Why the Fuss about BlogRush?
Seriously, guys. I’m getting bombarded with BlogRush requests from left and right. Even Sphinn has seen its share of requests.
My question for you all is: Why?
For those of you who don’t know, BlogRush is essentially a traffic exchange BlogRoll. You install a widget on your site and get “free syndicated blog traffic” (if people click on the links!)
As I said this morning on Search Engine Roundtable, I admit, there are some pretty good spokespeople who are helping promote the product. I’ve read from Jeremy Schoemaker, Andy Beal, Maki, John Chow, Sean at Mashable, and Darren Rowse, among others.
But here’s the only thing Blogrush has going for it right now:
One word: Hype. That’s it.
Ben Cook wrote an incredible review about the shortcomings of BlogRush. His post is worth a read (there were referral concerns at first, as all URLs contain a referral ID; this seems to be addressed now, however), but there are other issues that bother me.
BlogRush isn’t a novel idea. A couple of months ago, I was contacted via MyBlogLog about the Criteo widget that displays related blogs. I gave that a try for several months and it didn’t do much to drive traffic. In fact, I noticed that the pure existence of another widget is clutter. I like MyBlogLog because avatars are unique and catch the eye, but blog titles are just words on a screen. In a way, I would consider having a blog with titles simply banner blindness and would tend to ignore it. I don’t think I’m alone.
Let me ask another question: how many of you actually pay close attention to the widgets on other sites? Do you even pay much attention to the sidebars of blogs? If you do, how often?
According to this image above (source), this is where your readers will typically go: the content first, the sidebars second. If your widget is below the fold, the chances of them accessing that content decrease substantially. (This is from an eye tracking study, but heatmaps will do the same thing.)
Are you primarily an RSS reader like me, or do you actually find that people are utilizing the widgets on your sidebar? I write regularly for three blogs. I stare at those homepages for hours. I can’t possibly do the same for other blogs that I don’t have a personal investment in, even though I may be very active in that blog’s community (in commenting, etc.) Right now, I think all the people who have jumped on the BlogRush bandwagon are thinking primarily about how great BlogRush is for them but they’re forgetting their users. Sure, it doesn’t hurt, but will it work? Maybe you shouldn’t rush into it after all.
I don’t know BlogRush’s founder John Reese, but from what I’m reading on other blogs, he must be very good at what he does. However, “instantly drive a flood of targeted readers to your blog?” I disagree. Do you think his product is sustainable?