Ten Candidly Answered Questions About HitTail

HitTail Best Practices Apr 1, 2007

There are frequently asked questions that reach our formal FAQ, then there are candidly answered questions (CAQ?) that have no such place in official documentation. This post is of the later sort.

I guess it’s like Playboy’s 20 questions. But instead of an interviewer, I just wrote the questions myself, based on what I’ve been asked at infinitum lately. Hopefully, they will help you understand WHY we are doing what we’re doing, and how you can benefit, prosper, and hopefully help us out in return.

Q1. I just don’t get HitTail or the long tail. It goes against everything I’ve learned. What’s up?

A1. You either get long tail thinking or you don’t. If you don’t, you probably will eventually, as your friends beat it into you. But it cannot be rushed, and if you’re already “king of the hill” in some niche area, then you may resist succumbing to the notion–because it means your competition has openings you can’t defend against, and you have to do more work you didn’t plan on. If you’ve “made it” and feel like anything further is a waste of your time, so be it. But like any outside the box thinking, it simply has to come to you in time. Don’t rush it. But watching OUR LONG TAIL DEMO has been known to give you a glimpse outside the box.

Q2: Are you attacking the PPC market? Are you declaring war on Google?

A2: We will never put Google out of business by reducing your reliance on AdWords. But any responsible marketer should be thinking about life after AdWords. As our demo states, we have planned HitTailing to be a long term, sustainable and cross-engine approach to search marketing. Thanks to John Battelle, Google is now famous for its ability to arbitrate who gets what business through search. But arbitrage transcends Google, and no matter how things change, HitTailing will still work. HitTailing, and long tail keyword SEO strategies, are generally a broader concept and more universal and long-lived than optimizing PPC campaigns within any particular company’s search advertising product offerings. With HitTail, you’re permanently improving assets of a company. With PPC campaigns, you’re applying vendor-specific temporary pressure on portal-loyal audiences. If you’re thinking, say, 10 years into the future, HitTailing is better.

Q3: Doesn’t social media like Digg, YouTube and MySpace change search forever? How does HitTail fit in?

A3: HitTail works extremely well with social media. In the case of Digg, there is no better way to see the activity that ensues post-digging better than watching the real-time “Search Hits” tab in HitTail. Because so much social media is about responding to events in real-time, HitTail is uniquely suited to optimizing publicity through social media sites. Social media sites that exist behind a “login” are sometimes a bit more challenging. But as the rules of the game change, HitTail is dedicated to grow and evolve into the most efficient social media optimization tool.

Q4: Does HitTail really work? Where’s the proof?

A4: Yes. Yes, it does. We’ve got the proof, but in accordance to our 100% respect for the privacy of our users, we’re not going to tell you… that is unless they tell you first. And there are a few. There’s the infamous HitTailer and PPC Manager, Gary Beal, who was exceedingly generous with his data in the earliest days. But as time goes on, they’re coming out of the woodwork. Within just the past week, Vlad of My Affiliate Journey disclosed a 500% increase in traffic and Antonio Howell, M.D. revealed a tripling of traffic from taking just one HitTail suggestion. These are just a few examples of people who published proof of it working. Connors itself has disclosed two examples (one, two) of practicing what it preaches. Just search on add traffic or best pr firm in nyc. Yep, we did a 2-word competitive combo just to flex our muscle. Unlike other companies that have to beg and steal to compile their success stories–especially when the use of the product produces secret competitive advantage–HitTail success stories are only a Google search away. I’d like to say they’re unsolicited. But they’re not. And that should make it all the MORE impressive. If this doesn’t convince you of HitTail’s effectiveness, both as a tool, and as a new online marketing mindset, just stay tuned as your competitors take up HitTailing.

Q5: Is this REALLY just a blogging thing? What about regular websites built with CMS and software like DreamWeaver and FrontPage?

A5: OK, if you have all day, I’ll tell you why blogging software is just so awesome for HitTail and frees you from most of the time-consuming and confusing “SEO” issues. But the short answer is in the long pages that blogging software produces, in the form of archive and index pages. Blog software takes all your posts from a week or a month and mixes them up all onto one page, producing an click-magnet for infinite word combinations that you never anticipated, but are directly relevant to your subject-matter. This also answers the alternative question of “why should I care about keywords that are already leading to my site?” Simply put, the collective guessing power of the world dwarfs your ability to brainstorm, and is more accurate and customized to your site than WordTracker or the keyword inventory tools. And you can’t match pages-to-guesses without long-page versions of your content. HitTail simply works BETTER with blogs. Deal with it. If you want site-management software with all the same advantages, try SquareSpace.

Q6: What about this feature or that? It’s the one “must-have” feature for HitTail!

A6: Yes, yes. We know all about conversion tracking, click-path analysis, raw hit counts, who’s online now/visitor geography, and all the rest of that fascinating distractions that complicate the call-to-action in “real” analytics software. That’s not us. Whose got the time? We just want to let marketers grow their natural search traffic in the most efficient way possible. More broadly, we’re letting the entire blogging world to view their often misunderstood initial referrer hits in real time, and extract writing suggestions from those. Paid HitTailers can see how they’re doing with their long-tail growth-over-time metric. We’re conceding all those other goodies to Omniture, Google Analytics, WebTrends, and the multitude of free ones, like AwStats.

Q7: Can’t everything you do in HitTail be done for free in AwStats?

Q8: Nope. HitTail does more, and requires less time. AND HitTail basic is free too. Those folks who have been doing long-tail keyword mining of their log files for years, each have their own home-spun method of pairing down enormous keyword lists to figure out the best ones to target. They like to poo-poo HitTail, but here’s what they don’t know. HitTail employees patent-pending “keywords forever” technology that keeps you from ever considering the same term twice. That alone is a huge time-saver, but combine that with our rapid-list-pairing technology and emailed suggestions or RSS feed to fit into your busy day, and you have higher quality keyword suggestions than the technical elite, at a lower cost and with less invested time. So while technically, you COULD do home-spun HitTail alternatives, who would want to? Even the heavy-hitters tech guys like Jack Humphrey and JC Allen who wanted to develop their own killer long tail keyword app themselves, decided not to because HitTail already exists. Thanks guys. You’re the best. Let me know if you need anything from me.

Q9: Natural search marketing products can never hit the mainstream, because any attempt to manipulate search will result in algorithm changes that break their effectiveness, right?

A9: The basic presumptions built into Google’s algorithm, code-named BackRub, are as true today as they were in the halls and ad hoc servers at Stanford. With all the alg-tweaks they’ve done over the years, the premises are still 80% the same. We see a good 5 years of life left before those underpinning presumptions change, and by that time, we will be well ahead of the curve… again. So, no worries there. This all is based on the fact that something’s always “nearly working” for you, and this shows up in tracking data. All you need to know is one factor, which when tweaked, can push these “almost performing” pages over the edge. HitTail is determined to always know that key factor and offer the right advice. Today, the advice we dispense is

Work HitTail writing suggestions into the headline of your blog post, while maintaining word order as close as reasonably possible. Use the rest of the page exercising the lost art of writing well. Ignore the dense advice of the keyword density nits.

Tomorrow, our advice may be something different. We will let you know. But in the meantime, marketing departments worldwide can carry out natural search optimization campaigns with the same clarity of investment and ROI as PPC.

Q10: Free? Why? What do you get out of it?

A10: Well, we’re not entirely free. Think of it as guilt-ware. We plan on providing services to the entire blogging world. Think about that for a moment. The ENTIRE blogging world.

Google couldn’t even provide Google Analytics to the “first takers” without going down. We plan on doing even more than that, so saying we’re ambitious is an understatement. And we appreciate the advocacy that our HitTail supporters provide, and don’t want to piss off even a single user. As a result, we get A LOT of such advocacy.

We’ve struck a chord with natural search campaigns in mainstream marketing, and we want it to resonate. That’s why we keep our free version so feature-enabled. We CAN provide free natural-search-improving service to the world, so we do. The one caveat is that sites receiving over 100,000 uniques/mo. must pay or get turned off, because that’s where it starts to reduce our ability to service our freemium customers. It just makes sense. Those who SUCCEED by following our advice pay us–but not until they’re successful, and only if they want to keep using us.

Think how enlightened we are. And THAT’S from a public relations company! Those low-volume users who wish to pay receive enhanced features. Those who don’t pay, receive a full-featured product. Then, we simply start to guilt-trip those getting it for free into promoting us instead–or eventually pay.

Just like NPR. Kapish?

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