Hitting The Long Tail Keywords

As many of you know, I’ve been go after search term make money online and make money on the internet. So far, I’ve been very successful at it, ranking number two for make money online and number one for make money on the Internet. As nice as that is, it’s interesting to note that my top ten keywords accounts for just 6% of my search traffic. The other 94% comes from long tail keywords.

What Are Long Tail Keywords

An example of a normal keyword would be, “make money online.” An example of a long tail keyword would be, “How do I make money using Kontera?” The long tail is an economic concept that says the collective demand for less-popular items can exceed all the most popular added together. In other words, most of your search traffic comes from strange search queries that you may have never thought of. For example, quite a few people have found this site while Googling for β€œcute teens with tight pants.”

Long tail keywords are more targeted because the searcher is entering more information. My chances of signing a search engine user to Kontera is a lot higher if he came from a search on how to make money with Kontera than if he came from a search of make money online. How do we know which long tail keywords to target?


Using HitTail To Hit The Long Tail Keywords

For the past few days, I’ve been testing a really neat service call HitTail. In a nutshell, HitTail helps increase your site’s search engine traffic by telling you what long tail keywords to use in your articles. A small piece of code is installed on your site to track search engine traffic and the keywords used to find you. HitTail then uses sophisticated algorithms to pull out underperforming terms as suggestions.


Now all you have to do write a post using the suggested keywords and watch your search ranking improve for that term. Some of the search terms HitTail comes up with are pretty far out. While I don’t see a problem using “making quick money” or ‘rubiks cube methods” in a post, I have to wonder how I can get “21st birthday wise words” or “0 credit card banks” in a post (other than what I just did now). In addition to recommending long tail keywords to use in your articles, HitTail shows all the search terms that search engine users used to find your site. I’m not sure I want to know the person who found my blog with the term “Jon showers.”

HitTail is free for up to 100,000 website visits per month. If you do more than 100,000, you have to pay $49.95 per month. If you sign up for HitTail Plus between now and April 30th, 2007, you get half off the regular rate for as long as you remain a HitTail customer.

I’ve been using the service for only a few days and I can see potential. I’ll post another update after a month or so to show what effect HitTail has on my search traffic.

78 thoughts on “Hitting The Long Tail Keywords”

  1. Jane May says:

    Wow. Hit tail seems like it has a lot of potential! The traffic we’ve been getting from google have pretty much been from strange search queries. At least that’s what our readers have been telling us.

    I’ll be interested in hearing about your update John.

    1. Gary Lee says:

      I see the potential as well Jane. I’m gonna try this out this week and see what kind of phrases I need to incorporate into my content!

      1. Matt Jones says:

        I’ve been using Hittail for ages, but I stopped when they came out of Beta and started charging us πŸ™

        1. We didn’t start charging anyone except for those with over 100,000 visitors/mo. And that only counts search hits (not people who bookmark or type-in URLs directly). In other words, we remain completely free, unless you want a few EXTRA features, which were never part of the beta, or have VERY heavy volume.

    2. Alex says:

      I get quite a bunch visitors from ridiculously long queries..

      1. Dave says:

        Yes, we’ve seen the benefit of long tail search terms too… we blogged about it the other day in fact.

        1. jake says:

          suprisingly i get alot of visitors from phone number searches.

          1. Dave says:

            That’s strange…any idea why?

    3. I’m getting hits from strange queries too, but my website is not yet targeted for a niche, I think this will cause me some trouble with this tool…at least in the short term.

      I’ll be interested in hearing about your update too, John.

    4. This definitely works, as does almost everything you say. πŸ˜€ 😎

  2. Gary Lee says:

    It takes a good understanding of your market to compile a lists for your long tail effect. I’m actually coming out with a post tomorrow about how to group your markets to target wisely!

    1. Jane May says:

      Lookin forward to it!

  3. Looks very interesting ! I’m going to have to give it a try.

  4. Ronaldo says:

    100.000 visits a month? Looks like I’ll be using it free for a long time… πŸ™‚

    1. Jane May says:

      lol…It’s not that hard…just gotta get a little creative πŸ˜€

    2. Nick says:

      If I could get to 100,000 quality visits per month, that would be well worth the investment.

      I think another use for the search keywords is for those of us who are Amazon afiliiates and use the “recommended products’ ad type. (I use it at the bottom of every 4th or 5th post.) Putting a bunch of those keywords into the Amazon tool and putting the results in a ‘random items from a list’ widget may yield some interesting purchase behaviors.

      1. Dave says:

        That’s a pretty clever idea nick πŸ™‚

  5. blogdinero says:

    Does it functions?

    1. Alex says:

      Of course it does, John wouldn’t be writing about it if not..

  6. Marc says:

    There’s lots of gold in very long tails 😈

    I think I may give it a try. I always hate stuff that needs to be added to your page but some services are worth it.

    Given that it would be free for me I’ll probably give it a whirl πŸ™‚

    1. Marc says:

      Wow, creating an account really sucks. They don’t accept e-mail addresses as a username. I hate that.

      They also don’t accept properly formed URLs. You have to leave off the trailing slash. I mean a properly formed URL is properly formed for a reason. There’s no reason not to allow those.

      1. Dave says:

        Maybe they are a new service and haven’t worked out some of the little UI stuff yet. Send them an email to complain! πŸ™‚

        1. Mike Levin says:

          No need to send emails. We read almost everything written about us. We’ll consider loosening it up a bit. Our real-time messages to help people through the process have won us some praise. But we are interested in making it obvious and intuitive to 100% of the people, if we can.

          1. Dave says:

            Well, the fact that you’re so on top of your customer’s concerns is bonus points for you in my book πŸ™‚

          2. Matt Jones says:

            Yeah thats pretty impressive… but then it is on JohnChow.com so everyone reads that anyway!… but then you did even read the post I made about Hittial 2 months ago. πŸ™‚

          3. Matt, an oversight I assure you. I try to leave each post for a few weeks, so I don’t predispose the discussion (we’re still learning!). If you’re pinging Technorati or Google BlogSearch, then I know about your posts within minutes. If not, I find them in due time. Investigating now!

  7. Louis says:

    Yes, I have been doing something along this line by analyzing my server log file and writing pieces about the gems I found there πŸ™‚ πŸ˜†

    1. Alex says:

      That must have taken ages to figure out πŸ˜•

  8. Gath says:

    This looks pretty interesting. How do they come up with the suggestions? Are they terms that are similar to the ones you are already using, but not ranking for?

    1. Derrich says:

      Look at the Google Keyword search tool. I’m sure it generates some of the suggestions from that.


      That’s how I get my ideas…for free. This service does sounds pretty nifty though.

      1. Thank you, I’ll check it out. πŸ˜€

    2. Mike Levin says:

      Derrich, yes, that’s basically it. These are word combinations that were “seeded” mostly by the long archive pages from blogging sofware. In other words, word 1 from a blog at the beginning of the month combines with word 2 from a blog at the end of the month, and there was no better page on the Internet than yours as far as the visitor was concerned. But if they had to dig for you in the results, then it’s a suggestion. Think about that for a minute. Completely simple. Completely obvious. Based on actual traffic, and not some aggregated data from other sources. We base it on the concepts of TQM from Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

  9. Gath says:

    Haha – you do rank pretty well for ‘cute teens with tight pants’. Well done! :mrgreen:

    1. Dave says:

      Haha that’s hilariou.

      1. Very Funny. πŸ‘Ώ 😳 😈 πŸ˜†

  10. bill says:

    Just started using Hittail last week. It’s given me a couple good ideas for content.

    As far as I can tell, they drop longer, more specific terms in favor of shorter, popular terms from the long tail.

    Looks promising but I’ve seen some amusing suggestions. πŸ˜€

  11. Brendan says:

    Yea I get alot of traffic from unexpected searches. One of my best keywords is from an little random article i wrote on how to fix a clogged drain. I probably get about 3-5 visitors a day from it which is alot for a blog that gets about 15-20 uniques a day.

  12. James says:

    I’m getting ~20 hits a day from one story I did on a Vista Upgrade process. The hits aren’t even using Vista Upgrade as a search term, so it is quite interesting the traffic you can get, traffic you didn’t really expect for the search terms you’d normally target for.

    1. Mike Levin says:

      Yes, that real keyword insight we’re trying to give folks. Somehow, it’s elusive in normal analytics software. We pull tricks like using your OLD keyword lists to filter the NEW keyword lists, so you’re only looking at things you never looked at before. That’s part of what keeps it interesting–at least under the Keywords tabs.

  13. I’m going try HitTail and post my results in the next 30 days.

  14. Long-tail keywords are a bit tricky, aren’t they? HitTail should make this process very interesting — thanks, John!

    1. Mike Levin says:

      Yeah, we spent countless months wading through long keyword lists, saying “isn’t there a better way?” before making HitTail. The pursuit of working, converting long tail keywords is an incredible time-sink if one takes the wrong approach.

  15. I tried to sign with them and realized I have already had an account!, But I have not realized their potential until I read your post!

    Thanks John, I am now starting to study my long tail keywords, continue like this your articles are really helping me improve my Linux Blog

  16. Dave says:

    To be honest, I’ve never targeted longtail search terms specifically, just found it to be a phenomenon as I built links.

  17. Nenad Ristic says:

    I am also getting most of my google traffic from strange keywords, although I have not done anything about it yet. I think that long tail is the way to go, especially since my style of writing is a bit different to moist. I tend to enjoy using weird twists of phrase and unusual words, a situation which I think lends itself to long tail traffic.

  18. Piggy says:

    interesting idea, ill give it a try over the next few days.

  19. Maximizing the use of tools such as HitTail can be quite beneficial. 100,000 free website visits – that’s pretty amazing.

    1. Mike Levin says:

      Thanks. And let me be specific–that’s 100,000 visits carrying initial referrer data (basically just search hits). So, if it’s subsequent page-views, we don’t even count it.

      Because of this, we’re serving HitTail for free to some sites that have millions of page-views per month. Sometimes even these sites aren’t getting the genuine first-time traffic they think.

      In fact, using HitTail provides a nice traffic reality-check, because we use the most objective and reliable measure of search hit activity that we could devise–and as result everyone’s finding out their sites are a lot less active than they thought.

  20. Matthew says:

    I registered on hittail.com quite a while back (probably last year) and have generated quite a list of weird and wonderful phrases to work on. It’s a nice service to use and works well once you filter out the weird suggestions.

    1. Mike Levin says:

      Few people get this nuance. I’m glad you do. How could we communicate that to our audience better? Keyword from ages past filter keywords moving forward. That provides radical new functionality available nowhere else–even amongst the tech gurus that mine their own keyword log files (who I respect greatly), but who always overlook these sorts of details and benefits. Ideas?

  21. KennyP says:

    Sounds a very useful services, does it support chinese site like mine? πŸ™„

  22. Interesting find with the hit tail. Let us know how it goes (and if it’s worth it).

  23. jake says:

    im gonna have to try this

  24. Amanda says:

    I usually do long tail keywords when I need something specific so its a good idea to target them.

  25. I wonder if/when John would use “one night stand” in his posts — that’d be classic.

  26. I have this already. It’s called Google Analytics.

    1. Mike Levin says:

      Respectuflly speaking, it’s an understandable belief.

      And for that part of our audience, only actual use can clarify the difference.

      It’s all in the work-flow and details.

  27. Long tail keywords are the key

  28. shokthx says:

    I’m wondering if it shows search numbers for the keywords?

    1. Yes, but you have to download the Excel spreadsheets (CSV files). But even without pulling down the long lists, you can visually see the top 350 with their numbers in a long tail diagram.

  29. Dave says:

    I’m looking forward to John’s follow up report. I may have to sign up for it myself πŸ™‚

  30. Derrich says:

    I’ve had alot of luck recently with the “long tail” approach. I’m still getting hits from Google, MSN, and Yahoo! on posts I made a few months ago. It’s like residual income…except not money. πŸ˜•

    1. blabWire says:

      Care to share numbers for specific keywords?


  31. Peter Koning says:

    Hi John – missed meeting you at the Affiliate Networking thing last month. So you’re the guy that got my Zune πŸ™‚

    I’m selling my hittail data to anyone into b2b ecommerce affiliate software and affiliate marketing strategy SEO.

    Will keep you posted … on my blog.


  32. Another great educational post. Thanks John!

  33. TJantunen says:

    That is a good keyword tracking program, thanks.

  34. uncle sha says:

    I’ve tried this, it has it drawbacks but overall it’s a good tool!

    good unbiased review

  35. Mr. Red says:

    I did this without the software for a beer site and average 100-500 google hits a day for over a 1000 different search terms, it is a great way to get moving, it is alot easier to come up for a 100 odd results than 1 standard.

  36. Right now I’m trying to rank for the keyword term ” Russell wagner” I am currently 5th on the 1st page for google. Once I conquer it I’m going to go for another one!

  37. Pingback: HitTail

Comments are closed.