Recently I stumbled across a new Top 50 Australian Women Bloggers list that attempts to rank websites in order of popularity. Initially I thought the blogger must be using a new algorithm (formula) because Australian Women Online ranked second behind Mamamia. But sadly, this was not the case. While I can appreciate the effort that goes into maintaining these lists, I’ve always felt the algorithm used to compile these lists is fundamentally flawed and I’ll tell you why.
The algorithm used to compile these lists uses a combination of Technorati and Alexa rankings to produce a list of results. The problem with using this method is that both Technorati and Alexa have always favoured techies, those bloggers who are technically savvy and whose readership consists mostly of other technically savvy bloggers. Although both Technorati and Alexa have since changed their algorithms in an attempt to better reflect true popularity, their rankings still favour techies over other bloggers.
Take Australian Women Online for example. The amount of web traffic we receive today has never been higher and yet, our Alexa ranking continues to fall. Why? Because we no longer maintain a presence on either Technorati or Entrecard.
Want a higher ranking on Alexa.com? Just become a member of Entrecard and then drop in on 300 other Entrecard members each day and watch your ‘popularity’ soar!
At the height of our popularity on Alexa.com we achieved a ranking of around #43,000 in a list that includes more than one hundred million websites. Sounds impressive doesn’t it? Well that’s what I thought initially but then I noticed our popularity on Alexa.com would drop whenever I stopped dropping my Entrecard on other blogs and when I left the Entrecard community our ranking plummeted. Why? Being tech savvy, most Entrecard users have the Alexa.com toolbar installed on their web browsers and the Alexa algorithm uses the data collected from those who have the toolbar to compile their rankings.
It’s a similar situation with Technorati. Firstly, you have to be a member of Tehnorati to even get a look-in on one of these ‘top blogger’ lists. You can have the most popular blog on the internet but your site still won’t appear on a top blogger list unless you have established a Technorati account.
Furthermore, like Alexa.com, Technorati uses data collected from it’s huge database of bloggers to compile it’s rankings. So if most of your readership comes from outside the blogosphere you’re plum out of luck kid – you’ve got more chance of being abducted by aliens than appearing on any ‘top bloggers’ list.
So what formula should these lists of top bloggers be using? Well here’s where it gets tricky because these lists are compiled by bloggers who are only able to access information which is freely available to the public on the internet. But even if they were in a position to purchase expensive software which includes data from other sources, any algorithm they use would be fundamentally flawed as to date, no one has come up with a method that accurately measures ‘true’ popularity on the internet.
But in the meantime, the algorithm used to compile ‘top blogger’ lists needs to be adjusted to include additional data such as Google Ranking. It baffles me why Google Ranking was never included in the algorithm in the first place. Although Google’s algorithm isn’t perfect either, it certainly deserves to be included in the equation when compiling these lists.
Out of the two sources currently used to compile these top blogger lists, Technorati should be the one to go as it only measures popularity with other bloggers, which is not a reflection of ‘true’ popularity on the internet. My primary concern is that people outside the blogosphere will look at these lists as a reflection of true popularity when in fact they are only a reflection of popularity with other tech savvy bloggers.
I know techies love to pat themselves and each other on the back. But at the end of the day, does anyone really benefit from being on one or all of these lists? Take it from someone who manages a blog which has ranked highly on these lists, it’s just an ego trip for the bloggers and nothing more.
In a perfect world, all internet users would judge a blog not by it’s ranking on some list, but by the quality of it’s content. But we don’t live in a perfect world, do we?