Blog Search Revisited – Google vs Technorati vs Techmeme

It has been close to a year since I first starting delving into the intricacies of various forms of blog search, and 10 months since I returned to the subject.
My post yesterday on the Microsoft Yahoo deal was the ideal opportunity to see how things might have changed over the last 10 months, as it is a topic being heavily discussed on 100s of blogs.

Here are some of my previous articles on the topic, which provide a good background

In Depth: Google BlogSearch | Ranking Blog Documents Patent
Google Blog Search | How Google Blogsearch ranks your Posts… In their own words! (or not)
Exclusive: Google Blog Search Extended Results | Supplemental Results

Google Blog Search

I grabbed some snapshots to demonstrate how things are currently shaping up on Google Blog Search based upon 2 very similar search terms.

Microsoft Yahoo

After five hoursSearch for Microsoft Yahoo
Microsoft Yahoo

After 19 hours
Microsoft Yahoo after 19 hours

Yahoo Microsoft

After five hoursSearch for Yahoo Microsoft
Yahoo Microsoft after one hour

After 19 hours
Yahoo Microsoft after 19 hours

  • Keywords within the title still seem to be the primary ranking factor
  • Keyword order in the title makes a significant difference
  • Within the content, keyword proximity, keyword density and keyword order appear to make a difference, especially on less used combinations.
  • Site authority metrics, such as PageRank, Feed Subscriber numbers, links, etc seem to play an almost insignificant role, other than possibly as a way to filter out spam
  • Freshness when sorting by relevance seems to be marginal – once you have been selected as relevant, it seems you remain relevant, with relevance being recalculated periodically (hourly?)
  • Tagging (rel=”tag”) may or may not be a factor – it may just add more keywords together in close proximity
  • Social media bookmarking and links don’t seem to be important
  • Extended results based upon the search phrase to suggest topical authority don’t seem to be a large factor

It is nice to be looked on by Google Blog Search to be more relevant than the New York Times, though it is difficult to determine why.

Yahoo Microsoft New York Times After 20 hours

From a casual end user perspective, the search results were relevant and fresh – for someone looking to research a story for a blog post, they might have to use additional filters based upon time (within the last 24 hours), and maybe also sort the results by date.

Technorati Blog Search

Technorati is currently, without doubt providing fresher results than Google – refreshing a Google blog search page tracking results sorted by date was providing 10 results in the last 2 hours.
In contrast, Technorati is providing 10 results… in the last 10 minutes… and they are not spam.

Technorati Search Results

Some spam can make its way into both Technorati and Google Blog Search results, Technorati’s way of filtering those out, rather than ranking based upon relevance to a search term, is to remove results based on a particular user defined authority threshold, which even “with a lot of authority” lets most established blogs through (as long as they haven’t been banned)

One thing I can’t quite work out with Technorati is why blog posts aren’t quite displayed in precise date order – sometimes a post from 20 minutes ago appears fresher than one from 10 minutes ago – it is possible that the dates are based upon when they were published, but they are displayed in the order thy were collected.

Technorati used to have a major problem with duplicate results from the same domain appearing in their search index, that appears to have been fixed.

There is no way to “rank higher” on Technorati – you are either relevant to a search or you aren’t – the primary search method is full text – I would look on tagging as more important to appear on tag based feed syndication.

Google Blog Search vs Technorati

By nature I am an inclusionist, and I feel that any voice on the blogosphere should be heard if they have something valuable to say. Google’s apparent poor indexing for me is a huge negative factor.

Google’s relevance in blog search seems to be heavily influenced by what in the old days would be looked on as keyword stuffing.

Technorati doesn’t really attempt to classify content as being more relevant, other than authroity requirements – you can select between the keywords appearing as tags, or within the text – there is no over reliance on Titles to prove that something really is relevant.

Even on a relatively hot topic, neither service is sending me a lot of traffic – the total so far is less than 20 visits… combined.

Techmeme

Lets look at what Techmeme doesn’t do

  • Doesn’t include all sources
  • No search function – I would love a database based search in reverse chronological order
  • No snippets for all headlines, just the lead story – maybe this could be fixed with a mouseover and some Ajax

What Techmeme does well is provide a good overview of a breaking story, and as such it also delivers more traffic – more people find it useful.

If I read about a technology based story in a feed reader or on a social news site, I am more likely to turn to Techmeme than Technorati or Blogsearch.

Whilst Technorati has recently swithced to a more “meme like” front page, it still doesn’t provide me with the width of opinion I am looking for, and as it happens when I first started researching this post, the updates to the Microsoft / Yahoo deal were not listed as a technology news story on Technorati.

Google Universal

It is true that Google are slowly integrating blogsearch or blog results in their primary index, but certainly for breaking news on this topic Google Universal Search provided more of a historical reference.

Where Do I Go Second?

It used to be Google Blog Search, because Technorai had very noisy duplicate results.

I am now switching back to Technorati – I love being able to rank well on Google Blogsearch, but the criteria for ranking doesn’t currently provide more relevant results.

Technorati provides fresher results from a wider selection of blogs – chalk one up for the little guy

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Comments

    • says

      Ian, just giving kudos where it is deserved.

      Lots of things are still not perfect, I could reel off lots of things that still need to be fixed, or made more consistent, but I am very glad to see that the search results have been cleared up and your indexing speed is good.

  1. says

    Nice rundown! I tend to default to Google Blog Search, but I’ll try going back to Technorati to compare.

    Do you use any other blog search sites? Would love to see your thoughts on Ask and other blog search engines.

    • says

      I also use Megite as a meme tracker for other niches.

      There is also Ask / Bloglines though that has also been a little noisy, and you can always take a look at Lijit.

  2. says

    Amanda, nice suggestion. I’m gonna go check out that website.

    Technorati… I used to use it, but haven’t been using it for years. Maybe I should go back.

    Google… I rarely use Google these days. Just kidding. I might have to limit my use now.

  3. says

    I use both Google blogsearch and technorati (and technorati more frequently) but the last month or so I have been using icerocket the most. Icerocket has room to improve but with technorati being so slow so often I actually prefer Icerocket to both Google blogsearch and technorati now). But all could be much better.

  4. says

    Soooo happy to see a ray of sunlight dapple technorati’s scenario … I can’t think of another site I’m so partial to.

    “Keep pedalling guys, keep pedalling!”

  5. says

    Andy,

    In Google blog search, time and freshness seems to one qualifying factor..and the results are updated hourly right? Do you see a pattern while re arranging results?

    In Screenshot 4, for “Microsoft Yahoo” search, the 2nd(Andybeard.eu) and third (scripting.com) result is pushed down, while a new entry is made at the top(NYTimes).

    What’s interesting is there’s a site “Mavericksatwork” which was in the third position on screenshot 3,being pushed down, while there’s a “new” entry from NY times (result 4 of screenshot 4).

    What’s even more interesting is the first result (http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com) was indexed 3 hours earlier, while the fourth “duplicate entry” from NYtimes (titled – after rejection Microsoft Yahoo hits a fight) is actually indexed just one hour ago.

    So there are two entries from NY times, the one o the top is indexed 4 hours ago, and theres a new entry after 19 hours (as u suggested) which was indexed one hour ago.

    I find it confusing. When you say that – when you are selected as relevant, you stay relevant – it doesnt hold true for the new entry (4th position screenshot 4) right? Had he been better in the onsite factors (KW proximity, KW density etc) he could’ve broken into the first position even.

    What is your finding on this? (Hope it all makes sense)

  6. says

    I hate to say this, but I don’t consider any current blog search engine useful. I may use technorati here and there for the lack of anything better, but the results are still poor.

  7. says

    I have always just used google blog search. I’m not sure why.

    I had no idea that technorati was so much “fresher”. Ten in 10 minutes? That’s surprising.

    I knew that keywords in the titles was supreme. It’s nice to hear confirmation of that.

    I’m surprised that rss subscribers doesn’t really make a difference.

    Thanks for the VERY useful info.

  8. says

    Technorati is far more accurate reporting links (aka “reactions”) from other blogs. Since WP 2.3 I miss terribly to see Technorati reactions in the Dashboard. Andy, is there a plugin out there to fix it? By “fix it” I mean to show incoming links from Technorati instead of Google Blog Search.

  9. says

    Interesting! I never noticed that Google finally has a blog search. Okay, I basically use Google News and Google Scholar but they must have blinded me from Google Blog. I suppose this means that a great and growing number of credible or popular sources are coming from blogs now. Good for Google! They really know how to move forward over there and create new ideas!

  10. says

    Technorati has always been our blog search engine of choice. Was not as familiar with the Google Blog Search and are now seeing that Technorati may actually be a better choice anyhow. As Jen said above, it is cool to see that Google really has every avenue covered as far as internet ideas and implementation goes. Guess you can’t expect much less from them!

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