So we’ve definitely been trying to play nice with the paid search world since Gary Beal clued us into how effective the long tail concept is for paid search. The thinking goes that the natural search list, when plowed into a paid campaign, effectively doubles your real-estate on the search results page. You appear once in the natural space, and again in the paid space. That’s at very least.
At best, you’re taking results that would not have appeared until a few pages in (the suggestions), and you’re instantly catapulting them onto the first page of results via very low-cost paid ads, and without new writing. The ads are low-cost, because the phrases are normally not very competitive. And theoretically, Google can cross-reference their click-through relevancy data on the paid side and the natural side, and give a special boost to those things that are deemed relevant in both. Think a venn diagram with two intersecting circles representing the data, and your site in the intersection.
But I can’t help but think that the greatest value in HitTail is still in elevating natural search optimization into the mainstream. To gauge the interest in this topic, I need look no further than what HitTail is NOT telling me to write about. I blogged a couple of times about natural vs. paid search. With no special effort, we’re already on the first page of search results. Same for natural vs. paid inclusion, and a variety of variations. The interest is there, and based on a few experimental posts, I can see people nosing around the HitTail site. And we so quickly grabbed the top spot, that HitTail knows we no longer need to target it.
And it is with this thought that I predict that natural search optimization is going to be the biggest thing in marketing in 2007. The demand is building up like a boiler getting ready to blow. But very little of the pressure is being released, because any and all investigation leads you to a shadowy world of spamming or adversarial relationships with your IT people–both of which are deemed unacceptable. Yet, it doesn’t stop the marketers from re-reaching for that Holy Grail of marketing. It’s like Homer Simpson reaching for that electrified cupcake. Eventually, one of those times that the marketing folks reach for natural search, someone will guide them to HitTail.
It’s difficult to imagine a mere “approach” to natural search optimization making it ready for the mainstream. But that’s exactly what’s happening with HitTail. For a long time, the mechanics of SEO have been reduced to child’s play, thanks to hyper-optimized blogging software. The people making this software are very SEO-aware, and for anyone doubting this fact, you need look no further than an incident that got one of them temporarily banned from Google. But it was only one of the big-3 blogging packages that did this, and they have since throttled back and settled into “best practices,” which Google and the other engines continue to reward. On a post-per-search-influence basis, blogging software far out-shines most CMS packages.
The only missing ingredient allowing the average marketer to take advantage of this new blogging search reality is knowing precisely which terms to target to bring in the best, most qualified traffic in the shortest time-period. And that’s where HitTail steps in. The whole SEO discussion, which still often needs to be had, can be put aside temporarily while the marketing team gets down to the business of taking back some of the natural search traffic that is rightfully theirs.