Those in the blogosphere will at one time or another hear of a service called Technorati. What is Technorati anyways? Technorati is a search engine for blogs that scours the web to try and tell you what’s being said about what and by whom. In order to tell which blogs are the more popular of the bunch, Technorati uses a ranking system that determines how many people have linked to a blog which is called (Authority) and how many people have added that blog to their Technorati favorites.
BlogStorm has published an interesting post which clearly illustrates the need for a major overhaul of the Technorati ranking algorithm. In this article, BlogStorm describes four different blogs that have a high authority level and at times, a ranking of 1 within the Technorati ranks. Two of the blogs mentioned are authored by two of the biggest names in the WordPress arena, Matt Mullenwegs Photomatt blog and Alex Kings Denver Web Developer blog.
These two blogs have been removed from the Technorati Top 100 list because they didn’t get to that position naturally. By natural, I’m talking about someone linking to a specific post on their blog which would be a natural link. In the case of the Photomatt blog,
Matt Mullenweg has the advantage of being linked to by default with any new WordPress installation via the BlogRoll. As for Alex King, he makes some of most popular plugins for WordPress, one of which is called Popularity Contest. According to BlogStorm, Yahoo reports 1.7 million links to the plugin home page.
If you still don’t understand what’s going on here, I’ll make it really simple. When you create a theme for WordPress, you usually add a link to your blog or homepage as a means of giving credit to yourself. If this theme becomes popular, each blog that the theme is installed on will have your link on it. Each blog that has a link to your site on it will bump up your authority ranking on Technorati which leads to the fundamental problem of the authority ranking system.
Their authority ranking is completely inaccurate. According to Technorati,
Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority the blog has.
It is important to note that we measure the number of blogs, rather than the number of links. So, if a blog links to your blog many times, it still only count as +1 toward your authority. Of course, new links mean the +1 will last another 180 days.
Also worthy of mentioning is this bit of text;
The #1 ranked blog is the blog with the most other distinct blogs linking to it in the last 6 months. If your blog’s rank is, say 305,316, this indicates that there are 305,315 blog ranks separating your blog from the #1 position.
So if you take into account what authority means, you can clearly understand why Photomatt and Alex King were leading the pack.
At first, I want to call Alex and Matt cheaters for gaming the system to get to the top, but that would be a hasty mistake. The fact of the matter is, the algorithm is wrong and it should not count these sort of links. For bloggers trying to make their way up in the blogosphere, it’s really upsetting that while you bust your butt writing content while obtaining legit links from other bloggers, you will never show up on the radar because other bloggers have developed a popular theme or plugin with their own little credit link attached.
So instead of banning people, what should Technorati do? What would you suggest to Technorati in terms of changing their algorithm so it’s fair for all bloggers? Or do you think that hand editing is the way to go and Technorati should just remove those sites from the Top 100 list if they are receiving non-organic links?
Lets face it, you may think that Technorati is no longer relevant in the blogosphere but you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Their numbers, rankings, and search engine still plays a significant role in the blogosphere. This is why this is a hot button issue and something has to be done about it.
It has been brought to my attention by Mark that the links contained in the blogroll on a default installation of WordPress no longer links to individuals. I have confirmed this and have crossed out that line of text within the post. However, it is true that at one point, he and others were linked to by default in the blogroll and that’s the main reason why Matt had such a high authority ranking. As was brought up by (ThatGirlAgain) in the commenting area, Alex King was also a beneficiary of the default blogroll.
Also, “you will never show up on the radar because other bloggers have developed a popular theme or plugin” has been taken out of context. It’s not that I don’t want creators of these wonderful things not to receive credit, I simply don’t want Technorati to allow these links to be part of the Authority equation.