Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in my dreams, anyway!

I’ve been meaning for weeks now to write a blog post about how obvious it is to me that Google should buy Feedburner. I mean it’s a total no-brainer.

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.

Examples: a couple of months ago I appeared on two different “Top Australian Blogs” lists. Then this week I feature on the “Top 25 Blogs About Blogging“.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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:

  1. How many people (proportionally) read your blog via HTML (i.e. visiting your site);
  2. How many people read your blog via RSS (i.e. using a feedreader);
  3. How many people are linking to your blog;
  4. How your blog is trending (growing, declining or plateauing) for all these measures;
  5. How often your blog gets the clicks on its search results pages, compared to your “competitors”;
  6. …etcetera…

(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.

google, blogrank, blog popularity, blog ranking, top blogs, alister cameron, problogger, technorati, hitwise, bloglines, google reader, blogsearch, alexa

20 Comments

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  1. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Yep – certainly got my vote 🙂

    Also a problem I’ve found with placing too much emphasis on Technorati, is that bloggers engaging in blogroll exchange programs can get literally hundreds of links just for participating, which doesn’t accurately reflect the popularity of the blog.

  2. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    I respectfully disagree, when one company becomes too big people suffer, and google has shown the have some microsoft like behavier. They are not the same company I sang the praises of 7 years ago when i felt yahoo had let us down. like yahoo they started off as a cool place to go but as they got bigger they forgot the people who got them where they are.

  3. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    I’ve actually just been waiting for Google to announce something like this. Like you said, they’ve got all (or most of) the data they need already – all they need is to crunch the numbers.

  4. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Yes Yes Yes! It would be the ultimate and would stop everyone from complaining that technorati doesn’t rank them properly and all the other conspiracy theories.

  5. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Since Google already “disctinctifies” blog sites with their BlogSearch, it makes so much sense to do this.

    From marketing, pr, journalistic, research and even self-evaluation … almost every perspective and discipline would benefit.

    Good call. No wonder you’re THE Blogologist!

  6. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Alister,

    I don’t disagree with the points you make but even with feedburner it will be hard to come up with a meaningful blogrank. Every blog has different goals and different target readerships.

    A blog in a narrow niche might have relatively few subscribers but the percentage of subscriptions in terms of the size of the target market might be higher than a blog with many more subscribers in a niche with mass appeal.

    It’s like measuring website traffic when you should be measuring something meaningful like website conversions for example.

    There’s not an easy answer however and the lists are fun and not totally meaningless. I subscribe to your blog because I clicked through from Meg’s list.

  7. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Unfortunately Technorati authority is also easily gamed, that is why theme designers who hit the top 100 get kicked out, sometimes earlier if they are identified.
    Data is still supplied, but they don’t figure in authority based searches.

  8. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    I mostly agree except for one point : Alexa cannot be gamed.

  9. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    I don’t know much about all this stuff cause I was never that into it, but I do think it’s all interesting.

  10. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Google bought feedburner today!!!!

    Yay!

  11. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    We were rooting for you on TV last night and so glad you took the money. CONGRATULATIONS. I also like blogging, but more the mummy, crafty blogging world and googled you after the show to see a bit more about you.

    I’m so pleased for you and your family. I’m sure you will use the money wisely to help others and give your kids awesome life experiences.

    Ps. Your not the only one who had better things to do on Boxing day than watch cricket!

  12. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Google become big and more bigger. Control everything on internet world.

  13. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Interesting.. When will it be available?

  14. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Maybe you should get into finance or something. Anyways, I think your blog is pretty awesome. I’d be glad to offer you one of my awesome, super soft Geekfitters.com shirts in exchange for a link.

    Go here for details:

    http://www.geekfitters.com/qxw7hz1.html

    Best,

    Chris Geek

  15. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    So, does getting tagged for a meme help? 🙂 If so, you’re it!

    I’ve just tagged you. See http://vadirectory.net/blog/?p=197 for the details.

  16. Posted 10 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    I don’t know about Technorati being that valuable … I’ve seen people inflate their rank on Technorati to no end by artificial means. Personally, I put somewhat more stock in PageRank and a lot more stock in Alexa.

  17. Posted 10 years ago // Permalink

    Feedburner makes for a good measure of how popular a blog is. Combine that data with other Google analytics installed on the blog (if the owners had already done so), then the winner is Google who can start correlating RSS subscriber data with page views from GA to help determine the true value of blogs before even the blog owners know about their own value.

  18. Posted 10 years ago // Permalink

    Google does have a LOT of data, but they don’t have everything. I’d hope that a blogger who doesn’t use feedburner or Google Analytics doesn’t end up getting ranked worse than a blogger who does choose to use Google’s services (which are nothing to do with quality or popularity).
    I’m talking SERP rankings here, not blogrank rankings.

  19. Posted 10 years ago // Permalink

    Technorati, Alexa, google, and bloglines are four of the common tools that bloggers use. Bloggers are really smart and they always find ways to improve their rankings. Using just one of these tool may not present you a good analysis.

  20. Posted 10 years ago // Permalink

    Well said. Make sure that you send to Google your invoice for consulting services too!

9 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Recent Comments Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in my dreams, anyway! on Top 100 Australian Blogs IndexFrom blog “Dipping into the Blogpond” « Wieczna Parapetówa on Top 60 Australian Web 2.0 ApplicationsMeg on Plugger – Australian Business NewsGreg on Plugger – Australian Business News

  2. influence within the global English language blogosphere, but I expect it will be a long time until they start slicing and dicing this data for a country that accounts for a tiny fraction of all worldwide traffic. Meanwhile, Australian blog consultant Alistair Cameron dreams of a Google solution to our measurement problem and says he’s even begged Hitwise to step into the breach. If his dreams come true, I’ll be the first person to crack open the champaign, but even then — and I’m sure Alistair would agree —

  3. Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in my dreams, anyway!

  4. increment begin = 6 blogspot:The Infectious Viralink (2007-06-06T18:07:00.000+08:00) Let’s Pause to Spread Link Love with the DoFollow List (2007-04-21T13:22:00.000+08:00) increment begin = 7 ?:Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in my dreams, anyway! ( Thu, 31 May 2007 00:35:39 +0000) I’m on TV tonight! ( Sun, 27 May 2007 21:12:51 +0000) increment begin = 8 Andy Beard:GreaseMonkey & Firefox – How To Send a Trackback With Blogger (Part 2) ( Tue, 05 Jun 2007 19:27:43 +0000)

  5. [IMG alicam] Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in… 3 minutes ago by alicam at Alister Cameron // Blogologist I’ve been meaning for weeks now to write a blog post about how obvious it is to me that Google should buy Feedburner. I mean it’

  6. [IMG alicam] Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in… 3 minutes ago by alicam at Alister Cameron // Blogologist I’ve been meaning for weeks now to write a blog post about how obvious it is to me that Google should buy Feedburner. I mean it’

  7. […] by popularity Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in my dreams, … blogs ranking index blogrank Added 188 days ago by meg, 1 User save What is Mister Wong about? […]

  8. […] Google’s new BlogRank Authority Index… in my dreams, anyway! […]

  9. […] that accounts for a tiny fraction of all worldwide traffic.Meanwhile, Australian blog consultant Alistair Cameron dreams of a Google solution to our measurement problem and says he's even begged Hitwise to step […]

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