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How We Increased Our Organic Search Traffic By Using HitTail

UPDATE: We no longer use this tool. It was sold to a new company. We no longer recommend using this tool. Instead try using SEMRush or Ahrefs for better results.

Everyone who has a successful blog or online presence can agree that search engine marketing is important. After the Google Panda and Penguin updates, everyone is trying to find ways to increase their organic search traffic the right way. A while ago, we came across a tool called HitTail through a friend’s recommendation. Although we were impressed with his HitTail review, like most folks we are skeptics when it comes to anything SEO related. After using HitTail to facilitate our long-tail SEO startegy on WPBeginner, we found that we increased our organic search traffic by 20% in less than 2 months.

Some of you would be like 20% that’s it? There are other bloggers who are bragging about 500% increases. The issue is that those other bloggers don’t have a lot of traffic to begin with. Increasing 500% is easy when you only have 500 visitors a month from Google. It is nearly impossible to do that on an established site getting 250,000+ visitors a month from Google. In this article, we will show you how we increased our organic search traffic using HitTail in WordPress by taking advantage of the long tail keywords.

What is Long Tail SEO?

Before we cover the topic on how we increased our organic search traffic, it is crucial that everyone understand what is long tail SEO. More importantly, we want everyone to understand the value of long tail SEO along with knowing the reasons why most smart SEO folks use long tail SEO.

Long Tail SEO refers to targeting niche specific search keywords which are usually 2 words or more in length. An example of this would be: “custom fields in WordPress”. Most folks who don’t know better would try to rank for keywords like “WordPress” or “WordPress tutorials”. While there is value in those major keywords, there is a ton of competition. There is no easy white-hat way for you to see immediate impact on your search engine rankings for those major keywords. However, chances are folks that search those major keywords are less likely to convert vs. someone who came to your site looking for something very specific.

Long Tail SEO

If you ever look at your site’s analytics, then you will get the perception that major keywords usually get the highest traffic. Most folks don’t bother going after the first few pages of their keyword results because they start seeing a bunch of keywords bringing in 5-10 visits a month. Anyone who don’t know better would say its best to focus on keywords that are bringing you the most traffic. However, anyone who can do a little bit of arithmetic can add up the number of visits on the long-tail keywords to show you where you should really be focusing on.

Long Tail Traffic - HitTail Infographic

By looking at the chart above, the value of long tail SEO should be evident. There is clearly more search value in long tail keywords as a whole than the popular keywords (70% of all search queries comprise of long tail terms). The biggest benefit of going after long tail keywords is that you can start seeing immediate traffic increase because long tail keywords are usually less competitive. This was the main reason why long tail SEO has always been part of our strategy.

So where does HitTail come in play in all this? Well for the longest time, we utilized Google Analytics to gather as much long tail keyword data that we could. Overtime as our site grew, analyzing keywords through Google Analytics became harder and harder. Downloading the long list of tables was also not an option because like most people we are not data junkies. This is when we started looking for a new method to find the long tail data and capitalize on it.

What is HitTail?

HitTail is a tracking software that track your website search data for under-performing long tail keywords. Once you put their tracking code on your site, it quietly runs in the background to record search hits and keyword information. HitTail then analyzes all those keywords using their algorithm to provide you with a list of suggested long tail keywords that you should be able to rank well for. Using the keyword suggestions, you should be able to increase your search traffic fairly easily.

How to Setup HitTail in WordPress

Before we go ahead and show the screenshots of how things work, it is best to cover how to setup HitTail in WordPress. First thing you need to do is signup with HitTail. It is a paid service which starts at $9.95 per month. There plans are based on the amount of traffic you get, so for larger sites you have to pay accordingly. They do have a free trial period of 21 days that you can use the product and test to see if you like it or not. The data is real-time, so you should be able to get a good idea of whether HitTail is for you or not within the trial period.

After the signup, you will be given a tracking code to paste on your site. There are two ways you can integrate HitTail in your WordPress site.

Method 1: Copy the tracking code and paste it in your footer.php file. You can also use our Insert Headers and Footers plugin to add that code in your WordPress site.

Method 2: You can use the official HitTail plugin for WordPress. Simply install and activate the plugin. Login to your HitTail account and go to Account » Sites.

HitTail Site ID

Copy the site ID and paste it in the plugins setting page.

HitTail Plugin Settings

Once you do that, you are done with the setup. Give it some time, and you will start seeing keyword suggestions. We have it set to send us keyword suggestions daily via email. You can have it set to weekly if you like.

How to Use HitTail to Get Maximum Benefits

Once you have setup HitTail, login to your HitTail dashboard and go to the Suggestions tab. You will see a list of keywords along with the search engines where the traffic is coming from.

HitTail Suggestions

Go through the list of keywords and see if your content is related. You can easily tweak/optimize your article or landing page to improve your ranking position for a specific keyword. Sometimes even though you rank for a specific term, the article you have ranking is not the most accurate one. You can use that data to create a new post on your site, so you can provide relevant material to your audience. This will often allow you to move from position 8 to position 1 in a matter of days.

Here at WPBeginner, we use HitTail keyword suggestions to both improve our existing articles and get new post ideas as well. HitTail has an option for you to mark the keyword in the To-Do list. Once completed, you can mark it as done.

They also have the option where you can pay them $19 to write a 400 word article related to the keyword. We haven’t tried this part of their service. Quite honestly, we believe that anything which is limited by the word count is not quality material. But that is only our opinion. You are more than welcome to try out their article writing service if you so desire.

Another thing we have started doing with these long tail keyword suggestions is that we use them as anchors on our internal links. If you don’t know already, internal linking is great for increasing pageviews in WordPress. It also helps you fight content scrapers. Using those long tail keyword suggestions as part of your internal linking strategy can be very helpful.

You could easily use the long tail keyword suggestions in running your PPC (pay per click) campaigns however we haven’t done that. Mainly because we don’t do PPC advertisement.

Our Thoughts on HitTail

If you can’t tell already, we love HitTail. The functionality it offers is amazing, and it is really helping us grow our blog. You can never run out of post ideas if you are using HitTail. There are a few usability things that we hope they improve on in the future.

One of the most annoying part of using HitTail is the keyword pagination. Currently, you can only see 15 keywords on each page. This means that you have to do a lot of clicking. To add to that, they only have the previous/next arrows. We really wish that they had an option to easily sort the number of keywords we want to display on page. For example, we would totally display 100 keywords on each page. Granted that there is an export to excel option available, it is not feasible if you want to use their To Do list.

The other thing that they can improve on is a clear way to add keywords in your to-do list. Currently you can only add keywords from the suggestions tab in your to-do list. If you go to the full keywords list, then you have to move the keywords into suggestions first before you can move it in the to-do list.

Considering that we have a design background, those minor UI issues really seemed to bother us. However, the overall functionality of the tool outweighs the minor UI issues that we don’t like. We love using HitTail to get new post ideas (over 30 new posts are ready to be published). HitTail is a great tool for bloggers, internet marketers, SEOs, and anyone who want to grow their organic search traffic.

Final Thoughts

If you want to increase your organic search traffic, then you have to start working on your long-tail keyword strategy. Your audience is getting smarter every day, and they know how to search. Most users search for relevant things, and they want relevant results. When someone wants to buy a pair of nike shoes, they are not going to search for shoes. They are going to search for a specific type of shoes such as “nike running shoes” or more specifically “nike free run+ reviews”. This is the type of user that is more likely to buy the product. If you want to grow your organic search traffic using long tail, then we highly recommend that you start using HitTail.

If you have used HitTail in the past or are using HitTail right now, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Reader Interactions

73 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Am very impressed with the would be results if one used HitTail tool.I have just started the dive into blogging for fun and as a way of earning through my niches.Coming from Uganda,east Africa, gives me an opportunity to capitalize on the less competitive long keywords am starting a blog to encourage young-stars to use their spare time to write and earn some dim.Am more than grateful to know its existence.Just kick started my social media and seo marketing company,this seems to be a handy tool for me.

  2. I have been using wordpress for years as the platform of choice on my websites. But one thing I have always seemed to struggle with is writing content for keywords and SEO. I have always struggle with SEO and to be honest I am just not very educated in regards to SEO. After having read this article I have to ask a few questions.
    1. Even with the use of a service like this how will I implement the information and suggestions that are provided?
    2. Do they provide step by step directions as to how to rank and article for said keywords?

    WarCraft Press

  3. I’ve been using the long tail SEO strategy for a while without even knowing it was a strategy. It seemed logic to me to target long, detailed keywords rather than big popular, one word or two keywords.

  4. Is HitTail still working after Google moved to HTTPS secure search? Is there any implication at all because of this move by Google on HitTail? After reading your article, we test drove HitTail in October/November time frame and even upgraded to a 19.95$ plan. We stopped it as we did not see too many results in our dashboard. We had installed the tool in one of our regular blogging sites that has over 500 blogs. We were putting one to two posts a day on the blog. Is there anything we did wrong?

  5. I have a website focussing on the latest from the tech world.I have been posting regularly for almost 5 months now and I am not getting any traffic from search engines.The little traffic (almost 50 pageviews daily) that I recieve is from social networkong sites.It is very disheartening.I have been doing a lot of hard work.Nothing going my way.

    • Hi Aashish,

      Same case with me. I launched a website 4 months back and doing lots of hard work and lots of contents there but not good organic traffic. Do you have any clue?
      Your reply will be helpful for me. Thank you.

  6. Who doesn’t want more traffic ?
    Wonderful Article on hitTail. I just want to try this.

  7. Guys, I didn’t understand when exactly you resort to HitTail? Before or after you create an article?

    If before, do you use HitTail to get new ideas for articles based in long tails before write them, or use the HitTrail to find long tails about an article created/published or created but not published yet?

    Please explain me better and so sorry for my bad english ;-)

  8. Great piece of information, but the tool is paid :-(
    Suggest me some ways to increase my organic search traffic for my blog
    Thanks in advance

  9. Isn’t this useless after Google encrypted search? Google no longer give out the referring keyword.

  10. Hi there,

    I recently read an article on Google encrypting most organic search keywords, and looking to encrypt all keywords at some point. Does a software like Hit Tail not depend on such data? Or it has its own ways of getting those keywords out?


  11. Thanks for the helpful info/review! I actually just signed up for the Hittail newsletters the other day without even considering trying the product itself yet. But it sounds like you can get some really good results, so I will definitely at least consider doing the trial version first!

  12. Gosh… everything so wonderful and then the part about $19 for 400 words of copy. It’s not the word limit. It’s what kind of quality can you get for $19? I see this more and more… web masters want keyword copy without thinking about the reader and whether it informs, delights, or does anything except carry keywords. I charge a minimum of $75 for an article (often 3x that) because I write something original instead of paraphrasing existing work. Thanks.

    • You don’t have to use that part of their service. As a matter of fact, we didn’t use that service and we indicated that in the article. This post is about our experience on how we are able to use their tool to improve our rankings.


  13. feeling a lil doubt about hittail when i first heard about it but after this review i might consider try their services, will be checking on their price plan again.

    i guess future of seo would be ‘long tail’ keyword. nice review guys.

  14. Very interesting article and something all levels of developers could utilize. Will certainly be checking this out for my own site.

  15. So is this service good for a site that is not getting any traffic? I’m getting about 5-10 visits per day. Does this mean that I will have to wait until I get 100 visits in order for the service to give me one keyword idea? I’m confused.

  16. I used HitTail extensively beginning in 2006 and for a few years after for all my (then) ecommerce shops. Always provided enough good data for tweaking, adding pages… and it was free.

    Not sure for blogging it’s worth a monthly though. If you’re providing what your readers care about and interacting with them I think this is a waste of money.

    Just my 2 cents.

  17. This sounds really intriguing, but I’m wondering if I can use it because my blogs are Google blogger and not WordPress? I’m not sure I would know how to “plug it in” on Blogger. Any tips?

  18. Worth reading.. this could be a stunning way to get trending topics. Will give it a try!

  19. Have now installed hittail and am very impressed with it’s ability to really focus on the long tail. I was surprised to learn that almost 70% of my search traffic was via long tail key phrases. Now onwards to create some content.

  20. Hi,

    This is one of the best articles, I have read so far on SEO, thanks for the great advice, I wanted to share this on linkedin but I noticed that there was no option for that, Linkedin gets more relevant traffic than facebook so I think that linkedin share should be an option

    • Hey Leo,

      We are glad that you liked the article. We haven’t seen huge numbers from LinkedIn in the past to justify giving it that design real estate. Will bring it up in the next meeting to see what others think.


      • Perhaps LI wouldn’t be as many shares as FB or Twit. But you should also probably consider the quality. Twitter is more of a kind of bad news week feed so perhaps some good leads there. FB is like a bunch of 13 year olds at a birthday party with mum and dad sitting on the deck with aunt Susan, Grandad and 14 cousins and siblings. G+ are like minded groups sharing ideas and trying to out market each other. While LinkedIn is more like a Gentleman’s Cigar Room.

  21. I’ve tried HitTail way before it was a paid service. I can’t believe how well it worked, in terms of keyword suggestions.

    HitTail showed me how many irrelevent keywords I unintentionally attract to my site. I added a few of those weird suggestions to my content, and within 24 hours, my traffic doubled! Even Google Analytics couldn’t do as well for me as HitTail did.

    I haven’t used it since then as I don’t have a need for it, but I plan to once I have a commercial website I want to focus on. Long tail keywords really are the easiest SEO technique to use, and HitTail makes it easier still.
    (urgh, I hope I don’t sound like a salesperson :P I’m just sharing my thoughts as a past user).

  22. man this is a great article…my articles also rank for long tailed keywords…gonna give hittail a try and see how it goes…nevertheless 20% is a pretty nice increase…its great to see testimonials of hittail from techcrunch and pcworld! :)

  23. I’m giving this a try now – and came back to drop a note that in the settings, there seems to be an option for records per page that you can set up to 50. I might not be the 100 you’re looking for, but it’s better than 15! :)

  24. This is something that we have been doing for a long time. Too many clients will see 100’000 searches for a keyword and want to target it. However, it is easier and better to instead target more descriptive terms which total more than 100’000.
    Eg: 1 x 100’000 is harder than 10 x 10’000.

  25. I am already using Hittail Trail services but i am not able to use their suggested keywords but now got idea from you , now i will update that keywords in anchors.
    Where other these keywords can be used?
    In my niche i can’t create new article with these suggested keywords.

  26. I have actually been taking this approach with my clients. Having a tool to assist with this will only make my job easier. Great article and great tool – can’t wait to see the results.

    • Ashley, yes this will make your job a lot easier. Long tail has been part of our strategy for sometime, but we noticed significant improvement in the way we did things by using HitTail.


  27. I think this product is really interesting, but I am curious how this will work with Google obfuscating organic search queries. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems that Google is trying to move towards a world where they do not pass search queries at all (with Chrome 25 taking this a step further).

      • Like Mr Coleman, I’m curious about this too.

        What’s the long tail of this product (no pun intended) since Google continues to “secure” more and more organic search keywords from our GA dashboards?

        Will the pricing model eventually shift to how many keywords they can actually capture vs how many hits you’re getting?

        How useful will results be if it’s only able to analyze 30% of traffic but billing you for hits etc

        • We are not involved with HitTail, so we cannot comment on what their business model or plans for the future are. We are simply users of the product who happened to find great success from using it. Will their pricing modal change in the future? We don’t know. Should that stop us from utilizing all the resources we have to get the maximum results that we can? Don’t think so.

        • I’m Rob, the owner of HitTail, and I wanted to respond to Matt’s comment:

          >>How useful will results be if it’s only able to analyze 30% of traffic but billing you for hits etc

          Unless that number hits 100% we will be able to provide some value. At this point we provide a new suggestion for every 25-125 hits depending on your percentage of search traffic and variation of keywords. If Google ratchets up the secure searches and keyword density falls then we will be able to analyze a smaller portion of your traffic, and that’s why we have different pricing tiers so that we have a tier that coincides with how much value you’re getting from the service.

          If you’re worried about the long-term prospects of HitTail I certainly appreciate it. But trust me, we’ve given it a lot of thought and we are committed to making HitTail continue work for the foreseeable future.

  28. This is very helpful. My site is about Disney World, so as you might guess pretty much all my 150k visits a month from Google search is long tail… I’ll be signing up!

  29. well these tips will sure increase our organic traffic i will also follow your instructions thanks for sharing

  30. Personally I enjoy finding those under performing keywords in my analytics reports myself and wouldn’t pay for a service to do so, however with a 20% increase on an already highly trafficked site it’s hard to argue with the results.

    You’ve inspired me to write my own post about finding those valuable long-tail keywords and identifying under performing ones within GA :D

    • Although analytics have all the data, sorting through it takes time. The first weekly suggestion we got from HitTail resulted in 30 new post ideas / tweaks to old posts. After the detailed analysis, we have been improving our ranks for a lot of easy to rank keywords.


      • Like I said, it’s hard to argue with the impressive 20% increase in traffic. And wth such the extra 20% being so highly targeted no doubt that 20% will be some of the highest converting.

        It does sometimes take a lot of time to filter the analytics data but when you’ve been doing it as long as I have it becomes second nature. With some clever advanced segments and reporting it doesn’t have to take much time at all. I guess I’m just stuck in my old fashioned ways haha

        I will, however, probably recommend HitTail to some my clients as a way of them keeping on top of their targeting, as most of them can’t afford to keep a full-time Analysts or SEOs on-board.

        • Yup, if you know exactly what you are doing, then you shouldn’t need HitTail at all. Unfortunately, we are not SEO experts. Just bloggers learning our way through.

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