Sometimes the inspirational machine works so fast in Germany, it is almost scary. Within three weeks after the explosive launch of BlogRush in the US two almost identical services launched here: Blogfever and BLOGspeed.

All services promise to drive huge traffic to your blog. Once you have signed up you can include a widget on your blog which displays links to other blogs in the syndication network and for each page impression your blog generates a link to your blog will be included in someone else’s blog. The sites use slightly different mechanisms how even more exposition can be gained, but all use some pyramid referal scheme.

Seems like a no brainer since there is not much to lose – Google won’t punish you because the links are included via JavaScript, etc. – and a lot to gain, but there are a few issues:

Sidebars of blogs are highly competitive environments and widgets usually don’t come alone, so the click through rate will be very low and less traffic than expected will be generated.

There are implicit costs for the participating bloggers if the quality of the linked articles is poor. Services like this are a magnet for splogs (recently BlogRush had to dump 10,000 blogs), but even if they succeed in keeping the spammers out the value of those links equals the value of a link randomly typed by a monkey.

Readers would be way better off to click on any link on Techmeme, Rivva, Popurls, Original Signal, digg or any other aggregator since they have been prefiltered at least. A blog which displays these widgets trades the valuable time of its (hopefully loyal) readers against a very low probability to attract random visitors.

This won’t be a problem if it is obvious that the links are fetched from an external source, visitors will continue to click these links if they prove to be useful or will learn to avoid them. But I’ve seen quite a few blogs which make them seem like personal recommendations and this can easily backfire.

screenshot blogfever
screenshot blogspeed

This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here.