Watching the search hits come in with HitTail is pretty much real-time, insightful, and incredibly addicting. Thanks to our filtering, each new entry corresponds to a new person discovering you. In other words, anyone who has you bookmarked, or is visiting you over-and-over is filtered out. This “one entry = one person” view gives you the true pulse of the influx of new visitors. And it’s a blast to watch (although quite disappointing for some). Seeing the river of black indicates a very healthy site from a search engine perspective.
But what about the “fields of grey?”
When a major new site links to you, you will see a long rash of “grey” links–links with no keywords highlighted in black. This too is a good sign. Basically, anything that passes the HitTail filtering criteria and ends up in the Search Hits tab is good. But here’s an interesting test that you can perform.
If you have something semi-news-worthy, you can do the experiment of announcing it in Digg, Reddit or Fark. In Digg and Reddit, you will witness almost in real-time, the people with too much time on their hands checking out your link the instant it appears on their respective “new” pages. Digg really wants news. Reddit is a little looser. But both go completely public right away. In Fark, it doesn’t become public right away, but you will see the totalfark links from the paying subscribers.
If you’re breaking a story in your blog, or have expressed some keen insight for the first time on the Web, expressed nowhere else, then you have the material it takes to perform this test. It’s not technically part of HitTailing, but it is a critical part of the online outreach process–the process required to get the ball rolling in the first place.
And most analytics systems don’t let you watch the results in real time. And of those that do, they’re not filtering for only uniques in real-time. And for those who watch their log files, you have to wade through all that garbage (you know what I’m talking about).
So few systems show you the pulse of your site in real-time, as far as new user influx is concerned. Forget about click-paths and conversions for a moment. That is the domain of analytics, and the time-delay is fine for a sort of post mortem examination.
But if you want to feel like Neo in the Matrix, watching the flood of data, and truly becoming one with what you’re seeing, then HitTail is the site for you. We even experimented with making the keywords neon green against black. Although mondo-cool, it only appealed to an inside crowd and turned off mainstream marketers. So, traditional HTML link-colors, it is–plus the “river of black” for keyword contrast.
So many marketers these days feed their keyword addiction through AdWords. The joke goes that the back-end user interface to AdWords is so addicting that it’s called CrackWords. And when your campaign gets so large, and you’re constantly going back to see what got click-thru and converted, and you make adjustments, it becomes a viscous cycle. You truly could need to go through detox. In this sense, HitTailing is Methadone for CrackWord addicts. You can’t go cold turkey, but you need something less harmful to replace the addiction.
Can you believe that the cure came from a PR firm? It’s true! You’ve gotten used to something that needs to be artificially introduced to the body (the drug of advertising) to feel good. But what is much healthier for you is something that your body can produce naturally (the endorphins of reputation). Natural search engine hits are the endorphins of healthy reputation resulting from a good diet (your choice of topics) and exercise (writing and improving your craft).
And when you think about it, it’s perfectly understandable why this novel approach to online marketing came from the media-savvy world of New York public relations. Any form of un-paid promotion belongs in the domain of public relations, whether it headline-grabbing publicity stunts to detailed discussion of why a client’s story is genuinely newsworthy. If it’s an outright media buy, then it belongs to the advertising world. SEM/PPC or whatever you want to call it belongs to advertising. Search belongs to PR. And the only thing that kept it from happening sooner is that almost every other method of doing well in natural search was abusive to the system. The field got to be called search engine optimization, which had a tint of shadiness. This is worrisome to field so concerned with reputation that is already fighting an image of spin-doctors and the tail that wags the dog.
HitTailing provides the perfect channel. You guide what you write about, because you know it will be effective. Gordon Gould has legitimate concerns on that front, but Connors will be here to moderate the concern and set good examples. As stated over and over, there is infinite room in the long tail of search. Google is quoted as stating that almost half the searches are one of a kind. That means that single-word searches like car and music are outnumbered by increasingly particular searches. And it is not only smart, but it is the obligation of any marketing department to position themselves in the path of those highly pre-qualified prospects. Otherwise, they’re going to drilling-down right into one of your competitors, who IS HitTailing.
So, whether you’re doing it for the long-term goal of a healthier website, business and bottom-line, or if you’re doing it to feed your short-term keyword addiction, the time to start HitTailing is now. The investment is nearly nothing, and as our successful beta program indicates, many people just like you are jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, we may have to close the beta program soon in order to deal with the rapid growth. Just search on HitTail or MyLongTail, and you’ll see that favorable review are pouring in. A few of these reviewers are themselves turning into excellent success stories already, if we can just get them to talk. But no one wants to give away a competitive advantage, so you’ll just have to take the small first step and try it for yourself.