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Technorati, tagging and all that

© August 2005 Tony Lawrence

There were rumors earlier this week that Technorati will be bought by Google.

If you are as clueless as I, you said "That's nice - what the heck is Technorati?". Well, maybe I wasn't quite that clueless, but pretty close. I had heard of Technorati, and had a vague idea that it had something to do with Blogs, but that was a pretty complete dump of my storage on that subject.

But if Google wants to buy it, Technorati must be important to me, so I went to look into it. Basically, it's a search engine specializing in blogs but they've added some user input to categorize posts. That's something Google has so far paid zero attention to, although there are other rumors that Google plans to allow websites to supply some demographic information for Adsense ("our readers tend to like kittens, red sports cars and organic foods"). Technorati allows anyone to add links that are tagged with their own opinion of what a page is about. Some folks are calling this user driven classification Folksonomy.

Technorati does this with the "rel" tag in a link. I've started adding these to my posts here to tell Technorati what *I* think this post is about.

Not any more. I've been removing Technorati tags from this site.

That tells Technorati what I think, but anyone else could tell them that it belongs in another category too. For the creator of content, it's like playing Family Feud: you want to pick the tag that you think other people will pick when looking for whatever it is this posting is about. You can check Technorati to see how many other posts have a particular label, and of course you can use more than one label, but you are still guessing. You might ask, "Isn't that what the 'keywords' metatag is for?". Well, perhaps it should have been, and sometimes it can be, but generally, no, it isn't. I can add a keywords tag to the header:

<meta name="keywords" content="foo" />

but if "foo" doesn't appear in the content, or doesn't appear often, search engines like Google pretty much ignore it. That's their way of avoiding false advertising of page content, but in reality, sometimes a page is about "foo" even if the word itself never appears in the content. The Technorati tagging is a kind of democratic voting: if fifty people link to the page and they say it is about "foo", then by gum it is about "foo" whether Google thinks so or not.

So, while imperfect, Technorati tagging let's you describe your content and, more importantly, other readers can do the same thing if they link to it. Frankly, that's been one of Google's weak points, both in search and for advertising: they only care what they think your post is about. I hope they pay attention here.

There's plenty of help at Technorati if you are interested in doing this for your own site. Remember, if Google thinks this is important, it probably isn't smart to ignore it.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Technorati, tagging and all that


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Sat Aug 20 08:54:26 2005: 994   Connected

I think it is good to add tags but you are wasting your time as Technorati only crawl homepages (link) so if you want them to pick up your tags you have to put them on your homepage.

Sat Aug 20 15:36:00 2005: 996   TonyLawrence

What they specifically tell you do do is add 'rel="bookmark"' to the links on your homepage. That lets them identify the pages you want them to index. From what I can tell, that seems to work.


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