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July 09, 2006

Ten Questions with David Sifry

tn-logo.gif Here is an interview with David Sifry, the founder and CEO of Technorati. In this interview he explains what Technorati does as well as the practices of good blogging. Here are his Favorites Ironically, he doesn't post to his blog too often! But, there are several interesting charts there.

  1. Question: How many blogs does Technorati check?

    Answer: Currently, we’re indexing over forty-seven million blogs, and the numbers are growing by about 100,000 new blogs each day. You can always see the most up-to-date numbers on our homepage.

  2. Question: How do you check them?

    Answer: Technorati works based on a different principle than most traditional search engines like Google and Yahoo. Instead of going out and spending a lot of time crawling the web looking for blogs that have changed, Technorati gets notified (“pinged”) whenever anyone using one of the most popular publishing tools creates or modifies her blog.

    We’ve worked very hard with the folks who create publishing tools and services like Six Apart, Wordpress, Blogger, MSN Spaces, Blogware, Yahoo! 360, Radio Userland, AOL’s Journals and AIM Pages, and dozens of others to make this happen. We make sure that we immediately index the blog whenever a person using one of those services makes an update.

    We do supplement this with some crawling of a few blogs that don’t yet have Technorati notification built-in, but in general, those updates are at a lower priority than the updates that we receive from services that work with us.

    We call this notification system our high-priority indexing system. If you want to ensure that your blog is indexed in the most timely fashion available, drop a line to your blog hosting or tool provider to make sure that they participate.

  3. Question: How often do you check blogs?

    Answer: For folks using the high-priority sites, postings are indexed in under five minutes. If your service doesn’t ping us, or if you use home-grown software, you can use our manual ping system at http://technorati.com/ping and ping us each time you post. Then we’ll put you in the high-priority queue.

    If you have a new blog and you use one of the dozens of blog services that ping Technorati, all you have to do is post a message, and we’ll search your blog. To find out if we’ve indexed you correctly, you can go to Blogfinder and put in your blog URL to see if you’re in our index. If you aren’t you might want to drop a line to the support folks at your blog hosting provider asking why not.

  4. Question: What can a blogger do to ascend the Technorati 100—or simply write a better blog, for that matter?

    Answer: There are no hard and fast rules, but I can provide a few guidelines that seem to have worked well for the preponderance of the blogs on the Top 100:

    • Post often and post at regular intervals. Ideally at least once a day, or even more often.

    • Figure out what kind of blogger you are. Are you a blogger who loves to collect links? Are you an essayist who loves to argue points of articulate new ideas? Are you a storyteller? Are you more comfortable with video, audio, photos, or text, or all three? Try stuff out and see what you feel most comfortable doing, and then try to stick to it.

    • Link prolifically. Give your readers the benefit of you preparing all of the source materials for them. Also, if you are rebutting or commenting on someone else’s idea or point, it is a sign of respect to link to them. The hyperlink is becoming a new form of social gesture used between people. Tools like Technorati also help you to find out who has linked to you, so when I see a blogger who has linked to me recently, I’m more inclined to discuss his or her ideas and link back to them, driving traffic and conversation.

    • Be honest. There are very few people who can get away with building up personas, and you probably aren’t one of them.

    • Write about what you know. It makes for much more engaging and interesting reading. I love blogs like English Cut, because he knows so much about the world of Saville Row and he writes about it.

    • Be Passionate. Nobody likes boring writing about boring subjects. First find your passion, then express it on your blog!

    • Practice, practice, practice. Your writing or podcasting or videoblogging—whatever will get better as you do it more. Keep it up.

    • Get a Technorati watchlist for your blog and for your name. Know when people are talking about you and be able to respond—either in comments on their blog, or even better, on your own blog, with a link to the other blog.

    • Get a full-text RSS and Atom feed. Make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog. I’d recommend a service like Feedburner to manage those feeds for you and get you stats.

    • Use tagging. Tags are an easy way to create open categories, and they help to make it easier to find your blog. You can get a tutorial with tools here.

    • Claim your blog and put in blog tags. This puts you into the world’s largest blog directory, Blogfinder, which already has over two million entries. And it means that if you write authoritatively about a certain topic, you’ll show up pretty high on the list for that topic. Which means you’ll get more traffic and new readers and links.

  5. Question: What tricks won’t work so people shouldn’t waste their time trying to game the system?

    Answer: Oh lots. We’re getting pretty good at finding link farmers—people who create fake blogs that link to one blog or site in order to lift their ranking, for example. Also, we can find automatically-generated content, like syndicated information from other blogs that you violate the copyright to get.

    Another ploy is to try to use all of the Technorati top search terms in a single post, to get people to see that post. This kind of SEO generally doesn’t work for long and it won’t get you lots of respect, which is what you want in the blogosphere.

  6. Question: Why does it matter if a blogger pings Technorati when she updates her blog?

    Answer: It means that we’ll be able to immediately add your blog to our high-priority indexing queue to index your blog as quickly as possible. This means you’ll get credit for being the first person to say something, for example. It also means that the people you link to will learn that you linked to them as quickly as possible too.

  7. Question: If a blogger finds links that are not on any of the main blog hosting sites, should she manually ping Technorati to ensure that they are counted?

    Answer: Sure, but please ping us with the main page or homepage of the blog, not the article itself. We’re pretty good at picking up the actual article if you give us the main page URL. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see results immediately after a ping—sometimes the sites are not blogs. Also, if you’re using homebuilt software, our spider may have a hard time picking up the posts.

    Occasionally we have a real blog that we falsely classify as spam. In that case, drop us a line via our support mechanism with the blog that you think should be indexed, and we’ll have a look. Our FAQ is here.

  8. Question: Why does the ranking number here never match what’s here?

    Answer: Sorry about that! That’s a bug. We’re working on a whole bunch of fixes to that and also to make sure that your link counts and that rankings are updated much more frequently. Keep checking back with us for more information.

  9. Question: What do you think of quid pro quo reciprocal linking and blogrolling?

    Answer: I don’t see the harm in it, but I also don’t look at blogging as a game—so if you think that your readers will get something out of a blog that you blogroll, then go for it. I really don’t care if the person links back to me—I’d rather they did it because they liked my writing than because of a quid pro quo.

  10. Question: Can’t Technorati put out a widget or browser bar across more operating systems and browsers to more broadly measure which blogs people read so we don’t have to depend on Alexa?

    Answer: That’s a great question. If I find out that there are some great venture capitalists out there who operate out of a garage that would love to see that happen, perhaps they want to put a stack of $100 bills in an envelope and we’ll build it... ;-)

  11. Question: On a scale of 1-10 where 10 means that I should check into the Betty Ford Clinic for dependence on Technorati stats, how would you rate me?

    Answer: You’re a perfectly healthy, strapping young man, Mr. Kawasaki!

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Comments

Too bad Technorati has so many problems with the ping service.

Keep up the good work David! Technorati rocks! Me and Guy share the same dream of one day break high into Technorati rankings (even though Guy has quite an advantage). ;)

André Hedetoft
Movie-geek
Just created a game where you get to play with my real life over at http://www.andrehedetoft.com

Thanks for posting that interview, Guy. You and Dave just helped make Technorati seem a little more human.

It's a good interview and technorati's a good service, though I wish they'd answer support questions.

Thanks for this article - I didn't understand the value of the watchlist so that pointer alone was reading it through. I have now set up 22 items on my watchlist and I'm sure it will grow - as I hope my links and comments (readers) do too!

Very interesting and intelligent interview.
I think i am going to translate and adapt to spanish.

Thank you and congratulations

Great interview, Guy and David!

Though I'm somewhere down in the 35,000 range, it's good to know I'm already doing all the things David recommends! ;-)

Great post, very informative. Thanks Guy and David! Blogging has become one network of people sharing ideas and opinions. I have a feeling the blogosphere is changing how companies run their business, too. It's very good, very exciting actually.

Thanks Guy and Dave for a very informative post.

I have gone from clueless and unaware about blogs to obsessive about checking links, stats and rankings for my blog. I went from somewhere in the 30 millions to the 5,000's in a couple of short months (thanks to a link in this blog, among others) While I do worry about my obsession some days, I find it a fascinating way to actually find out who is talking about me "out there." I have been an entrepreneur for a decade, and have grown my biz all by referrals, but I never saw the trail of conversations among satisfied clients or interested prospects as I do now.

Frank, I would have to pretty much rabidly disagree with you that blogging is not "real" business stuff. I have met tons of interested clients, raving fans, joint venture partners and now even a book agent that I never would have had the chance to meet if I didn't blog.

The Top 100 would be a great accomplishment, but for now I am supremely excited by the wonderful, creative contacts I am making through this medium.

Guy doing an interview with Dave Sifry would be like me doing an interview with Ralph Rubio. My question 11 would be:

11. Does consumption of more than 3 Shrimp Mesquite Burrito combos in a week lead to any health problems that you know of?

I posted about some of David's insights about starting a business last week on my blog. Blog CEO's seem to be interesting guys as I meet and interact with more of them.

Dave, Guy,

Great interview. I'm a new blogger myself, so picked up some good practices. My company is also working on creating a niched blogging platform, so we'll be sure to look into getting on the high priority queue.

Awesome how Dave gives out his personal contact info to stay connected and accountable. Reminds me of Guy's story in Art of the Start about personalized service from Medtronic Xomed.

Thanks for all the info!

Guy and Dave, thanks for this resource. I'll post my thoughts about it at BusinessBlogWire soon.

Frank, blogging is a business unto itself for a growing number of people, and as such I think it merits a reasonable amount of space on Guy's blog.

A very timely interview for me in light of my cry for help. http://makemarketinghistory.blogspot.com/2006/07/100-days-of-blogitude_09.html

However, I fear that on the technical issues, I'm still drowning in a mass of incomprehension. To repeat myself, it's long past time when there should be non geeky guidance out there especially if blogging is to be truly egalitarian.

More blogging about blogging...

YAWN.

Come on Guy - why waste all this bandwidth talking about blogging?

[No offense Dave - I'm sure your work is quite interesting - I would just rather hear Guy's pearls of wisdom about business than more talk of blogging. Maybe you could post about the business rather than the technical stuff?]

cool interview

Thanks for the interview, Guy! It was truly an honor to spend some time with you. You were a role model to me way back when you were an evangelist at Apple.

Louis, thanks for your very kind words about Technorati. We also take scalability and performance very seriously. I hope that you have noticed more stable and quicker performance over the past few months, and we hope to make it even better, all the while continuing to track the live web in all its expansive glory. ;-)

We're not perfect, however, and we want to know if you're experiencing any systemic issues, especially recently, as we've done a lot to make the infrastructure much more scalable.

Help keep us on our toes! Let me know if you're having any problems - either drop me an email at dsifry AT technorati DOT com, or you can call me on my cell phone, 415 846-0232...

Dave

Technorati has quickly risen to be a significant force in this next-generation Web. I think the major thing that would stand in their way is scalability. We've all seen search times on Technorati lag, especially on peak hours, and even weekends.

It's great to be on top, but the company needs to stay on top of its hardware infrastructure while still maintaining its leading Web interface. Let's hope they do so.

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