I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile, but was motivated into action by Mitch Joel over at Six Pixels Of Separation on his post regarding Technorati Authority.
Background: Technorati authority is simply a measure of how many other people are linking to you from their blogs. ie If 10 people link Unique-Frequency, my Technorati ranking is higher than if 2 people linked me. (This isn’t a new metric of “importance”, Google’s PageRank uses a similar system)
Thinking about this over the last week or so, I have to respectfully disagree with Mitch on the issue because I don’t think it’s a good indicator of whether a blog is “successful” or not.
The reason? Technorati doesn’t discriminate between links. I could have been scraped by a spam blog, just added by someone’s blogroll or mentioned in Joseph Jaffe’s UNM2PNM new marketing and they all will get picked up equally and add to my authority.
That said, of course it’s nice to have a higher authority, but does that really, tangibly mean anything? For example, Mitch has an authority of 550 on Technorati, but Jaffe has about 685. Should that mean I automatically take Jaffe to be more credible? Certainly I have learned a lot from both bloggers and would not say they should be almost 150 points apart.
Both are instances where bloggers or Facebook users have a choice whether to link or to join the groups. Some choose to, some don’t.
Here’s what I feel is the inherent flaw: You have to own a blog or be on Facebook to add to the Technorati authority or to the Facebook group’s numbers. But the number of people who are actual content creators (ie bloggers) is somewhere in the region of 13% according to a study shown in social media class. In other words, the other 87% are by default, excluded.
Now I’m not saying this is a bad metric. Obviously I love it when my authority goes up (I’m at 13). But I also know that while I have certain nice mentions by people like Louis Gray in an actual conversation, it also contains spam blog links and links on people’s blogroll, whether or not they read my blog. This difference makes me take the Technorati authority with a pinch of salt.
The system isn’t perfect, but then perhaps no system is. But personally, until this tension between discriminatory and non-discriminatory links are reconciled, I’m hesitant to place a strong emphasis on Technorati authority.