Analysis of Blog Search Tools

By kfreelskfreels (1261532615|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Today I'm going to analyze and compare three RSS feed tools: Google Blog Search, Technorati, and Blogpulse. For the purposes of this experiment, I'm going to pretend that I'm very interested in hockey (I'm not actually). But since I don't know anything about hockey, it will be fun to see what information is out there!

Google Blog Search

After opening up Google Blog Search, I looked around for a bit. On their main page they have top stories from different categories (Politics, Entertainment, Movies, etc.), with the links to various blog entries discussing them. On the left sidebar, they have the links to all the top story categories. On the right sidebar, they have hot queries, recent posts, and top videos.

Now, onto the hockey experiment.

In the search bar I typed "hockey", and the site returned 14,953,661 results. At the top was a section called "Related Blogs", which listed 5 blogs that seemed to be more corporate-like blogs (i.e. The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Penguins). Perhaps they pay Google to be considered a related blog? Here's what I mean:

Picture3.jpg

Additionally, it gave me the choice to sort results by relevance or by date. It also has a section on the left sidebar to narrow your search by when it was posted (last hour vs. last 12 hours)

Usefulness of the Content

After perusing through the first 20 results returned to me after my "hockey" search, I wasn't too impressed and thought maybe my search was too broad. I was getting lots of results related to field hockey and some other miscellaneous blogs. So I tried searching for "college hockey" instead. Much better results!! Google Blog Search returned 1,522,667 results. The "Related Blogs" section had several reliable blogs dedicated to college hockey including:

  • US College Hockey Organization Blog
  • College Hockey News
  • Western College Hockey Blog

One other feature of Google Blog Search is that they provide the user with certain options based on their search. At the bottom of the search results, I could create an email alert for "college hockey" blog posts, search Google News for "college hockey", and edit my Google homepage or Google Reader settings to include the RSS feed for "college hockey" related blog posts.

Technorati

Upon opening up Technorati, I immediately see that it has a section for the day's top stories, separated by category. Additionally, it lists some "rising" blog posts that are gaining popularity on the internet. Technorati allows you to dive into specific categories and different media forms, such as blogs, photos, and videos.

Usefulness of the Content

When I searched for "college hockey", Technorati came back with 1,885 results (note: far less than Google Blog Search). To be honest, I was disappointed with the results on the first page. Unlike Google Blog Search where results were listed in order of relevance by default, Technorati's are organized from most recent to oldest, with no option to sort by relevance. However, the site did have a cool filtering feature, in which I could specify which media type to search, which body to pull results from (text vs. only tags), how much authority results had, and what language they were in. The Technorati Authority figures tell you "the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months". So by filtering for posts that have "a lot of authority", you can weed out the random websites that happened to mention your keywords recently.

Filter.jpg

Another cool feature of Technorati is that when I clicked on a search result, instead of taking me to the actual website, it takes me to another Technorati site dedicated to that blog, and also shows me information about the source, reactions to the blog, and gives me the option to Twitter or comment about the post. In fact, I felt so strongly about one result that came up that I actually did tweet about it! However, 2 hours later my tweet still hadn't been posted to Twitter, so the verdict is out on whether this feature really works…

ANOTHER fun feature of Technorati is their trending tool. When I searched for "college hockey", a graph appeared next to the results showing me the number of blog posts that mentioned that term over a month-long period. Additionally, I could enter another search term to compare my results to. When I compared "college hockey" with "NHL hockey", here's what I got:

Graph.jpg

BlogPulse

To finish up my analysis, I opened up BlogPulse. The front page rotates through a slideshow of 15 of "Today's Highlights", linking to the BlogPulse search results for that subject and also showing a graph, similar to Technorati's, that shows the percent of blog posts that contain that keyword or a group of related terms over a period of time. Below that, there are tables ranking the top 5 topics in various categories (Top Links, Key People, Top Videos, Top Blog Posts, Key Phrases, etc.). The right sidebar includes the search bar, BlogPulse Stats, and BlogPulse Live, which shows the most popular topics that bloggers are writing about in real time.

Key.jpg

Usefulness of the Content

I entered "college hockey" in the search bar and BlogPulse returned 11,766 results. One slightly odd thing I noticed right away is that the results are listed from most recent to oldest according to the date they were posted, but, among all the ones from a certain date (so for instance 9/29, when I did my search), they are listed by the ones that were "discovered" first to the ones that were just "discovered" minutes ago. I suppose this may improve relevance, but to find the most up-to-date blog postings on the topic, I had to click through to page 5 of the results.

Each result gives a direct link to the blog post, and the options to "track conversation" and "view blog profile". The "track conversation" feature apparently allows users to comment and see the popularity of certain blogs that BlogPulse permanently tracks. However, out of a select assortment of my search results, the "track conversation" was not enabled for any of them. The "view blog profile" option seemed much more useful. It gives general information on the blog, its recent posts, recent citations of the blog from top-ranked blogs, graphs of its trends, recent sources that the blog has used, and ten other blogs that cite similar links and text.

Conclusion

Clearly, each blog search tool has its own unique features and benefits. Overall, Google Blog Search and Technorati were even in terms of my review. BlogPulse, while useful in some contexts, just didn't provide the sorting options and content variety that I was looking for. Best of luck to you in your blog searching!

Google Blog Search Technorati BlogPulse
# Results Great Okay Good
Content Variety Good Great Okay
Sorting Great Good Bad
Trending Features Good Great Great
Top Stories Great Great Good
Add'l Options Okay Good Good
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