What are these indexes good for?
I use rankings two ways. First, I use my own ranking to get a general sense of how the activity at Freshblog compares with the activity at other blogs that I consider to be comparable (or that I wish I could compare with...)
Second, I occasionally take a peek at the rankings of blogs that link here to get a general sense of how much traffic that link might bring.
These are non-specific uses for Technorati rankings, but the number gives a clue in each case.
What are the rankings not good for?
I don't think I have ever visited a new site from a ranking list based on that ranking. I find new sites by following the links from my regular reads, and over time I come to frequent some of the sites in that second "friend of a friend" tier, & I blogroll / subscribe to them to keep closer to what they have to say. The blogosphere is navigated the same way that information is passed.... virally, & so a numerical chart that gives little indication of content isn't a central tool for readers. This explains why Engadget isn't increasing in performance massively in spite of a top 3 spot. Elvis gets to number one on billboard because people buy the record. A lot less people buy the record because it is number one....
How could we get a better clue about content?
We already do, thanks to Technorati Blogs. (Yes... we're back to the micro-spheres...) IMHO, a top 100, 1000 or 5000 list is useless for anything other than the uses that opened this post. Technorati blogs starts to allow us to break up the blogosphere & to navigate easily to authoritative sites whose authors write on similar topics. My hope for folksonomy & tagging is that it enables microspheres & "interest navigation" at a whole new level. I'm also hoping that Technorati blogs is only the first of many such tools..... Imagine an engine that could parse all your tags not only for recent / authoritative search purposes but to automatically build a series of micro-spheres. Readers could find authoritative content. Bloggers could find authoritative colleagues interested in the same topics.... The future is micro-spheres, I tell you!!
So why are the ranking changes at Technorati worthwhile?
In spite of my ranting on rankings, let's say that the changes work for me, because the data is now (somewhat) timely & dynamic. The top 1000 blogs at Technorati have probably been the same sites in a different order for quite a while, & now there's the sense that a couple of good posts, some buzz, & a hundred new inbounds could be worth something in the rankings. With my comparative & general application of the stats in mind, there's an incentive to maintain a consistent quality & tone in posts, to cultivate a readership, & to maintain your site, but with rankings as only one indicator of quality rather than an ultimate goal.
Let's not expect that making it higher on the list will open doors at a greater rate... People are navigating by content, not ranking.
See also Jason Calacanis, Dave Winer.
Filed in: google, blogger, search, blogsearch, blogging, blogtech, inbounds technorati microspheres ranking