HitTail and HitTailing

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 06/28/2006

Well, the HitTailing site has been running for almost 4 weeks now, with sign ups doubling every week. I think we may be onto something here. Some of the interesting points are that we’re working with live data and an Ajax datagrid. One of the tables is already up to 3 million records, and paging through the data is still as fast as when it was just 1000 records. This is not only due to Ajax, but a whole philosophical package of how to do database operations that was instilled into me by Gerard Bucas, the president and CEO of Scala, Inc–the last place I worked.

Gerard and I are kindred spirits in a lot of ways–both of us building business systems from scratch in order to save money, customize it precisely to the needs of the company, and generally to use technology and business systems to “compel” certain behaviors. I’ve given up business system writing, because there is so much out there, that it’s faded into the background of “solved problems.” Just use best-of-breed software, and focus on core. Companies, according to Geoffrey Moore, should always focus on the piece of the overall picture where they add unique value. Everything else, theoretically, can be bought or outsourced.

And that leads to HitTail and HitTailing. It was something I had been doing in search engine optimization for many years. I had architected and developed high quality enterprise systems since 1996. But it was only within the last two years that I had been working for Connors that I realized that the search engine piece was core, and had to be “extracted” from all my other work, and turned into a fault-tolerant, highly scalable, high quality enterprise systems and made available the world.

In this way, we can change the face of marketing. HitTailing takes a rather obtuse concept–writing for the long tail of search–and makes it commonplace. It takes a rather mundane chore–extracting search hits and keywords from your long files–and makes it interesting, addictive, and indeed fun. Sometimes it baffles me why more systems don’t show you your website traffic in real time. But then I realize it’s darn near impossible if you haven’t gone through the revelations and contrary-thinking that Gerard helped to instill into me. So, it is in that spirit that we take a complex notion, sophisticated back-end magic, and wrap it into the simplest of user interfaces. It is in fact deceptively simple, akin to Google when it first launched. Who knew that PageRank magic lurked behind Google. And that added to the simplicity of the user interface made all the difference. So it is with HitTail. Jump on the bandwagon and enjoy. I expect we’ll be surfing tables on the Web with several billion records before I have to upgrade the backend to IBM DB2 or Oracle.