Technorati Snapshot In PR Authority Time

While searching for terms and phrases on a project, I began to wonder how well the Technorati ‘authority’ claim will really help you find timely information. You know, what is the hot topic of the day – and, what do the bloggers with the most ‘authority’ have to say about it.

On a day when Glaxo’s Michael Pucci is unleashing 8,000 sales people on the world as a speakers bureau and calling it wise PR, I thought this would be a hot topic.

In fairness, this is a timely topic and these sites may all post about it soon. This is just a simple (and perhaps flawed) test to see if I can really find timely authoritative opinion about a new story.

So, I searched in all of the blogs and sites Technorati lists as authoritative for PR and here is what I found them writing about. This post references those blogs indexed at:

#10 Darren Barefoot (Feb. 23, 2006) is doing PR for his friend by helping him find a job. A kind gesture and it is publicity – a function of PR. So, Darren gets a thumbs up. Hey, he is helping his friend.

#9 Robert Basic (Feb. 24, 2006 – he’s overseas) feels a linkfest similar to automated posts is the way to go. Hey, I do those, so I can’t complain. There are PR relevant links. This is good, but no Glaxo. Don’t they sell overseas?

#8 Handelsblatt – Thomas Knüwer (Feb. 23, 2006) shares how he, as a journalist covering the Olympics, is really only thinking about how to get home. The buzz is gone from the trip. He just wants outta there. (Mind you, that’s what I get from the translation via Google. It is a German blog and I don’t read or speak German.) See their post.

#7 AdFreak (Feb. 23, 2006) spoils Kentucky Fried Chicken‘s ad ploy by giving away the code that KFC is trying to get viewers to find (by being forced to watch the ad over, and over, and…).

#6 BlogAdvance (static page) is writing about themselves. Actually, authoritative link provided by Technorati points to their self-promotion “why we are special” page – not their blog. I’ll repeat that. Technorati is not pointing to their blog as authoritative. They are pointing to BlogAdvance’s “pay us to promote your blog” page. Is this yet another example of “playing the system?”

#5 Adland (Feb. 24, 2006) features a global brand campaign featuring wallpaper. The focus is on advertising, duh. Adland, ya’ know. Hey, if you tag your stuff as PR, Technorati doesn’t care. They think it is authoritative.

#4 Adrants (Feb. 23, 2006) features a press release promoting a “sham” viral video. Hey, at least they are talking about press releases.

#3 Creating Passionate Users (Feb. 22, 2006) is also at the Olympics, but they have easily the most interesting and unique post about the relationship between music, athletic performance, product brands and the Olympics. And, they are doing PR for iPod by virtue of the post.

#2 Gapingvoid (Feb. 23, 2006) is helping a business school student with their homework. Hey, at least he is doing something kind and postive for others. Some of the questions were interesting, but I fear it is a student getting someone to do his/her homework. No details about it, so I may be wrong.

#1 Steve Rubel (Feb. 23, 2006) – Um, he’s writing about himself. A personal media tour via podcasts and blogs where he asks people to ask him to interview them. Hey, you can’t make this stuff up.

For the record, I search all of the blogs for even the mention of Glaxo and found that none of the Top 10 have written about today’s topic. I will write about it tomorrow, for what it is worth.

Barefoot = 0 mentions

Basic = 3 mentions (from 2005)

Handelsblatt = 0 mentions

adfreak = 0 mentions

BlogAdvance = 0 mentions

adland = many ads, from 2005 back to 2003… nothing recent

adrants = 0 mentions

creating passionate users = 0 mentions

gapingvoid = 0 mentions

Rubel = 3 mentions (from 2005)

So, the top 10 most “Technorati authoritative” blogs / sites have nothing. Who does? Google, Yahoo! and many other search engines.

I like Technorati. It does have a useful purpose. But, their insistance upon using the term “Authority” is a sad mistake. Why they haven’t changed it yet, I have no idea. It diminishes their credibility by claiming credibility and having it so easily proven untrue.

What they are ranking is “link popularity” among sites. They cannot even assure you that the categories / tags they provide this supposed “authority” ranking to are correct. The tags are assigned by the users, not Technorati. Hey, a porn blog with 11 posts tagged “PR” ranks at #23. And those posts, among other things, feature a reposted PRWEB release. This is authoritative PR?

Finally, if you look through all the blogs listed as authoritative sites for PR, Public Relations or Marketing, you will realize that the combination of user generated tagging and Technorati’s hands off administration of the categories / tags gives us a completely unreliable and unjustifiable claim of authority. Some of them could hardly be described as blogs that primarily write about any of those topics. I know, it is the nature of the beast. The same could be said for, for example. But, it is a failing.

I’ll still use Technorati. I just wish they would stop kidding themselves. They aren’t kidding anyone out here.


0 thoughts on “Technorati Snapshot In PR Authority Time

  1. Robert Basic

    hi Rob, you are right that Technorati cant build a real authority list since the Blogger itself can declare himself as an authority in any area he wants to. If he has enough incoming links his Blog will gets easily into the top 10 list.

    There is another, a better approach, based on links & technorati, do you know this report already:
    to me it makes much more sense than what Technorati is doing.

    But, on the other side: Its much about trust. Links are building trust. Now, if you are writing something about PR – and i dont know you, it doesnt matter to me, that you claim to be an expert (“teach public relations and multimedia at Auburn University in Alabama”). Why? You simply have no links 🙂 I have no other indications to trust you. Isnt that crazy?

    btw, just a small critic: could you link more specifically to given sources? e.g. if you talk about “technoratis PR authority list” than link simply to 😉 It makes it easier to follow.

    Rob (from Germany)

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  3. Robert

    Hey Rob,

    Thank you for commenting.

    I saw the Onalytica report a few days ago, but have not had a chance to read it, yet. I’ll do that this weekend.

    I agree with, and understand, your reference to trust – to a degree. However, neither of us can say ‘why’ people linked to the various sites listed in Technorati’s PR tag category by looking at their results. The only way we could truly have some justification that the linker did so because they trusted their views on PR would be to follow every link and see if they actually linked to a post on PR. *And* we would have to see if they made any comment as to the ‘authority’ they placed in the post.

    If you have a blog with 100 links to a PR article, and half are critical, is that an indicator of authority?

    So many of the blogs write about other things. So, the linker could have linked because of a baby photo, or even to criticize the blogger. I think the example of the porn blogger is the perfect illustration of that.

    Technorati has no function in place to even assure us that the link provided to the blogger is due to a reference to PR. Technorati does not interview those that link to see why people linked to a specific blog. They have no function to even track whether they link is to the blogger because of a PR issue. Forget whether they think the blogger is correct. Technorati has no function in place to consider why the link was placed.

    Trust can not be determined solely by the existence of a link, or links. Think of referrer spam in splogs as just one reason why. Trust, or authority, needs a bit more valid and justifiable measurement tool, I think you will agree. These are not terms we want to toss around too easily.

    As for how authority can be measured, right now it is still an individual’s call. There is no legitimate listing of authority figures with a legimate methodology for determining that authority. The old tried and true practice of reading a person’s writings (quite deeply) and then developing an opinion seems to be the only reliable gauge, to date.

    There is a bit of modified peer review occuring in blogs. It is not the same as what occurs in traditional academic journals, for instance. There, the authority of an author’s viewpoint and methodology for reaching that view are usually based upon an article by article basis. One peer review approval on “topic A” does not assure that an article about “topic B” will be regarded with the same level of authority or value. So, “link trust” is not a truly legitimate claim and should not be used by any person as a sole justification for applying trust to any author’s writing without further investigation.

    And, re: your reference to my rank versus yours (or anyone else’s) you have 1,781 links from 458 sites whereas I have 331 links from 176 sites. Congrats, you have the link war won over me. You author a blog self described as a “german blog about blogging, corporate blogging and IT business.” Do you claim to be an authoritative source for PR issues? Do you claim to be an expert on PR? Are your 230 posts tagged PR actually authoritative opinion pieces on PR? Do you think your links justify as a credibility indicator for you as a PR authority figure? I don’t know. I gather from your About page that you are an IT professional.

    I teach PR. My authority on the matter will be judged by others, and it won’t likely have anything to do with links on blogs.

    As for the Technorati link you reference throughout my post, that is an automatic plugin on this blog that provides a link to certain keywords. Technorati is one of about 30 in that plugin’s list. The idea is that the link will point to the main site of term mentioned. Since this post was about Technorati in general, I think I’ll leave the URL in there as is… but I’ll provide a link to the PR tag category at the top.

    Thank you, Rob.  I appreciate the discussion.

  4. Kami Huyse

    She isn’t in the top 10, but Katie Paine wrote about this on Tuesday, she likes the idea. I am not so sure since I know very little about it, but the idea of “deputizing” the sales force with little more than Q&A and key messages, is troubling.

    Katie’s article:

    Oh and Rob: I like the Onalytica approach to a certain extent, but it is limited greatly by the search parameters, meaning, who is to say that just because you say “business blogging” the most in your blog makes you an authority on the subject?

  5. Robert

    Thanks, Kami. I just checked out the post by KDPaine.

    I agree, some of their rationale and implementation troubles me, too.

    When I write about it, I’ll try to break down the pros and cons of the tactic. For a corporation with so much at stake, and the problems that may arise from extemporaneous responses by the sales force, this could be a prescription (sorry) for disaster.

    And, how many of us trust “sales people” all that much? Hmmm?

  6. Robert

    Rob, thank you. I look forward to hearing from you. And, please don’t apologize for your command of the English language. I should be the one apologizing for my complete inability to read German. I’m looking for better translation tools, but not having a great deal of luck. I’m still reading your blog, though. 😉

    Kami, thank you, too. I put that one on my iPod today, but haven’t listened, yet. I’m finding (lately) that time for podcasts only seems to appear on the weekends. Bummer.

    And, Colin McKay kindly shared his insights via email pointing to his blog – Canuckflack – and a terrific post with great background work.


  7. Robert

    Kami, thanks for your link and post. Great information. Now I’m feeling pressure. I’ll try my best.

    Scott, I literally laughed out loud. Hey, that is a great painting, so I linked to it in your comment. Everyone should go look. Thanks.

  8. scott

    Actually Robert, this is a really interesting post, so let me do it justice by writing a serious response.

    Here’s what I think:

    1. Technorati is a good measure of the popularity of a blog, but not of the blog’s authority in any particular subject area. Since bloggers are allowed to categorize their own blogs and can include them in many different categories, the tendency is to include as many relevant (and semi-relevant) categories as possible. This dramatically dilutes the accuracy of Technorati’s authority rankings. Adrants and Adland, for example, are great blogs; they’re just not about PR and would never cover something like Glaxo under any circumstances.

    2. There’s another issue here. Let’s say I fall into the category of PR blogger. If, as such, I am expected to write each day about whatever the supposed hot PR issue of that day is, I might as well go take a job with PR Week — or better yet, jump off the nearest cliff. I don’t get paid to do this, so I write about what I want to write about — not what I’m “expected” to write about.

    3. If I want the hot topics, I go to a resource like the Holmes Report blog, because Paul’s already covering all that stuff himself for his publication. Does Technorati know that I consider Paul the best authority? No — and they probably never will. But I do.

  9. BlogAdvance

    Interesting post.

    I personally feel since the changes in Technorati a lot of things have gone wrong with the system.
    BlogAdvance has been pointed to with that tag not because we post about PR techniques, but because we offer bloggers marketing and PR options for their blogs.(Our site is actually free for bloggers, to gain self promotion)

    Saying all that though, I do agree with a lot you have to say on this post. Very well written.

  10. Susan Getgood

    This is one of the best analyses of what we all already knew (and many have commented on), that Technorati’s authority is a popularity ranking. And it is even more fatally flawed (if that is possible) by the fact that the blogs are self-categorizing, and do so pretty loosely to improve their chances of being found through the search engines.

    The real issue for me is that we here in “marketing and PR blogland” know about this authority problem. Someone new to the blogosphere is less likely to be playing our particular brand of inside baseball. Let’s say they decide to search technorati for blogs with authority about cancer. Or depression. Cause hey, AUTHORITY. That conveys a far different message than “this is online content, so consider the source.” The word authority lessens skepticism. Not for us of course, but for most people.

    And Scott, I agree with you that a blogger (in any segment) can’t be expected to cover all the hot issues, every day, with the same timeliness as a newspaper. But I think zero for ten says it all. If a blog is a top authority on a topic, don’t we expect it to be on top of the hot issues??

  11. Tom Biro

    Great analysis, interesting to see something like this all worked out. As someone who blogs about advertising in a few places, most notably at AdJab, I get frustrated quite a bit when sites that rarely cover advertising or are not advertising blogs at all are considered the most “authoritative” in Technorati, which is something that Steve Rubel’s blog does do. Nothing on Steve, really, but I don’t see why his blog should be considered so authoritative in that space when he’s not an ad writer nor is the main focus of his blog advertising. Shows a bit of a flaw in the system, if you will, when it comes to tagging your posts and blog.

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  13. scott

    Susan, I agree with you completely. But I’m still not going to write about Glaxo if I don’t want to. So Techorati should do two things (since I like numbers so much):

    1. Change the word “authority” to “popularity.”

    2. Limit the number of categories a person can put their blog in to two or three — not 20.

    I think this would largely address the problems.

  14. Robert

    BlogAdvance: I agree that some things seem to have gone awry since their latest changes. Signup for your site and participation in some aspects may be free, but you are selling advertising – and more, I don’t know. Your signup process says the sites may not have ‘any’ popups, so I’m not going to disable my popup podcast player, for instance, just to see what you offer. You should, in my opinion, be pointing your link from Technorati to your “blog” – not your sign up so we can make money page. That is playing the system.

    Susan: Thank you. Agreed. Technorati has authority for some – especially the new adopters that see people writing about using the site. Then, when they visit Technorati, they may well take the “authority” indicator as fact. And your examples of cancer and depression do strike a cord as to the potential unfortunate dangers of their system. I also agree with your reply to Scott.

    Tom: Thank you for commenting, also. Too true that any tag (just one) on an obscure (for them) topic will then take that blog on computer games with 2,000 links and make it appear to be an “authority source” on heart surgery. The porn blog example shows that to be true, I think. Gee, put pictures of naked women online and get traffic. Who knew that would work? Duh. Does it have anything to do with what he really writes about? No.

    Rubel’s blog is a perfect example, too. Someone writing on the Glaxo story (sorry, don’t remember who), called him an authoritative advertising blogger. Whah?? No, he isn’t.

    Using Susan’s example of cancer, for instance, had Rubel tagged his personal statement on his cancer scare with “cancer” – he would likely have shown up as the top authority figure. Is that right? I don’t think it is in the best interest of searchers. He certainly has significant insights on dealing with the personal scare of discovering he had cancer. He is not who we would want as our oncologist, though.

    Scott: On both of your replies, I agree, too. Certainly you are not required to post on all things PR. I just thought such a bold move by Glaxo – unprecedented, I believe – would cause a significant amount of posts.

    You are right. We are not all O’Dwyer’s, PR Week or Bulldog Reporter, to name a few. And, we can’t be.

    Thanks for the link to the Holmes Report, too. That is a perfect example of someone that does consistently cover these types of stories. Should he be ranked high in Authority? I imagine he is linked by the influentials in PR, but doesn’t have all the ‘newbies’ linking to him when they first discover blogging. Why? He has a specific focus. He isn’t spraying all over the place.

    The change from “Authority” to “Popularity” is the wise move. I just don’t see Technorati making the move. If they haven’t grasped the reality yet, why would they do it now?

    Finally, your suggestion to limit the number of tags allowed per post is good. I, admittedly, tag like a madman. Only four tags on this post – “authority, PR, public relations, technorati” – but you can find other posts with many more. Technorati should do that, too. Maybe it will help.

    You know, they do allow a limit of 20 tags when you claim your blog to describe what you are posting about. Should they limit that, as well? No one blog may ever tag on more than 10 keywords? I’m not talking about ‘per post’ – but, overall for the whole blog. I don’t know how well that would go over, though.

    Thank you all for commenting. Enjoying your discussions very much.