Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 26, 200811:55 PM

All Links Are Not Created Equal

I must be some kind of glutton for punishment. If you publish a Blog, you may well be hopping over to Technorati to see your global ranking or to check your Authority. If you don't, you may well be less vain than me... that's fine, but I do gauge the success of this Six Pixels of Separation Blog on how well it ranks, how many new readers I get, and how much action takes place in the comments section beneath the post. I'm a glutton for punishment because I constantly allow myself to get frustrated by strange jumps in my Technorati ranking and the overall weirdness that is the Technorati search algorithm.

Just this morning, I noticed that David Armano from the Logic+Emotion Blog linked to me in his Blog posting about The Age of Conversation book titled, Who Killed The Marketing Funnel? Accidental Marketers, that we're both contributing to (you can learn more about that here: The Age Of Conversation). I noticed that his link did not do anything dramatic to either my ranking in Technorati overall or my Authority. I know I'm not the first to say it, but all links are not created equal. Armano has, without question, one of the top Marketing Blogs in the world and, with all due respect to anyone else, his link love should have some kind of multiplier effect over most other links.

Shouldn't it?

If we're counting every link as the same equal value, where is the real value? Isn't the whole concept of Google's PageRank based on weighing each link differently? I know, the science is not perfect, but there is (and must be) value in this type of analytic. If you're reading this Blog, wouldn't it make more sense for you to know the quality (and authority) of the people connecting here as well? Sure, the sheer volume of people linking is one indicator, but if you layer on top of that the concept of adding more weight and value to those Bloggers who have built significant reputation, I think it might open the space up and introduce more un-indoctrinated people to Blogs.

It's a fairly simplistic thought, but something that's been rattling around in me since the wee hours this morning.

It would be nice if "authority" had something a little bit more to it than just the sheer volume of links on any given Sunday.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Daryl Tay
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch, you might remember I commented on this issue the last time you talked about it.

    The short version is I believe Technorati should discriminate between links. It annoys me no end that a link from you or Jaffe gets the same "attention" from Technorati as a scraping site.

    Until that happens I find it hard to treat Technorati "authority" as a true indication of value because in Technorati's eyes, a blog with 100 links, maybe bought from another site, is the same as a 100 links shared in conversation by true thought leaders as yourself.

    Reply
  • Hey Mitch -

    Technorati isn't a Google property, so no idea how their algorithm works, but PageRank itself is indeed more than just a raw number of links.

    Three things on that. The original PageRank algorithm was all relative - you can see some of the formulae on Wikipedia. Thus, unless Armano's blog was juiced up, his linking to you wouldn't necessarily confer immediate power.

    Second thing - Google about a year ago, maybe more, started using a clustering algorithm to supplement PageRank, in which they assigned more weight to related sites than not, to reduce link spam from link farms.

    Most important is the Orion algorithm they bought relatively recently from a graduate student in New Zealand. Orion is a behavioral algorithm, completely different from PageRank, but it affects your reputation. Orion in short measures which links from searches a user returns to Google from (indicating they didn't find what they were looking for) and which links the user stays off-site for (indicating they may have found what they were looking for).

    Does any of this count for authority? Yes, it surely does, but not as an easily quantified metric like a Technorati number. Ultimately, Google is evolving search to be truly semantic, which means that once again...

    ... content is king.

    And our reputation, our ranking, our quality, is determined by a ton of factors that aren't easily boiled down to one number.

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris Brogan...
    Mitch Joel

    First off, I visit that page often. I'll even admit that I keep a bit of a graph on it, because I'm interested in the dynamics.

    Second, my very first thought was, "Yeah! You're totally right."

    My next thought was, "But that means someone could game the system really quickly. Competitors and the like."

    Yes, there should be votes and super-votes, with links, but the ability to abuse is pretty strong. N'est pas?

    Reply
  • Posted by CT Moore
    Mitch Joel

    You know what, Mitch? I think that David Armano's link love does carry more weight than, say, one from me. But it does so in the same way that blogging for profits is better understood as an exercise in reputation management that leads to other opportunities rather than sheer traffic that can be monetized with ads.

    You see, when someone like David Armano link you, a large and captive audience is seeing that link. More to the point, however, that audience is near perfectly targeted. Well, some of that audience trickles over your way, and you end up with a larger audience, some of which blog and will likely link you down the line.

    In a word, then, a link from someone like David Armano DOES have a multiplier effect because it exposes you to an audience that is likely in a position to also link you down the line. More importantly, though, is that that audience is targeted for you as well as for David, so the likelihood that you'll pick up more readers (and then links down the line) is, I think, more likely than not.

    Reply
  • Posted by David Armano
    Mitch Joel

    Not really Mitch. Your link was in a "sea of links"—over 200 of them. If I called out your blog as something to read and provided a write up around why people should read it, that's a different story.

    I wouldn't expect anyone to experience much link love from the AOC list. It's overwhelming.

    But I still think your stuff is solid and you have one of the best blog designs around.

    Now for an experiment. Let's put a link to this blog on Twitter with an endorsement and see what happens if anything.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mike Langford
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    I'm a newbie to the scene here but...isn't a site's authority established in great part by the number of readers and links?

    How else could the measure be objective? Or even quantified at all? I can't imagine that the Google guys, as smart as they are, could write an algorithm to judge whether one blog's content is better than another's.

    In the end, people vote with their clicks.

    Reply
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