Traditionally, blogs include a blogroll. You know, that giant list of links in the sidebar. Sometimes it’s a collection of sites the author reads, and sometimes it’s just a collection of reciprocal links the author puts in to generate traffic.
Are blogrolls a good idea? Do they instill confidence in your readers, or do they just bleed search engine juice from your site?
The Positives: An Informed Author is a Trusted Author
There certainly is something to be said for a blogroll of sorts. When a new user finds your site, he may want to poke around and see who you are.
One place to look is the About page. This should give the reader some information. Another place to look is the blog roll. If you’re supposed to be an authority on the topic, who else do you read?
You can’t possibly keep up with the times if you work in a vacuum, so it’s of interest to the reader how you keep up with things.
A blogroll can also be useful for someone looking for more information.
For example, I’m always looking for more education blogs to follow. I’ve found a ton of tech-related blogs (duh), but very few that are written by Social Studies teachers. Whenever I stumble on a new education blog, I browse through the blogroll looking for something written by a Socials Studies teacher.
The Negatives: Sitewide Links Are Bad for SEO
There are definitely some downsides to blogrolls, though. Some people might not care so much, but if you worry about SEO then you should be worried about that giant list of sitewide links.
You see, sitewide links are like a giant drain on your search engine juice. Each page contains a certain amount of page rank worthiness, and each link on that page spreads the page rank love around.
Sitewide links within your site are great, because they help redistribute that link love. Since every one of your pages links back to the front page, it’ll have a higher pagerank than the individual pages in your site. Likewise, pages like category indexes – linked to by many of your individual pages – will have greater search engine visibility.
Sitewide links going out of your site aren’t so good, though. Each one is a trickle of pagerank going down the drain. One or two sitewide links aren’t going to kill you – but what if you have a dozen pages in your blogroll? Consider how many pages of content you have (hundreds, thousands even?) and multiply that by the number of links in your blogroll.
Even a short list of links – six or seven – could easily work out to thousands of outbound links. Yowza.
To authors who are blogging for a smaller audience and aren’t concerned with search engine traffic, this isn’t a big deal. If you’re in the market to monetize your blog, though, that should concern you a great deal.
I also think that sidebars can easily get over-crowded. With other necessary items (recent posts, categories, archive links, ads, etc) there just isn’t a lot of real estate to give up for that a list of links.
What to Do? Compromise.
I’ve decided to go with a compromise of sorts.
For the sake of my readers, I want to have a blogroll available. I want people to know what I read, and I want to reward those sites that I read regularly with some link love.
However, I don’t want to have a dozen or so sitewide links bleeding my search engine juice. I’d like to keep some of that for myself, so people actually find the site!
Instead, I decided to create a separate blogroll page. In actuality, it’s just another post in my index, but you could consider it a static page of sorts.
On the blogroll page, I include a link to a handful of sites that I regularly read. This is likely to change over time as I change my subscriptions, but I’d say that on any given day you’ll find 6-12 sites that I read. This also gives me a chance to add a comment (a sentence or two) about each site, so the reader knows what to expect.
Then, to make sure that readers can easily find it, I put a prominent link to the blogroll page in my header. Along with the About page, I think this provides some good information about me and my site without hurting my search engine placement.
What do you do think? Are you concerned about all those outbound links, or do you just include a blogroll anyway?
How a Blogroll Could Hurt Your Site's SEO - Command Wordpress
December 1, 2012