There’s an interesting discussion going on between Brian Solis at TechCrunch and Dorrion Carroll at Technorati. Brian’s thesis is that the number of inlinks to blogs from other blogs is dropping because microblogs and other attention sources are proliferating. Rather than link to something from your blog, you link to it from Twitter, for example.
However, a disruptive trend is already at play. While blogs are increasing in quantity, their authority–as currently measured by Technorati–is collectively losing influence. For instance, just last November, Technorati counted 32,493 links towards gadget blog Engadget’s “authority.” Today, it counts half that amount (16,326). Even TechCrunch’s link authority as measured by Technorati is down by several thousand links, yet its relative position in the overall ranking (No. 3) hasn’t moved.
Dorrion responds by pointing out that it is the quality of Technorati’s analysis that has improved: by removing a lot of spam from their index, their numbers are slimmer and better. Technorati, and now Google, indexed the whole blog page in many cases, not just the post. Consequently, link counting was confused with links intended to be consumed in a different manner (e.g. blogrolling). This too, Dorrion suggests, has changed recently at Technorati.
While Brian may have got it wrong in terms of Technorati’s data, it should be clear that any type of social measurement needs to consider as many sources as possible. In addition, when analytics are being sold, they need to be sold with a deep understanding of the meaning of the different types of data sources and how to interpret them. Is a link from a tweet worth the same as from a blog?