A Gangbuster Year for News Aggregator Topix.net

Topix.net has solidified its reputation as a key player in news search and aggregation over the past year, with major developments in both its business and services.

From a business standpoint, the biggest news was obviously be the acquisition of 75% of the company by three large newspaper publishing companies. 2005 also saw Topix move to new offices and announce a deal with the New York Times.

While all of that is some very impressive business, the company also made major improvements to the service itself. Here’s a quick look at a few highlights, some as recent as last week.

The site now sports a new, crisp and clean look (and new logo) of the Topix.net home page and all category pages (what they refer to as channels. It looks great. Search result pages also have a new look. However, if you like the way Topix.net used to look, it’s still possible to click to the old or “classic view.”

Topix has increased from 300,000 to 360,000 Topix.net categories/channels. RSS feeds are available for all of them.

Community services have also been added. Public forums now exist for each and every article. Some people love to comment on everything so the forums encourage community (good business) and get people to return to the site (more good business). Users can also post their own stories (community journalism angle). You need to be a registered member to post. Micro Persuasion has more on these new forums.

On the citizen journalism front, 15,000 blogs have been added to the Topix database, in addition to the more than 12,000 “mainstream” news sources. The company has done a solid job to this point of merging both types of content and picking worthwhile blogs. In my post that introduced this new content, Topix CEO, Rich Skrenta, shared some amazing stats about the blogosphere about the building of this portion of their overall database and the number of blogs in general.

In June, Topix expanded into Canada with new local pages for most Canadian postal codes and new Canadian sources.

Other Things I Like and Fast Facts

I’m not sure if this was a 2005 or 2004 UI tweak but I appreciate how Topix separates press releases from other content. For example, this channel about the Health Care Industry clearly labels press releases in the column on the right side of the page.

Topix also offers an advanced search interface with several options including limiting your search to blogs or eliminate blogs from the search, limit by source, Zip Code, url, category, and/or date. Boolean is available as are fielded search syntax and wildcard searching.

Topix also allows you to browse a small portion of its more than 360,000 topic directory.

Want headlines via email? The company offers basic alerts, but still no keyword-based alerts or feeds but this alert delivers headlines from the front page.

As you can see, 2005 was a great year for Topix.net both from the business side and from the user perspective. Let’s hope 2006 continues in the same manner.

Want to know more about Topix? CEO Rich Skrenta and Chris Tolles, VP of sales and marketing, were also quoted and interviewed in the press many times this year. Here are links to just a couple of those items.

A Conversation with Rich Skrenta and Chris Tolles from Topix.net, from the Online Journalism Review.
Topix.net CEO Speaks, from Editors Weblog.
ODP Founder Comments & Moving Past Directories, from SearchEngineBlog.

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