Long Tail, Schmong Tail

ML Sep 25, 2006

There’s no doubt that we wrapped the concept of HitTail in the popular notion of the long tail, and even our long tail chart is a concession to marketing pressures. This post is to downplay the importance of the long tail itself and to play up the importance of the HitTail’s time-saving characteristics.

Long tail marketing isn’t about pursuit of the long keyword list. It’s about pairing it down the list to the tiny bit that matters. Chasing the long tail of search is a potential endless time-sink if you’re not careful. And simply adding a long tail chart to analytics software may just aggravate the quagmire of analytics paralysis.

When you watch our demo, we even go as far as to say that the first three tabs are for looks only. HitTail, which provides precisely one long tail chart, is receiving greater accolades than the analytics software, because people simply find it more useful. The precise reasons are built in layers of philosophy and method that culminate in a surprising degree of simplicity.

Recently, HitTail came under some criticism for being fluff, and it took me some time to bring the party around to understanding that the investment of a few moments of time to install some tracking code could cut hours off of your long tail keyword marketing efforts. The concept of the long tail is so loaded with the idea of implicit time investment that I sometimes look for other ways to describe it.

Some have suggested that HitTail suggestions are found in the middle of the long tail. But the truth is that there’s little correlation between a HitTail keyword suggestion and its current position in the long tail chart, except for the fact that they’re lower than the head and upwardly mobile. The phrase may have received a half-dozen hits in the middle, or one hit in the tail. A schpeckling of other criteria makes all the difference.

Anyway, this post was necessary to put the long tail in its place–subordinate to the time-saving benefits yielded by HitTail. Although an invaluable tool in describing why HitTail works, focusing too much on the long tail is something of a wild goose chase insofar as optimizing for SEO. Google itself says that almost half of all searches are unique. So, it’s insane to go optimizing for that one search phrase that’s only going to occur once–just as it is insane to optimize for the one or two-word combo that the rest of the world has set its sights on.

HitTail is about sanity. HitTail is about picking the low-hanging fruit. HitTail is about navigating a clear path into the world of natural search. HitTail is about saving you time as you crack the natural search nut.

One response
  1. Avatar
    niche man

    Long tail is a useful concept. The idea that a small part of a billion users is still huge – that helps with perspective.

    My blogs are fairly low traffic, so it will take a while to see hit tail results. In the meantime concepts are all I have to frame my blogs identity.

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