I read with great interest the other day Jeff Utecht’s post regarding his declining Technorati authority. Although I agree with others that Technorati has some deficiencies as a blogging metric, it still can be a useful tool to help monitor conversations and online presence.
Like Jeff and the handful of other blogs that he mentions, I also have seen Dangerously Irrelevant’s authority decline, particularly in the past few months. I have been attributing this to:
- my less frequent posting this semester;
- a return in late September to the blog’s appropriate level after a temporary ‘authority boost’ from an unusually popular post last March; and
- the natural competition for comments and links that results from an ever-increasing number of high-quality edublogs.
Jeff hypothesizes that another factor may be Twitter. As many of us move our conversations that direction, fewer posts and/or comments are occurring in the edublogosphere. I’m an infrequent tweeter, so while Twitter may explain The Thinking Stick’s decline, it doesn’t really explain my own. In Jeff’s comments section, Sue Waters also notes that the decreases in authority may be due to the recent changes in Technorati’s indexing methodology.
It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on here. Probably all of the reasons above and more. I wasn’t losing sleep about my own Technorati decrease, but Jeff’s post intrigued me because I hadn’t thought about the fact that others might also be having a similar decline. I found the time this morning to extend Jeff’s quick calculations to the entire list of edublogs from my post in June. Here’s what I found…
[note: I simply worked with the list from June. I did not recalculate the ‘top 50’ nor did I determine if any new blogs should be included instead of those listed.]
1. Nearly all of the top edublogs (as measured by Technorati authority) saw a decline in their authority since June.
As the chart below shows, some edublogs had quite dramatic decreases. The average authority decrease was 88; the median decrease was 62. [click on the image for a larger version]
2. Using today’s numbers, the list would look like this instead.
3. Here’s the list ordered by gain/loss in authority rather than overall authority. Only six blogs saw an increase in authority since June.
4. Here’s the list ordered by change in overall rank (again, within just this list and not the overall edublogosphere).
5. Finally, here’s a graphic that shows each blog’s change in rank since June (ordered by overall authority). Red is a decline; green is an increase; blue is no change.
- Like Jeff (and unlike many of you!), I find much of this fascinating. For example, think:lab’s rank went up 11 spots despite the fact that Christian Long quit blogging there in August. That was a neat trick, Christian (and, BTW, I hope your new gig’s working out well for you)!
- The top part of the list was pretty stable. Most of the movement occurred outside of the top 10 or so positions.
- Students 2.0 had the biggest drop in the rankings. Was it so high before because we liked the content better compared to now? Or were we simply giddy with the idea behind the blog but now have realized that the content is not as relevant to many of us?
- Is the TechLearning blog’s decline due in part to its general inability to accept comments?
- The K12 Online Conference blog rankings likely are cyclical. Up in the fall just before and after the conference. Down six months later as all of the traffic regarding the conference drops off Technorati’s radar. Time will prove if I’m right or not on this one!
- Kudos to the bloggers (Angela Maiers, Jennifer Jennings, Steve Dembo, George Siemens, and Chris Lehmann) who actually increased their Technorati authority in the face of steep overall declines. Wow.
Any of you have thoughts on this fairly esoteric stuff?
I would not have thought of Twitter use as a factor in declining authority ranks. If anything, I was hoping for synergy between bloging and tweeting.
Wonder how long it will be before someone comes up with a way to factor in how often your page comes up on Twitter (despite the tinyurl format).
I know exactly what to attribute my decline to–a switch in domain names for my web site. I’m no longer updating the address at http://www.edsupport.cc/mguhlin, I’ve switched from mguhlin.net to mguhlin.org.
What’s really funny is that the old edsupport site is still getting 400-600 visitors with 100 hit limit that Statcounter has for a free account. On a lucky day, the new site (mguhlin.org) gets 100-200 hits…and that domain hasn’t quite taken hold either. Technorati says, “Huh?” everytime I search on it.
I read your comment on Mr.Dembo’s blog. A tip I would give to bloggers for there posts is to leave questions in your posts so commenters have an easy thing to comment on.
What is most bizarre to me is that JUST last night I came back to your last ranking post as I was wondering what was going on with my technorati rating, and was wondering if it ‘was just me’. When I was clicking on the numbers, I realized it was not.
I blame Twitter. I don’t have research to back that, but I have no doubt.
Much of what we are seeing definitely relates to how Technorati is indexing.
During the Comment Challenge (http://commentchallenge.wikispaces.com/) we used technorati tags to pull the posts together so participants could check out the latest posts. Technorati struggled to index many of the blogs and participants often had to manually ping Technorati. Meanwhile probloggers are also noticing how it is impacting their rankings.
Does it all really matter? In the big scheme of life probably not. Being a scientist facts just fascinate me. For my own personal blog it’s not surprising there has been a huge drop when you consider I also now blog at The Edublogger (http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/). Besides the challenge of writing posts for two blogs; it creates confusion for readers as to which blog to link to when they mention my name.
I like your up/down lines for visualization of the changes. I was thinking of throwing together an animated, color coded vis of your data; I wonder if you have a spreadsheet or table with the data (so it doesn’t have to be entered by hand…)
I actually just finished a project using your June Top-50 list; it’s an animated, interactive tagcloud for the blogs’ feeds over time (I think I may have emailed you about it, actually; if so, sorry for the repetition). Now I’m wondering if I could integrate these authority numbers as well…
Has anyone thought to check whether Technorati’s policies have changed and whether that is impacting these numbers? Seems to me the most obvious explaination is not increased Twitter use, but instead a change in the indexing system.
As I have said before, I dislike the Technorati authority mechanism as an indicator generally, but here is a specific case of why it is bad because you have a limited number of people, even if it is open source, developing an authority system that seeks to be a substitute for the true market – when the true market seems to work just fine if we allow ourselves to be alright with a small degree of uncertainty. Technorati is U.S. News in a different package.
Last note: Scott, I thought you might be interested in this site because it seeks to put a monetary value on website URLs based a some different factors than Technorati uses. Here it is for your page: http://www.websiteoutlook.com/www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org
I have seen my ranking drop in half. Someone at Technorati told me that it was because a lot of older links were aging off and I think that is part of it. But a larger part of it is that I suspect that changes at Technorati mean that fewer new links are getting added. I see links that Google alerts reports to me that never show up at Technorati even if I ping manually. I also think that Technorati cleaned out a lot of old spam blogs which is probably (in principle) a good thing even though in practice some of us have seen that result in lowered authority rankings.
On the other many maybe my blog has just started to decline because of me. It could happen.
I have never really trusted Technorati. The seem to change the rules on a whim. And they seem to trust links on other bogs I read/follow that in my book are nothing more than veiled spam. I don’t want rank or authority from spammers. Oh well, I dont read folks based on their tehnorati rank or authority anyway, and some of my faves didn’t make your list. That does not mean I will abandon them and add these to my already too full reader. And actually some of these are on my growing list of “disliked” blogs. They have forgotten the blogosphere and instead only think of themselves and their inner circle. I read to learn, not read to stroke an ego. Just my thoughts. (Confession though–I am fascinated with those who can crunch numbers and then try to apply logic to it. So you remain high in my list of faves.)
Offhand, I’d say I fall into a similar category to the K12 Online Conference in some sense in that I think I owe some inflated statistics right now due to the 30 Days to Being a Better Blogger challenge. Traffic, comments and posts are significantly up right now due to it. It’ll be interesting to look at it again in June and see whether the trend holds true.
Regardless, if nothing else I think your research truly demonstrates how difficult it is to find quality metrics related to the blogosphere. Subscribers, rankings, and even traffic can all be equally unreliable. And in my opinion, the best measure to what the best blogs are is still your own gut instinct.
That being said, I’d still rather be on your list than off of it! Yes, I do have the ego of a middle schooler 🙂
I am a small-town high school teacher. I remember 2005 as an exciting, amazing time to be a very small part of something new. I learned so much those early months from everyone in the blogosphere. I was definitely a “lurker” (reading much but commenting little, and not really blogging myself), but I definitely read and read. Through 2007, I increased my reading and following.
But now it has been ages since I have read much here – I’ve limited my list to just a very few people (and sometimes I must admit I just delete the links on bloglines without reading the new posts) – and it’s been several months since I have commented on anyone’s blog.
I have tried following people on twitter, again, mostly in a “lurking” way. Twitter, to me, seems like I’m often reading peoples’ personal conversations (between 2 people, not between many) and I do not comment there at all. Twitter is like jumping into someone’s text message conversation and trying to figure out what they’re talking about. So, from this lurking teacher, twitter isn’t taking all my time.
Here is my idea about the authority ranking:
Is it possible that the educational blogosphere has just hit its limit? Most “regular” teachers/administrators (I include myself in that list) who are going to give it a try have probably done so already.
And might some of us regular readers just be doing it less? I don’t “lurk” as much. So much seems like it’s been said. I am very busy with my new teaching position, but from this true lurker, sometimes it seems like “been there, done that” might just be taking over. I’m simply reading less here.
Hi Scott – thanks so much for running these numbers. I too was wondering if it was “just me”. However, I agree with the precious commentors who looked to Technorati policy as part of the answer. Technorati has become less relevant over time, and I think is in danger of disappearing altogether. Google is going to win this game and what we may be seeing is just a war between various search engines for supremacy. Tags are just a construct, and rankings are just a way for the rankers to control traffic.
I also think that we are a seeing a consolidation of the mass market bloggers, where the top bloggers (in terms of traffic) are going to be getting 90% of all traffic, and everyone else scrambles for the rest. This doesn’t mean that small niche segments won’t hold their audience in real numbers, but those numbers will shrink as a percentage of total audience.
As time goes on, just like Top 40 radio, or book bestseller lists, blogs will become increasingly a reflection of the mass market. This means that small niche communities can thrive and maintain loyal, and even growing audiences, but by the numbers, will seem more insignificant.
I do think Technorati is part of the issue. But whether you yourself are using Twitter, I don’t think we can ignore the conversation that has moved there. Just look at the amount of links that flow through edu twitters a day. Blogs still have their place, and I know I for one will not be quitting anytime soon, but I do think the conversation is changing. I think group blogs, which now hold all the top spots on Technorati, will continue to see in increase. When you can get the view of many in one location, why not! That’s why I’ve just added the 16 International educational blogger to U Tech Tips. 🙂
Great run down Scott, thanks for taking it a step further.
My Technorati score has declined as well. I just figured it was because of summer being a vacation time for most teachers and that would have an effect on readership. I still have my one fan (thanks Mom!)
I am not particularly worried about what kind of authority numbers I have.
When I use Technorati, it is usually as a place to search other blogs. And to see what others are thinking. When searching I usually check the “any authority” to get results.
The numbers (while fun) are less useful to me than the search feature. The state of the blogosphere is interesting as well.
http://teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk has a markedly higher Technorati rating than http://dougbelshaw.com, despite me actively maintaining the latter and pointing people to it when they visit the former.
I think it’s got a lot to do with the power of Twitter and the decline of feed reading, to be perfectly honest. It would be interesting to look at the average number of words per post or average posting frequency on these blogs… 🙂
I’ve seen Twitter be the “lazy blog commenting” platform. For example, I’ve seen people tweet, “New blogpost: xxxxxxxxx” and then instead of people commenting on the actual blog, they respond in a tweet. I’ve had the same experience when tweeting a new blogpost. (Although, I love the Twitter conversations, it doesn’t do much for a healthy blogosphere.) Has anyone else had this experience?
I had been wondering if it was just me but reading this and your analysis, leads to me to believe that Technorati made a change. It is not the first time they have done so. I’d have to go back into Google (for safety) and find it but there should be a number of posts a few years back about “Technorati is broken”.
While I watched it, I must admit I could never trust it. And my blog rank is nowhere near the top of any list. Now my rank has fallen much like the stock market has.
Being small potatoes in the education blogosphere, I am not worried about the Technorati rating for my blog. What does concern me, however, is that the Technorati Search feature no longer is working for my blog. That means, when others link to my blog in their posts, it no longer shows on on my Google Reader or my Bloglines accounts. Additionally, the Technorati tags that I add to my own posts no longer work. My posts do not do not show up on Technorati, and they do get connected to anyone else’s posts with the same exact tags. These are the reasons I started an account with Technorati. Right now, that Technorati is not very relevant for me.
Actually, if you look at what Technorati said, they stopped counting the links in sidebars and linkshare services, so many who had links in the sides of blogs were no longer counted. Even the number one blog has lower technorati counts – that being said, those who had gains, REALLY had gains. Just have to look under the hood. Interesting to see that my rank has hovered in the 7,000’s even dropping 100 or so in authority. Techorati has also been VERY glitchy on trackbacks and just not as many people are pinging it any more as I find more backlinks in my statcounter program than Technorati. Not sure what they are doing on the back end, but think technorati is surely not on the way up. (in fact, didn’t turn this up via Technorati – not sure why)