A lot of the people that find my blog do it through searches and referrals — but did you know…
…that MOST of my recent traffic comes from people who found me on another blogger’s blogroll?
So it might be shocking to hear that I don’t love typical blogrolls. I think that in many cases, the well-meaning website owner makes the list once, at a fixed moment in time, and never revisits, reassesses or updates that list. Plus, a list is just that…there’s rarely any context for why a blogger added that link or even a short description of what the website is.
And I think that POSTS should be honored most than bloggers. Sure, if your favorite blogger hits a home run with every press of the publish button, that’s worth sharing. But when you blindly recommend a full blog, I think it’s less effective than endorsing a particular post (and then its up to that blogger to make it easy for the readers you send to them to subscribe!)
(BTW, some of you do fabulous work with blogrolls, so just keep doing what you’re doing!)
So when I saw Tina tweet:
I knew I needed to jump in.
Now, in more than 140 characters, a few suggestions that I think work better than a traditional blogroll.
1. Google Reader Bundles
I love bundles! They allow you to drag and drop your favorite blogs into a little collection (and easily add or delete as you go) then offer that bundle to your readers as a subscription. You can set up bundles for different topics — say fitness blogs, social media blogs, your Top 10 picks, local bloggers, etc. Each bundle has its own subscription, so your readers can trust your judgement and add all of those blogs to their Google Readers with one click.
I especially like bundles for special events — say, Fitbloggin’ or the Healthy Living Summit. You can all all of the attending bloggers into a bundle then read those posts leading up to the conference so when you meet the writers in person, you really know their points of view or previous experiences.
To set up bundles, see: http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2009/05/life-is-great-bundle-of-little-things.html
2. Google Shared Items
I currently use Shared Items on my blog (see the left sidebar). It auto-updates every time I click “share” at the bottom of a post in my Google Reader (it also sends it to Google Buzz, if you happen to be following me there). Less like a blogroll than a bundle, because there’s no option to subscribe to the pack. But I think it’s a good way of highlighting individual posts.
One drawback? I can only share posts that are in my Google Reader, so it’s not the best way of sharing posts from across the Web. But it does give my Shared Items list a big of a bigger endorsement for my readers.
To set up shared items, see: http://www.google.com/support/reader/bin/answer.py?answer=83000
3. Auto-Updating Blogrolls
One way of getting around my concern that blogrolls are often used as “set it and forget it” items is to ensure that blogrolls auto-update as you add new blogs to your subscriptions.
4. Five for Friday posts
Yes, this is a bit of self-promotion, but one of the reasons I share five posts from other bloggers in my weekly Five for Friday posts is that I want to highlight the posts that were published in the previous seven days that made me laugh, made me think…made me want to share.
Often, I have already posted these items on Facebook or Twitter, but selecting five posts is a good way for my readers to see what sparked my interest that week.
5. Social Bookmarks
This is the least like a traditional blogroll, but I include it because I think it fits the spirit of sharing posts rather than blogs. So whether it’s Facebook, Twitter favorites, Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon or Reddit, sending your readers to a place where they can find all of your shared links may be a way of efficiently letting people know what really hit home in a given week.
None of this really addresses the philosophical issue I know many of you have with blogrolls — that by nature, they are exclusive. That is an issue I’d love for you to tackle in the comments. When you see blogrolls, do you like them because they expose you to new bloggers in a given niche, or do you dislike them because they leave people out?