Measuring trends, hot topics, memes, etc. is difficult unless your RSS reader is chock full of blogs covering a wide range of topics. Thankfully, with a service like Blogpulse, you won’t have to do the monitoring by yourself anymore.
Blogpulse is a service that automatically discovers trends within its covered base of blogs. BlogPulse applies machine-learning and natural-language processing techniques to discover trends in the dynamic world of blogs. BlogPulse is operated by Nielsen Online and is part of Nielson BuzzMetrics. The service is also free.
For this review, I’ll be staying on or around the topic of WordPress since a major version was recently released. Using Blogpulse, I should be able to get a birds eye view to figure out the overall opinion from the majority of blogs that are covered by the service. At the very least, get a handle on how much coverage 2.7 received.
The Search Engine – The search engine works in a similar fashion to Google Blogsearch whereas the results are displayed newest first. However, this can be changed using the advanced settings to organize the results by relevance. Using WordPress as my search term, it was no surprise that a large amount of results appeared. Many of the results were from blogs in languages I don’t understand. Unfortunately, BlogPulse does not provide a way for you to filter results by language which is a shame. Each search result has two additional options, track conversation and view blog profile. More on the profile stuff later but the track conversation link enables you to see a list of sites which have linked to the original article. During my testing of this feature, I noticed two things. Many of the WordPress 2.7 search results didn’t have blogs linking to them and most of the sites where I did see part of the conversation were scraped.
If you’d like to dive in deeper into the search results as a whole, Blogpulse provides a trend this option which will take all of the search results and place them into a graph that looks similar to an Alexa traffic growth graph. As you can see in the following screenshot, there was little buzz regarding the newest version of WordPress prior to October. As more articles were published about the topic and from the WordPress development blog itself, the trends rose. Eventually, WordPress 2.7 was released which is easily identifiable via the eye gouging spike in December. Last but not least, you can also subscribe to the XML feed for your particular search string.
What I’ve described of BlogPulse thus far is just scratching the service. The about page goes on to describe the various ways in which to use the service depending on if you’re a blogger, web surfer or a journalist. A couple of caveats though. First, BlogPulse currently states that they have identified a total of 99,200,000 blogs with 186,000 discovered in the last 24 hours. When monitoring or discovering trends, 99 million blogs is a decent number to go by but, I have to wonder just how good at discovering trends BlogPulse is compared to something like GoogleTrends which is used by many more people. Also because of Google’s dominance, I can only imagine that many people use Google’s own BlogSearch tool to find recent blog posts on a certain topic. However, I really don’t like the way Technorati does anything so BlogPulse makes a good substitute in my opinion. Until Technorati starts over and does things right, I’ll always despise of them.