Google launches blog search – is this the death knell for Technorati, et. al?
By Charlene Li
The 800 pound gorilla just entered the blogosphere, with Google launching its blog search, available at http://www.google.com/blogsearch and search.blogger.com (two different interface, the same search results).
With blog search, Google has created an index that contains items posted at blogs – it uses primarily ping servers to populate and update the index, rather than its own crawlers. This guarantees that the index is fresh, similar to what Technorati, Feedster, and all of the other blog search engines do. Google does strip out traditional news sources and other types of non-blog feeds like weather, stock quote updates, and customized search feeds.
The search results by default are arranged by relevancy, but can also be sorted by date. This is a big difference from most of the other blog search engines like Technorati and Feedster, which default to a date-based sort. This relevancy ranking is what I think will be the secret sauce to Google’s blog search success – that it can bring to bear its deep experience on extracting relevance to blog posts. While Google was not forthcoming about what determines blog post relevancy (surprise surprise), from the limited testing that I did it appears to be a combination of both timing, links, and keyword frequency.
A really nice feature is the advanced search option – note that they are actually different in the Blogger search user interface than the Google blog search interface. I found the Google advanced search options more complete (it includes the ability to search by author) but the Blogger advanced search more intuitive.
And are you looking for a particular blog? Technorati has a nice Blog Finder which is based on the tags associated with a blog (users can also self-submit their blogs with up to 20 different tags). But this is in a different part of the site from the main search. Google returns blogs with the search keyword in the title first, above the search results. For example, Forrester’s CEO George Colony is an Allman Brothers fan, so I figured I’d find a blog about the band to get him on the blog bandwagon. I did a search on “allman brothers”. I got nothing in Technorati’s Blog Finder. General search results in all of the search engines and for the most part got random posts (the exception: Daypop.com, which found me “the blues blog”. But then Google comes to the “rescue” – at the top are two results, one for a traditional Web site and – bingo – another for the Allman Brothers Blog. But looks are deceiving – the Web site is a link farm and the blog link is dead.
The upshot is that there’s still a ways to go in making blog search work – and there’s also the problem of what really is a blog these days, anyways? But I believe Google has a big advantage primarily because of its ability to drive traffic to the site and integrate blog search results into news and mainline search queries. Technorati must now also fend off a powerful new entrant, n addition to facing mounting infrastructure problems that have rendered its service inoperable during heavy traffic periods. Compounding the problem is that Technorati has little in the way of a revenue model, having focused more on the technology than monetizing its growing audience beyond simply.
Look for Yahoo! and MSN to launch similar vertical searches for blogs, which will tighten the noose even more on these smaller players. Their only hope – dive for the niches that Google won’t want to develop. Daypop has the right idea, creating a high-quality index hand-picked by human editors. And Feedster also has some interesting opportunities, combining as it does anything that comes in as a feed and making it easy to create RSS feeds based off of search queries (Feedster has also been developing an RSS ad network that will help drive revenues).