Putting Specialized Search Into Action

In my last issue , I introduced two useful blog search engines. Now let’s put them to use on our test case: a Quebec resort. You’ll find that these resources do a pretty good job of scoping out possible influencers, but they also demonstrate that the search engines alone aren’t enough.

We start at Technorati, where we go to advanced search and type Canada resort into the search bar. We then specify that we only want blogs that the authors have identified as being about travel. We get a list of “44 results for canada AND resort in blogs tagged travel.”

We see that the top results are all from a site called TravelPod, which describes itself as “The Web’s Original Travel Blog.” Going to the home page of this rich site, we type Quebec into the search box. Our top result is a traveler named “Cobi” who has posted more than 100 entries and whom the site identifies as a “Top pick.” We also see that 39 of those entries are about a Canadian trip. Even though Cobi lives in Great Britain, she could be a good candidate for a repeat visit. We bookmark her profile page, where we can send her a message later.

Our search yields another top pick named “kevandsian” who has traveled to over 21% of the world and logged over 190,000 views from visitors. We also bookmark this traveler’s profile.

Returning to Technorati, we see that the second page of search results lists Jaunted, The Pop Culture Travel Guide. Technorati assigns it an authority of 670, which is very high. This site has many contributors and there are quite a few articles about Québec, so we hunt for people who have written a lot about the topic. One of them is Alex Robertson, who describes himself as “Senior Features Editor at EuroCheapo.com, as well as a freelance travel writer.” There’s a link to EuroCheapo.com. A Google search on alex robertson site:eurocheapo.com takes us directly to a staff listing and an e-mail address for Alex.

Not all our searches are as successful. Ask.com points us to AndrewLog, a blog written by a Canadian which has several posts about travel. But how influential is Andrew? If we enter the blog’s URL into Technorati, we find no links and the link: weblog.andrewcorp.com command in Google turns up just five. This blogger probably isn’t a good target for us.

Back at Ask, though, we stumble across SmartCanucks.ca, a Canadian site that features deals and discounts for Canadian consumers, including travelers. There’s a page of editor profiles here, too. A Google link: search turns up 113 citations. That isn’t bad. It’s probably worth offering some kind of coupon or other incentive.

As you can see, there’s nothing fast or easy about identifying influencers. Even though a clutch of services has emerged to handle some of the dirty work, it’s still up to human beings to assess whether an influencer deserves attention.

Our task doesn’t begin and end with search, though. There are elements on each site that may lead us to other influencers. Blogrolls, for example, are links to sites that bloggers find useful. This can be a quick way to discover new resources. You should also look at the profiles of the authors themselves. Frequently they list other sites to which they contribute, and you can often find other enthusiasts there.

That takes care of blog search, but there’s a whole new world of social networks that still need to be mined. Next week, we’ll continue the hunt through a few of those.

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