For those that are new to blogging culture, blogrolls are the links that one provides on their blog to other blogs and resources. On Spend Matters, these are further down on the right hand side of the screen. Personally, I believe that bloggers should really think twice about the implications of who they are linking to. Look at it this way -- traffic is a currency, and blogrolls drive traffic. Would you give someone a handout if they do not deserve it? A good recent example of this is Purchasing magazine, which recently asked bloggers in the sector that were not already linking to Purchasing if they would provide such a link. When I got wind of this and asked Purchasing if they would offer a link back to my blog, they said no. Yet at the same time, they'd love to take traffic from upstart bloggers! Hmmmm ...
When Purchasing responded that they would not offer Spend Matters a link, I decided that I needed to reconsider my entire blogroll. In doing so, I concluded that the only sites that I would link to were those that I found genuinely useful and worth my time to look at on a daily basis, trade publication or not. But the interesting part when I sat down to think of it is that neither Purchasing or other trade publications made the cut as sites that I look at with such frequency (you can check out for yourself who did).
The truth is that while I respect the trades and believe that they're a vital part of the Spend Management ecosystem, I do not depend on them for late-breaking news and analysis anymore. I believe that blogs and analyst firms are far more useful for near-term insight and analysis. Another observation was that blog roll-up or aggregator sites -- which pay bloggers to write on a topic -- did not make my "daily" visit litmus test, either (though I do check out a few of these on a weekly basis).
So who made the cut? On my new blogroll, blogs top my list of other sites that I visit everyday, but I also continue to check out select analyst sites, and even vendor learning centers quite often (which will often license analyst content and provide it for free to anyone who registers). AMR Research, in particular, has done a great job recently breaking news and providing candid analysis. Given the changing environment, I would encourage other bloggers to rethink their linking strategy as well, especially with trade publications, which will gladly take traffic, but will not reciprocate with links in return. Of course if you consider trade publication sites useful as critical every-day-must-reads, by all means, link to them. But personally, I'll wait for Purchasing and other trade publications to arrive in my office in the mail -- or in my email -- rather than giving them permanent real estate on my blog because in my view, there more useful sources of information to turn to on a daily basis. Print and trade pubs are critical in my view, but it's time to rethink what is most valuable in an online, real-time environment -- and link accordingly!