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Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Cracking Technorati Top Blogs

Justin Pfister is a web developer with a business background who is currently working for Synapse Group, Inc., an AOL TimeWarner Company, as an Enterprise Application Developer. He loves keeping tabs on everything that connects us and projects us into greater awareness.

This is a little story of how I once ranked #16 on Technorati Top Blogs, although currently I’m #23. Late in the Year 2004, Google News wasn’t offering XML for their results as Yahoo News was and many others, including myself, thought they should. My friend Matt, who runs helped me perfect some Regular Expressions and complete a PHP script to parse the results of pretty much any Google News search and then re-reformat the data into XML. The script worked great and got me press in the blogosphere, even Steve Rubel had me make him a custom script with some additional features. Pretty quickly, I began to notice 1000s of blogs, splogs and other special interest websites, including UC Berkeley, using the script to provide related news content to their websites. It seemed everything I was doing went against Google’s fair use documentation, but I wasn’t going to stop unless they really got on me heavily. Getting XML news from more than was important to me.

About 8 months later, at just about the time my server began to really start hurting from the traffic, Google released the XML links for their Google News results. In order to notify my users that I was going to take the script down, I made a default XML output so no matter what your query, it would produce XML output with a single item letting them now what was going on and gave a link to my blog post which covered the transition. When I did this it was essentially like having over 4,000 blogs linking to me at once. It seems most of them don’t have webmasters that monitor their sites to carefully because for the past 3 months, they’ve continued to link to me. All these links, mostly from splogs, is what is giving me my popular Technorati ranking.

So the recipe to a high Technorati rank seems to be to create a service which directly effects the content on as many websites as possible. Within the content would have to be a link to the desired domain.

In the future, ranking blogs shouldn’t be as simple as counting all the links from different websites. There needs to be a way for once popular trends to become unpopular. We should crack open our physics and ecology books and start tracking linking behavior in terms of velocity, acceleration, gravity, evolution, emergence and time, which can be used to calculate popularity. My website, for example, had extreme jerk for a few days but overall the growth rate of additional links to my site isn’t very intense and the single popular post that’s bringing all my popularity doesn’t really gravitate interest from other popular blogs. If we continually think about how ranking systems are being calculated, then we’ll gradually be able to provide ourselves with a thriving blogosphere and information ecosystem.


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