I’ve been asked why I don’t have a larger blogroll on the site and I felt it was worth a public response. At any rate this is one of those painfully meta topics so I’m shoving the rest below the fold.
UPDATE: Nick comments. with footnotes. oooo, drupal envy!
I’m a bit surprised that anyone perceives value in being on my blogroll; this blog gets only about a hundred page views a day and fully half of those are from the “long tail” (google searches to deep content). So I don’t think I am sending anyone any decent traffic. Of course, anyone trying to start a blog and build an audience needs all the visibility they can get.
I used to have a lot more links on the sidebar but after switching to Google Reader I do most of my web browsing from there, so my blogroll ceased to be a utility for me and now is simply my attempt to state publicly a handful of sites that I find worth “recommending”. That’s a positive action, so absence of a site from the blogroll is not a negative “not recommended” implication. In other words, the sites on my blogroll represent a deliberate attempt on my part to filter out the bewildering large number of links and sites that are out there (even within our little otakusphere) to just a select few that I believe to be good starting points of entry.
A small sphere like ours relies even more heavily on interlinks than the big spheres do. Steven and Author for example link heavily to smaller blogs that I’d ordinarily never even be aware of. That’s valuable for me on a per-post basis, but actively adding another full blog to my reading rotation (or my recommendations) tends to dilute the value of the links already there. I rely on the blogs in my blogroll to act as filters for me. That’s of course a highly personalized list and no two bloggers will have the same list. I’m gratified that I have so many excellent bloggers linking to me, but I can’t possibly reciprocate all those links. It serves no useful purpose to anyone to have a gigantic blogroll.
The best way to get me to visit your blog is probably to leave a comment. I visit the website of everyone who registers here, at least once. If I like what I see, or more importantly if I like what they have to say, then my interest is higher. People who I interact with on a regular basis are the ones whose opinions are the ones I am most interested in; that’s just common sense. And about half the links on my blogroll are people I’ve discovered this way – and many of them have been animeblogging far longer than me.
I also tend to be diligent about replying to blog conversations. If someone links to something I’ve said and says something about it – especially disagrees – then I’m definitely going to notice via Technorati and come pay a visit. I like extended conversations between blogs because they tend to be more relaxed and in depth. Plus people are more comfortable expressing their opinion on home ground rather than as guests in someone’s comment section.
Ultimately my blogroll is just a small section of text in the sidebar. If you are looking to build traffic, then the best route is not to focus on incoming links but on writing interesting content in an authentic voice, and engaging with the broader community in your niche sphere. And patience; building an audience takes time. Just find your voice and be yourself.