Followers Widgets have become ubiquitous sidebar decorations in blogs as more blogging platforms and social networks are providing them. Followers Widgets dynamically display the visits to the blog by the people behind icons (avatars, gravatars). Bloggers display them to demonstrate connections other bloggers that range from mere acquaintanceship to friendship with subscribers who regularly read the blog and comment. Let’s investigate the claims and uncover what Followers Widgets do and don’t do for your blog.
The Followers widget is a great tool to help you grow your blog’s audience. Readers often visit a blog and enjoy it but fail to return. With the followers widget you can get all readers to return and become a fan. We highly recommend that you write a post about your followers widget and encourage all readers to become a follower. Additionally you should put your followers widget at the top of your sidebar so more readers will notice it. Many readers ignore sidebar items so by writing a post about your followers widget and moving the widget to the top of your sidebar, you will inevitably grow your audience. — How to grow your audience with Following
The implication that using a Follower’s Widget will drive traffic to your blog and grow your audience is far fetched. But then most advertising is based upon marketing gar fetched notions to the masses, isn’t it?
Followers widgets can spoil the blog design and give the blog an amateurish appearance. Take note that top bloggers in every niche who tend to have customized themes do not to use them, so why should you?
Followers Widgets can distract readers’ minds and eyes from reading the content in your blog posts on your front page of your blog and direct them to your sidebar. In sidebars Followers Widgets distract readers’ minds and eyes away from navigational widgets containing links to the deeper content in your blog. If your emphasis is on presenting your content to visitors then why add a distraction to your blog?
Page Loading Time
Followers widgets increase blog speed (page loading time); and viewers have to wait for widgets to load before they can interact with the blog. Most people surfing the web today are on dial-up service. Also as page loading time has become a Google page ranking factor most bloggers are reducing page loading time, not increasing it.
There is no reason to create and display hundreds of links, as any page with many links looses “weight” or value on a per link basis. Moreover, too many outbound links can reduce your blog’s PageRank. It is all about balancing the number and quality of outbound links with inbound links.
“1. Inbound links are links from pages on external sites linking back to your site. Inbound links can bring new users to your site, and when the links are merit-based and freely-volunteered as an editorial choice, they’re also one of the positive signals to Google about your site’s importance.
2. Outbound links are external sites that you’re linking to. Outbound links allow us to surf the web — they’re a big reason why the web is so exciting and collaborative. Without outbound links, your site can seem isolated from the community because each page becomes “brochure-ware.”
Relevant outbound links can help your visitors.
- Provide your readers in-depth information about similar topics;
- Offer readers your unique commentary on existing resources.
Thoughtful outbound links can help your credibility.
- Show that you’ve done your research and have expertise in the subject manner;
- Make visitors want to come back for more analysis on future topics.”
Analysis: The way I understand this is that every little icon in a Followers Widget is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog. Also every Followers Widget has a link to the site that offers the followers widget.
Suppose some search engine spiders stop indexing when they reach 100 – 115 links on any given page. Consider that most blogs have a sidebar appearing on every page and not just the front page.
Aside from links in Followers Widgets in most themes Blogroll Links are also displayed in sidebars on every page in the blog, and every one is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog.
Also every button, chiclet and badge for social media sites, social networks, bookmarking sites, blog directories, etc. is linked, and every one is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog.
Matt says, build your site for the user experience, and make sure your inbound and outbound links are valid, not spammy, and relevant. Therefore the approach I use is simply focusing on user experience.
SEO experts advise that a better blogger ensures that the number of inbound and outbound links are kept in balance. Therefore the approach I use is simply focusing on maintaining a balance between outbound links and inbound links.
When it comes to use of a Followers Widget if a blog reader clicks an icon in a Followers Widget – zoom – they are gone from the blog.
When a blog reader clicks an icon in a Followers Widget the site the widget comes from gets a hit. If the page is monetized and/or if the site has PPC (pay per click) the social network site owners get income from every click every visitor makes on the site.
The follower whose icon was clicked by a blog reader gets a hit on a profile page on a social network site (and maybe an indirect click through that site into their blog).
My criteria for adding widgets is:
I love followers (who doesn’t?) but I do not add a widget to my blog unless it:
1. improves the functionality of my site by providing reader access to content that is not located on the front page;
2. redirects readers to high quality sources of relevant information found in authoritative blogs in the same niche.
- What criteria have you set for adding widgets to your blog?
- Do you have a blog on which you are currently using follower widgets?
- If you are a WordPress.COM blogger and a followers widget is introduced at WordPress.COM will you use it?
- Why or why not?