You were more likely to find it on a website than you would find the now popular ‘popular posts’ widget.
These days, you may visit more than twenty sites before you stumble on a site that still maintains one.
Is it still necessary to maintain a blogroll?
Before I answer that question, what is a blogroll?
Ultimately the word ‘blogroll’ is just a different term used to describe a list of links to blogs of interest usually placed on the sidebar of a blog. Bloggers added them to their sidebar as a way of staying connected to blogs of interest and also as a show-off to their audience, to show just how widely read they were.
3 Reasons Why You Are Better Off Without a Blogroll
1. Blogrolls are so Web 1.0
It is my opinion that blogrolls are as antiquated as link pages.
Do you remember them, those pages created specifically as a place to link out from your blog?
About six years ago, blogrolls were not just popular – they were in fact an expected feature in any blog. Not having a blogroll on a blog would have been as scandalous as not adding social sharing buttons on a blog today.
But that was six years ago.
Instead of blogrolls, a better way of introducing relevant blogs to your audience is by adding links directly in your post – in context. This is especially true when you consider that blogroll links soon get invisible and frequent readers of your blog may become immune to them.
If you want to do your favorite blogs a favor, do them a real favor. Since both Google and your readers tend to ignore blogrolls, what is the point?
What if you use your blogroll to keep tab on blogs you read?
RSS feeds, email feeds, Twitter Facebook and G+ and more recently, Triberr has made that reasoning quite redundant. They do a better job of connecting you to the blogs you love, since the push content from those mediums to you daily.
2. They are not Politically Correct
When you have a small blog only a handful of persons read, adding a blogroll is usually an easy task.
However, as your blog grows, it may no longer be easy deciding who to add to your list and who not to add.
Darren Rowse admits he had to give up his blogroll for this very reason. With the increasing popularity of his blog, more and more persons became frequent commenters and close friends and expected that their contributions to the blog ought to have earned them an inclusion in the blogroll.
Chris Garrett shares the same viewpoint. He is quite precise on the danger of playing favorites in your sidebar.
There is also the problem of reciprocity. When bloggers add you to their blogrolls and notice that you have refused to add them to yours, they may conclude that you are just a snub.
If you are scared of offending your readers and add all those who send requests to your blogroll, you end up with a large list that lacks any exclusivity and real value.
On the other hand, if you decline some of your readers, what do you tell them is the reason for their non-inclusion into your list? You can’t tell them they did not make the cut because they have “crappy blogs” you do not care to recommend. It is much easier to say, I don’t have a blogroll.
3. You have to maintain a Blogroll
Blogrolls are supposed to be a list of blogs you read, so it is embarrassing to have dead links in that list.
That would mean you have a real credibility issue. You cannot possibly read a dead blog now, can you?
Of course, there is also the issue of accountability to your audience. You have to be sure that whatever you link to remains appropriate to your readers, and may not be offensive.
If a blog shuts down, you are supposed to know it and cleanup your blogroll; if a blog redirects to a new domain, you are supposed to confirm the new destination still fits the profile of your site.
Nightmare Scenario: Imagine for a moment that a blog you used to love shuts down and someone else snaps up the domain. Imagine that someone hosting a porn site at the once respectable domain.
Since the blogs in your blogroll are supposed to be blogs you read, you have a higher responsibility for the content more than you would for a blog you just link to from a post.
I’d love to hear what you think about blogrolls. Was I too harsh on them? Do you have one on your blog?