Friday, 2 September 2005

Technorati: tagging your blog entire, plus Blog Post Tags

As pointed out by David Sifry of Technorati in a comment and in his blog, Technorati have just introduced the ability to tag entire blogs, not just individual posts. The purpose is to enable users to find blogs on a particular subject by browsing or searching, via Technorati's new "Blog Finder". Search results are shown ordered by authority (i.e. number of links to the blog from other blogs), but can be viewed in alphabetical order or most recently updated too.

Tagging entire blogs will of course work best for blogs that have definite themes/categories (e.g. mine would certainly have the tag "blogging", and Truckspy's "trucks"!).

It's good that Technorati are introducing new features, but this does mean even more work for us poor bloggers who have to set to tagging our blogs as well as our posts now. I personally would rather have the ability to do an "and" search for tags, i.e. find posts with "tag a AND tag b", and, even more, I hope that projects like these won't be diverting Technorati's scarce resources away from solving the perplexing indexing problems which have made many a blogger Technoratty, or from beefing up their support service as David Sifry had promised.

How to tag your blog

You can get your own blog tagged on Technorati even if you've not claimed your blog, although it's probably easier if you do. I won't say say anything about the process as it's well explained in Technorati's blog finder help (click that help link for an explanation of how to tag your blog). For non-Technorati members it may be easiest to link to tag pages on, or first create posts tagged so as to produce tag pages on Technorati or Icerocket etc, just to make sure the URL which ends with the tagname you want actually exists.

How to figure out which tags you use and how often

Don't know which tags to use for your blog? If you've been regularly tagging your posts, it might help to check what tags you've used most often in your blog (to the extent they've been indexed by Technorati - remember there are problems with Technorati tag pages still, so this won't be dead accurate). Technorati have provided a "Blog Post Tags" facility recently, which can tell you the 100 tags you use most frequently in your own blog (to the extent they've been picked up by Technorati), and how many posts bear a particular tag.

To use it, first you need to get a Technorati API key (I'm not sure it's enough to claim your blog, you may have to join their developers program too, to get the key - try logging in and go to the API Key page, if you see "Your Technorati API key is:" followed by a jumble of letters and numbers, you're fine, else you may have to join the developers program as mentioned, and try it again). Copy that sequence of letters/numbers (which is your key) into your clipboard.

Now fill in this form and hit Go, it'll open in a new window [edited 14 Jan 2006 to provide a form to fill in - easier for you all!]:

Your blog URL:

Your API key:

See top how many tags? E.g. top 100

(Using that form, by the way, is the same as going to the URL
pasting in your long key instead of "YourKeyHere", and changing "YourBlogURLHere" to your blog's main URL, e.g. mine is

You'll get, in a new window, a list of the top 100 (or whatever number you've picked) tags that you've used, displayed in your browser as an XML file. It's not very pretty but you can get the drift. Note that the resulting page gives the number of posts with a tag first, then the name of the tag used.

If you want it prettified, try the following:

1. Save that XML file on your hard drive, call it tags.xml or something like that. Open that file in a text editor like Notepad.

2. Delete the lines near the start which read:
<!DOCTYPE tapi PUBLIC "-//Technorati, Inc.//DTD TAPI 0.02//EN" "">
<tapi version="1.0">

3. Where those lines were, insert instead:
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="" ?>

4. Delete the last line that reads:

And save and close that file (making sure it doesn't save as tags.xml.txt, but tags.xml - select All Files in the Save As Type and then insert the tags.xml in Filename. Unless you have problems, you can now go straight to step 6.

5. [Updated 14 Jan 2006:] This step isn't necessary now, as I've managed to upload an XSL file which you can use, but if there is a problem with the site where my tags.xsl file is hosted and you're desperate to see a slightly more prettified version, try the following.

In step 3 instead of the line above, insert the following then carry on with step 4:
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="tags.xsl" ?>
Now in your text editor create a new text document called tags.xsl (again ensuring it doesn't save as tags.xsl.txt). Paste the following into the tags.xsl document, save (again as tags.xsl only) - make sure you save it in the SAME folder where you saved the tags.xml file - and close it:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html xsl:version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="" xmlns="">
<body style="font-family:Arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-weight:bold;font-size:12pt; background-color:#EEEEEE">
<div>Top <xsl:value-of select="document/result/querycount"/> tags from my blog recorded on Technorati:
<br />
<div style="margin-left:20px;margin-bottom:1em;font-size:10pt">
<xsl:for-each select="document/item">
<xsl:value-of select="tag"/>
<xsl:value-of select="posts"/> posts <br />

6. Now just doubleclick your edited tags.xml (or open that file in your browser e.g. Firefox - get it to Display All Files not just HTML), and the display should be a bit nicer and it'll be easier for you to check out your most frequently used tags as indexed by Technorati. Again remember the number of posts using a particular tag precedes the name of the tag.

Please note that I don't know XML or XSL (keep meaning to start learning!) so bear with me if all this is not as straightforward as it could be - it's only thanks to W3Schools that I managed to figure out something that seems to do the trick, at least for me, e.g. I have no idea what the tapi lines do but I couldn't get it to work until I deleted them, so this is the best I can do… (I tried to upload the XSL file to some free webspace I have so that you could just put in the link to that in your XML file without having to create your own XSL file, but it didn't work. It could be my host automatically transforming uploaded files, I'm trying to find out. I tried to upload my own edited XML file as an example of the end result, but it messed that up too though it displays fine on my own PC. Anyone got any suggestions/advice on that front, please let me know!)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


John said...

I may be missing something here (long day...) but is all the API hackery required to make this work?

I was able to select tags in a pre-populated form on a page in my acct at Technorati

your acct > your blogs > configure this blog

& Freshblog is showing up in the results for the tags I picked....

Improbulus said...

John, I didn't explain how to tag your blog because the Technorati help page is pretty clear on that. (Configure blog, as you say).

The API stuff is for something DIFFERENT - it's to get a summary of the top 100 tags used in your blog, and the number of posts using each. Which may help people who have trouble deciding what tags to use for their entire blog generally as opposed to specific posts as they can see what their top tags are using the API method. Hope that clears things up.

John said...

Most certainly. Many thanks...

ritzy said...

I'm not sure how useful it will prove though. You can enter 20 tags for your site and by the end of the day there are going to be zillions of people who have put "egypt" on the last line because they have some holiday photos on their blog and since they're crossed link with fifty percent of the kids on campus and technorati display results by authority, I'm not going to get the info I need. Or perhaps I'm pessimistic. Multiple blog tag search may prove all right.

What amazes me is the difference in search results I get from searching via "search" and via "tags." I don't know how technorati has indexed the results in the 'search' search but I would have loved if my posts abut Egypt that are also tagged egypt would appear.

Another useless thought on Technorati: it can be really slow. Branding itself as real time, I don't really like to wait for three hours before blog posts appear. Then again, I suppose it's not easy for them to install new servers every day either.

Now I'll be heading to your tutorial about ; didn't get to try it out yesterday b/c blogrolling died and I freaked out.

keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Amazing! -- I'm disappointed at the results generated by this API key.

Why all the changes when it works just fine in the beginning?

Tish Grier said...

arguh!!! more Technorati nonsense! I've really blasted them recently because I'm sick and tired of new do-hickeys and gizmos that require a basic knowledge of both computer science and html to implement! I asked Sifry(openly, no less after he snarked on two of my blogposts) why it is that finding or making a blog available to a wider audience is much harder than setting one up happens to be. Traffic in the blogosphere? maybe, I don't know...what I do know, though, is that the more suff that's out there to make our lives better is, well, more time-consuming.

just my low-tech .02 on the matter :-)

Improbulus said...

Ritzy, you're probably right to be pessimistic - we'll see... And yes Technorati's standard search doesn't pick up tags, who knows why. You could suggest it to them maybe? I also agree Technorati can be very slow - it's erratic, sometimes it's fine, other times, who knows? Hmmm I seem to be saying "who knows" a lot... Hope you find the post useful, it's not so much on the service as on helping others bookmark your blog.

CL - I think they're trying to "improve" things even though it wasn't broke. Why are you disappointed at the results though?

Tish - I agree, things should be much simpler. But to be fair, that Blog Post Tags facility was made available only to developers on Technorati's developer page, it wasn't intended for general consumption - I just tried to explain it so that someone who DOESN'T have a degree in computer science (like me!) can make use of it. Maybe they'll provide a simpler way for us non-techies to access it at some point, who knows...

Amanda said...

Oi vey, Technorati really seems to be struggling with their support. Again. My API key is apparently invalid - the key I cut and paste as you instructed here returned an invalid response. But I cut and paste it directly from the gobbledy gook under "Your API key is..."

Once again, oh well... one of my 2006 resolutions is not to get my heart rate elevated over relatively unimportant things (by which, I mean, when I'm lying on my deathbed, I don't want to be thinking 'Damn, 5 years of my life gone to Technorati', lol)

Improbulus said...

Dreamweaver, at the risk of stating the obvious, you did change YourBlogURLHere to your blog's URL as well as changing YourKeyHere to your API key, didn't you? Have you tried contacting Technorati support?

In case it helps your heart rate, I've managed to upload that XSL file now, so as & when you get your XML file displaying, you can skip step 5 above and go to step 6, at least.

Good luck...

Improbulus said...

Dreamweaver, hmmm after all that, it may be my fault! Possible typo in the URL I gave. I've amended my post, above, to provide a form, which should be much easier for you & everyone else. Try using that form and see if that works now, let me know either way!

Amanda said...

Great, the form works nicely - I still have trouble with the URL doing it manually, but the form works just fine, so there we go ;)

Thanks a bunch.

Masanja said...

very nice artcle, thank you. To know how to use tags correctly it's neccessary to have html knowledges. You reffered on w3schools, but there are a lot of others good tutorials such as: html tutorials.