Technorati to change how it measures bloggers' influence

Technorati is about to make some big changes to the way it measures how important bloggers are. That means its top-100 list of the most influential bloggers is going to change. Some bloggers may be delighted by the changes, while others who drop in the rankings may howl in protest

Basically, the company is going to reduce the costs of indexing the blogosphere and reporting the results on its Technorati.com site, which is a major blog search engine. It is not going to index the blogosphere just for the sake of saying it can do so. It is also going to put more emphasis into its business which pays the bills: the Technorati Media ad network, which serves ads to more than 400 sites, not just Technorati.com

“We were spending way too much money,” said Richard Jalichandra, who became chief executive of the San Francisco company in 2007 (see his guest post). “This is a turnaround situation. The company had business, but it was in a small amount of trouble. The company was conceived for a different kind of Internet. Now, besides blogs, there is Twitter, social networking, and the real-time web.”

The processing requirements for the index have grown dramatically as the blogosphere has blossomed into hundreds of millions of blogs. And of the 300 million plus blogs out there, only a fraction of them are updated often.

In the past, Technorati used about six months worth of data to determine its authority rankings. Now it will use a few weeks, but it will capture the slices of data more frequently to keep up with real-time changes. That’s based on the notion that 90 percent of the searches yield information that is less than six months old. In a way, Technorati is dropping out of the race with Google and other search companies that are trying to build the infrastructure necessary to capture everything that happens on the web.

Technorati is also going to emphasize “relevancy.” The index will try to capture changes in the blogosphere that are relevant to people who are searching through the blogs. The results should deliver relevant results from authoritative sources, not just the latest inane Tweets. Technorati will divide the index into more relevant categories, such as sports blogs.

For the past five quarters, the Technorati Media ad network has become the company’s mainstay money maker. Technorati Media is a matchmaker, connecting advertisers to the audiences of 400 major blogs with 108 million readers and 1.5 billion pages of content. Included among them are sites such as Inquisitr.com. That network makes Technorati into the sixth largest social media property, and advertisers want to reach its audience

On the index side, Jalichandra said that Technorati will now institute a “complete overhaul” at its Technorati.com site. This revision has been in the making for more than six months. He says that the changes should actually make the Technorati top influence ratings — a numbered ranking known as an authority rating — more reflective of what is happening on a day to day basis. The scoring system will change and will show which blogs are rising and which are falling in authority.

“When you do a search, the results should be a lot better,” Jalichandra said.

A lot of the changes should help reduce the punishing costs of leasing data center servers. And they should create more volatility on a day-to-day basis on the Technorati top 100 blogs list. Jalichandra said he is prepared to deal with a storm of criticism from the naturally loquacious blogging community. But now the playing field will be level for the bloggers. A blog will no longer be high in the rankings just because it was high in the past six months, which could help audiences discover up-and-coming blogs more easily.

But Technorati intends to stay relevant in the blogging world. It recently launched its Twittorati site, which keeps a post on the Tweets (or 140-character microblogging messages) of the most influential bloggers. Jalichandra hinted that the Twittorati data will be incorporated into Technorati.com, a reflection of how important spreading your influence via Twitter has become for bloggers.

And Technorati will also allow bloggers to post directly to Technorati.com. Doing so could help them reach a wider audience. This means that the lower tier of bloggers will actually have more of a chance to rise in the ranks and reach audiences who would otherwise not be aware of them.

In the coming months, the company will release its 2009 version of its State of the Blogosphere report. That report will be more ambitious than last year’s, Jalichandra said, and will use both a professional polling company and outside third-party data.

Technorati is continuing to expand its monetization strategy. It’s hiring more ad sales people and will deploy new ad technologies over time, Jalichandra said. The company isn’t profitable yet. Jalichandra says the changes to the business have required more investment, so the target for making money is the middle of next year.

“Revenue is our number one objective in the next year,” he said.