Finding a New Formula of Blog Influence

In a world of personal media where the technical constraints of publishing content are becoming nearly nonexistent – some have recently discussed the rising problem of information overload.  Seth Godin suggests that we may all be adding to the clutter, and though self-filtering, or relying on content creators to tag their content is ideal – it also depends on an objectivity that most people don’t have.  To get around the human factor, Technorati is among the companies trying to lead the way by launching tools such "filter by authority" feature – which uses the number of people that link to a blog as a barometer for influence.  Using inbound links as the measure is problematic firstly because there is no prioritization given to different types of inbound links, and more importantly, because it does not account for bloggers who are posting influential discussion oriented content that results in large numbers of comments, but relatively few inbound links or trackbacks.  Guy Kawasaki’s posts get lots of links back to them.  Joel Achenbach’s posts get lots of comments.  Which is more influential? 

To answer this question of influence, I believe bloggers as a whole need to start a discussion about the metrics (beyond inbound links).  Ultimately, the real formula will depend on putting all of these things together. To get started, here is my attempt to rate the importance of an inbound link based on the type of link and who it comes from.  I would love to see an automated tool that could quantify inbound links based on which type of link they are.

Inbound links (in order of importance):

  1. From blogs in the Top 1000 as listed by sources like Technorati
  2. In blogroll of Top 1000 as listed by sources like Technorati
  3. From blogs or sites that also reprint some body text from a blog post (full text reprints, however, do not count as they are likely to be spam blogs)
  4. From tagging sites like del.icio.us or Digg.com to blog homepage
  5. From tagging sites like del.icio.us or Digg.com to blog homepage to individual blog posts)
  6. From blogs or sites referring to blog homepage
  7. From blogs or sites referring to a blog post

To complete the picture, below is my own list of other criteria that I also look at beyond a blog’s links in order to determine influence (in no particular order):

  • Age of blog (how long has it been live?)
  • Affliation/employer of blogger
  • Number of blog posts on the blog
  • Average number of comments
  • Distribution of syndication of site (through RSS or email subscription)

Do you have other metrics for influence that you look for which I missed?  Have you seen a better measurement for influence out there?  Let me know.

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