Social Media and Search Marketing: Learnings from SMX Advanced

I was at SMX Advanced last week in Seattle, where I learned a ton about the latest in search marketing, social media and the intersection of the two (I also got to watch Danny Sullivan go on an epic rant). It wasn’t all that long ago social media marketing was separated from the world of SEO and SEM. But with recent changes to Google’s algorithm, which punishes those using black hat methods and reward content with good social signals (read- the most shares), social media has become an integral and important part of building a brand’s online presence.

Not only is social media in many ways the new way to link build, helping brands get links back to their content from third party sites, but content with a high number of shares is also a key factor in search engine algorithms for determining search ranking.

Read more of what we’ve written in the past about how and why content marketing should be an integral part of any digital marketing strategy:

While I’m certainly not going to post the extensive notes on everything I learned at SMX Advanced, here are some of my key learnings from my time in Seattle:

Social Media


The last few events and conferences I’ve been to, everyone has talked A LOT about Pinterest. The new-ish social network has taken off and gained million of users and now us internet marketing folks are trying to figure out the best way to use it.

During the “Hardcore Social Tactics” panel, Monique Pouget from Thunder SEO listed a few very helpful Pinterest tools for marketers.

  • Pinterest Bookmarklet: Aaron Friedman built an awesome Pinterest BookMarklet, which allows you to see what information users are sharing without having to actually visit Pinterest. It’ll automatically create .csv of everyone who has pinned your content. Seriously awesome.
  • PinReach: Great tool if you are looking to find influential pinners (see our list of who to follow on Pinterest).
  •  PinPuff: PinPuff will drill down analytics of your pins and tell you the dollar worth of each pin, referral traffic from a pin and more.

 >>Read more of Monique’s great Pinterest tips and tricks on the Thunder SEO blog.


Earlier this year I wrote my 5 Tips for getting the most out of Twitter, but here are a few more interesting tools you can use to get the most impact out of Twitter.

  • Hoosaid and Follower Wonk: These tools allow you to identify influencers by searching their bios for industry topics and keywords.Plexus Engine: Plexus is still in beta, but it’s a really incredible tool that searches Twitter for influencers based on a set of keywords. You can then export this list as a Twitter list, .csv or more. It rocks.Amplicate, Topsy and Social Mention: These tools allow you to search trending topics on Twitter, find mentions based on keywords and give you better insight into HOW people are talking about/engaging on a certain topic. It’s also great for getting an idea on what language people are using for your keyword research.Twtrland and Twitalyzer: These tools allow you to analyze Twitter profiles to help you discover links shared, retweets and more.Friend or Follow: This allows you to get insight into a Twitter influencers relationships online. Who do the influencers follow? Who influences them?


Use the Facebook Open Graph to your Advantage. My mind was a little blown when I learned that if you add your site as an object on Facebook’s OpenGraph, and when a user then opts-in, you are able to get all of their data. That’s right. Status updates, interests, friends – all of it. Read the SEOmoz blog post to learn more about how to implement.


Authority Building vs. Link Building (in a search plus your world era)

Of all the presentations that stood out to me from SMX, Casie Gillete from Grasshopper was one of my favorites. Casie was able to use creative approaches to generate great buzz, build links and gain authority for her company all while battling some pretty big obstacles (a “boring” B2B product, big competitors with much bigger budgets and a brand name that was going to be tough to rank for).

Here are my main takeaways from Casie’s presentation:

1. Don’t be afraid to try something a little out of the box

Grasshopper identified 5,000 top online influencers and sent them chocolate covered grasshoppers with a link to a video. After a few influencers tweeted/posted blogs about it (and generated links), the major media ended up picking up the story, which lead to over 200 news stories, 900,000 YouTube views and a TON of quality inbound links to the website.

2. Don’t shy away from viral marketing and link bait

Grasshopper also sponsored a music video riff on the Alicia Keys and Jay-Z song “Empire State of Mind” called “Entrepreneur State of Mind” (entrepreneurs are their key demographic), with references to Facebook, YouTube, TechCrunch and more. TechCrunch ended up picking up the story. In this case, the bait worked and Grasshopper got a valuable link on a leading industry publication, resulting in more traffic.

3. It never hurts to do a little ego stroking

Who doesn’t like to be told how great we are? A little ego stroking in the world of internet marketing never hurt either. Create lists of top influencers in your industry, post it on your blog, and then notify the folks on the list they are there. You are guaranteed to get a few shares and links back this way.

4. Controversy can be a good thing

Grasshopper created a blog post about a “TiVo proof ad.” Of course, no such thing exists, but the blog post ended up getting a ton of attention and garnering coverage in a few major online publications (that’s means more links and shares).

5. Don’t forget about PR

These days PR, social and SEO are all evolving into one thing. When you send out and syndicate a press release, make sure you have good links and anchor text placed in the release. It can lead to a ton of links back to your site.

Also keep in mind with press coverage that quality leads to quantity. Getting a placement in a major publication like Mashable will lead to countless more blog posts, coverage and more (which all means more and more links and better authority).


Live Tweeting Events and Conferences

This conference it became even more evident to me how beneficial it can be to help cover and live tweet events. It takes a little more work (because you have to listen, take notes and tweet all simultaneously), but it can be a great way to add to the conversation (read my post on social media displays for events), and gain new followers from your industry.

Here are some of my tweets from the event:


More Fun Stuff

Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan

I got to listen to Google’s Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land talk all about Penguin, Panda, Bing and more. Instead of trying to summarize the whole thing here, I’ll direct you to the full transcript on Search Engine Land.

The highlight of SMX? I think many would agree with me that it was the epic rant Danny Sullivan went on during the last session of the conference “Ask the SEOs.”  While no one seems to have gotten video of the event, someone did make an audio recording.

Mobile SEO – A Growing Field

Google’s Pierre Farr also officially announced in a mobile SEO panel that Google prefers responsive design websites that are mobile friendly, versus building separate and distinct m. mobile sites on subdomains. Here’s Google’s official blog post about the topic.

We <3 SEOs and SEMs

SEMpdx is full of fun, smart folks. As an SEMpdx member myself, I’m obviously biased, but I was glad I had the opportunity to hang out with and get to better know some of my fellow members on the trip. If you’re not already, you should probably follow them on Twitter:

Seattle is Beautiful

Our Pacific Northwest neighbor to the north is kind of like Portland’s big brother. Even with the rain, it was a great city to spend the week in.

2 thoughts on “Social Media and Search Marketing: Learnings from SMX Advanced

    • Thanks, Casie. Really did enjoy some of your tips and strategies. Going to have to borrow a few tricks.