The Blog Traffic Exchange website released a WordPress plugin back on March 15th called Related Websites. The plugin taps into membership sites, that is those who have signed up to the Related Websites service who have been approved and uses a specially crafted algorithm to display links from those member sites to articles deemed to be related. It didn’t take long for me to think of BlogRush when reading the description of how this plugin/service works. However, unlike BlogRush, their are no credits and it seems like everyone has an equal shot at having their links displayed as long as you play by the rules.
BlogTrafficExchange explains how the plugin works here:
Links are randomly rotated both locally per page load and globally every 24 hours. A proprietary traffic balancing algorithm rewards blogs that send diverse traffic into the exchange more frequent placement. Relevancy is never compromised.
While a lot of people are raving about how well the plugin is working for them so far, I hate the fact that I have no control over who shows up in my related content box. I love the idea on how Related Websites work, I said the same thing when BlogRush was launched, but instead of showing websites from across your internal database of URLs, I’d rather be the one adding specific URL’s to my own internal database. Then, through a contextual algorithm, it determines from those URL’s to show related content. I believe this would make the related websites 10 times more relevant than what BlogTrafficExchange or any other traffic exchange system does. You know, algorithms can’t solve every problem and this is one of them. I as a human being know which specific sites are most related/relevant to the content I publish, I only need the algorithm to scan the content of those sites.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Sphere, or any other related content network which displays ‘relevant‘ content from across a wide spectrum of sites is useless. But, if you’re looking to really open the flood gates in terms of coverage or visibility, only then do I see these types of systems being valuable to a blogger. While you could make the argument that being part of a related content network which is used by big name sites such as CNN provides the opportunity for a link from your blog to show up on their site, don’t kid yourself. It’s happened to a few people but it’s not an everyday occurrence. Just about anytime I’ve read the CNN tech section and reviewed the related content section, a little blog called TechCrunch always seems to be featured their.
If a traffic exchange network works for you, great. It’s just my opinion that you represent the minority.