls are by no means required. However, having a blogroll can help your weblog get more exposure and help you play an active roll in the weblog “community�?.

The blogrolling phenomenon is somewhat reciprocal. By linking to a Weblog, you are increasing your weblog's chances of being linked-to by other weblogs. These links between Weblogs are the “currency�? of the Weblog community. The more links you have pointing to your weblog, the more likely you’ll get a growing audience and high rankings in search engines. A blogroll helps you get started earning links from other weblogs by expressing your affiliations.

What would happen if I didn’t have a blogroll on my weblog?

You may never know the difference. A blogroll isn’t essential to achieving everything you want with your web site. It is just a tool that you can use to add useful content to your site and start to participate in the weblog Community.

How do I decide what to blogroll?

This is a personal decision. I would think about the sites that you enjoy reading and sites to which you have a personal connection. Also, I would consider your readers- who is your target audience and what are they interested in? Your blogroll is another way that you can appeal to your target audience.

Don’t the links invite readers to go somewhere else? Why would I do that?

Yes, a blogroll is an invitation to flee your site. Think of the blogroll being a value-added service for your site. You will have readers that browse your site only to find another site and never come back. You can’t expect to capture the attention of every reader- but you can help them along the way.

By blogrolling, you’re providing a valuable service- and one that is being provided by others in the weblog community. You may lose a potential reader via your blogroll, but you may gain two readers via another weblog’s blogroll. The community works together to help readers find what they want. Over time, the value usually outweighs the risks.

How can I ensure that my site is on other site’s blogrolls?

This is a tough one. You will need to attract the attention of other webloggers and hope that they like your weblog. My advice is to define your niche and find other webloggers that are writing about that niche. Link to their weblogs and provide valuable comments on their posts. Do what you can to encourage them to read your posts and come back. Perhaps send an email to introduce yourself. Try not to be too overt in your presentation- I personally don’t like to be approached about linking- I’d prefer to judge for myself.

Do not use underhanded spam-like tactics. An example is posting a comment on a blog for the sole purpose of linking to your site. This will get you blacklisted and keep you from being respected and linked-to in the future.

All in all, blogrolling is a way to help your readers find your site and see it in the context of the larger community of weblogs.

I’d love to hear your perspectives on this- leave a comment if you have anything to say...