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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.
Comments
  1. I’m with you Darren. In the grand scheme of things, they are irrelevant beyond our little circle of blog people.

    Shame too. Because they “could” have beaten Google down. Instead, them and companies like Icerocket, didn’t do much of anything to corner the space.

    Now it’s probably too late.

    I like being found in Technorati, sure, but I’m not getting any business or roi from it. I wish I was though.

  2. Darren, great post. This answers basically every question I had about the topic. I have found tons of people swapping mybloglog memberships and it would only make sense to see technorati favorites up next!

    When you speak of those genuine people who really just enjoy your content, that is me! Haha, you have been on my technorati favorites list for months man.

    I also wrote today that blogtopsites is being gamed, I think technorati is 10x better.

  3. I heard about it too and post the process on http://www.bontb.com

    So all you do is for example write something on post or explain on how to add you to technorati and that you will in return put them as favorite too.

    http://technorati.com/faves?add=http://bontb.com

    So take the above link and replace my site with yours :) but before you do that add me :) please Darren

  4. good post Darren. these get rich quick schemes rarely give any long term benefits and in my opinion they alienate their readers. ive unsubscribed from 3 or 4 blogs because every other day theyre posting dozens of links to completely unrelated websites. when did blogs become link farms?

    :)

  5. Hey Darren,

    I completely agree with most of what is said. Although I use Technorati more often than Google Blog Search (as I find the former much better), I don’t generally add a lot of favourites as I would always use an RSS aggregator to get all the posts from my favourite blogs.

    Well, the list is does not exactly have *all* the best (depends on how you classify them) blogs. Even then, I am glad to see you at #3.

    Cheers!

  6. With millions of blogs, anything automated is useless. The truly popular blogs are the ones your hear about from friends and co-workers.

    http://www.izilla.net

  7. Well I guess I’ll take my Technorati Link Exchange down now from my homepage. I never really considered it gaming but actually exchanging links. So far all the sites I have exchanged with have been of interest to me so I didn’t really consider it gaming. As far as traffic is concerned Technorati has never been a huge traffic builder when compared to Stumbleupon and MyBlogLog. I see you took your MyBlogLog widget down BTW why?
    Regards, ElectroGeek

  8. Part of the problem is that, the last time I looked, the top 100 lists were rather hard to find. Start from Technorati’s homepage, or indeed anywhere else in the site, and see how many clicks it takes you to get to it.

  9. […] first thing I saw when I sat down in front of my pc, was Darren Rowse’s post titled “Is Technorati Being Gamed – Do They Care? – Does it Matter?” with a link to Amit Agarwal’s Technorati Favorites: Not Worth It Anymore. I then […]

  10. Darren, thanks for the thoughtful analysis of Technorati Favorites. We do care about the Top 100 and, as you point out, the main purpose of the feature is to help people keep track of the latest posts from their favorite blogs. With so many blogs, it’s hard to keep up with everything changing so fast.

    Tagging within your Favorites is another way to organize what you read by topic. I’ve also tagged a number of blogs I want in a blogroll on my blog, ‘sidebar’, and then used the Favorites Widget to included those blogs on my blog.

    We are always looking for ways to improve Technorati and to be of service to our users and the bloggers who make our site useful. I’ll be thinking a lot about your comments and those of many other bloggers around how to maximize the benefits of Favorites, allow link sharing, but avoid devaluing the feature and the entire service when people simply try to game it.

    Thanks for using Technorati and stay tuned for some great new stuff.

  11. I think people do it to gain more authority in the blogsphere regardless fo Google’s Rankings.

  12. Darren, you nailed it! Even before i read your post i wrote something on my blog about this technorati faves thing.

    “put the energy into building a better blog, show people how to favorite you and let the list look after itself.” I totally agree on that, i think writing relevant and worth reading content has way more impact on a blogs’ “authority” than the number of technorati faves.

    Nuff said, great post! Needless to say i faved you! hehe

  13. Well, I feel that, it can be a bit of ego booster to many new dummies like me but manipulation may bring trouble to those genuine bloggers at top.
    Next time they will come up with digg exchange and del.icio.us exchange. These exchanges may result in loss of credibility of such sites.

  14. Thanks for covering this, Darren. I’ve been worrying about this since I noticed bloggers swapping links. It seems so futile and misses, like you say, the true benefit, a sort of second face as a feed on your reader’s profile page.

    I’ll keep on with my current plan of inviting “faves” only on my blog round-ups. The people who bother to read those posts are the people I want a tighter connection with.

  15. When I first read about the link exchange practice, the first thought I had was “that’s cheating!”

    Perhaps it is; perhaps it isn’t.

    As for me, I’d rather aquire favourites the ole’ fashioned way. (Not that I have many, but the few I have, I adore them greatly!)

  16. I think it is more important the number of link backs to your blog that being favorited.
    As the link back usually means some other bloggers really like what you write in order to put it on their on blogs.

  17. […] Is Technorati Being Gamed – Do They Care? – Does it Matter? Of course they are being gamed. Anything generating traffic to web sites is being gamed. « Hacking the hack: todo.txt […]

  18. I didn’t jump on the train, but I can appreciate the fact that they pulled it off. And royally.

    And it’s really something that Google should be more concerned about than Technorati. People are looking for more social networking services (and schemes). And they’re getting used to relying less and less on search traffic.

    I’m not going to download a couple thousand Technorati faves, but if someone faves me, I’ll check out their site. And maybe fave them back.

  19. The swapping is kinda pathetic, isn’t it?

    Spending more time writing great, worthwhile content is what matters in the end, not ineffective promotion.

    A great, long blog post. Enjoyed reading it.

  20. Its my thoughts that this is not the only area that Technorati is being gamed as i have noticed that it seems easy enough to manipulate other things like blog rank. So i am thinking to remain credible they really need to tighten up the ship somehow so that a ranking or most favourited on technorati means something for all the blogs on the list

  21. Your insights on the whole Technorati thing makes a lot of sense and I strongly agree with you. Furthermore, as much as Technorati helps boost blog readership and traffic (both directly and indirectly), I think that the popularity of a particular blog depends on a clever mixture of different tools. Being a “favorite” does help and manipulating the Technorati feature could eventually work to one’s advantage, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all of blogging success.

  22. I’m not sure that it’s worth it at all.
    If everybody swaps favourites, it will leave the favourites count neutral for everyone.

    I still find it amazing how much effort people put into gaming popularity instead of just putting the effort into actually becoming popular?

  23. I think this swapping of favourites will die out pretty soon when it turns out that it isn’t quite so useful (as you point out Darren) as hoped.

    This is why I tried to up the profile (in my own little way) of the real use for Technorati favourites. If people actually favourite the blogs that are their favourite then the top 100 would be properly representative, and each blog would have a measure of their own popularity. Gaming the system is cheap and renders the favourites real function, “a feature that lets you keep track of your favorite blogs,” useless as it mixes in a load of blogs that you don’t know.

    I hope this crazy favouriting lark clears up soon, but that the added exposure the favouriting system has got improves it’s usefulness in the long run.

  24. In my blogs I link to blogs I like or find useful. It’s the same with Technorati. A fave should be something I enjoy not anything anyone is willing to give me. I have been asked to exchange favourites but turned everyone down.Bloggers should concentrate on blogging not playing games.

  25. I send about 3X the traffic to Technorati that I get from it. You might get some exposure from being on the top 100 list, but if you want real traffic I’d say trading recs on another site would be a lot more effective. (del.icio.us, stumble, etc.)

  26. […] Darren Rowse also wrote something similar in support of Amit’s initial post: 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). […]

  27. I completely agree with your comment that if people spent less time swapping Technorati favourites and more time creating great content for their blogs, they will be far better off.

  28. Ruffled Feathers on the Top 100…

    I admit it. Until a few weeks ago, Tuesday nights found me repeatedly dialing the toll-free number for American Idol, voting for Sanjaya. A terrible singer, perhaps, but thousands of American TV viewers delighting in keeping him around week after week….

  29. […] The Problogger article Is Technorati Being Gamed – Do They Care? – Does it Matter? […]

  30. It’s not about traffic or ego at all…it’s about money. Being able to tell advertisers that you’re in the Top100 on Technorati means that you’re able to charge more for advertising.

  31. And peer pressure — You can only resist so many invitations for so long, from bloggers you ‘know’ before starting to feel like a snobbish ‘wet blanket’… I finally gave in…

    To keep the Favorites list useful, as Technorati intended, as a way to keep track of certain blogs — one can use a separate tag for Fave entries that come by way of link exchange.

  32. if this number effects your rank in technorati and advertise network like ReviewMe use it for deciding on review price, then yes it worth it.

  33. Gerard says: 04/30/2007 at 10:42 pm

    You are just a jealous wanker Darren.

    I totally agree with Maki’s latest post on this that you are simply worried that you’ll lose your position. I think bloggers should do all they can to get to the top of these lists. Game technorati, game digg, game stumbleupon, game reddit, game google, game mybloglog, game your readers and game other bloggers

    anything you can do to get ahead is fair game you [email protected]!t

  34. Igor (and others) – I think some people are getting Technorati’s two Top 100 lists mixed up. The ‘favorite’ list that this post is about has no relation on review me rankings – it’s the other top 100 list (the one based upon incoming links) that does.

    Similarly – it’s the other list that advertisers are more likely to look at when determining how much they’d be willing to pay bloggers not the favorite’s top 100.

    Gerard – charming stuff mate. Sounds like you’re into a lot of ‘gaming’ of different services. Quick question though – when do you have time to blog? Imagine if you stopped gaming everyone and put the same energy into writing posts, building community and being a resource to your readers.

  35. I completely agree with you. As a reader myself, I think a blogger is hurting his own reputation by enrolling himself into stuff like that.

    I was expecting this post from you!

  36. This is why I subscribe to Problogger. While there are plenty of other bloggers out there operating in the murky waters of the blogosphere bragging about their achievements at gaming different systems and recommending that other bloggers join them in their ‘evil’ schemes (that only really benefit them) you continue to advise bloggers take the high road and actually build content as a strategy to grow their blogs.

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

  37. Top lists give people something to do. You can’t go through one day of viewing Digg without seeing a top 10 list of something or other.

  38. I don’t like the messages here of being “high and mighty” and others are small-time bloggers.

  39. They don’t care. You do.

  40. It’s all an illusion, what with all of the viral lists and the such. It’s simply getting one over on the system. By coincidence I wrote a post about this today before reading your excellent one.

    Though, as I said, it is about getting one over on the system it’s also about the money angle and sponsored posts. Many bloggers now seem to think this is what blogging is all about. Improved Technorati & other rankings can equate to more money.

    Mike.

  41. Basically, when you decide that you want to start a blog and reel in the big bucks, you think of ways to increase your chances for success. Some bloggers do gaming so well while others just don’t care about that sorta thing. Pouring most of your efforts on creating high-quality content and constantly improving your site by utilizing the essential tools made available to you will definitely be good for “business” — gaming is merely optional and people who still want to resort to it may do so.

  42. Interesting points Darren, but can I ask why you stumbled this post, instead of allowing a reader who liked it to do it?

    Is that not gaming the system?

    I have very rarely stumbled my own stuff, should I have done, and am I missing a trick?

  43. Just look at how ReviewMe works their rating system. A large part of it is Technorati ranking. Everything online is about money in some way or another, even under the noblest intentions.

  44. I am not necessarily opposed to this practice (mainly because several of my online friends are doing it). However, I chose not to participate, because I use technorati to keep track of my favorite blogs. If I cluttered it with 100+ blogs that I don’t read, then technorati would be less valuable to me.

    We all draw our lines in different places in the sand. To some people asking your friends for diggs is fine, but exchangine blog roll links isn’t. For some plastering ads all over your site isn’t ok, but using profanity is ok.While other’s hold the exact opposite beliefs. This is part of the reason that having a standard set of rules for bloggers won’t be happening any time soon.

    For me what this issue comes down to is does this violate Technorati’s TOS? If it does violate the TOS, then you shouldn’t do it. If it doesn’t violate the TOS, then I guess it’s ok.

  45. There is a little saying that goes like this:

    “Play by the rules!”

    In fact those fav exchangers stick to the rules given by Technorati. It maybe sounds somehow immorally but it is not illegal.

    If you compare Technorati tweaking with SEO you will have a different look at fav exchange projects.

    Another thing is that the established Technorati Top 100 will be hard to get into, because they are years ahead in gaining fav links.

    It would be very interesting to see what would happen to the Top 100 if it would be resetted every 2 month.

    Regards,

    René
    ProBloggerWorld

  46. […] want a temporary ego boost after they’re included on the “the list?” Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger just wrote about this topic. I’ve always respected Darren and his opinion, and so I was […]

  47. A good post. I think the keyword here, should be “natural”. Natural, as in all things should be natural.

    That said, the problem nowadays is, it’s not so simple as “having great content”….Back in the old days, great content worked, but nowadays, it takes a whole LOT MORE than great content.

    Blogging has evolved in just two years to become closly tied with Web 2.0 social media sites and it is a fact many blogs compete against each other as in popularity contests.

    The rules have changed tremendously, and very sophisticated methods are now used and newer ones currently being researched to achieve higher traffic, a high Alexa rank etc…

    Definitely some of those methods will appear as “gaming the system”.

    What is ok and what is not though, is no longer so easy to define…anymore unfortunately, and of course there is both good and bad aspects to all these “gaming systems”.

  48. Interesting insight to the Tecnorati situation. Technorati does care — it has to care. The users are the bread and butter of their business.

  49. Does the Technorati Top 100 Most Favorited Blog List Drive Traffic?
    * I personally occasionally click the top 100 most fav list. I think same as some other bloggers.

    Does it Increase Profile?
    * I think so.

    Does it give Egos a Boost?
    * Obviousely.

    Does Technorati Care?
    * Obviousely. More people put the fav button on their sites, the happier the Technorati

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