One of the methods of analysing your Long Tail for SEO applications (or any other function) is to use the online tool ‘HitTail’. We are pleased to present a guest write GaryTheScubaGuy, who will offer his thoughts in rebuttal to my article on Long-Tail Criticims. Gary offers a slant to marketing and pay-per-click uses of Long Tail that I’m sure you’ll find useful and insightful.

(HitTail now offers a paid service with many more features helping you sift through your keyword data. This review does not include the new features.)

Without further delay, here’s Gary….

Being asked to write an article describing the Long Tail software called HitTail, I immediately started making a list of what I wanted to say that I haven’t already said on a dozen forums. That being fairly difficult, I decided for the first time, I will actually show snapshots of the results that have excited me over the last few months.

Let me first explain that I do not use HitTail for its original intention, which is to find the Long Tail keywords and keyword phrases that end-users search for when the find your site. You then take these phrases and build it into your content on your site, blog or other published page, in order to attract more traffic. HitTail is no longer free, and the data is used to get in the first version you could get for free in Analytics (Google.)

I must admit I am the consummate ‘non-reader’ of instructions. I could be on a bomb squad and avoid reading the instructions on exactly how to disarm it. So in short, I threw the code up on my site after reading the first few lines of what it did.

The results came in (on this particular website I get 5000-6000 uniques a day) and I saw the information it gave, and my next thought was that it would make sense to take these 4,5,6 and 7 word phrases and dump them in an Adwords campaign to see if I could pick up some cheap traffic. At this stage of the game Adwords had not launched their PPC algorithm yet.

HitTail at this point did not have the excel export feature, the rank, or the ability to filter for each search engine. I spent hours going through the process that now takes a matter of seconds to do. (Thanks to Mike Levin of Connors Communications, all I did was email him and speak with him on the phone about what I was using it for and they added the excel export feature practically overnight.) Long story short, after the excel export was added, I took 2000 keyword and keyword phrases at a time and added Adwords Adgroups. Around 10,000 of them. I set the bid at .03 and sat back and watched. I gradually weeded out non-performers and made many adjustments, like I had on all the other regular campaigns I was running. My destination page was the same, the homepage. ( I do not recommend doing this unless you have an established CTR and decent conversion rate because this method may slightly reduce your CTR and conversion, thereby affecting positioning in the PPC SERP’s, although I have not experienced any ranking loss whatsoever.)

Let me say before I show you snapshots of my campaigns, what tools I use for these campaigns.

    1. HitTail
    2. Google Analytics
    3. Microsoft Excel
    4. Word Tracker
    5. Google Keyword Tool
    6. Microsoft Access

The Long-Tail Process

This campaign is 60k+ keywords at times, and each consistently stays at #1 in PPC on all of them for a fraction of what this client used to pay…even for extremely competitive terms (150m-300m results).I usually take 30-45 days rebuilding a new client’s site content, keyword density, and the basic SEO stuff. Then I concatenate the pages with their perspective keywords, also applying WordTracker, the Google Keyword Tool, and my HitTail results, creating a database with Access, and finally matching everything up with their correct pages. Of course a percentage of these do not match the content of any page, so I send those to the homepage.

After that I monitor the stats and analytics every couple hours.

From there (45 days) I start dropping off non-performing (remember, NON, not LOW) keywords. Some will make the mistake of eliminating keywords based on this number (CTR) being low, but when examined more closely you’ll see that even though it only had a .02% CTR, it had 47,800 impressions and 22 clicks. This is still traffic. And as far as I can see I haven’t found that it affected the overall positioning at all.

From here I continue to use Hit Tail about every 2 weeks or so, then it’s just a lot of analytics and data mining. Refine. Perfect. Then Rinse and Repeat.

Pretty difficult eh?

Well… I didn’t give away all my secrets.

The Snapshots

This is a snapshot of the campaign I am referencing above. It represents the top 5 Adwords campaigns for this client. Notice the start dates.

The most significant numbers are the Avg. CPC, the massively lower cost (and these are British Sterling), the fact that the conversion is more than double, and the most significant difference being the overall conversion cost… That’s a conversion cost 65% reduction.

Here is a snapshot of the current MTD:

Keep in mind that the new according to the Official Google Adwords Blog, the newly released Landing Page Quality Update was released the month previous this report.

The CTR has dropped from 3.32% to 2.67%, but the CPC has dropped, the Conversion Rate has increased, the Cost per Conversion has been lowered.

Here is a snapshot of the overall numbers on all campaigns (August) :

Here is a snapshot of the overall numbers on all campaigns (Alltime) :

The key numbers here are the CTR which was only reduced from 3.18% (alltime) to 2.94% (this month). Of course management of all the other campaigns skewed this slightly. More significant is the CPC was reduced .03. This doesn’t seem like much, but if the Alltime numbers were the same as this month, this campaign would have saved this company £45,368 or close to $90,000 US.

Also significant are the Conversion Rate is up 58% and the Cost per Conversion down 69%.

I have experienced no loss in the ranking position of any of these keywords. Of course there are many things to consider when running an Adwords campaign, and what the optimal setting are, but that varies from client-to-client and is where professional PPC management comes in. But as a whole HitTail has been a significant factor in most of the campaigns I manage, and I think one of the best real-time tools available for sending inexpensive traffic to your site, when used correctly.


Visit Gary at his blog site PPC Manager.