Technorati announced a major relaunch this morning, 6-months in the making. The new Technorati has evolved from a blog search to, as the site puts it, an "everythinging in the known universe" search. What that really boils down to is: user generated content. Technorati mainly searches blog posts, photos, and videos, but also music and events. Technorati CEO David Sifry says people are using the site to "get the 360 degree context of the Live Web - blogs of course, but also user-generated video, photos, podcasts, music, games and more."
To that end, Technorati is now a hub for user generated content, aggregated across over "250 million videos, blogs, photos, podcasts, events, and other social media objects." A lot of these media features were already available at Technorati, and indeed much of the relaunch is about the overhauled site design and search results integration than anything else.
But Technorati has removed the emphasis on blog search and repositioned itself as a live search site, which may be a brilliant move in light of Google's recent universal search initiative. As Robert Scoble guesses, it looks like their "valuation just went up about $500 million." (Perhaps not that much, but certainly, while acquisition rumors persist, this move only makes the site a more attractive prospect for purchase. I could see Yahoo! taking a long, hard look at Technorati.)
Technorati has also eliminated their "search silos." Instead of separate searches for keywords, tags, or the blog directory, there is now one unified search that attempts to return the most relevant results. Keeping things simple always makes a lot of sense and will certainly win points from users. For purists, Technorati offers a new dedicated blog search that works more or less like it always has, though with as simpler design.
I always found Technorati to be useful. To me, their blog search seems to be a lot more "live" than Google's, finding new posts in a matter of minutes, and I often use it to research obscure subjects and see what people are saying. However, according to David Weinberger, who is on Technorati's board of advisers, the default search is now about tags -- not the actual text of blog posts. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I do know that Technorati is not indexing the full text of blog posts the way Google likely is. In order to compete in the long run, Technorati will have to find content based on the content itself -- not just how people describe it, in my opinion.
Beyond their blog search, I hope that Technorati expands their video search beyond YouTube, their photos beyond Flickr, events beyond Eventful, and hope their music search crawls more than Last.fm. Sifry says today's changes are just the beginning of a series of changes that will make Technorati results richer and more comprehensive, so hopefully that includes expanding their search pool.
"The world has changed," Sifry said on his blog. "This isn't just about blogs anymore. And to be of service to you, we have changed too."
What do you think of the changes to Technorati?