Loving & Hating Technorati

Despite the ridicule Technorati often receives from social media pundits, I’ve always had a soft spot for the service (Blogger Christopher S. Penn calls Technorati “yet another useless metric”). When it works, Technorati makes it easy to look-up crucial information about blogs: authority, rank, principals, recent posts, what other blogs link to it, a tag cloud that makes it easy to determine a blog’s content, and even the identities of a blog’s biggest fans. This is insightful information for businesses, especially those in the communications business.

Searching on Technorati?  Youll have time to make a sandwich.

Searching on Technorati? You'll have time to make a sandwich.

I really like Technorati’s ranking and authority system. It allows users to immediately assess the audience and the impact of the blog. It’s also fair and makes sure that active blogs have an advantage over defunct ones. And since Technorati tracks more than 133 million blogs – this is important (especially since there’s only about 1.3 million blogs that post every week).

However, spend any amount of time on Technorati and it becomes a maddening experience. The site has about as many quirks as Twitter — except that while Twitter quickly bumps you to a Fail Whale, Technorati just continues to load and load and load – and then fail. And if you make the mistake of hitting the back button – go and make yourself a sandwich. It’s gonna be a wait.

The worst part about Technorati is the search feature. And that’s unfortunate because Technorait is supposed to be a blog search engine at its essence (Technorati wants to be the Google of blogs). When you use the main search box it defaults to search through blog posts – rather than blogs.  I generally use Technorati to search for specific blogs – not posts – so I have to search twice.  When you finally get the customizable search box there are too many components to control and some of the search terms are so vague as to be meaningless (for example, you can search a blog with “a little authority” or at the other end of the scale “a lot of authority”).

When you get the results of a search and click on the headline, Technorati doesn’t take you to the blog, but to a summary page on Technorati. And all of this is painfully slow. Only on this page can you finally click on a miniature URL for a direct link back to the blog. This is one of the reasons why many bloggers dislike Technorati – because the site doesn’t drive much traffic to them.

Another poor feature is the inconsistent updating. What Technorati calls “pinging.” Last summer, my culture blog Dark Party had an authority of 87 some days and other days 52. The 52 authority was old, but kept coming up about once every fourth time I searched for my blog. That inconsistency seemed to get fixed, but on occasion I still get old rank and authority numbers for both my blogs (Dark Party now has an authority of 60).

And then there’s the inconsistent updating. I know from WordPress that another blog has linked to my content. But Technorati doesn’t pick up every link into my blog like it should in order to increase my rank and authority. Sometimes it can take as long as a month for a link to show up and sometimes it never does. I’m not quite sure why.

Last week, Technorati added some features that I like. Users can now add mini-reviews of blogs and even shoot those reviews out over Twitter. Very cool. Easy to use. The reviews are additional nuggets of information when you’re researching a blog. However, Technorati should focus on two primary features first:

  • Ranking and authority consistency (with a ping system that works)
  • Search (especially in speed and stability)

Fix those two features and Technorati might be able to avoid the scorn of the social media pundits. Right now (when it works) Technorati is a great research tool, but hasn’t become a must-use platform. At least not yet.

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