Well, I’ve found one more reason to give HitTail a try. Know if your site sucks. Analytics software and your log files may be useful to help you gauge traffic. But an interesting side effect of the how HitTail works is that it gives a more accurate view, and sometimes a disappointingly so, view of new visitors to your websites.
For you see, HitTail doesn’t much care for counting the total hits on your site. Nor does it care about click-paths, total page loads or any of the other activity that occurs once a visitor reaches your site. It only cares about that first touch, and whether or not it is a GENUINE first touch. Have you ever had the feelings that your data was inaccurate as a result of YOUR OWN searching and clicking? Or a competitors? Or even a legit prospect who is just searching over and over and can’t get enough? HitTail filters out everything but the first click that led to your site from any particular visitor. Most often, it is search. But on the occasions when someone blogs about you, it might be a link as well.
In either case, each time it shows up in HitTail, it is a fairly accurate representation a visit by only one human being. If the same link shows up three times, its three different people. Spiders are filtered out, as are subsequent searches by the same person. So, if someone is aggressively researching something in your space, HitTail is only going to record the details of the first hit. The overall effect is that anything showing up under the Search Hit is a separate visit by a separate person.
This is why HitTail will always show much less activity than other tracking tools–particularly your log files. It is making a strategic grab for only those pieces of information that are most valuable to you for natural search optimization. But it’s also having the effect of revealing to folks just how bad their sites really are performing. Some have told me that their long tail looks more like a short box.
One of the suggestions that I can offer is to put your thinking cap on and figure out a way to go on a high quality writing-rampage. Keep it high quality! You know how some people will never shut up? If they were only on the Web, blogging, they would be some of the most effective HitTailers around. So, do as I am doing right now with this brand-new domain, and spike it with some high-quality content to your users. Avoid re-publishing other peoples’ articles if you can. And NEVER plagiarize. Consider hiring a freelance writer to get some initial pieces on your site. Or just start blogging yourself. You have got to get a relatively large base of seed content out there before any momentum-building can occur… yet another factor that drives people to PPC. But have faith, and give it some time. This tool will let you zero in on those tiny little things that are working for you–even if it only ever appears under the Search Hits tab and doesn’t make it to Suggestions.
HitTail filters to show only one person per entry on the Search Hits tab, and only those who found you through search or links. This lets you focus just on how effective your site is on drawing in NEW folks. This is a more gritty, real-time view of your visitors than analytics provides, and thanks to the Ajax interface, you can just sit back and watch them roll in… or not. It’s either very addictive or somewhat painful. Thankfully, if it’s painful, we’re offering the cure.