Back in July, I signed up for a trial version of HitTail, a web service that is supposed to provide keyword suggestions for writing blog posts, that are “guaranteed” to improve your rankings in the search engines.
Score: 43 out of 100
On a standard 5-star scale, I would rank the HitTail service somwhere between two and three stars.
Site 1: Zero Keyword Suggestions
First, because of three websites I tested with the service, one site never got any recommendations. None. Zero. Zilch. Their explanation was “It looks like either your Google Webmaster Tools account has not been active long enough or your site doesn’t have enough traffic yet for us to give you any suggestion.” Okay, so my site isn’t Amazon. Does that mean they can’t give me ANY suggestions?
Site 2: Feeble Keyword Suggestions
The second site got a few suggestions. Like about eight. Really? Over a six-month period, all they can come up with is eight one-star suggestions? This site is for a client who really wants his site to rank well on Google, but eight weak suggestions for blog articles ain’t gonna hack it for him.
Site 3: Yawner Keyword Suggestions
The third site got maybe three dozen keywords, a dozen of which were offered as suggestions, and maybe four of those were four (out of five) star recommendations. The rest of them were one and two star recommendations. That didn’t exactly peg my excitement meter.
Ordered Articles: FAIL
However, based on their “guarantee” I had them write three blog post articles, at $19 each. *Helpless sigh.* You get what you pay for.
I suppose I was out of line, hoping for the “fresh, relevant content” Google holds so dear. Instead, what I got was a smarmy “WE’RE THE BEST!” self-promoting sales pitch obviously written by someone who didn’t know anything about the business, and didn’t want to bother to learn.
I hired an outside writer to write another blog posting, based on one of their keyword recommendations, and the article was some better, but I couldn’t see any difference in the search engine rankings.
Keyword Quality: Yawn.
And finally, what about those keyword recommendations? Were they new and fresh and brilliant, the kind that turned on a light bulb over my head and put a smile on my face?
Sadly, no. They were mundane, everyday keywords, the kind any reasonably intelligent person could come up with off the top of their head, if they bothered to read even a smidgen on what the business was about.
Yes, I understand their algorithm harvests the terms from Google Webmaster Tools, the terms that initially bring people to that website, but good grief. It’s stupidly easy to come up with those terms on your own.
The Bottom Line: Not For Me
The bottom line is that while HitTail does provide a service that automates some of what Google Webmaster Tools gives you for free, and the keywords they send you are ones you can easily find on Google Webmaster Tools or even better, come up with on your own.
When my free year of service runs out (they offered a free year of this service in return for my writing about it here in this blog – I did NOT promise a rave review), I will not be renewing. To me it is certainly NOT worth $10 a month for the cheapest plan, up to $80 a month for the top of the line plan.
Their $119.40 per year plan promises 200 keywords a month (it does not say “up to,” just a flat 200), but I would be surprised if I saw even 30 keywords a month.
For people running very large and very busy websites, it might be worth your money to try out their service. But beware; even if you like their keyword suggestions, if you also try their article writing service, try it only one article at a time at first, to see if the quality of their writing for you is as dismal as it was for me.
My apologies to the hard-working folks at HitTail. The idea SEEMS like it ought to work well; but it just didn’t work for me.