If Technorati can beat Google, why can’t Microsoft or Yahoo?

The newly-relaunched Technorati exposes a weakness in Google’s armor. I just tried a bunch of searches. Technorati does “Live” search MUCH MUCH better than Microsoft and even better than Google’s Blog Search.

I predict that, with this update, Technorati will become a quick takeover target. If I were at Microsoft I’d be spending a few corporate hours wining and dining Dave Sifry.

Technorati is so superior to all the other blog search engines now that it isn’t even funny. Why can 45 people at Technorati beat Google yet Microsoft, with its billions of dollars, can’t get any traction?

The answer? Technorati is a small idea. It takes one tiny little niche away from Google. It doesn’t try to compete with the main Google engine.

On Monday I sat next to a developer on Microsoft’s Popfly team. He didn’t like that I called Popfly a “small” idea. I told him that was a term of endearment, not of derision. The most interesting things on the Internet are done by small teams. Not “boil the ocean and try to kill Google” teams.

Microsoft should be cheered that Technorati, a small company of 45 people, can take on Google and can build a successful SEARCH brand and experience that beats Google.

Google, on the other hand, with its billions in revenue and thousands of PhD’s should be ashamed that it isn’t as good as Technorati.

Oh, and didn’t Blinkx go public yesterday? Yeah, and their stock went up! Amazing that two little companies are making businesses in Google’s backyard. If I were at Google I’d worry about that and remember Google’s history. It was, what, eight years ago that Google was the little upstart and companies like Yahoo and AltaVista owned the search space.

Microsoft: why haven’t you changed your search strategy yet? Look at your search on Live.com. Now compare to Technorati. Which one is more “live?” Technorati by a mile. Maybe this is what we mean when we say Microsoft is “dead.”

I bet some people/companies are wishing they acquired Technorati last week. I have a feeling that their valuation just went up about $500 million. At least.

UPDATE: Another example of how Microsoft’s Internet strategy is lacking? Check out the new Pageflakes, TechCrunch just wrote about that. Now compare to anything Microsoft has put out there. In fact, compare to Google’s “iGoogle” page. How does Pageflakes measure up? Smaller is better!

108 thoughts on “If Technorati can beat Google, why can’t Microsoft or Yahoo?

  1. i think microsoft is just too busy doing other stuff to worry about their search engine. and yahoo well i just dont know about them. technorati has been from with the blogging era so it has to stay to the same pace i suppose.

  2. i think microsoft is just too busy doing other stuff to worry about their search engine. and yahoo well i just dont know about them. technorati has been from with the blogging era so it has to stay to the same pace i suppose.

  3. Simon Brocklehurst:
    Spam is a problem for everyone. Spam is detected and killed all kinds of different ways 24/7. You’d be happy to hear that another spam handling fix on the way but, of course, the battle continues. :)

  4. Simon Brocklehurst:
    Spam is a problem for everyone. Spam is detected and killed all kinds of different ways 24/7. You’d be happy to hear that another spam handling fix on the way but, of course, the battle continues. :)

  5. Otis, Kudos to the Technorati team for getting a fix to the bug I described @ #20 implemented so quickly (it’s not pushed out as I write this, but I’m sure it will be done later today as you said @ #42).

    The truth is – things go wrong sometimes; what counts is how people put things right when they do. So, well done.

    On my other point about Spam results – you do seem to have a problem indexing a bunch of porn-related blogs (all created by the same person/organisation and all on blogspot); these are not real blogs – they seem to simply forward to lookuplive.com

  6. Otis, Kudos to the Technorati team for getting a fix to the bug I described @ #20 implemented so quickly (it’s not pushed out as I write this, but I’m sure it will be done later today as you said @ #42).

    The truth is – things go wrong sometimes; what counts is how people put things right when they do. So, well done.

    On my other point about Spam results – you do seem to have a problem indexing a bunch of porn-related blogs (all created by the same person/organisation and all on blogspot); these are not real blogs – they seem to simply forward to lookuplive.com

  7. What are you talking about? What is “live”? What I see is a silly and slowish homepage with 3(!) search results given to me by default.

    In a world of search the main thing that matters is relevance. Technorati sucks at this, they are not much better than old and dumb search engines of old: altavista, lycos, etc. Who, in their right mind, would ever bother using technorati to *find* something?

    Besides, when people search for information, they truly do not care what data format that information is from (HTML/PDF/DOC/RSS). Therefore THERE AREN’T any “search niches” for companies like technorati to occupy. Well, except, maybe, for video: when people search video, they usually *want video*.

    This leaves me with a question: why are they still alive? The answer IMO is simple: RSS hype. Actually, their business is built on a big lie: they used to call themselves “blog search engine”, while in reality they concentrated on searching RSS feeds. And who, tell me, would ever want to search only RSS? And why?

    As far as “blog searching niche” goes, guess what a blog really is? Just another HTML page, like any other. And google is still pretty good at that.

  8. What are you talking about? What is “live”? What I see is a silly and slowish homepage with 3(!) search results given to me by default.

    In a world of search the main thing that matters is relevance. Technorati sucks at this, they are not much better than old and dumb search engines of old: altavista, lycos, etc. Who, in their right mind, would ever bother using technorati to *find* something?

    Besides, when people search for information, they truly do not care what data format that information is from (HTML/PDF/DOC/RSS). Therefore THERE AREN’T any “search niches” for companies like technorati to occupy. Well, except, maybe, for video: when people search video, they usually *want video*.

    This leaves me with a question: why are they still alive? The answer IMO is simple: RSS hype. Actually, their business is built on a big lie: they used to call themselves “blog search engine”, while in reality they concentrated on searching RSS feeds. And who, tell me, would ever want to search only RSS? And why?

    As far as “blog searching niche” goes, guess what a blog really is? Just another HTML page, like any other. And google is still pretty good at that.

  9. Steve:
    Good point about relevance + (recent) time slice.

    Srikanth:
    That’s what bookmarks are for. Can you remember the simple name Simpy? Try http://www.simpy.com/ for bookmarking.

  10. Steve:
    Good point about relevance + (recent) time slice.

    Srikanth:
    That’s what bookmarks are for. Can you remember the simple name Simpy? Try http://www.simpy.com/ for bookmarking.

  11. Otis -

    You’re right, switching to date order does bring GBS search relevance down, leveling the playing field. But it’s nice to have the option to switch between the two, though. Especially since date-ordered searches are filled with junk.

    So I must be missing the point – probably I’m just not a “live” searcher. In GBS why wouldn’t I want to sort by relevance, but get results from the last day, or hour? I understand the relevance of sub-hour indexing for ego searches or perhaps breaking news, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t affect me – someone who just wants to find information relevant to a query.

    Anyway, don’t mean to go on and on about this. I was just curious what the hype was about. I didn’t see enough improvement in search to validate Scoble’s high praise. But Technorati is still a great service for what it does, and slow and steady improvement is just fine.

  12. Otis -

    You’re right, switching to date order does bring GBS search relevance down, leveling the playing field. But it’s nice to have the option to switch between the two, though. Especially since date-ordered searches are filled with junk.

    So I must be missing the point – probably I’m just not a “live” searcher. In GBS why wouldn’t I want to sort by relevance, but get results from the last day, or hour? I understand the relevance of sub-hour indexing for ego searches or perhaps breaking news, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t affect me – someone who just wants to find information relevant to a query.

    Anyway, don’t mean to go on and on about this. I was just curious what the hype was about. I didn’t see enough improvement in search to validate Scoble’s high praise. But Technorati is still a great service for what it does, and slow and steady improvement is just fine.

  13. I just tried a search for ‘technorati scoble’ and expected to get some of this morning’s posts back either under the featured tab, or at the very least int he blogs section. No dice on either at 11:10 AM Pacific.

  14. I just tried a search for ‘technorati scoble’ and expected to get some of this morning’s posts back either under the featured tab, or at the very least int he blogs section. No dice on either at 11:10 AM Pacific.

  15. Simon Brocklehurst:
    Good news – the page #2 problem and query encoding has already been fixed, and the fix will be pushed out later today.

  16. Simon Brocklehurst:
    Good news – the page #2 problem and query encoding has already been fixed, and the fix will be pushed out later today.

  17. Simon Brocklehurst:
    The number of hits on page #2 in your example does look off. Probably a bug. Will be fixed.

  18. Simon Brocklehurst:
    The number of hits on page #2 in your example does look off. Probably a bug. Will be fixed.

  19. FWIW, Pageflakes and Microsoft are cozy with each other. Pageflakes uses the Microsoft Javascript library, Atlas.

  20. FWIW, Pageflakes and Microsoft are cozy with each other. Pageflakes uses the Microsoft Javascript library, Atlas.

  21. Steve:
    Whenever Google BS and Technorati’s blog search are compared, the sorting order used on GBS is important. The details is *relevance*. Technorati is about *live* web. This results in different results. To compare GBS and Technorati’s blog search, one needs to use “by date” sorting in GBS.

    Here is a little indexing speed test from yesterday:
    http://jroller.com/page/otis?entry=long_word

  22. Steve:
    Whenever Google BS and Technorati’s blog search are compared, the sorting order used on GBS is important. The details is *relevance*. Technorati is about *live* web. This results in different results. To compare GBS and Technorati’s blog search, one needs to use “by date” sorting in GBS.

    Here is a little indexing speed test from yesterday:
    http://jroller.com/page/otis?entry=long_word

  23. To Matthew Levine – first, I appreciate you coming and answering questions about the search. And thanks, turning up authority did get rid of a lot of the spam.

    But in the end, it didn’t really seem to matter. Try searching for “french elections” in both search engines. Or one of my original searches, “Half Life 2″. Multi-word searches don’t really seem to work very well. Among other things, I think Google’s got term proximity valuation cranked way higher, and it helps. All the articles in Google are relevant while close to none are relevant in Technorati search.

    Plus, “.net” doesn’t even register as a term, so I can’t do my typical code-by-example searches.

    Each search I’ve mentioned is just a random topic, not something I’d necessarily really search on, so maybe I can’t judge it until I /need/ to use it. Still, the lessons that Google has learned over the years of query interpretation are very evident in their results. I truly wish you luck since another good search source is always welcome!

  24. To Matthew Levine – first, I appreciate you coming and answering questions about the search. And thanks, turning up authority did get rid of a lot of the spam.

    But in the end, it didn’t really seem to matter. Try searching for “french elections” in both search engines. Or one of my original searches, “Half Life 2″. Multi-word searches don’t really seem to work very well. Among other things, I think Google’s got term proximity valuation cranked way higher, and it helps. All the articles in Google are relevant while close to none are relevant in Technorati search.

    Plus, “.net” doesn’t even register as a term, so I can’t do my typical code-by-example searches.

    Each search I’ve mentioned is just a random topic, not something I’d necessarily really search on, so maybe I can’t judge it until I /need/ to use it. Still, the lessons that Google has learned over the years of query interpretation are very evident in their results. I truly wish you luck since another good search source is always welcome!

  25. Beat Google? On what planet? Searching for “Andrew Keen” on Techorati gets me total junk in a raw search.

    With keyword searching I have always found Techorati to be spam-filled irrelevant, hardly worthy of the name ‘search engine’…never get good results. And now it looks all horridly Web 2.0 UIified on the main page.

  26. Beat Google? On what planet? Searching for “Andrew Keen” on Techorati gets me total junk in a raw search.

    With keyword searching I have always found Techorati to be spam-filled irrelevant, hardly worthy of the name ‘search engine’…never get good results. And now it looks all horridly Web 2.0 UIified on the main page.

  27. Robert,

    “Innovation happens elsewhere” is a quote from Bill Joy that he made after observing that there are always more smart people outside a company than inside it. It’s an idea the resonates with Dave Winer’s unConference idea that the smartest people are often in the audience.

    Technorati is a collection of smart people that determined an opening in search and then focused on that area (blog search). Of course, a focused effort by any well funded company can create a response but hopefully, “time to market” and brand still have market effects. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Technorati team profit from their efforts and NOT just see Google fix their blog search service and watch Technorati do that slow slide into irrelevance?
    Innovation deserves some rewards and not just to be copied and made superflous.

    I’m glad to see you trumpeting the little guy and not just asking the users of such services to be patient and expect MS or Google to fix their difficiencies.

    “Innovation happens elsewhere” is the corrollary to:

    “You can’t hire all the really smart people” and the basic essential ingredient of successful start-ups:

    “They are fueled by the intense passion of people who are risking everything to make their company successful.” As a by-product they get the risk taker that gambles on their own talent to our perform the well funded, PhD driven mega-corporations. Yahoo, Google, Apple, Sun and MS had start-up phases where they exemplified these attributes. They are the model that drives the inmnovator to believe the effort is worth the price in perosnal terms… long hours, damaged relationships or no relationships outside of work.

    (PS – for a start-up, being acquiured is a way to cash in but typically the end of the passion… see Blogger, Flickr, Reddit, Weblogs Inc., and others as examples. The risk takers pocket the rewards and (typically) sneak out to do it (maybe) one more time.
    Like Evan, Winer, and many others.

  28. Robert,

    “Innovation happens elsewhere” is a quote from Bill Joy that he made after observing that there are always more smart people outside a company than inside it. It’s an idea the resonates with Dave Winer’s unConference idea that the smartest people are often in the audience.

    Technorati is a collection of smart people that determined an opening in search and then focused on that area (blog search). Of course, a focused effort by any well funded company can create a response but hopefully, “time to market” and brand still have market effects. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Technorati team profit from their efforts and NOT just see Google fix their blog search service and watch Technorati do that slow slide into irrelevance?
    Innovation deserves some rewards and not just to be copied and made superflous.

    I’m glad to see you trumpeting the little guy and not just asking the users of such services to be patient and expect MS or Google to fix their difficiencies.

    “Innovation happens elsewhere” is the corrollary to:

    “You can’t hire all the really smart people” and the basic essential ingredient of successful start-ups:

    “They are fueled by the intense passion of people who are risking everything to make their company successful.” As a by-product they get the risk taker that gambles on their own talent to our perform the well funded, PhD driven mega-corporations. Yahoo, Google, Apple, Sun and MS had start-up phases where they exemplified these attributes. They are the model that drives the inmnovator to believe the effort is worth the price in perosnal terms… long hours, damaged relationships or no relationships outside of work.

    (PS – for a start-up, being acquiured is a way to cash in but typically the end of the passion… see Blogger, Flickr, Reddit, Weblogs Inc., and others as examples. The risk takers pocket the rewards and (typically) sneak out to do it (maybe) one more time.
    Like Evan, Winer, and many others.

  29. Is anyone else having trouble getting to the second page of results on the stripped down version? Do a search for something with a couple of thousand results (not filtered by authority) like “hurricane Ireland” and click on “next” for the next page of results… I have tried in Firefox and IE so far with no joy. Page 1 says there are 2269 results but page 2 says there are 3 results and lists NONE.

    The search on the main site works fine…

  30. Is anyone else having trouble getting to the second page of results on the stripped down version? Do a search for something with a couple of thousand results (not filtered by authority) like “hurricane Ireland” and click on “next” for the next page of results… I have tried in Firefox and IE so far with no joy. Page 1 says there are 2269 results but page 2 says there are 3 results and lists NONE.

    The search on the main site works fine…

  31. The search is pretty good, IMO… I guess if you’re looking for generic things such as “cool video” or “red car”, you’re going to get bad results. It seems many of you are doing this, and then claiming the results suck.

    However, the UI is pretty cluttered and unappealing.

  32. The search is pretty good, IMO… I guess if you’re looking for generic things such as “cool video” or “red car”, you’re going to get bad results. It seems many of you are doing this, and then claiming the results suck.

    However, the UI is pretty cluttered and unappealing.

  33. Its certainly an improvement, but I still find the Technorati algorithm to be confusing at best – i.e.: if I search for “techfold” (my blogs name), I get a mix of my own posts and others that have mentioned me: shouldn’t there be a conceptual split between pages FROM techfold, and pages that MENTION techfold? Of course, I could say the same thing about Google, thought goog’s clustering is better.

    My other thought: funny that you suggest “small is good” – given that one of the primary critiques of 2.0 is that many startups are just “features” not businesses. IMHO you’re right: features can be a successful strategy, as Technorati & Pageflakes are demonstrating.

  34. Its certainly an improvement, but I still find the Technorati algorithm to be confusing at best – i.e.: if I search for “techfold” (my blogs name), I get a mix of my own posts and others that have mentioned me: shouldn’t there be a conceptual split between pages FROM techfold, and pages that MENTION techfold? Of course, I could say the same thing about Google, thought goog’s clustering is better.

    My other thought: funny that you suggest “small is good” – given that one of the primary critiques of 2.0 is that many startups are just “features” not businesses. IMHO you’re right: features can be a successful strategy, as Technorati & Pageflakes are demonstrating.

  35. I forgot, have a pat on the back for telling Google when it’s being useless. I made the same point a few days ago and people practically spat in me in their haste to tell me that Google was untouchable and can never, ever, be criticised.

  36. I forgot, have a pat on the back for telling Google when it’s being useless. I made the same point a few days ago and people practically spat in me in their haste to tell me that Google was untouchable and can never, ever, be criticised.

  37. if i put in my name (phill midwinter) i get everyone elses blog where they’ve nicked my articles, and not my own. brilliance.

  38. if i put in my name (phill midwinter) i get everyone elses blog where they’ve nicked my articles, and not my own. brilliance.

  39. Google blog search is still much faster but Technorati is fantastic on my BlackBerry.

    The strange thing about the new Technorati though is that the look makes me think search is a secondary feature – the search field seems to be tucked away in a corner. Furthermore, the orange pane containing the slogan has a larger height than the green search pane. If I were a new user, I’d probably start clicking around and maybe eventually discover the wonders of search.

  40. Google blog search is still much faster but Technorati is fantastic on my BlackBerry.

    The strange thing about the new Technorati though is that the look makes me think search is a secondary feature – the search field seems to be tucked away in a corner. Furthermore, the orange pane containing the slogan has a larger height than the green search pane. If I were a new user, I’d probably start clicking around and maybe eventually discover the wonders of search.

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