Does Technorati suck, or is our 'online media diet' changing?

Karl wrote a post yesterday about how his falling 'authority' with Technorati is actually making him less motivated to blog regularly. Karl is far from alone in seeing his authority drop according to Technorati, as I believe every member of the Top 25 has seen significant hits to their links counts according to Technorati. The Viral Garden is down to 575 links currently after inching above 800 earlier this year. Even worse, Seth's Blog has lost about 1,000 links since July.

But what doesn't make sense is that many of the blogs I read regularly, have seen their blog readerships increase for months. This blog's traffic has been pretty flat for the entire year, but the feed readership has increased by about 1,200% this year. Greg mentions in the comments to yesterday's Top 25 post how his traffic AND readership is growing despite his links going down. I would bet many other bloggers have noticed the same thing.

I also have to wonder if our increased use of Twitter and Facebook isn't factoring in as well? Twitter is a great way for all of us to quickly link to a blog post and let our friends know about it. But Technorati doesn't count these links from Twitter. Also, any links we post in Facebook, or that are collected via Blog Friends or other apps, Technorati misses those as well.

So which is it? I tend to think it is all of the above. It doesn't appear that the number of incoming links I am getting has significantly dropped from earlier this year, if at all. But at the same time, I am spending less time physically reading blogs, and more time with sites such as Facebook and Twitter. And actually I am probably reading more blog posts via Facebook profiles with the Blog Friends app than I did via Bloglines (which I haven't looked at in days). But at the same time, Technorati is missing all those links that I am reading via Facebook.

If your Technorati link counts have been falling, why do you think it's happening?


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posted by Mack Collier @ 8:55 AM,

25 Comments:

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Becky Carroll said...

Mack, I think there is some combination going on here - Facebook, Twitter, etc. I know my media consumption habits have been changing the last few months!

The other thing that is frustrating for us Wordpress.com users (yes, I know, we get it for free...) is that our incoming links aren't working AND they took away our feed stats a few months ago. On incoming links, I am starting to use a new tool called SM2 (I will blog on it soon). On my feed, I just started with feedburner, which can't see all my old Wordpress feed subscribers.

Why am I fussing about all of this? Because Technorati seems to be my only link to what it happening with my blog, and it is letting me down, too!

What are the other options? Someone needs to come up with a good alternative that can track ALL activity/links. Ideas?

The only one not letting me down is you, Mack! Thank you for the Top 25 list!! :-)

 
At 12:38 PM, Anonymous jon burg said...

I'm experiencing the same on a much smaller scale (bec my audience isn't as large). This could be Technorati's fault, and it could represent a shift in our social media behaviors.

I would like to believe that this is reflective of a shifting dynamic in how we interact. Technorati is measuring unique links and little else. A blogs rating should be determined not only by links within the blogosphere and beyond, but by other metrics including early on meme generations (being ahead of the curve), readership, traffic, subscription data and more.

In order to do this Technorati would have to link up with Feedburner, Wordpress, Blogger, Typepad and more, but this is an essential next step if Technorati is going to stay relevant.

Looking about 12-18 months into the future, I would like to see a ratings system that integrates comments, responses to comments posted and activity across other social media streams including Twitter and Facebook to create a social media authority rating.

Blog ratings are nice, but in today's cross platform world it's nothing more that 2D measurement in a 3D world.

 
At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Greg Verdino said...

There's no doubt that behavior is changing - and there's nothing wrong with that. But the thing that kills me isn't that my authority is dropping; it's that Technorati is indeed picking up new links to my blog but that the additional links seem to have no impact on my authority rank.

For a long while, new blogs linked and my authority didn't change at all. Was I really dropping old links and adding new links at the same rate for weeks on end? Of course not - Trati just wasn't updating my blog for some reason.

Then, once Trati started updating again, it was down down down.

I think the really interesting question is how will the blogosphere rate and rank, if Technorati is truly borked. We've become so attached to their authority measure as currency.

 
At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Ann Handley said...

Excellent point, Greg. What will be the new currency?

p.s. "Borked".... Alex, can I have a definition, please?

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Gavin Heaton said...

Seems pretty much the same for me ... but I am wondering, does Technorati count incoming links from blogs that are not registered with them?

My visitation and feeds are all on an upward trend, but fewer of the blogs linking in can be found on Technorati. Perhaps it's not just our "authority" that is being undermined ... it is Technorati's.

 
At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Michael Morton said...

Here's the truth; Technorati does indeed suck.

The "Authority" rank that Technorati uses, in my opinion, is useless. A blogs value is found in its content. You know you have great content when you have a lot of readers/subscribers. At the end of the day, counting links doesn't really mean that much (Google is the exception).

Technorati's only true function serves as an ego search engine. As a blog search engine I find it's results are terrible. But, so far, it's the best we have.

 
At 6:54 PM, Anonymous Douglas Karr said...

There's something going on. My rank has gone from breaking the 2,000 mark and now it's failing quickly back to 4,000.

Part of the issue is news sites are now calling themselves 'blogs'. Take a look at this 'blog' in the top 100 on Technorati:
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/

This isn't a blog! This is just news snippets directly off the AP. CNN is just riding on the blog rollercoaster by putting their news releases in a blog format and with RSS.

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"In order to do this Technorati would have to link up with Feedburner, Wordpress, Blogger, Typepad and more, but this is an essential next step if Technorati is going to stay relevant."

I wonder if it's too late. I think Technorati's relevance has taken a nosedive in the last year or so. I think when they moved away from concentrating on blogs to be 'all things to all media', they stretched themselves too thin and became irrelevant to their core audience.

"Technorati's only true function serves as an ego search engine. As a blog search engine I find it's results are terrible. But, so far, it's the best we have."

I like Google's Blog Search a bit better for adding new links.

Thanks Becky!

 
At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Cam Beck said...

Mack - Our Technorati rank has been rising... I think the reason a lot of them are falling is because of the age of the original Z-list posts (although this doesn't apply to all of them... I looked up one complaint yesterday, and he wasn't even on the Z-list).

I suspect a lot of complaints stem from a similar cause, though. One of the top 25 on your list hit paydirt with coverage of a particular event, but 6 months after, his authority (as indicated by Technorati) started falling steadily.

Gav's has stayed pretty much steady, but he's also done quite a bit to keep it there beyond the Z-list, such as the Age of Conversation coop book, and just a generally massive contribution to the community.

I think you almost have to look at it on a case-by-case basis. It's too easy to blame it on Technorati, and it's probably not accurate, as they're doing what they've always done.

I don't know that it's the best measure, or if it's just the best we have.

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

Cam we can debate what is causing most blogs to lose links now, but we can't debate that most blogs ARE losing links, at least the ones I track in the Top 25. At the start of the year, 17 or 18 would be up, every single week. Now 20 or more are down, every single week.

Seth's Blog, which easily has the most links in the Top 25, has lost 1,000 links since July.

I'm not convinced that Technorati is the cause either (although I think the links from the Z-List are long gone), but I do think that whatever the cause, it's affecting all the blogs. There's just too much of a swing from the majority of the blogs being up every week, to now the majority of the blogs being down every week.

 
At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Cam Beck said...

What is in common with all blogs that are losing links, that they do not share with those blogs that are gaining links?

If there is no clear answer, you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis, or else determine what is different about those other blogs that shield their ranking from the ill effect others are suffering.

Here's a completely random idea: It may well be that marketing blogs are losing steam because of the attention battle they're fighting against political blogs, now that we have an election coming in the U.S.

I'm not saying it's the right answer (personally, I don't think a great proportion of people are paying attention yet, but bloggers might be an exception to the rule), but I am saying that there is so much to consider that all we can really do is speculate, unless we develop some way to measure readership better.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"What is in common with all blogs that are losing links, that they do not share with those blogs that are gaining links?"

That's a good question, and I'm not sure what the answer is. And quite honestly, as long as my readership continues to increase, I'm not too upset about Technorati saying I have fewer links that I used to.

What we REALLY need someone to do is go back for 6 months and literally count how many blogs have linked to them during that time frame. Technorati claims that your link-count (authority) is the number of blogs that have linked to you in the last 6 months. So if a blogger manually counts the blogs linking to their blog and comes up with a wildly different number than Technorati claims, it could mean that TRati is simply screwing up the link counts.

But I congratulate anyone that has that much free time on their hands ;)

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Roger von Oech said...

For me, the only number that really matters is my Google PageRank number which is a "6".

I don't know how Google puts their algorithm together, but it seems to work for them.

"10" is the highest (and there are only several sites with a 10, e.g., Google and Yahoo). There are a few "9"s, a few more "8"s all the way down to "1" and unranked.

There are very few blogs with a "7" ranking (Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Kathy Sierra).

When my Google PageRank number went from a "5" to a "6" about seven months ago, I noticed a big jump in traffic. That's because a lot of my traffic comes from Google searches. The higher the PageRank number, the closer my post will be to the first page (or on the first page).

For example, I wrote a about "Zen Rock Gardens" last year. An authority on Japanese rock gardens also wrote a post on the same subject. But because I have a PageRank number of "6" and he has one of "1," my post is on the first page of Google searches, and his is on the tenth page. It may not be fair, but that's the way Google works it.

For what it's worth, my Technorati Authority hovers around 530, but I don't place too much stock in it because it simply means I've been on a few lists lately (Priscilla Palmer and Age of Conversation). I also have 2000+ subscribers, but I'm not sure it means that much. I'd trade them all for a "7."

 
At 11:01 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"I also have 2000+ subscribers, but I'm not sure it means that much. I'd trade them all for a "7.""

You just lost me big time, Roger. In order for that trade to even break even, moving up to a Pagerank of 7 would have to result in your getting a bump in traffic of 2,000 people a day that find your blog RELEVANT and WORTHY to them, as your 2,000 subscribers do now.

I noticed the same bump in traffic when my Pagerank went up to 6, but as you said, it is mostly due to more search traffic. But the problem is, anyone arriving via a search usually looks at whatever page they entered on, and then leaves. Almost none of them leave a comment here, or email me. They come, look at one page, then leave.

But with your 2,000 subscribers, they are literally the lifeblood of your blog! If you lose them by getting a pagerank of 7, your traffic might shoot up, hell you might start getting 2 or 3 thousand visitors a day. But the community you have built on your blog will be totally gutted.

Community trumps traffic any day for me.

Why don't you ask this question on Twitter, see if everyone would trade their subscribers for a Google Pagerank of 7. It would be interesting to see what everyone says.

 
At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Roger von Oech said...

@Mack: You spend a lot of time investigating these things, so you probably know more about this stuff than I do.

I'm grateful for my subscribers (all 2,066 of them today). But not all of them are checking in every day. And I would assume the same is true for you, as you acknowledge in your post:

"Bloglines (which I haven't looked at in days)."

My point is that it's possible to have a lot of readers without them being subscribers. And it's possible to have lots of subscribers without them being readers.

My comment about trading subscribers for a higher PageRank (stated somewhat hyperbolically) is that if I had to choose only one: a higher Google PageRank number or a higher subscriber number, I'd take the Google PageRank number. Because I know from experience that it leads to more traffic.

I think we'd both a agree that there's a relationship between one's subscriber # and one's Google PageRank number. It's just not 1:1.

-------------

It would be interesting if you would post the Google PageRank numbers of the blogs in your Top 25.

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"My comment about trading subscribers for a higher PageRank (stated somewhat hyperbolically) is that if I had to choose only one: a higher Google PageRank number or a higher subscriber number, I'd take the Google PageRank number. Because I know from experience that it leads to more traffic."

But how I look at is this: Between 2,000 subscribers to my blog, or 2,000 people that find the blog via Google searches, which group will contribute more to this blog? I would think the subscribers would be much more likely to comment, etc., than someone that is finding the blog for the first time via search. I would guess that many that find this blog via search only look at the page they landed on, and never come back. Search results are still far from perfect. I have gotten tons of referrals from people searching for 'garden', yet from what I can tell, none of these people have ever commented here.

"I think we'd both a agree that there's a relationship between one's subscriber # and one's Google PageRank number. It's just not 1:1."

I think a bigger factor on subscriber numbers is the age of the blog. I can name a blog in the Top 25 right now that has a Pagerank of 5, but has a few hundred more subscribers a day than I do. But the blog is about a year or 2 older than mine.

"It would be interesting if you would post the Google PageRank numbers of the blogs in your Top 25."

I *think* Seth is the only blog with a PR of 7. Most of the rest are either 5 or 6.

 
At 11:57 PM, Blogger Kevin Hillstrom said...

Since mid-July, my subscriber base doubled.

My Technorati authority decreased from 30,000 to 51,000.

Which metric would you want to optimize? I vote for subscribers.

 
At 1:12 AM, Blogger Marianne said...

Technorati sucks...and for me it always has.

I think for the rest of you, if you look at the timing of when things seemed to get off track with Technorati, you might just see that it coincides with Sifry's departure and the 8 layoffs...in other words, I am not sure there is anyone there minding the engine.

Marianne

 
At 11:21 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"I think for the rest of you, if you look at the timing of when things seemed to get off track with Technorati, you might just see that it coincides with Sifry's departure and the 8 layoffs...in other words, I am not sure there is anyone there minding the engine."

That could be it Marianne. If nothing else, I think TRati has been spreading itself too thin for a while now trying to be 'all things to all media'.

 
At 3:58 PM, Blogger Chris Houchens said...

Technorati does not provide a complete snapshot. There does need to be a gathering of feed info, incoming links, etc to measure the reach of a blog. I like the work that ToddAnd did that's now on Advertising Age with the Power150. It's a good example of where Technorati needs to go.

The problem is: how do you know where the bleeding edge is? How powerful / far reaching does a method delivery get before it's included as part of an index? Sure, Twitter and Facebook are hot today. Will they be in 12 18 or 24 months?

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger JofArnold said...

Hi Mack.

We really appreciate your mention of our application Blog Friends! We're glad you find it so useful.

Actually, you've probably noticed that I'm replying on 22nd of October which is a pretty long time after you wrote this post. The reason for this delay is that we are working mad hours on Blog Friends Version 1! You'll get to test it within a fortnight, but sufficed to say we are very excited!

Thanks again,
Jof (www.i-together.com)

 
At 6:41 AM, Blogger Tish Grier said...

Hi Mack! I'm coming in a bit late on this, but here are a few things that might help everyone understand about Technorati rank dropping, etc..

Technorati counts two kinds of links: permalinks and post links. Permalinks happen when someone puts you in his/her blogroll--they are "perma" because when Technorati scrapes blogs, those links are always there...

Post links are temporary. They "age out" after awhile because when Technorati scrapes blogs, they're not there.

But there are many blogs nowadays that are not keeping blogrolls, even if they are giving post links. The reason for the lack of blogrolls nowdays vary from blogger to blogger, and I could probably write a huge essay on that alone :-)

Other things that impact, along with more blogs with no blogrolls is the rise of blog networks and RSS readers. Blog networks tend to not link to other bloggers, but excessively link to themselves and others within their networks (this may have been what was behind the recent google page rank drop.) So, they are building "authority" while denying spreading the authority love. RSS readers celebrate the lurker. A blog can have loads of RSS subscriptions and few links--which indicates there are lots of people, not just bloggers, reading the blog. So a blog can be rich in subscriptions, and rich in traffic, but have no page rank and no Technorati authority...

The landscape out here is changing in many ways. Facebook and Twitter--not sure of their impact, but just on what happens with RSS and changes in attitudes about linking is certainly affecting link based authority calculators like Technorati...

Here's a post on Technorati and changing rank from my blog.

 
At 3:05 PM, Anonymous A Week In the Life of A Redhead said...

This has just started happening to me. After two years with great rankings (in the top 40K), suddenly my Technorati rankings have gone in the toilet and I am losing sites that still link to me. I am baffled by this sudden continuous change in my rankings and Google lead me to you. I am glad to see that I am not the only blogger with this problem.
Catherine, the redhead blogger

 
At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Louis DiMeglio said...

We're just starting our blog and have been fighting hard to increase out technorati authority. Hard work got us to 30 and then literally overnight we dropped to 4. Very frustrating when you have no explanation about why that kind of thing happens.

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

Louis and Catherine, remember that Technorati only counts links within the last 6 months. So for example, if you had a very popular post 6 months ago that brought in 20 new links to your blog, as you pass the 6-month window, those 20 links would fall off. So you could see a sudden drop in the number of links that TRati says your blog has.

 

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