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March 21, 2007
If you're not on top of the list, you're not even on the list

If you think the arrival of the Internet age came quickly, you’ll be shocked how quickly it can leave you behind.

The days of passive Internet use for basic information and day-to-day research have been eclipsed by an active Web that can be used to drive traffic, build awareness and establish credibility.

Mastering the intricacies of this new generation of the Web, and the even more detailed intricacies of search engines, are critical elements for creating, maintaining and growing your presence online.

The key to overcoming this terribly difficult process is effective search engine optimization (SEO).

Having your company or service atop the search engine rankings of Google or Yahoo! is akin to being the first plumber listed in the phonebook—your site will be visited most often, when users are in greatest need of information and their interest is highest.

There currently exists a unique confluence of PR, advertising and marketing efforts all seeking to reach an already-engaged audience via organic (i.e. natural) search.

With the wider-than-ever reach of the Internet growing broader by the second, the Web is the undisputed future of these industries.

Because of this, no amount of coverage garnered through traditional PR, or attention generated by marketing and advertising, can compensate for a company lacking visibility online.

This visibility is determined by how well a site is ranked when consumers turn to a search engine and begin a search with the intent of finding products, services or information provided by your organization.

My company recognized that this problem was affecting not only our own bottom line, but that of dozens of our clients. Our solution was to carefully develop a product that would do the impossible: naturally boost a site’s rankings in organic search results without spending a dime.

To understand how we did this, it is critical to remember how search engines determine their results to your queries.

Sites are ranked by the number of other sites linking to them, the authority of those sites, and the content of the site itself.

Website content is the single most controllable factor for any organization.

By knowing the words or phrases people are typing into search engines to find your site, you can better predict how to draw more qualified traffic in the future.

There are a variety of Web analytics tools that solely focus on descriptive reporting without providing users with a clear call-to-action or prescriptive remedies to improve their site’s performance via some kind of unique, specialized information.

To address the enormous need for actionable information that could deliver site traffic and improve organic search ranking, we created HitTail.

HitTail is a product that allows small companies to make use of basic public relations methodology and compete with larger organizations that have much bigger advertising and marketing budgets.

Using a series of patent-pending algorithms, HitTail analyzes words people have typed into a search engine prior to coming across your site, and it then creates suggestions for topics for you to write about in the future.

Once you create content for your site based on the suggestions and keywords provided by HitTail, your site will naturally, automatically appear higher in organic search results.

Topping these organic search results will directly result in the trifecta of objectives stated earlier: increased traffic will be driven to your site, awareness of your site will grow amongst your target audience, and your increased visibility will give your site increased credibility.

HitTail’s uses are not limited to improving natural search, however.

Many HitTail users utilize the keyword suggestions provided by HitTail to guide their purchase of words for search engine marketing efforts. Instead of trying to bid against the most popular and expensive keywords, HitTail users can purchase the terms proven most likely to draw traffic from their target audience.

Don’t forget, however, that you are not operating in a vacuum. Other companies are expanding their own Web content, and this may affect your own best efforts at optimization. If this is a concern, it might be time to retain the services of a PR firm that understands SEO.

Utilizing the broad capabilities of the Web is no longer a luxury afforded to those with the discretionary funds and abstract interest in affecting online growth. These tools are now critical, essential aspects of a healthy business, and their use cannot be considered optional.

The future of PR belongs solely to those who understand this new medium and its potential impact on clients, customers and bottom lines.

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Connie Connors launched Connors Communications in 1985 to educate the consumer audience on how technology can make a difference in our lives. Connie and her team have launched many of the major technology initiatives over the past two decades, including the first personal and handheld computers, CD-ROM drives and educational software; and new Internet brands, including Amazon.com; as well as assisting household brands -- Disney.com and The New York Times Digital -- transition their offerings online.
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