In many ways, Wednesday's release of an updated front page to Google Blog Search has put blog news tracking into the limelight. Google didn't get there first though. Sites like Techmeme, Blogrunner, and Technorati have been tracking the hottest blog posts for quite some time. Now's a good point to take a look at what makes these sites (and others) individual and different from Google's new tool.
Editor's note: this list is in no particular order.
1. Google Blog Search
In case you missed Wednesday's news, Google's new blog search tool organizes the biggest news and the sites that are breaking it. The service is entirely automated, and meant to be a quick way to figure out what's going on outside of mainstream media outlets--the sources that make their way onto Google's sister site, Google News.
Google Blog Search's core feature is that it shows you not only how many different blogs have written about a particular topic, but also within what period of time. It also blends in some of Google's trends prowess to show you how a story's prominence has increased or decreased by the hour.
To compare, let's start with Techmeme. Techmeme is a site run by Gabe Rivera, who has formulated a software-powered algorithm that automatically figures out which stories are hot and orders them accordingly. Items change throughout the day, with as much importance placed on who wrote the story and where it came from as the topic itself.
One of the things that makes Techmeme stand out from the rest is its speed. The service is constantly crawling thousands of news sources, and it promotes and demotes items depending on the day's story velocity. It's also updating its list of sources on a daily basis, so new sites that offer good coverage can rise in the ranks at a good clip.
Compared with Techmeme, the sources in Google Blog Search are weighted a bit differently. Google's taken it's "all of the Web!" approach here, which means you're going to see a lot of junk blogs that are likely taking content from elsewhere. As automated as Techmeme is, there's still some behind-the-scenes selection going on (via the software) that keeps those copycat blogs out of the mix. The same cannot be said for Google's current offerings, although that is likely to change.
One of the criticisms of Techmeme has been its recognition of who "broke" a story. The service's policy is to give an author a primary headline (instead of a relational link based on how many other blogs are linking to that post), combined with when it surfaced. The system is not perfect though--in cases where several publications release a post that's been embargoed things get fuzzy.
Also worth noting is that Techmeme is just one of four companion sites that use this same system for different topics. There's also celebrity gossip tracker WeSmirch; Memeorandum, which focuses on political news; and baseball news tracker Ballbug.
This story continues after the break. Keep reading for numbers 3-7, and which one you should use to track news.… Read more