Get Traffic for Your Website

Mike LevinSo, drinking our own cool-aid turns out to be quite tasty.

I blogged the other day about taking the HitTail writing suggestion of “NY SEO”. Sounds reasonable. We provide SEO services in New York City, and never put those words specifically together, but someone found us on it regardless. Finding us on that term, buried tons of pages in (yes, those SEO’s are competitive), they tipped their hand to us that we COULD be found on that term, so I put it in our “To Do” list–sort of like an editorial calendar for competitive webmasters and bloggers.

Look where we are now:

Within 2 days, we were on the fourth page of Google results–nice but not spectacular. Today, we’re on the first page (5 days). This is sometimes known as the “Google Honeymoon”, and many SEO clients are disappointed within a few weeks of getting such spectacular results so quickly. And yes, dealing with the Google Honeymoon is a serious HitTailing issue. Don’t misrepresent your capabilities to your client. It could backfire.

Instead, keep yourself from getting over-exuberant, but know that you can produce reliable short-term organic search success. Go ahead and impress your clients or boss with these short-term results, but qualify it. Tell them about the Google Honeymoon, but also tell them that these results can “set in” and become a permanent qualified traffic-generator with the right love and nurturing–ANOTHER reason HitTail isn’t obsoleting traditional SEO, though on the surface, it sometimes looks that way. You still need to know how to make your body of HitTailing content take root. But merely keeping the content creation up over time, and always have a “Honeymoon” going on somewhere in your site keeps Google constant stimulated. Perhaps all results benefit? Hmmmmmm.

So at any rate, HitTail is a spankin’ awesome way to hit the ground running with SEO and demonstrate to your clients the wonders to come if they stick with you for the long haul.

In taking our own advice a year after we’ve built up our critical mass of content (we’re at about 450 optimized pages just over a year after website launch). We have a superior product and a message that we’re proud of, making HitTail itself perhaps the best method of marketing HitTail. People are noticing this, picking up our message, and repeating it throughout the Internet.

We can now demonstrate the efficacy of our own product (drink our own cool-aid), using our own product in posts like this. If we keep that up, we’re going to fill a very large space in the online marketing circles within one more year. I mean think about it, us getting top position on everything we write about with reliability that only HitTail can provide.

Was the example an anomaly?

Well, I went on a HitTailing binge there for a few posts. How reliable was it?

On another term I did August 15, Blog Marketing, HitTailing didn’t seem to do a blessed thing. I went over 30 pages into the results, looking for my page to no avail. Makes me wonder how the suggestion got issued in the first place. But with 320 million competing pages and Seth Godin’s own blog being 7 pages in, I think I ran up against the big head of the long tail of search. There are a lot of Marketers using blogs to… well, market. And their favorite topics of discussion? Marketing and blogging! So it stands to reason, I bit off more than I could chew by taking this suggestion. Perhaps we’ll sharpen our filters to eliminate writing suggestions that “can’t be easily conquered”. We had the same issue on terms like Britney Spears.

But how about other terms?

Well, we did “Public Relations VS. Advertising” for which we’re on the first page of results (without quotes, of course!).

I also did another 4-word term, “top pr firm in nyc”, which one would think would be too long-tail to be worth it. Well, not only do we now get a regular flow of traffic on this (for which we should), but we’re in THE #1 POSITION in Google in under a week.

Rinse and repeat.

Think how effective HitTailing can be when sustained over time. Yep, we’ve truly got an alternative to AdWords when you’re discussing ways to acquire more qualified customers and audience to your website.

OK, how about the very latest? “Boutique PR Firm”, which I just did on Saturday wasn’t picked up yet. So, there are limits. We encountered TWO just in writing this post:

1. Some terms are still just too competitive, EVEN IF HitTail recommends that you write about them. While we COULD filter out these suggestions based on the difficulty you might encounter in pursuing them, they are by far the minority (we find), and leave them, because although you may not grab a top-spot instantly, it will still fortify your overall site, and stimulate subsequent serendipitous hits, albeit by the most determined searchers.

2. HitTail takes time. While you sometimes see HitTailing work its magic in only 2 days, don’t bank on it. And even if your results DO get a top spot quickly, expect significant movement in that position over the following days or weeks. And HitTailing may not be enough to fortify those top positions. Think about making your content so link-worthy that you get those external links genuinely, without link-trading solicitation during the Google Honeymoon.

So in choosing the topic for today? I just took another HitTail suggestion of course. But I wrote the entire article first! Then, I went back to look for the best headline suggestion that matches the article. And even them, I did a quick bit of research to make sure the traffic was worth it, and that it didn’t look unachievable.

Happy HitTailing! I’ll try to put more concrete posts like this out there to counteract the marketing push I’ve been doing lately.

Boutique PR Firms

Mike LevinRegular readers here bear with me. I try to post pragmatic, applicable information—essentially, tutorials and how-to’s. Lately, I’ve been pontificating in an annoying similar fashion to my counterparts in the industry, who have been rolled into the mega-marketing conglomerates. But rest assured, this post is simply to provide contrast to the prevailing trend in the public relations area of marketing.

[Update: Here’s the result of making this post: first page in Google for Boutique PR Firms in under a week!]

Boutique PR firms such as Connors Communications, the creators of HitTail, are increasingly rare, but more important than ever precisely because of their scarcity and ability to execute plans effectively.

Of course the big appeal is that they are able to provide continuous, dedicated staff to a Client in a way that PR firms that were rolled into mega-conglomerate marketing companies cannot. But an unexpected side effect of staying boutique in this Web 2.0 world is that such small firms can harbor small, innovative technology teams.

Yes, modern PR firms have Web 2.0 programmers on-staff to help with viral outreach, custom application development, SEO, social networking, and the like.

Such small teams are great with developing Web applications using agile frameworks in spiral development cycles. In layman’s terms, public relations is rapidly becoming a technology-game because carrying out effective outreach campaigns across fragmented media requires automation and custom tools.

Of course creativity still plays a critical role. But the kitschy PR stunts of yesteryear designed to seize evening news television cameras have gone the same way as those cameras (replaced by millions of home video cameras). Think how much more effective a popular YouTube video is than one-time exposure one some morning TV program. And PR firms who understand this new dynamic are just more effective. Similarly, a webpage that’s drawing in spontaneous new visitors thanks to how Google works is more valuable than a one-time newspaper ad—so PR firms who know how search works are way ahead.

Why is this?

Specifically, human attention has been fragmented and fractionalized right along with the plethora of alternative media—with mega-attention-hubs diminishing in quantity and intensity. Some examples of the last remaining central focuses of human attention include Oprah and The Wall Street Journal. But authoritative hubs are always at risk of being diluted even further, as they lose their independence.

How does a company get its message out these days? Where do you drop your penny to ensure you reach your audience? Mass media is still part of the answer, but so is search.

If money is no object, there’s still the tactic of “buying media” straight across all that fragmentation. I noticed this when watching King of the Hill reruns on FX and noticed a Gatorade commercial. I said to myself, now what business does Gatorade have running commercials on cartoon reruns? And my girlfriend pointed out that they’re buying airtime everywhere—indiscriminately. This impressed me in how companies, given sufficiently large budgets, are still able to live in the pre-fragmented era of 3 big TV networks—because they can still run commercials everywhere. It’s just a larger buy.

But smaller companies are not so lucky. They have to be smarter.

And right as the small companies are becoming smarter, many of the larger companies are losing time preparing for a reality they must soon confront. Intelligently executed low-budget campaigns (that promote superior products and services) cannot be drowned out. They are on equal footing to the big guys.

It’s a double-whammy win for the little guy and a double-whammy loss for the big guy. Why?

Because the big guy is being forced to spend more money to grow at a slower rate. The small company spends less money, and its momentum builds like a self-fueling wildfire. This is a large company’s worst nightmare—a new competitor that doesn’t have to pay much for promotion, and eats into market share or dominates a new market before anyone even knew it existed. Of course, the game plan goes, the big company just buys the new company—but that’s a story for a different post.

Small companies have the edge.

How do large companies remedy this?

Simple: sit down and talk with the small boutique firms who are actually moving forward the state of public relations and marketing. Think twice before hooking up with a company who thinks online outreach consists mainly of blogging and social networking. Try the company that invented HitTail.

UPDATE: Connors has evolved from traditional PR to high end search engine marketing. Click here to learn more about our transition – http://www.connors.com/seo/letter.html

Top PR Firms in NYC

Mike LevinWell, it’s time to write this particular article, because the keyword tool created by a top PR company in NYC tells me so. This is probably a rather odd notion for people discovering HitTail and the PR firm of Connors Communications merely by virtue of this post. But this article should make it clear for those just discovering us.


And for those who already know Connors Communications, go back to your HitTail reports. This one isn’t for you.

The key thing to understand about the new state of PR is:

Generically reaching out to the entire world population on your important phrases is part of modern public relations. The first thing an influencer that you’re pitching is going to do is turn around to Google (or some other engine) and get the dirt on you. The onus is on you to control that messaging!

Most PR firms don’t get this. When faced with the question: “Yes, but what are you doing online?” they fumble around with answers that involve disingenuous blogging and/or Afterlife. What they don’t provide is a proven online strategy that demonstrates the PR firm’s leadership role in the PR industry, and indeed, proof of their status as peers and equals to the clients themselves, as far as technology goes.

What you found in discovering this page is a PR firm with a pedigree that includes launching Amazon.com, Priceline, Vonage and a host of others. The thing to notice here is the difficulty of the PR challenge. It may be obvious today, but selling books online as the path to being an online retailing giant was not so clear back then. Asking Americans to haggle over prices in Priceline… well, Americans aren’t hagglers. And introducing VOIP as a consumer product rather than B2B, well that was about as counter-intuitive as it gets. Yet today, VOIP is a household word. Think about that.

All these companies with counter-intuitive messages, launched successfully. They were ultimately right. They all educated the world about a new way of thinking and living. They all had messaging that the world initially resisted, then came around to embracing. They’re in-it-for-the-long-haul game-changers.

So what does a company like Connors do to show the world how the PR industry is changing to keep pace with the times? Well, we change the very state of the Marketing industry, by introducing our own product, and doing it with a free version as an overture to the world. We learned from the best, as we were also the PR firm for GoTo.com in the early days, which was destined to become Overture, then be bought by Yahoo for $1.6 billion dollars. So Connors knows a little bit about making overtures. And this provides yet another example of making a counter-intuitive product stick–mixing paid advertising into natural search results. This is essentially how Google makes most of its money, so it can be argued that Connors’ client GoTo.com taught Google the business plan that made it so successful.

A company like Connors Communications makes HitTail in order to show that PR firms are still at the top of the hierarchy of marketing professions. What you WON’T find from Connors is disingenuous blogs. What you WILL find are blogs that are run on behalf of clients, which perform astoundingly well in natural search, and which are regularly asked by major media outlets such as The New York Times whether they can be quoted! That’s right. In influencing the media, we make our clients INTO the media.

And in turn, every time an influencer researches your space, they continually rediscover your messaging–reinforced by being corralled back to sites you directly control, or comments by your enthusiastic customers and supporters.

And that’s just a tiny piece of the big picture. Of course, there’s the larger SEO system from which HitTail was extracted, which we’ve come to calling the Connors ABCs. We’ve used it to help some of the largest hotel chains compete with the masses of hyper-competitive affiliate marketers that flood their space. We also help major magazine publishers get back the publishing edge that they’ve been losing to SEO-obsessed competitors, and the sum-total of bloggers who write about similar topics. Old paper publishers need the tech-savvy SEO edge that we deliver.

And we’re looking to get into a few more industries. Plenty of non-competes’ exist right now, so if you plan on talking with us, do it soon.

And yes, we do this technology development as a PR firm–one that has relationships with the most influential tech writers on the planet. Rarely do you find a “who-you-know” agency that has brought its “what-you-know” internal capabilities up to the same level. But that’s what you’ll find when you visit us in our New York office to discuss your plans. We hope to hear from you soon.

UPDATE: Connors has evolved from traditional PR to high end search engine marketing. Click here to learn more about our transition – http://www.connors.com/seo/letter.html

Public Relations VS. Advertising

Mike LevinYes, HitTail is a form of blog marketing. Once you’ve invested the time to build a blog, you want your intended audience to arrive at your site. But how does that happen, precisely? There’s a lot of stock put in “building your subscribers” through your RSS feed. But I have a different message. A blog’s exposure and effectiveness is mostly a function of people’s ability to spontaneously rediscover it whenever they go to Google or some other search engine to research the topics your blog touches on.

That’s right. Blogs are in great part, a search engine optimization play.

We can’t say that enough. Blogs are content management systems that pander to precisely what search engines like to see in a page. They make the correct type of search-friendly web addresses. They construct the proper page-to-page internal link structures, which would be otherwise tedious to hand-code. They put exactly the right words in the title tag and headline. Blogs line up the “crosshairs” precisely right to drive traffic on the subject-matter of the blog post.

So, choosing the headline correctly for that page’s topic is enormously important. In fact, we say that once you choose the proper headline, the rest of the page is freed up for the art of writing well. That’s not to say the headline shouldn’t be well written. It’s just that the majority of traffic you’re going to get for this page is determined at the moment you create the headline. So, it should receive special consideration.

So, to market your blog, specifically what you do is take a HitTail suggestion from under the Suggestion tab. Once you’ve decided to blog about that topic, as I’m doing here with the topic “blog marketing”, work it into a sensible headline. In this case, the precise suggestion IS the headline. There’s really no purpose for anything other than those two words in this headline.

Yet by saying so little, I’m saying so much. Perhaps this post will be one of those pieces of smoking-gun evidence of how well HitTail works. I guess we should give it a few days, then search on blog marketing. By discussing the topic in blogging software, I’m actually performing the act.

And sustained over time with topic after topic, my natural search traffic grows.

It’s all very circular, see?

UPDATE: Connors has evolved from traditional PR to high end search engine marketing. Click here to learn more about our transition – http://www.connors.com/seo/letter.html

Blog Marketing

Mike LevinYes, HitTail is a form of blog marketing. Once you’ve invested the time to build a blog, you want your intended audience to arrive at your site. But how does that happen, precisely? There’s a lot of stock put in “building your subscribers” through your RSS feed. But I have a different message. A blog’s exposure and effectiveness is mostly a function of people’s ability to spontaneously rediscover it whenever they go to Google or some other search engine to research the topics your blog touches on.

That’s right. Blogs are in great part, a search engine optimization play.

We can’t say that enough. Blogs are content management systems that pander to precisely what search engines like to see in a page. They make the correct type of search-friendly web addresses. They construct the proper page-to-page internal link structures, which would be otherwise tedious to hand-code. They put exactly the right words in the title tag and headline. Blogs line up the “crosshairs” precisely right to drive traffic on the subject-matter of the blog post.

So, choosing the headline correctly for that page’s topic is enormously important. In fact, we say that once you choose the proper headline, the rest of the page is freed up for the art of writing well. That’s not to say the headline shouldn’t be well written. It’s just that the majority of traffic you’re going to get for this page is determined at the moment you create the headline. So, it should receive special consideration.

So, to market your blog, specifically what you do is take a HitTail suggestion from under the Suggestion tab. Once you’ve decided to blog about that topic, as I’m doing here with the topic “blog marketing”, work it into a sensible headline. In this case, the precise suggestion IS the headline. There’s really no purpose for anything other than those two words in this headline.

Yet by saying so little, I’m saying so much. Perhaps this post will be one of those pieces of smoking-gun evidence of how well HitTail works. I guess we should give it a few days, then search on blog marketing. By discussing the topic in blogging software, I’m actually performing the act.

And sustained over time with topic after topic, my natural search traffic grows.

It’s all very circular, see?

A Slick and Mind-Catching Presentation? I’ll take that.

Mike LevinSo, these are a few words about our high-end product, and the history of HitTail. As many know, HitTail is the brainchild of the public relations firm, Connors Communications, founded by Connie Connors, one of the folks who helped build-up some of the Dot Com giants, such as Amazon.com and Priceline.

Unlike other PR firms who have entered the online space, in a possibly overzealous fashion, and perhaps even risked their reputation with kitschy, manipulative stunts, such as disingenuous blogging, Connors has chosen a path less traveled, but we think infinitely more rewarding. We have actually become one of the new generation of disruptive, game-changing companies that we endeavor to promote online. In other words, we don’t only talk the talk, but we walk the walk.

We created HitTail.

So, what do we do with this incredible audience we’re accumulating, as we become highly recognized in marketing circles around the world? Why, we use it to win you as our next client, of course. Our brand of SEO is very high-end, really only making sense for folks who already have $100K AdWords campaigns, but would like their natural search piece of the pie.

How does this relate to HitTail?

As more and more HitTailers are coming to discover, this beloved Web 2.0 long tail writing topic suggestion tool is actually an “extraction” from our larger product, which Connors has been using with high-end client engagements for some years now—where budgets of $100K/mo are traditionally being poured into AdWords, and they’re looking for a more sensible approach.

And now we’re ready to describe this previously tightly-guarded secret to the world.

We named it Connors ABCs.

Why ABCs? We think it describes how we view ourselves as the new fundamental building blocks of a new form of online marketing—where you fix your website, without scrapping and rebuilding everything you’ve got. Yes, it’s SEO (search engine optimization), but brought to a whole new level, through a non-intrusive presentation layer that lets us remix websites like DJs remix music.

We describe this complex system of re-working and re-publishing data you already have so often, that it wore us down.

So, I bit the bullet, and made this demo.

Hopefully using this demo, the enthusiasm that starts to build once we start to talk with you can become infectious, and you can pass the word along in your company. But fair warning! As Mike Crowl stated in his review of our presentation:

It assumes that you’re intelligent and can keep up with both audio and visual
input at the same time, so that while your ear is listening to one part of the
message your eye is either getting an alternative picture of that message or
something additional.

So even if you don’t have a budget of $25,000/mo to spend, Mike Crowl suggests that you check out the demo, because:

I haven’t seen one as slick and mind-catching in a while.

Marketing Gurus

This post is about sex and the city, small worlds, marketing gurus, and a new book promotion technique. Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of book authors referring to us prolific pontificators of marketing-speak in posts that are mostly about promoting new books. Bravo to David Meerman Scott of Web Ink Now with his brilliant book announcement that credits us contributors to the New Rules of Marketing & PR who now can’t resist linking to him at every opportunity. It’s nice that the PR firm and creators of HitTail, Connors Communications, are acknowledged leaders in writing the new rules.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about another book: Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port.

The latest book shows us that if actors can segue into politics, then they can also segue into marketing. Where better to tap a little bit of celebrity? But I didn’t know this, until I got this email from a co-worker (published with permission):

What a small world. Michael Port used to be the manager at the Reebok Club and actually hired me there. When I met him he was an actor who had just been on a Sex and the City episode – the one where Mr. Big takes Carrie to the small, out of the way Chinese restaurant and she thinks it’s because he doesn’t want to be seen with her. Anyway – he then went to open the gym Clay on 14th Street (that Jackie belongs to) and now – marketing guru. Who knew!! Here’s his imdb page if you’re interested.

But even more interesting than the circumstances of this guy’s marketing career is what he is saying. I’d love to pull a specific quote and show you. But his description of why HitTail is important, and “way better than anything like Overture or Wordtracker” is built up in a series of paragraphs that must be read in continuous context. As all HitTailers already know, and mainstream marketers are beginning to discover, it’s not the keywords that give you bragging rights that matter. It’s the conglomeration of “everything else” that counts. And lurking beneath the surface of “everything else” are tons of under utilized, most promising keywords that have the real potential of leading potential customers, clients and new audience to your site.

By the way, Michael Port’s book is about sales lead generation, a topic dear to my heart, and the fire in which HitTail was actually forged. It is very possible to do exactly what Michael Port suggests–generate more sales leads than you know what do do with (or can handle). After I first used a long tail SEO technique at a previous employer, I generated so many sales leads per day, that the “old school” marketing guys disbelieved that they were really potentially qualified leads, and tried to disqualify them on the grounds that they came in through the Web. They are no longer with the company.