In the First Week of New Year’s, My SearchDay Gave to Me:

In the first week of New Year’s, my SearchDay gave to me:
12 speakers speaking,
11 bloggers blogging,
10 scribblers scribbling,
Nine Diggers Digging…

Technically, this is the ninth day of Christmas — as well as the first week of New Year’s. So, it seems almost appropriate to start 2007 off with an odd mix of gifts and resolutions. Hey, if Google can sell radio ads then why can’t we shake up some old traditions?

We decided to take the classic Christmas carol and give it a twist, and see what we could come up with for search-related categories for each of the 12 days. We’ll start with the first four this week, and come back with the rest in two more groups over the next two weeks.

But, in an industry so fixated on search engine algorithms, why start with 12 speakers, 11 bloggers, 10 scribblers (journalists), and nine Diggers? Because people — especially the opinion leaders who speak, blog, write, and Digg — will have the most influence on the search industry in the coming year.

Let’s be clear, these are not “top 10” (or 12, 11, or 9) lists, in the usual sense. We’re not endorsing these people and sites as the best of their categories, though some of them clearly are. We’re just using some different criteria to come up with lists that readers can (hopefully) find some value in, and have a little fun with.

So, which opinion leaders merit mentions in this somewhat subjective list of movers and shakers for the coming year? Even though I’m an advocate of “truthiness,” my editor insists that we provide at least some semblance of “fact-based agendas” for these categories.

12 Speakers Speaking

So, let us begin with a list of 12 speakers who will influence the search industry in 2007. We’ve based this list on a sober review of Nathaniel Broughton’s PubCon Drinking Game, which identified 14 people in the search engine industry who were worth 5 points if you bought them a beer at PubCon.

While Chris Hooley, the 2006 winner in Las Vegas, dubbed the effort “drinkbait,” even he acknowledged, “The root of the contest was a no-brainer. People were already going to buy drinks and get pics with these luminaries of search.”

This may not be an entirely fair ranking of search-related speakers. There were more than 200 speakers at each of the three large Search Engine Strategies events in the U.S. last year, after all, so trying to distill that many people down to a list of 12 is quite a challenge.

But we think the PubCon Drinking Game passes the sobriety test for identifying the industry’s top search engine experts. Still, there were 14 contenders for only 12 positions. So, we knocked two names off the list (with apologies to Adam and Guy) — producing our selection of 12 speakers speaking (presented alphabetically):

11 Bloggers Blogging

It was tough trying to narrow the field of great search bloggers to just 11 who will have the most influence on the search industry in the coming year. We started with the more than 80 links in the Search Engine Watch Blog’s blogroll, and ran each of those through the Blog Juice Calculator created by Text Links Ads. It allows you to compare blogs based on Bloglines RSS subscriber data, Alexa rank, Technorati rank, and Technorati inlinks.

Based on their total blog juice scores, here are the top 11 bloggers who are blogging about search:

  1. TechCrunch (8.8) — Michael Arrington
  2. Search Engine Watch Blog (8.7) — group blog
  3. ZDNet’s Googling Google (8.7) — Garett Rogers
  4. Search Blog (8.6) — John Battelle
  5. Google Blogoscoped (8.5) — Philipp Lenssen and others
  6. Jeremy Zawodny’s blog (8.5) — Jeremy Zawodny
  7. Gadgets, Google and SEO (8.4) — Matt Cutts
  8. SEO Book (8.4) — Aaron Wall
  9. Threadwatch (8.3) — group blog
  10. Search Engine Roundtable (8.2) — Barry Schwartz & Ben Pfeiffer
  11. Shoemoney (8.1) — Jeremy Schoemaker

10 Scribblers Scribbling

It was even tougher trying to identify the 10 scribblers (or journalists) who will have the most influence on which innovations and new ideas get adopted or rejected by the search engine industry in the coming year.

The line between a professional and citizen journalist has been blurring for years. Some bloggers are also journalists, and some journalists are also bloggers. Others keep to their own side of the fence. And how do you classify the small army of people, myself included, who are guest writers for a growing variety of online media?

To identify the top 10 scribblers who are scribbling about search, we used the beta version of NewsTrust, which is developing an online news rating service to help people identify quality journalism, or “news you can trust.” It is headed by Fabrice Florin, a former journalist and a digital media pioneer at Apple and Macromedia, as well as a team of management and advisors from online and offline journalism.

Now, before we get flamed by “search” purists, we will follow the lead of other list compilers and defend the scope of the list by saying that today’s definition of the “search” industry is broader than what has been traditionally thought of as “search”. Search marketing today encompasses search as information retrieval, search as marketing, search as media, and search as a filter of our collective consciousness.

So, using this broader definition of “search,” we reviewed the search-related stories with the highest NewsTrust ratings over the weekend. Since they don’t offer a “search news” category, we created our own version by combining stories from NewsTrust’s Internet, New Media and Technology categories, as well as those about Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.

Based on the news sources that use bylines, here are the top 10 scribblers who are scribbling about our industry right now:

  1. Stuart Elliott, New York Times, Troubling ’07 Forecast for the Old-Line Media but Not for the Online (3.9), 12/5/2006
  2. Lawrence Lessig, Lessig blog, Dems to the Net: Go to hell (3.8), 12/24/2006
  3. Nick Carr, Rough Type, Sharecropping the long tail (3.8), 12/19/2006
  4. Jeff Jarvis, Buzzmachine, Size doesn’t matter: The distributed media economy (3.8), 12/27/2006
  5. Jefferson Graham, USA Today, Google offer takes on PayPal (3.7), 12/6/2006
  6. Ryan Lizza, New York Times, The YouTube Election (3.7), 8/20/2006
  7. Tony Hung, Deep Jive Interests, The Corruption of Social Media and the “New” New Media Literacy (3.7), 12/3/2006
  8. Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, Experts Rate Wikipedia’s Accuracy Higher Than Non-experts (3.6), 11/27/2006
  9. Ted Bridis, Associated Press, Brin Says Google Compromised Principles (3.6), 6/6/2006
  10. James Doran, The Times, Founder of Wikipedia plans search engine to rival Google (3.6), 12/23/2006

Obviously, this list leaves out many well regarded search industry journalists. As I noted before, this is not meant to be a comprehensive list.

Nine Diggers Digging

While other categories were tough, it was easy to identify the nine Diggers who will have the most influence on which innovations and new ideas get adopted or rejected by the search engine industry in the coming year.

As Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz observed back in July, “Of all (the) stories that make it to the front page of Digg, more than 20% come from a select group of 20 users. Digg isn’t shy about hiding this fact; their top users’ page plainly displays the statistics.”

When we last checked the list on Monday, the top nine Digg users who had been active recently were:

  1. digitalgopher
  2. p9s50W5k4GUD2c6, aka P9
  3. AAAZ
  4. CLIFFosakaJAPAN, aka Cliff W.
  5. gwjc, aka George W. (no relation)
  6. supernova17, aka Karim Y.
  7. chrisek
  8. bonlebon, aka Lebon Bon Lebon
  9. BloodJunkie, aka Derek van Vliet

While it’s easy to identify top Diggers, it may be much harder to convince them that “ethical SEO” is not an oxymoron. It’s ironic that Lee Odden, whose Online Marketing Blog has been virtually blacklisted by a group of Diggers along with any other blog that mentions SEO, is a vocal opponent of Spamming Social Media.

Of course, it would help if fewer SEOs viewed Digg as the newest place to test some of the illicit practices that would lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index.

Hopefully, Diggers and SEOs can settle their legitimate differences in less time than it took to broker peace in Northern Ireland. And the user-driven social content community and the search engine industry may have more in common than the warring sides may currently believe.

For example, both tend to have “geeky” nicknames. Okay, I realize this is a stretch. But, if Shoemoney, JenSense, randfish, DaveN, WebGuerrilla, Oilman and LinkMoses bought a few beers at the next PubCon for digitalgopher, P9, AAAZ, Cliff W., George W., Karim Y., chrisek, BonLebon, and BloodJunkie, who knows what might happen in 2007.


Editor’s note: An inherent limitation of these lists is the very small number of speakers, bloggers, scribblers and Diggers that can be included. We realize there are many people and sites in each category that could be added to these lists using different criteria. So please take these lists for what they are: one group of people and sites that are important to search marketers. If you’d like to share your thoughts on these lists, or suggest other people or sites, please do so in our SEW forums.

Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR and a partner in Newsforce. He is also the news search, blog search and PR correspondent for the Search Engine Watch Blog.

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