All about Technorati

There are more than 57 million blogs online. How do you find the good ones? A search engine specializing in blogs can help. This article reviews Technorati, one of the most popular of the blog search engines, and discusses how to optimize for it.

All about Technorati

I hardly ever review products or sites I do not like. If you’re familiar with the blogosphere, then this quick data won’t surprise you: a hundred and seventy thousand blogs go online daily. There are currently over 60 million Blogs; in 2002 there were just a hundred thousand (now we have that amount coming online every day!).

Blogs are expected to be dynamic and updated regularly. Blogs are where news break out. Search engines absolutely love blogs; almost all search engines offer a blog search. Some search engines even specialize in blog search. One of the most important of these is Technorati. 

Blogging, Amateur Happy Hour

Anybody can blog. That’s the beauty of blogs; set up an account or upload a blog engine and you’re on your way. It is an opportunity to have your own diary. With no "professionally written" content, the blog is expected to have that "chummy" feeling. Blogs involve no professional designers, or so you’d think (in the past month I have consulted on two blogs). Nonetheless, some blogs just look professional, especially company blogs where there is a vested interest in keeping a good image; with such blogs, though, the content can be uninspiring and you wonder whether you stumbled upon a web site masquerading as a blog. Technorati, keeps an eye on them all.

What’s a Technorati?

Founded by David Sifry (www.sifry.com) and based in California, Technorati is the recognized authority on blogs (according to Live Web), and also claims to search and organize all user-generated content, such as photos, videos and voting. Technorati indexes rapidly (as it must since it is projected that there are eighteen updates every second throughout the blogosphere). I am going to look at how valuable Technorati is to searchers, bloggers, and advertisers, then I will do a critique of Technorati from the perspective of a searcher. I will use the blog search engine Bloglines as a benchmark for my critique, but most of it will be some of my own findings while touring Technorati to find some user-generated comment.

As a blogger, should you bother to get indexed on Technorati? If you update your blogs every day, or at least once in three days, then Technorati is a good bet. Technorati ranks blogs based on time updated, not on relevance (this was my major sore point with the engine). However, Technorati has so many users who are constantly reading up on popular posts  that if you are operating under a relatively rare tag (keyword) and you refresh constantly, you are guaranteed to be constantly hit.

The indexing tool is based on how users tag their blogs, so sometimes there is a lot of confusion when the results come out. With the top ranked (most recent) blogs probably containing irrelevant data, from a blogger’s perspective Technorati is wide open if you know how to optimize for blog search. This is quite doable despite the fact that it seems a lot of bloggers cannot optimize or believe blogs can’t be optimized.

Claiming and Optimizing Your Blog for Technorati

If you own a blog, you go to Technorati’s home page at www.technorati.com, register your blog and include a description and keywords to describe your blog. If you have country specific content, list the country in your key word. Include a good quality profile (the search engine links back to your profile on every link). You can create your blog anywhere; you do not have to create it on Technorati.

Why Bother Optimizing For Technorati?

On forum boards and on blogs, bloggers post complaints about poor indexing by Technorati. These complaints include statements that Technorati does not index their updates and their posts never seem to show up on the listings in the categories they tagged. Technorati actually expects a bit of work from the blogger. It doesn’t actually index via new blog posts by any known automated process; perhaps they are still keeping it a secret. But if you are a blogger, what is the point of having an excellent blog if it never gets seen?

Tagging: You tag every post under specific topics and notify Technorati every time you update via several means. One way is by you outputting a full feed via RSS or Atom. However, according to Kevin Marks of Technorati, it is preferable that you use an Atom Feed. Also remember that the Technorati spider does not index any page off the main page; it does not engage in deep crawling, unlike Google’s blog search. If you are using blog software such as Word Press, Movable Type, or Blogger, your category section will be automatically read as tags. Otherwise, include this link in the body of your post to enable Technorati to read your tags.

<_a href="http://technorati.com/tag/[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname]<_/a>

Pinging: You can also ping Technorati to notify it of updates. There are some free pinging services such as http://www.pingoat.com/ and http://www.pingomatic.com/. Pinging also allows you to notify multiple websites about your updates.

Markup: Surprising but true, your HTML still matters. Invalid markup will discourage the spider. If it encounters a glitch while indexing it may simply stop indexing your post.

All things being equal, a little extra work on your blog may make it come up with surprising regularity under specific categories. As for blog entries, you will wan tot post as often as possible (twice a day if practical). You don’t have to write a thesis; five lines could warrant an update.

Blog optimization is a topic which involves mostly technical skills, such as archiving links so that they won’t become untraceable, link development, and some marketing, mostly in the area of urging people to leave comments or to bookmark your blog in one form or another.

Blogs thrive on users coming, spending time reading and leaving comments. Technorati only advertises on its home page, however, and is not moving towards advertising on blogs (Adsense does though). You can be a sponsored listing, but you should pass on the graphic ads unless you know something that I don’t. Here are some interesting facts on blog readers from a 2005 ComScore Media Matrix report.

  • Compared to the average Internet user, blog readers are significantly more likely to live in wealthier households, be younger and connect to the Web via high speed connections.
  • Blog readers also visit nearly twice as many web pages as the Internet average, and they are much more likely to shop online.

If you can find some way to get on the blogs (Adsense wins again), and skip the blog search engine itself you may have a winning approach. If you do want the graphics ads – they are keyword based (contextual) and come up during searches, mainly on the top right and on the right of the page – note that Technorati announced very grandly in July that it is are downplaying its ads. Its service is not a cost per click program, but a "buy advert space" paradigm. The ad prices are actually rumored to be quite cheap, maybe $15 a month for some keywords using their three-in-one graphic, which allows three different adverts to be placed on one spot (tristital).

Technorati for Searchers

The Technorati search allows searching by date combined with authority only and does not allow searching by relevance. Authority is how many other blogs link to it. For my searches (my first search was flow cytometry) I did not find relevant listings on what I wanted when presented with the results on my keywords with high authority. The first few listings were not very good (to put it mildly) and I was served unrelated content, mostly personal moans on how good or how bad life has been to the bloggers. Lest it seem that I am Technorati bashing, the same search in Bloglines gave relevant results (sorting by date was an option, not default) even for some pretty technical terms such as "flow cytometry" and "Semantic Web Design."

I ended up using Technorati for a week, benchmarking using Bloglines, Feedster, and Yahoo’s Blog search. The only search engine worse than Technorati in returning relevant results was Yahoo Blog search results. Several times while Feedster, Bloglines and even Technorati gave results, Yahoo Blog search claimed not to find any results for "Flow Cytometry."

My experiences with Technorati make me believe that it is basically built around the blogging community and not around searchers per se. It is not a very good place to search for serious content, but if you want to add comments to a large amount of posts which are created by real people, you are home.

There was a spell that I enjoyed while using Technorati, when I accidentally ran into one avid blogger when searching under "semantic web design." Although the blog entries were irrelevant to the search I did because the blogger wrote nothing about the semantic web, he did have some excellent content on taking advantage of Clickbank to make money. And unlike a lot of web sites, he wasn’t selling a jot of the information.

Technorati is relatively easy to use, and its "add to Technorati favorites" button is actually helpful when (if?) you stumble across a blog that you like a lot. It works like a feed reader and can be integrated into the web browser and your web site to allow you to search Technorati’s index from both points. To add Technorati to your browser you simply drag and drop hyperlinks (called Bookmarklets) from www.technorati.com/tools/favelets.html. Also the Firefox-based browser Flock has built-in Technorati features; Firefox also has some search plugins.

To add a Technorati Favorites button to your web site, just go to www.technorati.com/account/favbuttons.html, grab a button and link it to your Technorati favorites. Another feature that can be added to your website or blog is Technorati’s link count widget, which adds a view of reactions to your post so that your readers can see the comments of other users on other blogs (who are also linking to the comment). You can get this tool at www.technorati.com/tools/linkcount/; you can even add the search engine to your website, and allow your readers to read the blogosphere.

Concluding

It is worthwhile to use blog search engines. Blogs are excellent places for free content (if you can find the right blog). In time Technorati will improve its indexing and also the relevance of its rankings; for now it had better watch the competition and continue to keep the bloggers happy, because the searchers may not be.

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