I Am Not As Productive As I Want To Be
This is painfully true, in some ways I am like a tumbleweed blown about by wind in multiple directions, and by what is typical in this day and age on the internet, information overload.
This can be especially worrying when your main source of income is from your internet activities, and you have bills to pay, and have to keep food on the table.
Unlike a tumbleweed, I always have an overall strategic goal I wish to reach. Whilst some aspects of this blog evolve over time, in reference to the content, I have defined a specific audience I wish to reach and various topics I wish to discuss, and maybe influence.
Alister Cameron heavily quoted Robert Allen, expressing the difference between goal setting, and having passion and purpose for what you do.
I might lack on the goal setting on a daily basis but I have a passion for what I do, and an overall driving purpose to my endeavours.
Any amount of daily goals you set will rarely outweigh the value in working on something you are passionate about. Reaching daily goals has the effect of a small bomb blast in a quarry, whereas passion is like the act of the sea on a cliff, or the way the rain can erode a mountain.
Criticizing Goals & Passion
Amit Agarwal has been criticising Technorati Favorite exchanges. Hundreds of people set a collective goal and are pursuing it with a passion. That isn’t a small bomb blast, it is a surge of the masses, and A-list bloggers had better get used to it.
He is factually incorrect in his statements, because exchanging Technorati favorites doesn’t affect Google Juice in any way.
If popular bloggers get displaced from the “top favorites list” by people actually utilizing the tools that Technorati spent a lot of time developing, then that is the correct thing to happen.
If Amit was actually using Technorati Favorites for any specific purpose, maybe his arguements would carry some weight, but whilst he encourages people to add him to their favorites, he has only added 8 favorites of his own.
I was exchanging Technorati favorites with my readers for almost 6 months before this “Technorati Exchange Train” gathered steam. Most of the blogs I favorited were being favorited for the very first time, or possibly the second time if they had already favorited themselves.
The Technorati meme is more Z-list than 2000 bloggers, and certainly any links I have created to people taking part have been deliberately one directional without a requirement to link back to me, and every single link was highly relevant.
Also, it is not like any of these ideas about exchanging Technorati Favorites are new. Whilst I was first doing it back in November of last year, SEOmoz was 2 months ahead of me.
Responding to Your Readers Needs
Most A-Listers only respond to their readers when a reader links to them, and pays them lots of compliments.
Even though I disagree with Jason Calacanis on many things, one thing I do respect him for is having the balls to admit how he chooses who he links to. It would be going to far to give me any credit for why he now has some disclosure on his sidebar, but most likely he will at least read this. Vanity Google Alerts are great ;)
But how do you respond to your readers needs when they don’t link to you?
I am just small fry, less than 1000 targeted subscribers, but already my feed reader, at least for me, has outgrown it’s usefulness.
When I only had 100 subscribers, I actually had most of my readers in my Feed Reader, and read every single post they made, plus a load of other feeds, including lots of A-Listers.
Through using various blogging social network tools, such as MyBlogLog, Bumpzee, and BlogCatalog I grew my readership. It was important to have content that related to my reader’s needs, so my Feed Reader continued to groan.
Feed Readers Are Not Productive
Unless you restrict your reading habits to a really small segment of the blogging population, or you are a blogging machine like Robert Scoble, a feed reader is only going to give you a small window of what is happening in the blogosphere.
One option is to leverage people like Robert Scoble who share content with Google Reader, but shared content with Google Reader also has it’s pitfalls.
The problem is that Techmeme is really only about the top ranking Tech blogs, although they do have sister sites for things like celebrities and politics, and even Megite only has a certain width to their standard coverage.
Custom Meme Trackers
For me the best alternative to information overload are various custom solutions that will allow me to maximise the width of my reading, whilst still being able to focus in a specific topics of interest.
I had hoped that I would be able to do something with MyBlogLog, and I hopefully will in the future, allowing me to not only browse the blogs of my readers, but also the blogs that they find most interesting.
Whilst I am writing this post, I am importing over 800 feeds into Blogrovr that I exported from my Technorati Favorites. Some of those will no doubt be duplicates from what I exported from Google Reader. It is actually causing a few technical problems, but I will be writing about that soon.
I do need to clean my OPML from my Technorati favorites a little, but for me it is actually quite a targeted list of blogs who are either my own readers, or the people who read my reader’s blogs, and are interested in blog promotion.
If you explore Technorati, there are lots of powerful things you can do with favorites. Import OPML, search your favorites, tag your favorites, grab a widget to display your favorites, or if you prefer, an RSS feed of your favorite’s most recent posts.
You can also export your OPML to use with other services. You can even grab an OPML file for a specific tag.
Whilst I recently discussed some of the things that Google Blog Search does better than Technorati, I think it is fair to say that if you want to search a specific group of blogs, Technorati offers a better search solution than building a Google Custom Search Engine, or using a community search solution using Google CSE such as Lijit. That isn’t a failing of Lijit in any way, but of how Google handle supplemental results. 95% of blogs wouldn’t appear in the results.
Megite offer a custom meme tracker, so one of my intentions once I have my Technorati favorites cleaned up is to create a custom Megite Meme based on my favorites. I already use a custom Megite meme for things relating to SEO and Marketing.
I am intrigued by PersonalBee because they have just been acquired by Technorati. How that will be integrated with Technorati and especially Technorati favorites will be fascinating, and might provide the Digg style interface Amit is looking for. It might certainly provide more relevance, which the Technorati link authority currently used in my opinion doesn’t. If you are only interested in what A-listers, blog networks and theme developers write, Technorati’s main search is just your ticket.
I also wrote about Myfeedz a couple of months ago. It didn’t really offer what I was looking for, but for someone after a really casual reading experience it might be the answer.
Bumpzee is providing a great service for custom blog tracking, although ranking is based on votes, and they also recently introduced ranking based on traffic – the most popular content for the day. Whilst I could add 100s of sites to my No Nofollow | Dofollow community, I really want people to take the initiative and sign up themselves.
My Bumpzee community is really for people who want to go beyond memes as a way of interacting with their neighbours, and start interacting with related sites that also happen to share link love.
I should also point out, and I will most likely be writing about this tomorrow, that the most powerful way to interact with a blog that supports dofollow is to link to them with a trackback, not in a meme, but in reaction to interesting related content. All this running around commenting to get a link and patting each other on the back is just silly, and isn’t very productive. Whilst the masses now adopting the “I Follow” movement and the “D-list”might not think I know WTF I am talking about, it took a good 6 months to achieve critical mass.
Comments On Other People’s Blogs Aren’t Productive
One of the things I have grown to realise is that spreading answers to problems out on 100s of blogs might have been necessary to encourage the adoption of dofollow, but it wasn’t very productive. It might have helped build critical mass, but cornerstone content that others can point to is far more useful.
In recent weeks I have actually deleted by Google alerts for terms like “Dofollow”, “Nofollow”, and “no nofollow”.
When I created my list of dofollow & nofollow plugins, I had already been evangelising using dofollow plugins for more than 3 months on this blog, and I had been using them personally for 2 years. There had been some small “storms in the teacup” over those 2 years, but no concentrated effort had made a dent in the use of nofollow on comments, even up until February of this year.
I had converted many of my readers, but there were frequent questions about nofollow on other platforms, or alternative methods of disabling nofollow. I had responded to hundreds of comments and questions relating to the use of dofollow, but that content has very little longevity.
Just an example of longterm commitment, No-Nofollow.com was registered November 3rd 2006
It wasn’t developed, because I was waiting for critical mass, and for certain plugin solutions to become available.
On a related note, though, and echoing Mattâ€™s earlier sentimentsâ€¦ we hope and expect that more and more sites â€” including Wikipedia â€” will adopt a less-absolute approach to no-followâ€¦ expiring no-follows, not applying no-follows to trusted contributors, and so on.
I have covered various ways to improve your internal linking structure for months. I will save linking to it all for a followup post.
The Wheel Has Fallen Off the Dofollow Movement
If you have a car trundling along it can pick up speed gradually and become a mass that is very hard to stop. If a wheel falls off it will keep on racing ahead until it loses momentum and stops, because it is no longer connected to the body that gave it energy in the first place.
The car body grinds to a halt, and maybe if there is a spare wheel, and not too much damage will get going again.
For me, personally, the wheel has fallen off the dofollow movement. The reason being there is no longer an easy trail of information people can follow to the one most important ingredient, information.
I have seen people claiming that adopting dofollow and gaining lots of comments will improve their SEO. People are running around like headless chickens commenting on each others blogs for a temporary boost in traffic and comments, working their way down long lists, and writing the exact same comment on each blog. Sure they might be having some fun doing it, but the links and most of the comments are not providing valuable information.
The links being left are invariably to the root domain, and not to related content. If people were using trackbacks linking between related content, they would be able to pick and choose their anchor text.
I Am A Link Whore
Well that is what my friend Paul thinks, and I always respect his opinion.
The big question lies in how many people were actually using Technorati favorites for any real purpose prior to the current Technorati Favorites chain.
From what I have read, top bloggers have stated that they have never seen much traffic specifically from the Technorati Favorites page. It would be hard to judge, because there is suddenly a lot more attention being drawn to Technorati Favorites.
Lets have a look at how other people are using Technorati Favorites
- David Sifry – Founder of Technorati – 76 Favorites
- Robert Scoble – Tech Blogger – 11 Favorites
- Dave Winer – The Father of RSS and OPML- No Favorites
- Steve Rubel – Marketing Strategist – 28 Favorites
- Michael Arrington – Techcrunch Web 2.0 Supremo – No Favorites
- Jason Calacanis –
Linkbaiter– Lover of dogs, and successful media mogul both online and offline – No Favorites
- Seth Godin – Marketing Consultant and Author – No Favorites
- Michelle Malkin – Political Blogger – 21 Favorites
- Arianna Huffington – Political Blogger – 37 Blogs
- Richard MacManus – Technology Blogger – 1 Favorite
A good 3rd of his favorites are actually search queries, not even blogs at all, and most of the remainder are technology and marketing blogs, mainly A-listers.
It looks like David is using the service as a Feed Reader rather than a favorite being a vote for a particular blog.
One of Robert’s favorites is his old URL on WordPress.com, so it looks like he keeps things updated. Robert is a heavy user of Technorati, thus I think this is a significant indication.
Maybe Dave just loves all blogs, and playing with raw OPML rather than on Technorati
Actually I am not sure whether that is actually Jason’s profile, there seems to be something broken, because although that profile has claimed calacanis.com, calacanis.com is not listed under the profile. The same profile is still listed as claiming Engadget.
This is interesting because Alex Iskold and Emre Sokullu have both written about Technorati recently, and in particular about search and Technorati decline, and Alex even suggested people fave RWW in the post.
Alex knows all about Technorati Favorites with the 3 he currently has, 2 of them blogs he writes on, and the other is his own Technorati favorites creating an interesting, never-ending loop.
Emre however has Alex pipped, having 4 Technorati Favorites, 2 being blogs he writes for, plus Techcrunch and GigaOm
I could carry on with this list all night, and I will find very few top bloggers that are actually using the full features of Technorati to improve their blog search results.
I Am Using Technorati Favorites
It seems to me that Technorati Favorites are not being used by the majority of top bloggers, so they could have very little complaint about how anyone else decides to use them.
Technorati Favorites help my productivity, and is an easy way for people to say “Hey I am Here, Listen To Me Too”.
The amount of people I have been favoriting recently has been escalating, through use of Technorati’s OPML import feature.
Features like that are there to be used. I encourage other people to use them as well.
Obviously there is a problem with detecting when other people favorite me, and providing reciprocation that I offer willingly, because I want to see what other people are talking about.
Fortunately Engtech has come up with a solution, which uses Technorati’s API
Here is a nice quote to finish off from Engtech, in response to some negativity to the favorites exchange.
@Ilya: The thing is, the Technorati Favorites doesnâ€™t have any meaning to start with.
The top 100 favorites is a completely arbitrary ranking that Technorati should get rid of. Before these favorite exchanges came a long *very few* people used it or had even heard of it.
Creating Passionate Users, easily one of the best blogs anyone could have read only managed to hit around 190 favorites even with including a link to â€œadd this to Technorati favoritesâ€ prominently on every page of their blog for over a year.
All that advertisement for Technorati with what to show for it?
I like how you can use it for creating a custom blog search engine, but other than that or using it as a poor manâ€™s RSS the feature doesnâ€™t *do* or *mean* anything.
If it wasnâ€™t for the attention from the favorite exchange then people *still* wouldnâ€™t be using it.
Lets see what the value is when PersonalBee gets integrated, or people do some cool things with OPML.
I can see nothing wrong with using powerful tools provided by Technorati to help with my online productivity, and especially allowing me to monitor what my readers are talking about, so I can respond to their needs.