I see more and more people raising the questing about the need for blog search engine, especially when Google is doing such a great job finding good content from blog as well as from web sites. It seems like that Google itslef is not investing too much in their blog search too. So, in this post I will explain what I think should be the duties of a blog search engine and why I still see a need for one.
Blog search engines (should) serve multiple purposes
- Finding great bloggers, blogs and blog posts
- Recognizing great bloggers, blogs and blog posts – rank.
- Categorizing blogs and bloggers in multiple ways not limited to content type. Categorize blogs by their objectives: personal blogging is not the same as corporate blog or professional bloggers, subject expert, politics, go green, artist or others. It is not just about what that the blogger writes about but also about what the blogger is trying to achieve.
- Monitoring blog and blogger progress – is this blog alive? a shooting star?
- Web-now – see Twitter Search Trending Topics, Twingly’s Hot right now or Technorati’s what’s percolating in blogs now
- Alerts – a list of new blogs in a given category that are doing well
- Community building – increasing cooperation among bloggers (e.g. you should read this blog)
What do we need to know?
- The top bloggers in a category
- The top blogs in a category
- The top blog post in a category
Who needs it?
- The readers – to know what to read, what is going on in real-time
- The blogger
- To present a case to a sponsor
- To know whom to look up to
- To see and share about the blogger progress
- The business
- To know where to buy ad real-estate or whom to sponsor
- PR – where to spend my effort effectively
The challenges of blog search engines today.
Using the reaction counting method for ranking, the service needs to distil humans actions from automated (bots) one in order to be accurate. So far this is not working well and adds another questions mark around the validity of blog search engines.
Here are some example for both:
- Human reactions
- Blog post reacting to another
- Update on Twitter or Jaiku
- Digging on Digg
- Submitting to social bookmarking site
- Posting on a social network
- Bloggers community
- Bot reactions
The number of sites that offer posting of human blog reactions is growing faster than the crawling capabilities and sometime does not offer access to crawlers.
The service should also remove the “me” links from the count i.e. links from all the social object under the same owner.
A couple of thoughts
Maybe someone could think about another way to rank blogs and bloggers. Measuring traffic is probably a more accurate way (Alexa). The traffic is relative to the category. I assume that a blog about Technology will get more traffic than a blog about biology. The rank should be within a category and not across all (or not just across all blogs).
In my opinion there is a need for blog/blogger search engine but the emphasize of the search capability should be less around finding content (leave that to Google) and more about discovering leading blogs and bloggers.
It does not need to be a free service at least not for the business. The premium or a sponsor account model could work as well.
It sounds trivial, I know. Yet, I “see” people’s behavior on my blog that seems as if there is enough justification for this post. If you want to understand about blog’ elements I found this useful post Understanding and Reading a Blog (for Newcomers). I, want to focus on the sequence and not the blog parts and layout.
There are multiple ways to land on a blog post, one is following a link from another blog or comment left by the blogger, another way is checking a link from SERP(Search Engine Results Page). From what that I see, the people that land on my blog using search engine tends to see less of my blog. I don’t know if this is because my blog is that bad, they did not find what they were looking for, lack of time or because they do not know the difference between blog and web site. Because people that arrives at my blog from links spread across the web, by me or others, tends to check more blog posts on my blog, I think that there is some true to the later reason. This is encouraging and kind of supporting my assumption that many people don’t understand the blog concept and how to make the best of the blog reading experience.
So how to read a blog?
The most important thing to understand about blogs is that it is not just this current post that you landed on. If you are here to visit, there are few more things that you should consider checking before you leave.
- Click on the title or the Home tab – this will lead you to the Blog home page where the rest of the posts are.
- Then if you are not in a rush, check few more blog posts – scroll down. Maybe the one you initially landed on is not the best one.
- Check the Recent Post, and Top Post lists, mostly located on the sidebar – these will show you what is fresh and what others liked.
- Check the Recent Comment section – see who’s on it – read some comments. You can also follow the links by clicking on the commenter name.
- You can also explore the Blogroll– the selected links out of the blog – this is the blogger’s Favorites.
- Speaking about the blogger (in some cases bloggers) most blogs has an About page with information about the person that writes it. Take a peek, you may find something in common.
- Finally, if you really want to know more about the blog, you can search for it on Technorati or Twingly. There you can find other blog post are linked to this one. You can also find its rank in the blogsphere.
If you like the blog that you just read then you can subscribed to its feeds. You’ll be getting new content to your favorite feed reader as soon as they come out (like Google Reader or Netvibe). Just click on the image that looks like this : and copy the link. Some blogs offers email subscriptions too – I’m subscribed to few really good one like ReadWriteWeb. In this way I make sure that I don’t miss anything if I did not open my RSS reader (I do check my email periodically)
If the About page contains contact info there is a high chance that the author will be happy to connect with his readers, so don’t be shy and follow him on Twitter or become a friend on other social network.
The most important thing that I hope you took from this blog post is that a blog is not a single post. It is a collections of information from and about the blogger and if you have a chance to slow down a little the browsing rush, there is a chance to leave a blog with a little more than just information.
So what is your blog reading ritual?