Identifying blogs in your community is important for several reasons:
- blogs are sources of information about the latest trends,
- Ideas and tips,
- Understanding which bloggers are important in your community to meet your goals can enable you to know who you should be monitoring,
- And once you have the list you can keep in touch with the whole community.
By finding bloggers in your community you wish to reach you will be able to continue to monitor them and react to opportunities and challenges that arise. For example finding breaking news on the blogs you monitor will help you to make a timely response, but also you will understand which issues are important to the community.
I recommend that any company conduct a blogging assessment before starting a blog. The assessment starts by finding a list of keywords, and then a list of blogs in your community. That list of blogs will enable you to determine who is writing, what people are writing about, and what the cultural and social interaction norms exist within your blogging community -- do people use comments, trackbacks, and is openness and self criticism widespread.
(1) Number one use is the general search engine, or relevancy search engines* like Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask.com.
- First generate a list of keywords.
- Develop the list from what you think your customers use to find you.
- Review your web statistics packages, look up the search results for the keywords your visitors use to find your website.
- Use the Yahoo! Search Marketing Keyword Selector tool, and the Google Adwords keyword tool to find additional keywords.
- Use these tools to give you an estimate of the search volumes for the keywords you are researching.
- The tools will also give you a list of alternative keywords.
- Review competitor’s websites for additional keywords.
Once you have developed the list of keywords, enter them into the top search engines; review the top rankings for blogs and social media websites. Conduct the same search with the addition of the word blog. In addition to building your list of blogs, you will also learn which blogs are highly ranked for the keywords people use in your industry in the major search engines.
*(this post, “Conversation Search Engine Marketing, Effective Blogging & The Long Tail,” describes the concept of relevancy search engines)
(2) Use RSS or blog search engines to identify blogs in your community. Major RSS feed search engines include Technorati.com, Sphere.com, Icerocket.com etc.
A search using these tools reveals the blogs, but also much more information. Technorati tells you something about the author of a blog. For example Technorati gives you information on the authority rank of a blog, and also the ranking of a blog. Though it’s important to make sure you have the entire URL of a blog. For example my own blog http://pr.typepad.com is listed twice in Technorati, once as http://pr.typepad.com, and once as http://pr.typepad..com/pr_communications/. Therefore take Technorati.com's rankings with a grain of salt, for instance I noticed two important blogs in their respective communities -- ppclabs.com and www.ysmblog.com the Yahoo! search marketing blog both did not have rankings in Technorati. Yet both of these blogs are cited in the index, and are important blogs in their community.
The rankings do tell you something about a blog however; it’s a quick way of assessing the relative importance of a blog in its community. Measuring the influence of a blog is an issue that's widely debated by many bloggers. One aspect of this debate is that even if a blog does not have many readers, that blog may have great influence with those readers who do follow the blog.
Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired Magazine wrote an important article and then a book called The Long Tail to describe how web economics work today. Basically the idea is that while it used to be that the 80/20 rule worked for most markets, where 20% of the products in an industry would generate 80% of the revenue. Chris Anderson conducted research into a number of online companies to discover how the economies of their businesses ran, many of those businesses had a high proportion of sales from more titles which sold fewer copies, but because of the economics of keeping a broader inventory of products online are low, an online business can sell only a few copies of many different products and still remain profitable. Amazon.com and NetFlix were notable examples with books and DVD’s.
(3) Search the list of blogs you have developed for more blogs, most will feature a list of blog links, or a blog roll.
The list of blogs found on a blog is a great way to find additional blogs. If a blogger is focused on one particular community often they will have found other bloggers in their community and listed them. As you search blog rolls you will also find the same blogs on different blog rolls across the community. Finding a blog across the community is another indication of the relative popularity and authority of a blog within a community. This information also tells you something about the inter relationships between bloggers.
(4) Use general search engines to find backlinks to other blogs.
On Google conduct the following search
On Yahoo! conduct the following search, note there is no space between link: and http:
On MSN conduct the following search
AOL Search conduct the following search
(5) Use Technorati.com's authority ranking to find more blogs.
Technorati.com gives you the ability to click on the authority of a blog, and see how many blogs reference a blog. This is an excellent way of finding additional blogs as a blogger has written a blog post and cited a blog. You may be able to find a whole blogging community by reviewing the list of blogs that cite a very important blog.
(6) Use social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us to find additional sites and sometimes blogs. Use the set of keywords you developed to find the blog citations.
(7) Read the comment sections in the blogs you have found, links to the people who comment may take you an active blog in the community you are searching for blogs.
Where a blogger allows comments to be posted, and there is an active community of people commenting on the blog, several people will leave the URL of their blog in the link to the person's name. Most blogging publishing systems with comment forms typically give people who comment three fields to populate.
(1) The name of the visitor,
(2) The email of the visitor,
(3) The URL of the visitor's blog.
People who comment don't have to leave a url, and many do not because they do not have a blog themselves, but if they do leave a URL there is an opportunity for you to click on the link and find a new blog within your community.
(8) Hire an online media measurement company to use their expertise in indexing and natural language processing to build you a list of blogs.
(9) Read the blogs, and find the urls of blogs cited in the blog posts you are reading.