Technorati: When Will The Traffic Party End?

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Recent Comscore stats show Technorati continuing to surge in traffic, more than tripling since a year ago. Founder and CEO Dave Sifry recently mentioned about this staggering growth in a blog post. Technorati’s internal numbers showed massive growth early this year. They had nine million unique visitors in March, up from 3.5 million two months prior. And page views, he said, were up 141% over the previous three months.

There just isn’t any plausible explanation for traffic gains like these. Except that the company has perfected their search engine optimization approach, particularly with regard to Google.

For the last several months, Technorati “tag” results have risen steadily in Google search rankings. Technorati is now linked in the top few results for thousands of high-volume search terms: See MySpace (6th), Facebook (4th), Wikipedia (4th), etc.

The reason these terms are appearing high in Google search results is because Technorati was synonymous with tagging, and most tagging plugins for blogs default their tag links back to Technorati. Each day, tens of thousands of blogs have multiple links back to Technorati; one for each tag they use to describe their post. All of those links create massive search engine relevance and drive Technorati results higher in search results for commonly tagged words.

But there is a big problem looming for Technorati: their tag results pages are essentially search results. And Google doesn’t like to show search results within search results. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, recently wrote a post called “Search Results in Search Results” on his personal blog. He says that Google generally looks to exclude search results from their web search index; and they suggest to other search engines that they include a “disallow” note in their robots.txt file to let Google know that they results shouldn’t be indexed.

Google wants to keep people from clicking more than once to get where they want to go. Having them do a search on Google, and then being directed to Technorati to see a tag search, is counter to that goal.

But Technorati doesn’t disallow tag search within their robots.txt file. Compare Technorati’s file to what Google uses for their own blog search engine.

Technorati will argue that tag search isn’t normal search, and so the results should be indexed. But Google does not index tag results pages for its own YouTube property. Technorati tags are directly analogous to YouTube tags, and there is no reason why Google would keep Technorati in the index, but exclude their own properties.

But what really matters here is what Google thinks, and whether they will take steps sometime soon to remove those results from the Google index. If that were to happen, Technorati’s traffic would plummet. And their lucrative traffic party would come to an end.

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