Technorati, are you listening?

by Shannon Paul on November 3, 2008

Nobody searches for blogs… okay, maybe not nobody, but only 6 percent of general blog readers say they ever use search engines to find new blog content and only 11 percent of frequent blog readers describe blog search engines as a tool for finding new blog content. That’s pretty close to nobody according to a recent study by JupiterResearch that I discovered in a recent update from Marketing Charts (hat tip Scott Monty)

Add to this my hunch that most of the people in this small sliver of the pie were probably referring to Google and you’ve got a teeny tiny minority who ever use Technorati to search for blogs.

Rather than searching, most people discover good content on blogs through links from other blogs, social networks and social bookmarking sites. What frequent blog reader hasn’t spent a good chunk of an afternoon tumbling down the rabbit hole that is the blogosphere by clicking on link after compelling link?

The one reason I do use Technorati is to gauge a blog’s authority, and authority is measured in links. Authority is also a pretty good indicator of influence in relation to the readership of the blog.

Technorati is a quick and easy way to rank a blog’s general authority and is a helpful quick reference — I just wish they did this better and let go of the whole blog search thing.

This is especially useful for PR and marketing pros looking to outline some kind of a blogger outreach strategy, but it could be so much better.

Subscription-based tools like Radian6 offer more flexibility in gauging a blog’s authority, but for many people including freelancers and students, a free place to quickly reference a blog’s authority would be extremely useful for determining who the influencers are in relation to my company and/or client.

Technorati’s current measure of authority is okay, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Right now, Technorati measures a blog’s authority based on the number of incoming links over the past six months from other unique blogs. That’s a good start.

This means that if I have five incoming links from the same blog, they’re only counted once toward my blog’s authority. However, since each incoming link will fall off in exactly six months, the more incoming links I have from the same blog spread out over time, the less likely that incoming link will ever expire.

This is a great start, but doesn’t account for incoming links from social networks like Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, and it also doesn’t account for incoming links from social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg or Delicious. In addition to receiving links from other blogs, links from individuals across social networks and bookmarking sites are a powerful indicator of a blog’s authority and reach.

Since so much of the way we find good content is dependent on sharing and discovery, why can’t Technorati let go of search and get social?

Photo by Paulgi

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{ 32 comments }

November 3, 2008 John Smulo

I use Technorati to gauge authority as well, and nothing else. Good points about the need to go social. I hadn’t thought about this previously. A blogger’s/blog’s influence should be tied to social media links as well. I found this blog, for example, through Twitter.

November 4, 2008 Hubert

Thank you for the critical analysis for Technorati. I have been wondering if I needed to buy into it right now, being that my sites are in their n00b phases.

I am interested in knowing if sites like Technorati and Radian6 take into account the effectiveness of pingbacks. Obviously, traffic can be attained through linking to other popular sites, which a lot of spam/ham sites do. At the same time, I would imagine that would be a significant way to build traffic. Maybe I’m wrong, I am a n00bie.

November 4, 2008 shannonpaul

@John – Good point! I find a lot of great blogs through Twitter.

@Hubert – We’re all noobs. :) I think it’s worthwhile to claim your blog on Technorati simply because that’s another place where people have the potential to discover your content. Trackbacks and pingbacks are also extremely valuable in not only increasing traffic, but also building meaningful relationships with other bloggers. I think this is as much a part of the conversation of engaging with other bloggers as leaving comments. I like knowing that my posts inspire others to create their own posts.

November 4, 2008 Nick

This is interesting and I agree that Technorati is best used for authority, but does anyone have any insight on reasons why Technorati would NOT register links to your blog?

I know of at least two specific links to my fairly new site from legitimate websites that technorati seems to ignore…

They aren’t facebook or any social networking sites. Legit web presences…

Weird.

November 4, 2008 shannonpaul

@Nick – That is weird. I’m not exactly sure why they miss links.

November 4, 2008 mack collier

There’s a big problem with using Technorati to measure a blog’s ‘authority’; they only count blog links. Any links left on Twitter/Facebook/Plurk/OtherSocialSite are not counted.

And this is significant, because linking is continuing to move away from blogs, and to other social sites/tools. As this happens, Technorati becomes continually irrelevant as an authority-tracking site for blogs.

Linking behavior has changed, and Technorati hasn’t.

November 4, 2008 MarcWhitchurch

Shannon
Very Insightful comments, and very accurate.

November 4, 2008 Jeremiah Staes

Great post.

It’s all a very imperfect system, especially when you talk about topics (as many business topics are) that aren’t “in the echo chamber” of social media – things that apply to those outside of social media.

I work with some blog properties that have over 10,000 unique visitors a month – and Technorati doesn’t pick them up well. Why? We did a study and found out that most of our readers for this property were over 35 professionals who probably couldn’t care less about Technorati, and the profile shows they don’t blog and are only casually active in social media (LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, but that’s it) because they don’t have time.

We know of lots of links – from the sources you point out, Shannon – but Technorati is going to miss it completely. It’s an echo chamber within an echo chamber until it makes the changes you suggest.

November 4, 2008 Brian Clark

What Mack just said is important in the larger context of the web. Even Google is not keeping up, because links that would have been blogged in the past carry Google juice and help search visibility. Links in social media environments are often “no follow” because of spam concerns, and the short URL services we use diminish the recommendation that would otherwise lead to authority with Google.

November 4, 2008 Melanie Baker

Hi Shannon!

A free tool that gauges influence and analyzes more sources than Technorati? That would be us. :)

Here is the page for your site’s feed.

So what’s going on there — if you mouse over each post’s PostRank score, it’ll display the post’s top metrics — comments, trackbacks, diggs, bookmarks, tweets, etc. Those metrics are the basis of what we call (audience) engagement analysis.

More info on what we analyze and how.

Measuring engagement involves all those actions people online do to process, share, and react to what they’ve read. Over time, this analysis shows the ebb and flow of influence (for example, on our homepage we display engagement status for random sites over the past month.

Not a perfect system yet (nor is any) but fortunately always evolving and improving.

Additionally, engagement analysis enables our other tools, which allow people to rank and filter their RSS feeds, either on our site or with our Firefox or Google Reader extensions.

Feel free to give me a holler if any of that sounds interesting (and like the type of solution you have in mind), or if you have any questions. Even better, let me know if what you’d like to see works differently. Always in the market for suggestions and feedback.

November 4, 2008 Webconomist

Technorati is kinda OK for authority, but I’ve also noticed blogs can be “hijacked”, 2 recent cases of this, causing trouble for clients.

Technorati has kind of become the Social Media ranking version of Alexa for SEO, which has increasingly become redundant.

There’s increasingly activity within “closed” networks like Ning and shouldn’t they be counted? Your point Shannon, is very good. Got me thunking!

November 4, 2008 Sara

Great post. I was surprised when Technorati started emphasizing their search feature more. The only thing I use it for is when I am curious about authority, and even that has issues (for example links to a blog from old/high-authority blogs month ago that don’t show up). It’s still a helpful tool to get a basic snapshot of many blogs if you’re a blogger yourself, but I don’t know that anyone is really using it to “discover” anything. If they were the WTFs would have taken off.

November 4, 2008 Shay

This meshes well with some other thoughts I have going about the blogosphere, which led me to redesign my own site recently.

WIRED expressed my opinion better than I do here, but basically the idea of a ‘personal’ blog is rapidly going extinct, with social networks and microblogging taking its place as the quintessential web-location for personal interaction.

Technorati, in this sense, are still stuck in a 2004 model of thinking. Evolve or die, I say, where evolve would be to become an SMO tool for blog-authority measurement with demographics and content-type segmentation.

November 4, 2008 Dorion Carroll

Excellent post. Yes, we are listening (and reading). The comments here are also very insightful and helpful. Thanks for the commentary.

November 4, 2008 treespotter

That’s a very good summary of what’s wrong with Technorati – or at least in my particular case, failed to meet my particular need for their service. I guess, in that sense, persons generally feel the need of more social as well as ability to recreate – as in open source and open API approaches.

I also very much agree that the a good measuring model could be valuable these days, it could effectively set the standard for the industry.

i like.

November 4, 2008 Yael K. Miller

I’m excited to see you blog about Technorati because I’ve had a question about them for months and no one mentions them anymore. Except, of course, when Technorati came out with their State of the Blogosphere 2008 report.

If you see that Technorati is not being used for search, do you believe that there’s no reason to make Technorati tags for each blog post? I don’t see Technorati tags really being used and I want to know if I can tell my boss @ZimblerMiller she can stop using them.

November 5, 2008 Mike Wagner

Thanks for stirring things up with this post.

I especially connected with this statement, “What frequent blog reader hasn’t spent a good chunk of an afternoon tumbling down the rabbit hole that is the blogosphere by clicking on link after compelling link?”

That is the story of my life.

Back in the analog days I spent afternoons walking the stacks at the university library.

Now I do something like that chasing links.

That’s how I got here.

Another point of connection with your blog. My daughter is an intern with the Des Moines Buccaneers (www.bucshockey.com). You two would likely have a lot of notes to compare!

Keep creating…a brand worth raving about,
Mike

November 5, 2008 Brandon Uttley

I’ve found Technorati to be disappointing. I’ve “claimed” my blog, yet it doesn’t get indexed there, despite posts being found by Google and other places within hours, if not minutes (thanks to Feedburner).

The best thing to come out of Technorati lately was their State of the Blogosphere research. Otherwise, it’s not a very useful resource.

November 6, 2008 Clayton Closson

Very interesting post.

I agree that Technorati isn’t the most useful tool out there (although we do use Technorati tags with the Quicken Loans blog), but I’m not sure I agree that searching for blogs is so minimal that it almost doesn’t matter.

At the DIFF blog, we get up to half our daily traffic from search, and not blog search. Regular Google and Yahoo search for keywords that our posts rank for.

The one thing I use Google and Technorati blog search for is seeing if anyone is linking or mentioning Quicken Loans or the Quicken Loans blog. So maybe focusing on blog search isn’t very useful for promoting one’s blog, but blog search can be useful as an easy way to gauge conversations about your brand, blog, whatever.

Last, I totally agree that nothing replaces the value of social media for promotion. Especially when people do it naturally because you provide something cool or interesting that they want to share with their networks. That is a thousand times more valuable than a Technorati tag will ever be.

November 6, 2008 Shannon Whitley

Great post. I’m disappointed in Technorati. I still use the service for alerts on specific keywords and I find it to be better than Google. Instead of focusing on and improving their core product, they tried to branch out too much (photos, etc.). Now, it seems they are just completely lost. The right person could lead them back to the top as a niche service, but I don’t think that person is leading them now.

November 6, 2008 Matt@Answer Fitness

Shannon,

I get you’re point around Technorati being more or less useless as a source of traffic. But I have to challenge you on this statement:

“Rather than searching, most people discover good content on blogs through links from other blogs, social networks and social bookmarking sites. ”

Well, yes — social media certain can drive WOM traffic to your blog — but I think you are seriously underestimating the role that organic search can play in driving traffic and awareness. In fact, I average over 50K visitors a month to my site, and the majority of that traffic has come directly from free search.

Stumbleupon, Twitter, participation in social networks and message boards help as well, but they alone are not enough to build the kind of scale I’ve built over the past 6 months.

Here’s the key thing to remember: People typically don’t search for specifically for a blog. If you look at the number of specific searches done for terms on Google that include “blog” in them — the volume is quite low.

In the case of your site, most people don’t type in “social media blog” to find you. They probably type in things like “social media best practices” — and if your website is properly optimized, they find your CONTENT (and then your blog) for that search.

That’s how you drive traffic.

I was actually surprised recently to find how little traffic many blogs actually get, despite their authors being extremely active in social media/social networking.

Case in point: Self-proclaimed Social Media maven Robert Scoble’s scobleizer blog (Technorati Top 100 Blog) gets less than 20K visits a month according to Quantcast. Now, I know Quantcast isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn close in my experience.

If your theory is correct, I would have expected Scobleizer’s traffic to be at least 10 times that. He’s got a pretty robust network. Now, he may have a lot of his visitors “off the domain” via RSS (and they wouldn’t be counted by Quantcast), but I still would have expected much higher direct load numbers.

Search engines (not blog-specific search engines) are still king when it comes to attracting visitors to any site (especially in the consumer space) — including blogs. And because content is what primarily drives search results, good (search-optimized) content is critical. Yes, the network can help promote a site – but the network alone isn’t enough to drive scale and growth (although it certainly may drive KPIs like loyalty, time on site, engagement, etc.)

I do agree that the network will continue to influence traffic, buzz, etc., online. But I think even then, it’s most effective when combined with a broader search strategy. Even though WOM and social networking is growing rapidly — it’s still in large part the domain of the technorati (with a small “t”).

Search still is the primary way that most people navigate the internet and find content: not social networks. We’ll have to see how this changes in the next year or two.

November 6, 2008 Jonathan W

WOW. It’s amazing how birds of the same feather flock together… Here’s some stats for you “wannabee tech people…”

1. Technorati is the fastest growing property on the internet right now (ComScore). Even outpacing BarrackObama.com in % growth last month.

2. Analytic companies (like mine) our built on Technorati’s API. NOTHING COMES close!!!

3. Technorati’s blog search is 5 – 10 times larger than Google’s blog search, and more accurate, and faster! http://mashable.com/2008/10/09/iterend/

4. As for indexing Twitter… The fact that anyone would even say something so stupid proves the ignorance of this blogger. It’s PROPRIETARY !

In closing.

The 1st Amendment & Freedom of speech rocks. A blogging platform is obviously a catalyst for this. Is it too much to ask that you do your homework before writing a post so inaccurate?

That’s all I ask.

November 6, 2008 shannonpaul

@Clayton @Matt I think you’re right to distinguish between general search engines like Google and Yahoo, versus *blog* search engines. People online are searching for answers, relevant information, and entertainment; they don’t care whether the answers come from a forum, a blog, or a government website.

@Matt- as far as the statement that most people find relevant blog content through sharing and discovery comes from the JupiterResearch study I cited above combined with my own experience discovering new content.

@Jonathan W – Congratulations on being my first abusive commenter. I think it’s also interesting to note that your I.P. address comes from Technorati.com.

As I said before, I have a particular experience as a user of Technorati, coupled with the statistics provided by the JupiterResearch study cited above, that I would hope the company would value as unsolicited consumer feedback.

Frankly, I don’t care whether the site is the fastest-growing property on the internet or if Technorati’s blog search is faster and more accurate — especially if nobody uses it for this purpose.

Also, it’s funny to me that WordPress.com can index incoming links from Twitter, but Technorati can’t. I guess it doesn’t matter to them if the platform is proprietary.

I’m sorry if you think I am simply exercising my first amendment rights as an ignorant human being. My hope was that I might illustrate an opportunity for Technorati, or some other industrious company/individual, to really own the space when it comes to ranking authority in a meaningful way for marketers and PR professionals.

November 6, 2008 Joe M

@Shannonpaul, Congrats on your first abusive commenter, and touche’ on the IP trackback.

@Jonathan W I’ve come to know shannonpaul as an acquaintance and know her to be extremely sharp, very knowledgeable, and of the highest integrity. This blog post has merit, perhaps Technorati should be listening!

With regard to the blog, I believe its spot on. I’ve claimed a number of blogs with Technorati to no avail, and in days found the pages strewn about Google and other search engines. Technorati may be great for some things, but for everything else, I do not use it.

Great points and great post @shannonpaul

November 6, 2008 Matt@Answer Fitness

Jonathan:

>>3. Technorati’s blog search is 5 – 10 times larger than Google’s blog search, and more accurate, and faster! http://mashable.com/2008/10/09/iterend/<>4. As for indexing Twitter… The fact that anyone would even say something so stupid proves the ignorance of this blogger. It’s PROPRIETARY !<<

Huh? Tweets get indexed in the Big Three search engines all the time — primarily through sites that aggregate Twitter streams around specific subjects. Do tinyurls count toward PageRank in Google? Of course not, but I don’t think that was at all what Shannon was suggesting.

I think Shannon was simply advocating a more “open” approach from Technorati that would examine links back to blogs from sources other than just through Technorati (Twitter, Facebook, whatever) for providing “Authority.”

This actually would be fairly easy to implement with a simple tracking script that gets added into the header of any blog included in the Technorati index.) However, your “anger” at someone possibly thinking Technorati could be better seems to have blinded you to an improvement that might actually make your site even more successful. What a shame.

Finally, since it seems like you are a Technorati-employed “evangelist” I would suggest you spend some time searching Technorati for the phrase “blogger etiquette.” If your goal is to win people over, I don’t think your tone and approach here is doing your beloved company any favors.

I hope you aren’t their “official” blogger outreach person. If you are, you deserve to be fired. Clearly you don’t get the space that your company claims to have helped pioneer.

November 6, 2008 Matt@Answer Fitness

Okay Shannon, I just looked at the study. Here are the key stats:

* 38% of frequent readers said blog links were the top tool for discovering new blog content.
* 34% cited web search, and 11% said blog search engines were the top tool for discovering new blog content.

So basically, people are discovering new blogs through a combination of Web Search and links within blog content. This is pretty much what I would have thought. In fact, the Jupiter study pretty much repudiates the idea that social networks are driving meaningful blog traffic.

Now, here’s where it get’s interesting:

“Blogs are not consumed in isolation, but experienced as part of a connected conversation: Nearly half (49%) of blog readers and 71% of frequent readers read more than one blog per session.”

This is actually where I think the social network can influence traffic and loyalty. Social networks allow you to reach influencers within your content segments who over time can help build buzz and awareness. As these networks expand beyond the digital denizens, you’ll start to see more influence. I just don’t think we’ve hit critical mass yet.

Good topic.

November 6, 2008 Matt@Answer Fitness

Jonathan:

You say:

>>3. Technorati’s blog search is 5 – 10 times larger than Google’s blog search, and more accurate, and faster! http://mashable.com/2008/10/09/iterend/<>4. As for indexing Twitter… The fact that anyone would even say something so stupid proves the ignorance of this blogger. It’s PROPRIETARY !<<

Huh? Tweets get indexed in the Big Three search engines all the time — primarily through sites that aggregate Twitter streams around specific subjects. Do tinyurls count toward PageRank in Google? Of course not, but I don’t think that was at all what Shannon was suggesting.

I think Shannon was simply advocating a more “open” approach from Technorati that would examine links back to blogs from sources other than just through Technorati (Twitter, Facebook, whatever) for providing “Authority.”

This actually would be fairly easy to implement with a simple tracking script that gets added into the header of any blog included in the Technorati index.) However, your “anger” at someone possibly thinking Technorati could be better seems to have blinded you to an improvement that might actually make your site even more successful. What a shame.

Finally, since it seems like you are a Technorati-employed “evangelist” I would suggest you spend some time searching Technorati for the phrase “blogger etiquette.” If your goal is to win people over, I don’t think your tone and approach here is doing your beloved company any favors.

I hope you aren’t their “official” blogger outreach person. If you are, you deserve to be fired. Clearly you don’t get the space that your company claims to have helped pioneer.

November 6, 2008 Matt@Answer Fitness

Jonathan:

The size of Technorati’s index doesn’t matter.

Again, most people don’t find blogs by searching specifically for them. They find them by searching on the big engines using individual queries. If the blog has content that matches, they “find it.”

I suspect the the majority of people using Technorati to search for blogs are other bloggers. Can’t prove it empirically, but that’s what my gut and experience tells me as a participant myself in Technorati for years.

In terms of Twitter:

Tweets get indexed in the Big Three search engines all the time — primarily through sites that aggregate Twitter streams around specific subjects. Do tinyurls count toward PageRank in Google? Of course not, but I don’t think that was at all what Shannon was suggesting.

I think Shannon was simply advocating a more “open” approach from Technorati that would examine links back to blogs from sources other than just through Technorati (Twitter, Facebook, whatever) for providing “Authority.”

This actually would be fairly easy to implement with a simple tracking script that gets added into the header of any blog included in the Technorati index.)

However, your “anger” at someone possibly thinking Technorati could be better seems to have blinded you to an improvement that might actually make your site even more successful.

What a shame.

Finally, since it seems like you are a Technorati-employed “evangelist” I would suggest you spend some time searching Technorati for the phrase “blogger etiquette.” If your goal is to win people over, I don’t think your tone and approach here is doing your beloved company any favors.

I hope you aren’t their “official” blogger outreach person. If you are, you deserve to be fired. Clearly you don’t get the space that your company claims to have helped pioneer.

November 8, 2008 Shannon Nelson

Shannon thanks for saying out loud what I have been thinking for a while. The only reason I use Technorati is to see who is linking back to the blogs that I write. And even then, it doesn’t always catch every link.

I don’t put that much weight on authority because you’ll always notice that splogs are counted in that system as well.

Also, authority might mean more if when you did a general search, blogs that fit showed up in order of authority. As it stands now if you were to do a search for beauty blogs, someone with an authority of 100 may show up on the same page as someone with an authority of 3. That means searching through pages and pages of blogs to make sure you are finding all of the higher ranking blogs.

And personally speaking, when I moved my personal blog off of Blogger and onto Wordpress, there was no way to merge their profiles in Technorati to show that as a whole my blog had a specific authority. Instead I have to have two separate accounts diluting their rank.

I will say this though, I did like their State of the Blogosphere report.

November 9, 2008 Shay

@Yael K Miller – - With my recent redesign, I removed the Technorati tags. I don’t think it was ever a significant source of traffic.

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