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Is Technorati Being Gamed – Do They Care? – Does it Matter?

Posted By Darren Rowse 30th of April 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

One of the questions I’ve been asked quite a bit lately is what I think about the increasingly common practice of swapping Technorati Favorites in order to climb the Technorati Most Favorited Top 100.

To be honest, it’s not really an issue that I’ve given much thought to (although I’m increasingly being asked by bloggers to swap with them – something I don’t get into) – and one that I don’t really think is massively important – however as I repeatedly am asked about this tactic to increase a blog’s profile I thought I should give it a little attention.

PS: as I’m writing this I’ve just received an email from someone who is developing a service (site) to organize and formalize the technorati favorite swapping process – it seems a mini industry is rising up around the practice.

In this post I’m going to explore the following questions:

  • Does the Technorati Top 100 Most Favorited Blog List Drive Traffic?
  • Does it Increase Profile?
  • Does it give Egos a Boost?
  • Does Technorati Care?
  • So What’s the Point of Technorati Favorites and Why Do I promote it?
  • So What do I think about swapping Favorites to Climb the Top 100 Most Favorited Blogs List?
  • What do I think about the Top 100 Most Favorited Blogs List?

At the end of the post I’d love to get your thoughts and opinion on it.

Does the Technorati Top 100 Most Favorited Blog List Drive Traffic?

Let me start by looking at the main motivation that many seem to have in seeking to climb the Top 100 Favorites list at Technorati – traffic.

As of today, this blog is the 3rd most favorited blog on the list. I should say up front that this is not as a result of swapping favorites – but simply because for the last few months I’ve used the button that Technorati provide to bloggers to encourage people to add ProBlogger as a favorite.

So does being #3 on this list drive thousands of visitors to ProBlogger?

A quick visit to my stats packages shows that in the scheme of things it’s hardly caused a blip on my traffic radar. Technorati does drive a few hundred readers per month to this blog – but not a single visitor came directly from that the Top 100 Favorites page.

A few visitors do arrive from my profile page which is also linked to from the Top 100 Favorited Blogs page – but this is no more than a handful of readers per day (5-10).

Does it Increase Profile?

Another possible benefit of being on such a list is that it has the potential to increase your profile and help you with getting mainstream media attention and/or advertisers for your blog.

This is harder to measure – but I’m afraid to say that I’m not aware of any circumstance where any reporter or advertiser approached me as a result of seeing me as #3 on the Most Favorited list. Technorati’s Most Linked to Top 100 has helped a little with profile and but the Favorites list doesn’t seem to have the same credibility attached to it (and it’s no wonder if it’s so easily manipulated).

Does it give Egos a Boost?

Hmmm – another difficult one to measure – I can only answer for myself by saying – a little.

It’s always nice to be included in a list and to be in the company of blogs like others featured in the list.

However it’s a somewhat empty achievement to be honest. While I appreciate my readers going to the trouble of marking me a favorite – it’s a list that I suspect will always be skewed in favor of blogs about blogging, web 2.0 and the web because it’s on a site whose users are largely bloggers who are more inclined to read such blogs.

Of course keep in mind that favorite swapping schemes will also boost the egos of the other person who does them too and that those that are benefiting most from them are those at the top of the swapping pyramids who get loads of favorites while those they swap with get only a handful.

Does Technorati Care?

I’ve tried in the last few weeks to get a comment from Technorati on this by emailing both their support team and Dave Sifry himself. I’m yet to hear anything back from either approach.

I can only guess that they do seem to care about Favorites (as they link to the feature prominently but that they don’t really seem to care how bloggers are using it.

So What’s the Point of Technorati Favorites and Why Do I promote it?

If you read the page that Technorati has on the Favorites concept you’ll catch a glimpse of why they want their users to use this feature:

“Favorites is a feature that lets you keep track of your favorite blogs.”

The whole point behind the ability to mark blog as a Favorite was that it would help you keep track of what that blog was writing about when you went to Technorati’s home page (which, when you’re logged in displays the latest posts from your favorites). The point was to help blog readers keep abreast of what was going on on blogs that were their ‘favorites’.

As I read it, the Top 100 Favorited Blog list was a byproduct of a useful feature for Technorati users and from what I see going on at the moment between some bloggers, the list has become a distraction from the real purpose of the favorite feature. The way I see some people talking about swapping favorites to climb the rankings seems to miss the real benefit of the feature.

The Top 100 Most Favorited list might give me a fleeting ego boost – but the fact that 1170+ technorati users have a chance of seeing my latest post next time they go to Technorati’s front page is the real bonus in my mind.

In fact – as I analyze my blog’s stats it’s the front page that drives me as much traffic as any other part of Technorati (although it’s still only a few hundred a month).

So What do I think about swapping Favorites to Climb the Top 100 Most Favorited Blogs List?

This might not be popular – but I think that the practice of swapping favorites is a little sad and that the energy that some bloggers are putting into doing it could be much better spent by actually engaging with readers and encouraging genuine relationships to be formed.

I’d much rather 10 genuine readers mark me as a favorite and see my posts when they next log in than 180 do it to get me into a list that doesn’t seem to do anything more than boost my ego.

My feeling is that the favorites feature on Technorati is potentially a good feature for getting your work in the faces of readers and that it could be well worth adding the button to your sidebar for this gain. I’ll continue to encourage people to favorite me (you can do it right now if you’re genuinely interested in reading more of what I write) but in doing so hope to do it in ways that will bring readership conversion rather than to be at the top of some list.

My other concern is that this practice is making the Top 100 list more and more laughable and useless – and that Technorati are likely to either change their TOS and ban people who do it or scrap the list altogether (probably not a bad thing). Why invest so much time in a practice that could get you in trouble with one of the biggest blog related sites and that doesn’t actually convert to bringing in new traffic or increased profile?

My advice – put the energy into building a better blog, show people how to favorite you and let the list look after itself.

What do I think about the Top 100 Most Favorited Blogs List?

The Top 100 list could also be a potentially useful tool – but only if the favorites feature is used widely (I suspect it’s not, the top blog only has 1800 votes from the last year or so that people have been able to use it) and only if Technorati set some guidelines or terms of service in place to stop it being manipulated.

Otherwise the list will simply become a list of those who have managed to swap favors and in doing so it becomes a less useful resource for Technorati’s users. If this happens it becomes pretty useless and actually runs the risk of making Technorati less valuable to it’s readers.

Perhaps a more useful feature instead of (or in addition to) the Top 100 Most Favorited blogs would be a favorites list that could be access somehow by topics (although I guess this can be done by searching for tags).

But that’s just my thinking – what do you think about the practice of swapping Technorati Favorites? Do you do it? Why? Who’s benefiting from the practice most?

PS: More reading on the topic – see Amit’s recent post about how the practice has made Technorati’s Most Favorited list Worthless.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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