May 18

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

Sphere's Blog Search

Sphere launched a month ago, but i only just got to really check it out last week when i sat down with tony conrad, ceo and founder (Tony was previously involved in Oddpost and is an advisor for Automattic). The technical team is the crew that brought us - an early blog search engine.

Sphere is an impressive blog search engine and one that is sure to rise in traffic. In a very short time it has already reached feedster's traffic levels and surpassed Pubsub (they have a while to go before reaching Technorati).


As they build their index they are focusing on avoiding splogs and pulling in quality (reminds me of's approach). Their index allows for a search to run over a 4 month period and they have a very useful UI element that allows you to see the post distribution for your query. You can use this tool to focus your search on a custom date range (the default for a search is a week).


Their most impressive feature is SphereIt. Quite often I'll read something and be curious what people are saying about it, but no one has commented on that specific article. SphereIt does realtime textual analysis to find bloggers discussing the same topics. (Add it to your browser from here.) The value of this is becoming apparent to other companies, and just this week Time implemented a SphereIt button on their Analysis & Opinion pieces. You can see the difference in results when looking at a piece like Time's Are Stepparents Real Parents?. On Sphere I get 87 results (and I doubt this piece will join them, because even though it links to the piece, it doesn't discuss its content), while on Technorati I get only 3. (I'm assuming that this post will increment the results - and it should based on the link-method of searching, but as someone looking for more information or opinion on the original article I wouldn't find it to be an appropriate search result.)


They also have featured blogs. To determine them they seem to analyze post content, posting frequency, the link love, and the post length, and they use this to calculate the blogs that are most likely to provide quality posts on that topic. Running this through the ropes with china, web 2.0, knitting, and Seattle bring up good blog selections. More advanced queries do not succeed and there are definitely areas where there are gaps. This feature is labeled beta and will undoubtedly improve as they grow their index.

Sphere has really moved blog search forward with a greater focus on the blog's content than on its linklove. I especially think that there's a lot of future in SphereIt being used to create browse experiences.

tags:   | comments: 3   | Sphere It

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Comments: 3

  Pete Cashmore [05.18.06 02:33 PM]

Great post! I like Sphere, but I don't think that traffic graph shows anything right now apart from the usual spike at launch - in fact, it seems to have fallen below Feedster's traffic levels.

BTW: the huge increase in Technorati traffic around mid-April is supposedly when Alexa started counting Firefox users.

  Leon Brocard [05.19.06 05:39 AM]

I'm not terribly impressed by Sphere. It finds five results for my name last week, all of which are splogs.

  Nicolas Toper [05.19.06 08:00 AM]

I have started quite recently a blog and I did notice in my log Sphere. I didn't communicate this URL anywhere yet and I host it by myselg. Sphere found me and was crawling my blog quite often compared to the other engines.

Only one thing is missing for now: API to build mash up with this tool. Do you know if it is planned?

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