Friday, August 25, 2006

[misc] request for link exchanges

I'm just curious what everyone here thinks about requests for "link exchanges." It seems that lately, I've been getting more and more emails from bloggers (whom i don't know) asking me for a "link exchange," i.e. "i'll link to you if you link to me."

this kind of request puts me in an awkward position. while i understand that this is the web and the power of the web comes from interconnected-ness, i keep my blogroll as a few others do - it is very personal to me.

do i just say "no, thank you?" to the person making the request? the thing is, i don't want to hurt the other person's feelings by not reciprocating the link, because it's not like i think they are unimportant or aren't good enough. but then again, i don't want to just ignore them, or worse yet, just link anyway because i feel bad. and then, i have to admit, i feel the slightest twinge of bitterness that the person has even put me in a situation that would make me feel bad. i may as well confess also that i find it almost, well, i don't really know what the word is, but slightly rude, perhaps?

i've always thought it best to create your own blogroll, link to the blogs you want to link to. the blogs that want to link to you will link to you. you shouldn't have to ask them.

am i thinking too much? being overly sensitive, or perhaps naive?

thanks as always, everyone, for your honesty.

this post was written by sarah from the delicious life

15 comments:

ilva said...

I get mails like that too and I ususally ignore them because I make my link list like you do, i.e. I link blogs that I like without thinking about any reciprocity. And then I don't like the attitude of 'I link to you if you link to me' because I find it a bit arrogant to pretend that. Apart from that, I don't blog because I want to get a lot of links to me, I blog because I like it and if others like my blog-good! So don't feel bad about not linking, I suspect that there are a lot of bloggers who think like me out there...

Edward said...

Sarah,

I have been getting these emails too. I object the notion that If I link to them they will then link to me. It's blackmail of an inconsequential sort. It does make me wonder though how I should respond - do I let them know my reasoning, or do I just ignore the approach?

Julie said...

This is an interesting issue, and I hope I can offer a useful perspective. I have never had anyone ask me for a link, but I actively maintain my blogroll, adding links to blogs after I have enjoyed several posts and have gotten that feeling of excitement when I begin reading a blogger's latest piece. I also try to visit all the blogs on my roll as often as possible. I will delete one if the blogger has inexplicably gone about a month without posting. I have a rather large (though by no means comprehensive blogroll, and the more the merrier. I want to be generous with links, but I also want to link to blogs I am excited to read.

My blog is relatively new, and as far as I know, only one other blogger has linked to me. I would NEVER flat out ask for a link from anyone. It does seem a little bit presumptuous, if not rude. However, I sometimes feel discouraged that I'm not getting just a little more love from the blogging community (this is not a plea, I'm just trying to be honest). I'm not discouraged enough to give up and I LOVE blogging. I don't mind putting in the effort and time to build a readership. I say all this because I do understand where bloggers are coming from when they ask for reciprocal links. It is hard to write with the thought that no one is reading. That just isn't an approach I, myself, would take.

So, the solution? I would respond if the person makes a polite request by saying that I'm happy to check out their blog, but I base my blogroll on my subjective process and not reciprocity. No hard feelings. But then, the most important thing is to make an effort to check out new blogs and add blogs actively and regularly so that you are providing your readers with a useful resource, developed and curated by you.

Kalyn said...

This is such a great topic to discuss through FBS that I really appreciate Sarah bringing it up here. The whole idea of "nettiquette" is one that I'm very uncertain about myself, even though I've been blogging for a while now. When I first started my blog I stumbled on Elise's blog and wrote to her asking for a link. I didn't have a thought of whether or not I was putting her in an awkward position, I was just thinking "Gee, here's a cool blog. Maybe she will link to me." Elise wrote back very kindly and explained that she didn't do link exchanges, and then she uttered those words that changed my life. She said "Maybe I would consider linking to you if you became an active member of the food blog community." I said to myself, "What food blog community is she talking about?" So I guess my first comment on this topic is that most people who write asking for a link have no bad intent at all; in fact I consider it a compliment if someone asks for a link from me. I'll never forget how kind Elise was to me, and will always appreciate her steering me to Food Blog S'cool back when I was a total newbie.

I know that in my own experience of building a blogroll I made (and am still making!) a lot of mistakes. At first I only linked to people who had linked to me, never even remotely realizing that more established bloggers expected me to link to them first! It was a big "duh" moment for me when I realized that and I certainly never meant to offend anyone if I left them out. I know there are still plenty of blogs that I read and don't have on my blogroll simply because I haven't hit on a consistent method for keeping track of them.

As the number of food blogs continues to explode, I feel I am actually getting worse at keeping track of who I'd like to add to my blogroll. I have decided not to add a blog until they've been posting for 3-6 months, simply because they tend to disappear nearly as fast as they spring up. I've also learned (with some trepidation about whether or not I'm being rude) that when I discover a new blog that has linked to me (on Technorati) but the blog doesn't really appeal to me, that it's ok to just ignore it and not link back. It's taken me a long time to get to that point. I tend to err on the side of being generous with links, which makes it even worse when I realize I've unintentionally missed a blog that I really like and should have linked to (which happens all the time, and again I do not mean to offend anyone.)

The other thing I've come to realize is that it's actually nicer to write back to someone who has the courage to ask for a link, even if you're turning them down. I try to tell them how much I appreciate the compliment and explain my own rationale (such as it is!) for deciding to link to other blogs. I wrote to someone who asked me for a link just this week, saying "If you wouldn't mind me offering a suggestion, since it doesn't benefit a well-established blog much to get a link from a brand new blog, I think the best thing for a new blog to do is simply to link to the blogs you admire, and hope that when you have been posting a while they will return the favor. I'll certainly be watching with interest to see how your blog develops." That's advice I wish someone had given me.

Even with all this rambling, I must say it's still a bit of a confusing process for me. I've been intending to go through my blogroll for months now, deleting some inactive blogs and adding a big list of others that I like, and it's simply something I can't seem to keep up on.

Sam said...

- many of these requests are from commercial entities, not even bloggers, so watch out. To those I reply that my site is non-commercal.

- my blog is a product of my own hard work and only I decide what goes on it, links and all. I don't do reciprocal links. But if a new blogger writes and asks me, I respond that I will put them in my rss reader [and I actually do]. I use my rss reader for surfing much more than I use my blog roll and from my point of view I am bestowing more of an honour on another blogger if I actually read them, than if I simply link to them on my roll.

Thereafter, I read blogs and every now and then I am compelled to add one to my blog roll. I am not very organised though and as such there are many which I will get round to adding to my roll one day, but I haven't yet. It takes a while.

My advice is to link to the blogs you like, the ones you want to link to - its your space to do with what you will.

And please, people, never ever hold it against a blogger who doesn't link back to you. People have gotten shirty with me in the past for not linking to them, and it has never been a vindictive measure on my part so I don't deserve the attitude.

It ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT MEAN they don't like you, they don't read you or they don't appreciate you. It may just mean they are a little overwhelmed with all the blogs in the world and cant possibly keep everyone who deserves to be there updated on their roll.

And most of all be patient. Adding blogs to the roll can take a long time...

Also - if you add someone to your roll, then remove them because they didn't link back to you, then I think that's a bit petty.

Melissa said...

Wow, this is a really thorny issue but I'm glad Sarah brought it up. I appreciate everyone's honest response, so here's mine - I usually end up ignoring these emails. When it's a company I hit delete without a second thought, but when it's a blogger my conscience weighs pretty heavy. The thing is, I just haven't figured out a diplomatic way of telling people that my blogroll is purposefully limited in size, and that it represents a selection of blogs that I personally read and want to endorse. There are tons of great blogs out there that I don't link to for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I just don't have the space. And although I have no hard and fast rules for adding new ones, normally I'll read a blog for several months before deciding to do so, mainly because once it's on, it's hard to take off!

That said, there are a lot of new bloggers who, like Kalyn when she started, probably just aren't familiar with the unwritten 'nettiquette' of the blogosphere, and I think it probably is better to tell them gently why you're not willing to reciprocate. Kalyn has the right idea in my opinion and I will really try to be better about responding instead of just sticking my head in the sand.

I know it gets harder and harder for new blogs to get linked to, but I think the best strategy for all new bloggers is just to invest time commenting and building relationships, and eventually the links will come.

Rachael said...

As the writer of a wee-little blog, I am always super grateful when people (such as yourself Sarah)link to my site. And when I notice a lot of traffic coming from someplace else, I usually link to them too. Thats my strategy. :-) Nothing fancy. Then again, I havent had a request like that since that Australian dude wrote to me...hee hee.

Cybele said...

I don't like being put in the position, like other commenters have noted.

I don't do "exchanges" and mark requests from businesses as spam if they didn't address me or my blog personally and ignore the request if they did.

From another blogger I politely reply if they don't fit on my blogroll (which is for blogs about sweets) that I have some strict rules.

If they fit in, I look at their blog and write them back that I don't do exchanges but that I'll think about it, I'll add them to my rss reader (if they have a feed) and thank them for reading my blog.

I'm much more inclined to link back to someone who adds me as a link without ever mentioning it.

mrs. moore said...

Interesting topic. I am a new blogger and am quite fascinated by all these responses. One commentor mentioned the 'food blog community'- which I'd love to hear more about. I completely respect that you need to be selective in who you link to, but it never hurts to ask! I started my food blog as a hobby but would love to take it to the next level! lisadownham.blogspot.com

Ellen said...

Between my blog and my cooking site, I get on average about 5 link exchange requests per week. If I can tell it's a computer generated request (which you start to recognize pretty quickly) I ignore it. If it's a personally-written request, I visit the site. If it's purely commercial, I tell them I don't do link exchange but they can buy an ad if they want. If it's a non-commercial content site/blog, I may or may not decide to read it regularly and may or may not decide to link to it but not as an exchange. I do try to write back to the personally written emails and explain my no link exchange policy. Truly, I'm sure the search engines have long ago figured out the tit-for-tat link exchanges and discount their value which is why you get those 3-way (or more) requests as well. If you are into trying to rank high, many SEO people theorize that offering a page (or multiple organized pages) of VALUABLE links help your own site. Incoming links are more valuable, but everything helps. If you just wnat more readers, then read and comment intelligently. I've found lots of good blogs from comments.

Chris said...

My blog is small too and -- until today -- I haven't had my email address in my Blogger profile, so I haven't yet had the pleasure of being star-struck and asked for a link yet.

If I was asked, I too would say that I don't accept commercial links unless they are highly relevant, but I would check out their blog for a while and see if I thought they should go in my blog roll.

Another option to consider is linking to an individual post you really like. If I am talking about limes and the blogger who approaches me has a great post about lime, I could introduce them to my readers in that way.

Another option, if you find a post on the requestor's blog that you like might be to tag them in your del.icio.us, if you're a del.icio.us user. This would introduce the blog to your del.icio.us network without the same hot endorsemet that might be implied with being on your blogroll.

Finally, if someone asked me to link to them, I'd suggest that they might want to submit one of their own posts to the new Netscape.com. We talked about this on the Scool a few times before, but I'm still getting a lot of my traffic through the Netscape Food and Travel channel.

Great topic -- leared alot from the comments too. Thanks!

neil said...

When I first started out I asked a few people if they would mind me putting them in my blogroll, but didn't ask for a link in return - it was more about the heads up. After a bit I just added who I pleased.

I still laugh about the day I thought I found a link to me in a well regarded blog, but couldn't get it to work. Turned out it was a title to the list of links, lol. That person very kindly added me later on.

Alice Q said...

I think Sarah is right. My blog is relatively new, and when I set it up I linked only to the blogs I really liked. I never expected them to link to me immediately, and I didn't ask them to. Over time, some have reciprocated, and for that I am appreciative - but I certainly don't think anyone owes me anything because I have a link to their blog on my page.

I have also had a few requests for links, and I have ignored a few and honored a few. Sometimes I let people know when I discover their blog and add a link, but I don't ask them to reciprocate.

My policy is that I will link to almost any San Diego food blog, since there aren't too many of us, and I am more selective about more general links because I want to keep my blogroll manageable. My blog roll is personal, and designed to expose my readers to other blogs that I like. I am kind of glad that I don't get a lot of requests because I can appreciate the situation Sarah finds herself in.

Incidentally, I have received a HUGE number of hits from participating in the ice cream Sugar High Friday on her site - which sort of surprised me since there were tons of other links on there as well. I assume that links and hits will come over time, and pestering people won't help!

paul said...

As one who gets dozens of requests a week, I have no choice but to not respond to all but the ones that really strike me. I am in a different situation though, since I once strived to include all food bloggers in my list. Now I strive just to keep up with requests that come in.

I wish I had a prepared statement regarding link-exchange requests though, just to let net newbies know it isn't appropriate (or even effective) to bribe with link backs.

I'm glad this was brought up, since I have two points I'd like to make regarding this subject -

One- I get a request to be included on my list, I check out the blog, and there's one post. That means the blogger spent more time trying to market the blog then blogging. This is a sure sign of impending blog-death. There are other signs of this terrible fate as well, and a large percentage of requests I get, I can tell will be dormant blogs within a few months.

Two- I implore anyone who gets a form email from a Search Engine Optimization company (i.e. alltopwebsites.com) requesting link-exchange to respond to the actual site owner and tell them the methods the consultants they've hired are not only useless, but counter-product to their goals. Example text from one below:

"We have placed the URL, Title, and a suitable description of your web site which will definitely benefit your online presence. "

Then you get another asking why you haven't responded and then you get a 'deactivation notice' - "We were very hopeful of receiving a positive response from your side but we have received no contact from you till date... And after waiting for your response for a considerable period, we have now removed your link from our web site. "

Most are non-blog link-farms, but increasingly are from restaurants and highly reputable companies. I was surprised to get these from two separate very respectable high end farms (the kind of place you see on a high end restaurant menu, to describe where the ingredients have been produced). I contacted both of the farms who reacted in horror that their web consultants had even considered such a campaign.

Another point - for those of you who intend to make money blogging - these requests should be considered 'leads'. Any website actively marketing might be good for advertising dollars.

Scott said...

As a relatively new blogger I sent a few emails out recently asking for links (in my naivety).
Don't blame newbies for doing it, they don't know any better - like me, they just want to become a part of the community and don't know how.
I know better now since the people I emailed me set me strait, and I've been "at it" a few months.