HitTail is working hard to differentiate between being a suggestions engine and an analytical tool. Yesterday I wrote about 103 Bees and how I have used them to write some successful blog posts.
As I mentioned in that article, blogs have little value if people hit the post a lot during its first three days of life and then never come back again. HitTail is specifically designed to help you write blog posts with long term search staying power.
In their very clever, concise and easy to grok demo, HitTail shows that long term value in a web site comes from natural search hits - ones that come without you having to buy ads.
I would go one step further to say that natural search is successful because it retains its relevance to the searcher. However, in addition to this, it also has to be findable.
This is where HitTail comes in. They scour your existing search strings and suggest a load of ones you may wish to write posts about.
Note that these posts aren't designed to get huge number of hits a day, like my torrent post - but rather to get a consistent stream of hits every day forever and ever, like my review of Nancy Pelozi's book Sneaking Into the Flying Circus, which is often used in college courses and every fall I get a flurry of natural search results.
So here's the meat of the HitTail experience, the Suggestions Page:
First off, the seedy underbelly of the Internet and the nature of natural search is obvious here. My blog is generally about community, conversation, and technology. Sharing my wife and real incest likely isn't going to make my top list of things to write about. However, good suggestions here are:
- Wayfinding in the subway
- Find torrents
- Hong Kong Nan Lian Garden
- Theory Cities Hong Kong
- Octopus Children Hong Kong
Also, I've been systematically reading all of Philip K. Dick's books so that also makes for a good potential title.
So I've clicked to move the grayed ones to my "To Do List" and I've clicked to Delete the remaining ones.
This gives me a To Do list.
Now, let's say I want to learn more about my natural searches just from Hong Kong. I like the suggestions from HitTail, but I'd like to see the whole range of natural searches and see if I can get more insight into their context.
So I go to the Keywords tab, which lets me see a little:
This still isn't quite enough to tell me what I need to know. But the HitTail people are wonderful! And they've given you the 'Excel" button. You hit it and you get all your search terms during your association with HitTail.
So you get a good long list of search phrases, which are a mishmash as diverse as the needs of all humanity:
As you can see, there are posts searching for things that are obviously me like "J. LeRoy Music" and "Jim Benson Vivian Blog", and things that have nothing to do with anything like Hester Blumenthal Recipe (likely found by a mix of some recipe and a review of Syd Blumenthal's book.)
But I'm here to find specific information about Hong Kong. To make this simple, I'll just look at ones with Hong Kong or wayfinding in them.
So here we get a bit of depth. We see that food is rather deep and that, in general, people are interested in getting around and eating in Hong Kong. This is great information. I already have a wayfinding in Hong Kong (with emphasis on signage) post.
"Octopus Children Hong Kong" as a post title could result in a number of posts. From all of this, I would go for a post of what it's like to be a kid in Hong Kong today. How you navigate the subway, get around, eat with family and use your Octopus card. This is really interesting because I did have a few conversations with kids in HK about these things.
The Suggestions from HitTail are basically statistical extensions of my existing posts. They assume that the search strings that people use to get to your site are both indicative of your content and the desires of those who are arriving at your site. HitTail's tools show various combinations of words in some type of relevant context.
They also understand that the HitTail engine is not always successful. So it lets you pick the best, discard the rest. It also lets you investigate the context of the recommendations to give them more depth.
After that, it's up to you to actually write something useful.
Blogged from the Sai Oak in Ocean Shores, Washington