|Many blogs, like this one, have posted the full W-list with links. Is that really a good thing?|
Lately there’s been a meme going around called the “W list” — a lengthy list of links to high-quality blogs published by women.
As far as I’ve traced it back, the kernel of this movement began with an Aug. 7 post by PR blogger Valeria Maltoni. But the momentum really picked up when my friend and colleague, the noted PR/marketing blogger Toby Bloomberg, christened an expanded version of the list “the W list” on Aug. 16. Since then, the full list of links has been reposted on many blogs around the world.
The W list was Toby’s response to Ad Age’s Power 150, “a ranking of the top English-language media and marketing blogs in the world, as developed by marketing executive and blogger, Todd Andrlik.” That list was based mostly on quantitative popularity in Google, Technorati, and Bloglines — and it contained very few blogs by women.
Toby’s laudable aim was to bring much deserved attention and “Google juice” to accomplished female bloggers, many of whom are writing for niche communities and so don’t make the kind of numbers it takes to get on Ad Age’s Power 150. I think that’s crucial in any field, since (especially when you’re talking about blogs for a particular niche or industry), the quality of the content usually is far more important than search engine ranking, site traffic, or number of subscribers.
I’m honored that Toby included me on her W list, and I recognize many fabulous bloggers there that are worth checking out. I definitely don’t mean to trash this effort. However, there is a problem with it: I think it’s become a link farm, which could end up backfiring on the bloggers who post the list of links, and perhaps those who are included on it.
Here’s why I’m raising this red flag…
Earlier this year a similar list-meme of recommended bloggers, 2000 Bloggers, was making the rounds. Instead of a text list with links, this meme featured thumbnail photos of 2000 bloggers of all sorts, assembled into a photo montage with links. Bloggers were encouraged to republish that montage on their sites in order to increase the number of inbound links from around the web to the listed blogs, thus hopefully improving their positioning in search engine results.
Here’s the trouble with that general approach, as I discussed Feb. 6 in The Right Conversation:
“[Because of this meme,] there’s an awful lot of identical cross-linking happening online. And I can see it happening. Every time I check my feed reader (I have several search feeds for my name and URLs, so I can find out when I’m being discussed or linked to online), I see a slew of new links from new people who have posted the 2000 bloggers photomontage.
“Normally, inbound links are a great thing for traffic and search engine placement. And of course, there’s some social networking potential here too. However, tons of identical links from multiple sites might look like link farming to Google and other major search engines.
“Link farming is a problem, since it’s often employed to game the search engines to artificially boost the rankings of involved sites. Since it’s a problem, search engines have devised sophisticated algorithms to identify it.”
In a followup Feb. 7 post, I noted that Technorati had indeed responded to 2000 Bloggers as a link farm — in effect, erasing those links (and their effects) from its index. Since then, 2000 Bloggers appears to have constructively altered its approach to increasing the visibility of lesser-known bloggers.
I’m concerned that mass cross-posting of the W list links might backfire in the same way — which is why I haven’t posted it to Contentious, even though I support its goals and am a fan of many of the bloggers listed there. In my experience, trying to game search engines (regardless of intentions) is always a losing game for all concerned.
On the bright side, there are a couple of other W-list efforts I believe are very constructive and helpful. First of all, there’s now a W-list Facebook group (which I’ve just joined). That’s a great example of working with the intent of an online tool to further your community’s goals.
Also, there’s a W-List wiki, which could eventually have a beneficial effect on female bloggers’ visibility as long as its feed gets distributed to all the major aggregators (Technorati, Google Blog Search, etc.)
What do you think of the W-list? Did you decide to publish it or not, and why? Please comment below.