Technorati new rankings explained (I hope!)

Technorati logo betaI was involved in an Econsultancy Round Table session recently and amongst many very interesting topics discussed was (of course) the perennial conundrum of PR measurement. During the discussion a number of people commented on how they no longer placed any reliance on, or used, Technorati since it had changed how blog authority and rank were calculated.  So I thought I would see if I could get to grips with it.

In the past, Technorati’s authority score for a blog represented a count of the number of different sites that had linked to a particular blog in the preceding six months. Until the summer of 2008 this count included links where blogs appeared in blogrolls. These were removed from the calculations at that time, as they were identified as being too slow to change. Basically people’s housekeeping in connection with blogrolls was identified as being less than real time – to say the least I suspect!

The rank of a blog then represented how many blogs had a greater authority score i.e. more different inbound links than the selected blog.

The new measurements from October 2009 are less transparent but arguably more valid and useful. According to Technorati, authority is now based on a site’s linking behavior, categorization and other associated data over a short, finite period of time. This results in a score out of 1,000, with a higher score indicating greater authority. The advantages of this approach are that it is less easy for people to manufacture authority by creating fake links, plus the ratings are more dynamic, reflecting the extent to which individual blogs are the source of conversation.

They have also introduced a second authority score when viewing blogs through the Blog Directory feature that relates to a blogs relative authority within the sector or sub sector that it is classified in. For example if you want to know the blogs with a small business focus that Technorati thinks have the most authority on the subject then you can see a list here. In this case the Online Marketing Blog is assessed at having quite a bit more authority (961) within the small business blogs than the second ranked blog is this sector, Social Media Today (871). This is despite their overall authority scores being 614 and 689 respectively. Indicating that though SMT has more authority generally, Online Marketing Blog is considered to be more influential within the small business sector.

This is an interesting, and I would suggest, very useful change as it is relative and relevant authority that matters when assessing the importance of different sites not an absolute measure. We take the same approach to ranking sites at RealWire when calculating our RealWire Influence Rating for coverage achieved. If you don’t take this relative/relevant approach then you will always end up saying that the most influential sites are ones in the biggest communities e.g. Tech, but that is obviously not appropriate if you were trying to assess which sites were influential to, say, the fashion sector.

You can also see those blogs that are rising and falling the most within that sub sector on the right hand side of the same page.

I reckon these changes mean that it is easier to find key blogs that are relevant to you and those that are becoming more and less influential over time. And no this isn’t just because my blog now appears in the top 20k! :-) What do others think?

RealWire “Releasing influence” – our new animation goes live

Following on from our Online Media animation from the start of this year we have just finished the second part of our “trilogy” – “Releasing Influence“. *Please note this animation is more self promotional in nature*.

The first part of the film follows on from “The Online Media” and describes how news releases have the potential to achieve influence in this world. The second describes how RealWire can help senders of news to do just that and also how our service helps them to understand the impact they have had.

The last of the three should be ready in a few weeks time and will deal with the importance of delivering relevance to recipients of news.

But for now here is the video. Would love to get people’s feedback.

RSS subscriptions reach 100 million?

According to Forrester Research the use of RSS has reached 11% of US online adults. Steve Rubel and others have discussed the other main finding that of the other 89% only 17% are interested in adopting RSS in the future. The implication being that RSS is running out of steam and needs mass education to continue its growth rate.

However I wonder if this discussion is potentially missing a relatively obvious numeric point. What does 11% of US online adults equate to? With an estimated 220 million US internet users applying 11% gives 24 million that use RSS (and another 26 million who apparently aren’t sure if they do – 12% responded thus). However this assumes that minor users follow the same proportion which may not be the case but for the purpose of this calculation lets accept this limitation. To put this in context this compares with around 60-70 million US users of Facebook and Myspace. Unfortunately the study was only based on a survey of US internet users so it is not possible to extrapolate this analysis across global internet users on a rigorous basis. However if we make the (over?) simplifying assumption that this study is indicative of general RSS use then based on approximately 1.5bn internet users worldwide this would give approximately 165 million RSS users worldwide. As penetration rates go I would say that was still pretty impressive. Obviously these calculations are more back of a postage stamp than back of an envelope :) but they illustrate the point that this percentage implies some fairly big numbers in absolute terms.

The other point to consider is the potential influence implications of RSS subscriptions. What would be really useful to know would be the detailed makeup of the 11% and the sites that they subscribe to. Were it the case for instance that this analysis showed that key influencers and decision makers in certain markets are proportionally more likely to receive their news via RSS its importance in influence terms would be magnified. If anyone has access to the full report and any information on this I would be delighted to hear from you.