Dissecting Technorati Top 100 & Blog Ranking Algorithms

    August 15, 2005

About 9 months ago I started working on a document describing the technical differences in blogs versus a standard website. I began that doc in order to determine how a search engine like Google might apply a different variant of it’s PageRank algorithm to blogs than it does for websites.

Dissecting Technorati Top 100 & Blog Ranking Algorithms
Looking At How Blogs Are Ranked

My initial doc isn’t worth posting here [unless some of you want it] but there are some others working on similar thoughts and have gone into some great levels of detail to explain their perspectives. One of the best posts I’ve seen on the blog ranking / popularity debacle we’re currently faced with is from Dare Obasanjo’s Carnage 4 Life blog.

In his post he pulls in thoughts from a few different folks like Mary Hodder, Shelley Powers, and Danah Boyd.

These are three people I’d love to sit down with [virtually or in person] and continue this pagerank alternative discussion. Since I’ve got a good bit of experience in the real world side of rankings and I’m becoming more and more interested in the PR world, I think all parties would walk away knowing more than we did when the discussion began.

Here are some snippets from Dare’s post:

…number of blog postings critical of the Technorai Top 100 List of popular web logs. The criticisms have primarily been of two flavors; some posts have been critical of the idea of blogging as popularity contests which such lists encourage and others have criticized the actual mechanism of calculating popularity used by Technorati. I agree with both criticisms especially the former…

Dare refers to Mary Hodder’s recent post.

…Mary Hodder, in her post Link Love Lost or How Social Gestures within Topic Groups are More Interesting Than Link, argues that more metrics besides link count should be used for calculating popularity and influence. Some of the additional metrics she suggests include comment counts and number of subscribers to the site’s RSS feed. She also suggests creating topic specific lists instead of one ber list for the entire blogosphere. It seems a primary motivation for encouraging this approach is to increase the pool of bloggers that are targetted by PR agencies and the like…

He refers to Shelley’s thoughts.

…arguing against the popularity contests inherent in creating competing A-lists or even just B-lists to complement the A-lists…

Some of his own thoughts include.

…I agree with Shelley that attempts to right the so called “imbalance” created by lists such as the Technorati Top 100 will encourage competition and stratification within certain blogging circles. I also agree that despite whatever algorithms are used, a lot of the same names will still end up on the lists for a variety of reasons. A major one being that a number of the so-called A-list blogs actually work very hard to be “popular” and changing the metrics by which their popularity is judged won’t change this fact…

…One random but interesting point is that LiveJournal bloggers are penalized by systems such as the Technorati Top 100. For example, Jamie Zawinski has over 1900 people who link to him from their Friend’s page in LiveJournal but he somehow doesn’t make the cut for the Technorati Top 100. Maybe the fact that most of his popularity is within the LiveJournal community makes his “authority” less valid than others with less incoming links that are in the Technorati Top 100 list…

Lest I look like a plagiarist I’m leaving out Danah’s thoughts from Dare’s post so you’re all the more encouraged to visit his site and read them for yourself. No doubt I’ll have more thoughts on this topic in the near and long term future.

Jason Dowdell is a technology entrepreneur and operates the Marketing Shift blog.