HitTail Saved Client $90,000

HitTail Best Practices Sep 15, 2006

Thank you, Gary Beal! From HitTail first hitting beta, we’ve had a strong advocate in Gary Beal, a.k.a. GaryTheScubaGuy in the SEO forums. And more important than his advocacy is what he taught us about the role of natural search terms in pay-per-click campaigns. There is some speculation about WHY this effect occurs, but thanks to Gary’s recently published AdWord campaign management screens, we have hard-and-fast evidence that it DOES occur. AdWord campaigns get better with a list of terms known to be effective in natural search, such as the Excel lists you can export from HitTail.

I’m getting tired of everything about HitTail being counter-intuitive and requiring gobs of explanation. Indeed, I don’t think it would even have been possible a few years ago, without people like Gary and the blogging masses repeating the counter-intuitive message, assuring everyone it’s true. Off-the-beaten-track keywords are just what you need for paid keyword campaigns.

Instead of delving into the near-conspiracy theory of Google paid and organic click-through tracking systems cross-validating each other, I’ll stick to what we know for a fact. We know for a fact that the HitTail keyword lists exclusively resulted from actual search click-through. Further, we know that HitTail keywords under the Suggestions tab are NOT appearing on the first page of results. So, it stands to reason that if you take semi-obscure terms that are producing natural search hits when you’re determined enough to dig for them and pay, you are suddenly catapulting your ads right in front of the most potentially qualified prospects.

That’s a fact.

I get the feeling that Gary gets even more frustrated than we do about people “not getting it.” He’s provided us with screenshots of his campaign management screens in the past, and totally made us understand. But we’ve never felt free to use those screens, and so we’re delighted with the post he just made at Distinct SEO’s site. Now the world can see the same validation of this less-spoken-about, but equally significant aspect of HitTailing: optimization of paid keyword campaigns.

In particular, the key facts to notice is that the total number of impressions went up while the cost-per-click went down. This is the ideal: reaching more people and paying less for their visits. Philosophically, Google wants to reward relevant ads that worked and gave people what they were looking for. That’s why total impressions can skyrocket at the same time as what you pay for the click-throughs can drop. And that’s what using HitTail data in AdWord campaigns can acheive.

Gary further goes on to explain that using this technique can result in your click-through-ratio dropping–but this is only natural considering your impressions increased massively. In other words, the size of your sales funnel has dramatically increased and more people are potentially aware of you as a result of your marketing efforts (more impressions). And although fewer of them click on those impressions, you’re dealing with many more overall people, so the total absolute number of click-throughs (prospects) goes up.

So, what about conversions? Of those who DO click through, what percentage of them are likely to buy? Is HitTail just attracting more traffic from bad prospects? Gary says no. The total number of visitors in absolute terms goes up AND the conversion rate goes up (in the example that Gary provided, by 58%). The final rub is that the cost of getting those clicks went down by 69%!

It’s no wonder that Gary has been such a fierce advocate and determined to educate us and the rest of the world about the paid-search properties of HitTail. He should be commended for the considerable generosity of publishing screen shots of his HitTail-optimized AdSense campaigns. Being in a position where he manages several million dollars (pounds) of advertising revenue, Gary certainly had competitive reasons NOT to share this information.

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