I’ve been spending more time aruond review blogs and the mommy review community in specific. It’s got some very unique traits that don’t transfer over to the blogosphere, for better or worse. There’s definitely more of a sense of community than the blogosphere overall. There’s more interaction and perhaps some of that is very shallow and is only dependent on giveaways and other superfluous content but even shallow interaction is more than some folks will ever see.
There’s also a lot of linkage going on in a way that reminds me of what it was like to have a blog 5 years ago. No, make that more like 10 years ago. It’s not a bad thing. For one, it boosts interaction and exposure and, for another, it helps Google PageRank which is something a lot of people are looking for when it comes to sponsoring items or paying for advertising. Linking is just another way in which the community is supportive.
And I don’t have anything bad to say about the principle of the thing; it’s just that the way people actually do it really isn’t helping. I know one of the reasons is because a lot of review blogs are Blogger hosted and there’s no good way to deal with linking blogs with buttons but… I’ve come across one too many pages which dozens and dozens of randomly sized buttons linking to others. To put it plainly: it looks like crap. If you do it, take a step back. It looks horrible and you are diminishing the value of your site. It’s the simple truth. If your content ends and the viewer has to scroll more than once because of a sidebar full of mismatched buttons, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
My suggestion? Bring back the button wall: a grid of neatly arranged, same-sized buttons all on one page. Hell, done well, it could even be added to a footer and look better than it does on most sites.
Of course, in order for this to work we have to go back to a standard sized button. It seems like 88×31 has seen its hey-day so 125×125 pixels is probably the solution; most people are already using it. Everyone else can just get on board.
Of course, Blogger doesn’t allow people to easily add pages so people have to work out it by creating posts (usually several years in the past so they don’t show up in recent archives) and then linking to it like a page. It’s not the prettiest solution but it is one solution.
And you know what else? It just might help PageRank to only have a few of your preferred links on the front page. Linking to tons of sites on every page can actually lower your PR. Moving all your links to a different page will not only make your blog look better but could potentially raise your rank. Not too shabby, eh? I didn’t think so.
Now get to it!
On a serious note, I really think this is an ideal solution to the cluttered sidebars I have seen recently and I wouldn’t mind if folks took the initiative to spread this post.