Last week Google agreed with me.
One of the main reasons I wanted to see that union was to see someone (in this case, Google) in a position to give the world a single highly authoritative source of (abstracted) data on blog popularity. We now have that, well and truly, in Google.
Let me explain…
Numbers of different bloggers and observers (myself included) have been aware for a long time that one of the most powerful link-bait strategies out there is the “Top X Blogs” post. This is the post where you pull out the top however-many blogs in a given category and publish a post about it, complete with (elaborate) tabulated listings, with cute icons and such.
This is not the point of my post, but it will not escape the observant eye that these kinds of “Top Blogs” posts are great link-bait, as I’ve already said. In Meg‘s case it even led to a story in the Age, one of Melbourne’s two big daily newspapers.
I’ve been tempted to create such an index myself, except for one big problem… I don’t accept the quality of the “ranking algorithm” people use with these indices. As in the examples above, the algorithm that determins your rank on these lists is typically:
- Your Technorati rank.
This may include either/both your authority score and the number of inbound links to your blog. It’s the single most useful blog ranking mechanism presently in existence, in my opinion.
- Your Google PageRank.
By Google’s own admission this is not as useful as it use to be. We don’t really know how they calculate it, it says little and is updated every three months or less.
- Your Alexa rank.
This is the one everyone loves to hate, and with some good reason: Alexa rank can be fiddled very easily and tends to favour tech-related blogs, since it is mostly techy types who have the Alexa toolbar installed (from which data is gathered).
- Your Bloglines feed readership.
Bloglines is not what it used to be. In my opinion it just doesn’t have the market share to yield good enough data. People use it because Bloglines makes it easy to extract the reporting data. That’s not good enough, however.
Sure, there are other services and indices out there (remember the Truth Laid Bear?!) but most fail for one reason or another, or you can’t get the per-blog data out easily to republish on a “Top Blogs” list, so they don’t get used.
Google BlogRank – The Authority Score That’s Got Authority
I’m making it up. There is no Google BlogRank (yet), but there should be.
Google — with Feedburner in their portfolio — has all the data they need (and then some) to give every blog out there a real-time and authoritative popularity rating. Google knows:
- How many people (proportionally) read your blog via HTML (i.e. visiting your site);
- How many people read your blog via RSS (i.e. using a feedreader);
- How many people are linking to your blog;
- How your blog is trending (growing, declining or plateauing) for all these measures;
- How often your blog gets the clicks on its search results pages, compared to your “competitors”;
(For more on what Google knows about your blog you should read my analysis of the BlogSearch Patent Application over at Problogger.)
So my suggestion is that Google needs to more explicitly face up to Technorati, Alexa and others with a ranking instrument of their own, which I’ll call BlogRank. I mean, it’s a shoe-in. Google got more data than anyone else, which is of a much higher quality and (the kicker) far more comprehensive and authoritative than anyone else. Sure, Technorati is accurate on links, but knows nothing about feed readership. Sure, Alexa has cool graphs and is close to real-time, but is highly innacurate. Sure HitWise have some very cool data, but I don’t think they’re visionary enough to see a product here (heck, I’ve even rung up and told them what to do!).
If Google BlogRank was real, then it would publish a range of “measures”. Things like incoming links, feed readership, trending strength, etc. All of these might be accessible individually, or as an aggregate score.
But here’s the thing: Google already has this data. It’s all under the hood in BlogSearch. The only thing I want is to see the numbers!
So how about it Google? In one simple service you can put to an end these arguments about how blog popularity should be scored, just by abstracting and republishing data you’ve already got.
Readers: cast your yay/nay votes in the comments and let’s make some noise they’ll hear loud and clear over in Mountain View.