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ML Apr 3, 2007

NOTE: I notice a lot of traffic coming into this article from StumbleUpon. Since writing this article, I’ve changed the targeted keywords of HitTail from “long tail” to “keyword tool”. So, read the article below in that light. 

How good is Mike Levin at SEO?

Before I joined Connors, and before HitTail, my notoriety in the SEO community came from one thing: a systematic and public demonstration of working a website up to the top of search results across all search engines for a competitive 2-word combination. This was back in 1999, before it was such a highly sought-after talent.

I’m doing it again with a client I can talk publicly about, because that client is ourselves (HitTail). I will tell you about the first, back in 1999. Then, I will tell you about today.

The phrase back then was multimedia software, and this pitted me against the likes of Apple, Macromedia, Quark, ULead, Diamond and others. It’s also as MP3s were on the rise, and the definition of multimedia was shifting. The term was difficult to target, to say the least.

I conducted this demonstration at JimWorld’s Virtual Promote, a.k.a. It was the first of it’s kind, and is still going on today. Most SEO’s were secretive with their higher-end techniques. But I laid it all out, and went as far as spelling out how internal link structure was best achieved with a series of pages with previous/next arrows linking them up. It wasn’t long after that that Moveable Type, and later TypePad, started doing exactly that.

And right there in front of everyone’s eyes, I raised Scala Multimedia to the top of the SERPs in AltaVista, Lycos, Inktomi, DirectHit, InfoSeek, and all the other engines that had their own unique separate databases at the time. Think about that. I was using sustainable long-term, cross-engine techniques back then that have lasted right up to this day. The results survived the switch-over to Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask. But I didn’t stay at Scala to maintain these stats. None-the-less, if you check, you’ll see they’re still on the first page of Google and MSN after all these years (about 7).

This is when I discovered there were two-fronts on which to attack keyword strategy. First, is the aforementioned ever-so-sexy benchmark keywords. They’re what everyone KNOWS people are searching on, and for which you MUST come up high. They often include the company’s name, the name of the products, and the keywords that are obviously related to the industry.

The second type of keywords are what are coming to be known as “long tail keywords“. Back then, I simply knew them as “actuals”. You can guess the benchmark keywords, but you can never guess the actuals. The collective guessing-power of the world dwarfed any groups ability to brainstorm all the keywords that are important. But likewise, ignoring the underperforming, but promising keywords–actuals that were not positioned well–was leaving money on the table.

And so nearly 8 years later, the concept of optimizing the actual keywords leading to your site (albeit underperforming) has finally come of age. And it’s getting associated with the economic concept called the long tail, as it is being popularized by Chris Anderson’s book of the same name.

Now, what’s the keyword I need to target today in order to find our audience?

Long Tail ??? !!!

A term that’s being targeted across the blogosphere? A term that’s used in the title of a best-selling book? A term that’s suddenly in a hailstorm of competitive chatter? Granted, it’s not a keyword like mortgages or Brittany Spears. But it is competitive none-the-less, and much more similar to the type of challenges faced by businesses across the world.

Well, we’re not at the top of Google for longtail or long tail yet. But we’re at the top of page 2 of results for both terms. That’s from-scratch, in under 10 months. The site has a Google PageRank of 6. Combined with all the buzz that surrounds HitTail, these are strong indicators that we’ll be on the first page of results before long.

And we will have again demonstrated Connors Communications’ ability to systematically target, and work to the top of natural search results, difficult keywords.

And this is with little-to-none link building. Did we link bait? Well, you be the judge. More importantly, we wrote well on the topic. We made a viral video. We chose the correct publishing platforms (for our own sites).

So much for targeted benchmark keywords that are critical to the company. But what about all the rest of those keywords that matter too? How about systematically working ALL keywords that are both important to a company AND possess search traffic to the top of natural results?

Well, that’s not merely a key part of my offerings.

But, we also made HitTail so that the world can do it too. And don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post about the XML transformation SEO capabilities. We’ve got the big guns.

  1. Avatar

    Nice post. It’s funny that I blogged today about my sexy affiliate software hittail data (actuals) and then read this post about sexy benchmark keywords. Must be the full moon.


  2. Avatar
    Solomon Rothman

    Hi Mike,

    It was interesting to read your background in SEO and I’ll be following your ranking challenge, although I think you should be more aggressive in your target.

    While “long tail” is two words and will convert (so you should probably target it too) from my vantage point it looks like hittail has the resources and content (nice job blogging so frequently BTW) to rank for something a lot harder. I recently ranked (I will post more info in my blog soon) a pr company for a list of two word competitive pr searches. I’d like to see you attack something really hard.

    I think your approach to the market (providing the hittail service for free) was pretty smart, maybe really smart (can only speculate on how well you’re doing).

    I watched your videos on youtube, nice approach to different audiences. I don’t know about your keyword targeting though, what are you currently optimizing your home page and your blog to rank for?

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