Technorati: where’s the innovation?

I don’t understand Technorati, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Here and there I see people thinking the same as I do. Why didn’t Technorati come up with that feature? Why hasn’t Technorati improved that part of the process? Hell, why hasn’t Technorati changes virtually anything but the design during the last 2 years? Alright, they did add Authority, but not too much science behind that is there?

I don’t understand Technorati. They have the first mover advantage, but I’m thinking bloggers mainly stick to it because it is Technorati. It’s what they know since the beginning and everyone refers to it. You can wonder how long that’s going to last though. They also have nearly every blog on their system so they own the place, isn’t that a good start to do good – better – best?

Now I don’t know much of programming, APIs, … and that sort of stuff so maybe all of what I’m going to write here might not be possible, but these are just a few ideas of what I think Technorati should be working on today:

  • Blog claim: Make this a real blog claim, so more than just a URL claim. Many or Typepad users have more than one url. One given by the service (or even more) and maybe their own domain. How difficult can it be to claim both URLs as being one and the same blog. Now I have 2 authority ranks, one for each URL, instead of something combined. Plus, I see links from myself to myself… like I wanted that.
  • Extended profile: Create the possibility for bloggers to add additional data to their profile, to their claimed blogs. This information can be very useful to build a real and meaningful authority ranking. Like the blog feeds for instance, on many occasions there are more feeds for the same blog. But also the Twitter feed for instance or other useful social network data. Some information can be linked to a blog’s authority, some to a blogger’s authority rank.
  • Use the APIs: Considering a blogger would add this data (and I’m pretty sure they will add it), work with it. Use the APIs of other services like Bloglines, Digg, Delicious, Twitter, … whatever to capture data that belong to the claimed URLs and Feeds. How many times was blog saved in Delicious or Digg, did it ever come up on Techmeme, how many Bloglines readers does it have, … This will give Technorati some data from which something called authority makes sense.
  • Create categories: Across the globe people are creating several blogger hotlists: top 150 on Marketing, top 100 blogs of Belgium, etc etc. That’s all good, but most of the time the list you want doesn’t exist. I want the Top 15 in Belgium on cars, where do I go? If I had to put in my home country with my profile, that would solve one part. And introduce categories. Now I hear you, everyone will put themselves in so many categories that it doesn’t make sense anymore… well, only allow a few categories then (2 or 3) forcing people to be specific.
  • Technorati Pro: I worked in the cinema industry for 7 years and one service that always proved to be great was IMDB Pro. I guess, most of you here know IMDB and you have to admit that the public service is already a good information source on movies. IMDB Pro will offer at least double the amount of information. Nothing interesting for me now, but when in cinema it was very useful. Technorati should be able to do the same. General information on trends and authority as the public service it is now, using some of the information I mentioned before. And then add a Pro service that would allow every user to do a lot more specific & personal queries and comparisons on blogs, introduce improved brandtracking etc. Not every company needs or can afford Buzzlogic or other, there’s an opportunity for Technorati here.

Finally, before anybody starts commenting on this. Many bloggers find this focus on authority and ranking useless. Especially the bigger they are, the less they claim it’s interesting. First of all, I don’t buy it. Second, it’s not for the bloggers themselves that we should fix this ranking issue. It’s the people and companies that want to work with bloggers that need this kind of data. Tracking conversations about your brand and jumping in where needed is one thing, but if you want to be a bit more proactive in your approach you need to know where to go.

Overall, authority and influence measurement fascinates me and I can only applaud several exercises being done by Forrester’s Peter Kim, Edelman’s David Brain (and team), … hopefully Technorati innovates in this spaces.

Feel free to chime in. And get it to Technorati for me please. I know emailing them doesn’t help. The thing is: I want Technorati to be great, it’ll serve me well. I just don’t think it is great anymore. David?

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  1. Good suggestions, Kris. Aside from top people leaving, maybe the other issue with any company is that it looks at its services internally and not from a user experience stand point. The funny thing is that ultimately we are all users *and* internal people (at some company, even if its our own). So how do we bridge the gap in consciousness? Let users give us suggestions and weigh those with our experience may be one solution.

    Not listening — as in not responding to emails and queries when they challenge our system — is not the answer I’m afraid. Yet, until such service is free, we’re almost not able to influence those decisions. So will Technorati’s answer be to charge?

  2. Kris Hoet says:

    Thanks Valeria. I don’t think they’ll ever charge for the service, although I do think they have an opportunity to build out the free service and to build a premium (paying) service on top of that. But I don’t expect any innovation whatsoever soon really.

  3. David Brain says:

    Great suggestions. It is odd that they have not moved much. We (Edelman) did some work with them last year in Europe and they were frighteningly thin on the ground in terms of people. I wonder of they have funding to pursue all this work? Personally I found Dave Sifry (who I met once) and Peter Hirshberg (who I travelled around Europe with) two brilliant and committed individuals. Perhaps their next big thing is just round the corner. By the way, Mustangs?

  4. Pietel says:

    Technorati became well know the last years and is intensively used. Therefore I feel it’s being slow these days.

    The web has continued to grow and UGC is much more than blogs. The original strenght of technorati is a bit lost.

    I am looking myself for customisable search engines you can subscribe to by RSS for commercial tracking purposes. Not an easy job. Many startups promise a lot, but few really work.

  5. Kris Hoet says:

    Thanks for the comment David. Resources might well be part of the problem indeed, funding maybe. They have to be aware though (as I believe they’re smart people – although I never met them) that you can ride the same wave forever. As I said before, I want Technorati to be great, that’s probably also why I wrote this post. If that wasn’t the case, I would even bother. But things will have to start changing I think.

    And the Mustang, you got to love a great classic car like that ;)

  6. Derek Gordon says:

    Sorry for the delay in responding here — my co-workers and I do try to keep up with blog posts concerning Technorati and to offer responses whenever we’re able, but it’s a big blogosphere! And thanks for taking time to write such a well thought-out post concerning our service. Your suggestions are great ones and I’ve shared them with everyone at the office. We are about 40 people today and track something like 94 million blogs worldwide. We also track something like 300 million other tagged social media objects (photos, videos, podcasts, etc.) at any given moment. And we’re clear: our service isn’t perfect. (We’re also clear that we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far.) We have some initiatives underway now to address a number of your suggestions, and I know that we have the right people (and funding / revenues) to deliver on your calls for continuing innovation. While we have no specific plans for introducing premium services for publishers for which we charge a fee, we do have plans to greatly improve the ways in which we serve bloggers, and many of those plans are concordant with your suggestions here. We’ll be posting to the Technorati blog about this work in more detail over the coming weeks.

  7. Kris Hoet says:

    Hey Derek – Don’t mind the ‘delay’. I know it can take time to track & respond from time to time and I’m already happy that you’ve taken the time to do this. I’ve emailed Technorati 2 or 3 times in the past without ever getting an answer so this is good :)

    It’s also great to see improvements are under way and that they are in line with some of the suggestions made. I agree with you that you should be proud with what you’ve done so far and that you should keep pushing to make it better all the time as well.

    So thanks for the reply and I’m looking forward to see the upcoming initiatives.

  8. engtech says:

    I don’t know. I’ve just given up on them.

    They’re really more of a marketing company who gets blogs to link to them than anything else. How much value do you get from Technorati in terms of the number of times they expect you to link to them with tags, favorites, etc.

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