July 04, 2009

As Retweeting Rises, Linking Continues to Decline

Operating a blog focused on early adopters means being willing to adapt as technology and the world around us evolves. One of the more-recent additions to the blog was my embedding of buttons from TweetMeme, to show how often my posts were being linked to on Twitter, and making it easier for others to retweet these items, even thought I've already gone on record as not being a big fan of retweeting myself.

I made the change not because of a change in my own practices, but due to recognition that many people are turning to Twitter to share links and find new links from peers. While most of my posts only get a few dozen tweets, some have numbered over a hundred. And as this occurs, in parallel, the total number of links back to the Web site from other blogs is decreasing.

Not too long ago, one of the most common items to see featured on a blog was one's Technorati Authority, showing the number of unique blogs that linked back to you in the previous six months. Looking back at some of my "State of the Blog" entries I used to post monthly, I can see that approximately one year ago, that number stood at nearly 1,000. (See: here) Now, that same measure is only slightly above 500, a decrease of nearly half, despite my posting schedule being fairly regular, and the site's visibility rising over the same period.

Just Over a Year Ago, Technorati Had More Traffic Than Twitter...

Discussion of Technorati Authority used to be a big topic on this blog as recently as 2007. (See: Why My Technorati Ranking Is Slip-Sliding Away, Technorati Needs to Stamp Out Viral Tag Spam Now, Is Technorati Going After Spam Blogs?, and My Technorati Link Stats Make No Sense) But now, not only is Technorati largely overlooked, but so is linking, for the most part. It's easier to send a link via Twitter, or to share a post on Google Reader or FriendFeed.

This change is why in July of 2008 I said The Importance Of Blog Linking Seems to Be Declining, and why Steve Rubel is now saying his stats reflect the way the Web is changing. Not only are people turning to social sites instead of blogs to share links, but often, many blogs do a lot more linking to themselves than they do in linking to other sources, whether set by editorial policies, inertia, or just simplicity. Not surprisingly, we talked about that back in 2007 as well. (Internal Linking On Some Tech Blogs Is Out of Control)

TweetMeme, which started out as a secondary project by Nick Halstead and his team at Favorit, now looks like a real winner, having gained significant visibility after rebooting last July after Twitter API issues had killed the service following initial launch. The company just announced new ways to display statistics by domain, and it will now enable the ability to retweet items no matter where they are found, including on RSS feeds. Once that gets posted, you can be sure I will find a way to get that button in my RSS feed, and if done well, I will post the chicklet of domain activity alongside my FeedBurner number in the blog's sidebar.

I may still prefer to write long blog posts and link out, but I can't force everyone else to swim upstream. Retweet away.