Connors Communications has recently dubbed me Chief HitTailer, but based on an article a week ago, that title might rightfully belong to Matt Cutts. He wrote:
“Okay SEOs, what can you learn from my previous post about changing the default printer for Firefox on Linux? In the last week someone wrote and said “I want you to talk about SEO, and don’t give me any of that crap about good content.” I’m going to beg to differ. I wrote that post mainly because I’ve looked for this information a couple times and never found exactly what I was looking for quickly. That tells me that in this small niche, I could utterly rock the search engines. Plus once I figured out the info, it was only 10-20% more time to package it up nicely. Now this short content post can act as an evergreen draw for searchers”
He goes onto explain his methodology in identifying and researching a niche to make sure it’s worth his time. Although he’s Google’s SEO liaison to the world, it’s written like a true SEO. I think Matt may have been drinking too much of his own cool aid. He now wants to own concepts like default Linux drivers!
Anyway, the thinking behind Matt’s post is similar to what led to the development of HitTailing. While yes, it is easy to identify then dominate new niches that you happen across every day, unless your blog is a personal freestyle blog, you often have to remain on-topic–especially if it’s a corporate blog. And even the 10 to 15 minutes that Matt says he spent researching Linux printer drivers could be eliminated if the tool both identified the topic and did the research — and keep it close to your core topic to boot.
Matt opens his post commenting that one of his readers asked what he was doing writing about Linux printer drivers. Matt’s response amounted to the fact that it was worth it because he made a grab for all the traffic on that niche topic. This comes close in spirit to HitTailing, but not right on. Rather, I would suggest that while personal blogs should feel free to indulge in off-topic subject matter, it’s better to use a competitive intelligence tool that specifically shows you under-developed niches more closely related to your core topic.