How to Use HitTail

I recently met Mike Levin of HitTail at Darren Rowse's ProBlogger meet-up in NYC. The purpose of the HitTail service is to offer "Keyword suggestions tailored to your website." Anyone who does SEO knows that keyword research and selection is an important aspect of attracting traffic so a service that promises to make such tasks easier is worth a look.

All it takes to get started is a small bit of JavaScript that HitTail provides after you register. Within short-order (the exact time will depend on your traffic levels) you'll be able to access reports that offer keyword suggestions. These suggestions are intended to separate out terms from the long-tail that your site has a good chance of ranking highly for. Exactly how this calculation is performed is part of the secret sauce, but some aspect of the equation takes in to account your website's current ranking.

With a well-trafficked site the suggestions are quite numerous. In my case, they're too numerous so I've been looking for a way to cut the list down. In the end I decided that importing the words in to KeywordDiscovery and sorting by predicted daily search volume was an effective way to prioritize the list. With this additional step I can focus on the top 10 percent of the list making it much more manageable.

In terms of what you're supposed to do with the suggestions, the basic advice is to create content around these keywords. I can't churn out that much content though so I'm taking a slightly different approach. Since the site I'm testing HitTail on has a large number of pages I look to other SEO tactics that can take advantage of this situation. One such technique I'm using is to make use of Google's site command to look for related content on my site. I can then do things like cross-linking pages with keyword-rich anchor text. In highly competitive markets, such cross-linking probably won't make a difference, but with long-tail terms you may be surprised at how good the results can be.

Of course, much of this is still theory. I've only been using HitTail for a week or so. I imagine it'll be another few weeks before I notice any measurable change in traffic. Still, it's worth a try since the service is currently free!

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  1. Give HitTail another try. Normally, we don't experience "capacity" issues. Sometimes, it's just details of how the code is installed. Also, HitTail definitely under-reports compared to other systems, because it's filtering out click stuffing (accidential and otherwise).

    • Many of the pages on my web site started loading very, very slowly early this morning. I finally traced the problem to Hittail. When I removed the Hittail coding the page loaded properly. This is the first time this has happened but I shudder to think what this would do to me and others if this problem occurs during the Christmas selling season. Is there any way to modify the Hittail code to have it bypassed quickly if Hittail is down or not responding? Ron RWR Innovations

      • Marios Alexandrou

        Ron, Load times for JavaScript-based code has been a concern particularly since last year. Many have moved to what is called asynchronous loading of such code which allows the rest of the page to load independently of the things like HitTail. However, I don't know of a particular solution for HitTail. Hopefully, with the information I provided, a few searches on Google will reveal a solution for you. Good luck!

  2. Shel, ClickTracks is quite popular. Several presenters at the NY SES recommended it. They were particular impressed with the funneling data of how someone moves to a conversion. I didn't think to ask what they specifically liked over Google Analytics, but the general feeling seems to be that people don't want to give Google all of the analytics data. Mixing church and state is how one of the presenters put it.

  3. Has anyone use We have some clients who use it but I'm not sure if it is worth the cost: $80/month compared with Google analytics.

  4. Marios Alexandrou

    Logan, You jinxed me. The site I have HitTail on stopped working today. Removing the HitTail code "fixed" the site so I'm left to assume it is a HitTail server issue. I guess that means no more HitTail for me.

  5. I stopped using it at the end of this past January. I was using for about 6-7 months. Maybe I wasn't using it correctly, but I don't think it was telling me more than I wasn't getting from google analytics reports.

  6. Marios Alexandrou

    Logan, I'm hoping they have more capacity now. How long ago did you try it? Do you feel you got any useful information out it while you used it?

  7. I was using HitTail for a while until the site went down and took my site with it. It might have been a one time fluke, but it was very annoying.

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