The Evolution of Search Marketing

Keyword Research Feb 2, 2006

Search marketing is about to evolve, brought to you by the New York public relations firm that launched Amazon.com, Priceline.com and Vonage. Connors Communications is about to do for natural search what AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing have done for paid search—create a logical system that any marketer can use to bring in more qualified traffic. Except this time, instead of jumping into the bidding frenzy over prohibitively expensive keyword inventory, you tap into the infinite supply of free long tail keyword inventory in what’s coming to be known as the long tail of search.

Go to Google or Yahoo! and perform a few of the searches that you believe are important to your business, organization or cause. Does your site appear? If not, you’re experiencing the anxiety that’s driving companies to paid keyword campaigns, because after brief investigation, you discover that the alternative of cracking natural search is just too difficult. You run into the shadowy world known as search engine optimization (SEO) full of dodgy websites and conflicting advice.

It’s easy to become intimidated, and just put your resources in the same place as your peers, and the early majority of marketers are—paid search. Paid search has become mainstream, and demand for the most lucrative keywords has driven costs to sometimes prohibitive levels, reducing the advantage held by early adopters. The real deals in keyword inventory now exist where demand is lowest, and the work of figuring out exactly what those keywords are is hardest. Wired magazine writer Chris Anderson has done a great deal to popularize the concept, and I recommend you read his paradigm-shifting article.

At some point, every marketer worth his/her salt wonders whether focusing on the infinite supply of cheap keywords that exist in the long tail of search may in fact be worth it. They cost so little and can pay off so big. As searches become more specific, the customer often becomes more qualified and valuable. Yes, it’s actually a flaw in the paid keyword business plan. But not in a paid campaign where managing tens of thousands of keywords becomes self-defeating—but rather, in a way of doing natural search that any marketing department can handle in-house. Demand now exists for a mainstream alternative to paid search.

HitTail is a rote process of identifying the most likely keywords for targeting based on your existing traffic, automatically suggesting topics for writing. You then incorporate this writing into your website or blog, getting into the habit of friction-free publishing. Once the wheels are greased, and you’re comfortable rolling out new subject matter, it becomes an addictive process that’s easily on par with what some marketers jokingly call CrackWords. Feedback on the effectiveness of your writing is quick, more writing topics suggested, and the process accelerated.

This is not a spamming system, as all the writing comes from you. The premise is that any market or industry has plenty to talk about, and it is your obligation to become the voice of authority in your market space. In fact, with HitTail, you kill two birds with one stone, by solving your corporate blogging strategy simultaneously to natural search. HitTail makes a blogging strategy many times more effective than it could be alone, by virtue of being the ideal “writing coach,” understanding your existing performance, and where your biggest gains can be made.

HitTail is not an analytics package, nor is it a conversion tracker, for that is available to everyone for free already in the form of Google Analytics. Instead, HitTail is a very light-weight tracking system built specifically for natural search optimization. There are no reports to customize or mountains of data to wade through. We will not cause paralysis through analysis. Instead, we go directly to actionable data. Just plug in the HitTail tracking code, and recommendations start rolling in. The more you act on them, the better the new recommendations become.

As you follow the recommendations, your natural search hits go up, and more data is available to HitTail. You don’t pay for these hits. They just work for you on a 24/7 basis with no campaign maintenance. If you stop HitTail, the hits continue. They’ve become part of the fabric of your company—a permanent asset. But if you continue with HitTail, success builds on success, and your site begins to build towards a sort of critical mass. The goal is nothing less than to dominate the category. With a little time and creativity, perhaps you can use HitTail to achieve the sort of category dominance that Connors Communications has helped bring to its clients time and again, before opening the system to the public.

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