Real Relationships Lead To Search Marketing Success

How far do your relationships extend across the Web? This question is totally relevant to digital marketing nowadays. No longer are the days of just plain and simple on-page SEO. I have read countless articles about link building vs. relationship building, seen Whiteboard Fridays and attended panels at conferences about the subject.

The obvious conclusion being: relationships are kind of important.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Yes, Relationships Are Important!

Well, perhaps I take that concept a little too literally because I have made some fantastic friends online, and in many cases, have taken those relationships offline, too. To put this in perspective, these relationships are those where I want nothing more than to help them reach their goals and succeed. And, I feel pretty confident that I can rely on these relationships to help me succeed as well.

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Isn’t that one of the basic life idioms “one good turn deserves another,” or even a guiding life principal of “do unto others…”?

The Push Back

I had the following interaction with a friend who I have known digitally for quite some time. But when I say we have known each other, I mean, we talk somewhat regularly, G-chat with each other and have tried to arrange in-person meetings on a couple of occasions with no success. (I know he is reading this. One day we will succeed!…  And by the way, he knows I am writing this, but we both chose to keep his name out of it.)

Anyway, I sent him a message on G-chat sharing a dopey little article I wrote and asking for RT (it’s here, by the way). I felt like I put my time into it, and it was light humor enough that I thought anyone would share it without batting an eyelash.

Later that day, I received the following email:

Letter to Aaron about Retweets

Wouldn’t it have been easier to just retweet the article? I was sorta’ taken aback. I didn’t think it was such a big deal since we were “friends,” so I responded back to him:

Letter response about Reteets from Aaron

Shortly after, we jumped on G-chat and had a more in-depth discussion about sharing friends’ content online. We agreed to disagree, but my stance on the issue is that the relationships we build online and off should translate to helping each other succeed, within reason. Not blindly, of course. I would understand what I am sharing first, and although I may not 100% agree with what they said, I would make that known. Our community is open in that way and friendly disagreement is welcomed. But I want to see my friends succeed, so chances are really good that I would do my part to help them reach their goals.

Real Relationships Translate To Online Success

Recently, I came across a great example that supported my view and thought perhaps it was time to write this down.

A friend of mine, Robyn Burgher, is a clinical consultant at NorthShore Pediatric Therapy in Chicago. She also runs their website and social media efforts. Needless to say, she is busy.

I notice on Facebook that she started a new blog called Little Red Mommy Hood. Didn’t really give it a second thought until I saw her posting how she had 300 views in the first hour, and 500 after the second. As a digital marketer, my ears perked, up and I asked her to send me the following chart.

From WordPress Stats

I would say this is pretty impressive. And you know how it happened?

Through Relationships!

The back story is that Robyn, in her position at work, has developed a lot of relationships with people. She is in a lot of mommy groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other forums across the Web and has become a trusted authority online and in person. I asked her how she came up with the idea and she said:

I wanted to figure out a way to get my kids more interested and excited about eating Dinner.  So one night, while I was making Hotdogs and Hashbrowns, I told them how we are having all “H” foods.  Both my older kids got super excited about it and wanted to know what we were going to have for “I” the next night. It hit me that I could do a letter of the alphabet every night, and so I decided to post it on FB. I started getting posts, tons of private messages and emails for recipes for the A-Z Dinners for Kids so I decided to put it on a blog. I am obviously friends with tons of moms who are always looking for new dinner ideas, so I knew I had a great audience to share it with.

True, what she came up with was a clever idea, but there are lots of clever ideas out there that go unnoticed. I attributed the success greatly to her network.

This is what the power of your network can do.

Strengthen Your Network & Be “Real” Social

Here are some ways I have found that help deepen your connections with people; and I promise you, they all work:

  1. Go to conferences – the relationships you will make at these are invaluable.
  2. Skype or Google+ Hangouts – try to get face time with peopleGood vs Evil... which is which??
  3. Engage in conversations with people on their blogs and forums
  4. Attend Meetups – and share information that you are extremely passionate about
  5. Twitter Chats – this is a great chance to meet people you otherwise might not have met as people tend to be more open to talking there (Here is the outcome of one)
  6. Answer questions on LinkedIn – show your expertise
  7. Instagram – yes, I share pictures of my kids there  and other things, too; I have also made some great connections there
  8. Slideshare – I am a late comer to this network but already see a tremendous value in using it and am growing my network

What’s The Point?

Going back to our original discussion about friends sharing. I would never claim it to be a given that every piece of work my network puts together will get shared, but I have worked to develop a trusted network of people whom I believe in and if they personally send me something, it is likely because it’s important to them, and it, at the very least, will get my time.

And then again, there is always the possibility that I am too nice.

What do you think? Do we have this responsibility to help our network?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social


About The Author: is the Director of SEO for Kahena, a Digital Marketing agency focused on sustainable SEO, vertical search optimization, and online advertising. At KDM, he leads strategy for all accounts and is experienced in SEO ranging from local, digital marketing, to national and global search marketing. Aaron also specializes in social media strategy development and its convergence with SEO, content creation, image and video optimization. Follow him on Twitter @AaronFriedman.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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  • Pat Grady

    “Go to conferences – the relationships you will make at these are invaluable.”
    Sooooooooooooooooo true!

  • Misty Matera

    Great ideas. Thanks this helped me allot.

  • Qnary

    Cultivating relationships is very important. When you are looking for a job or new people to connect with, LinkedIn is a great place to meet and communicate with people in your desired field; joining groups is a great way to do this. It enables you to be exposed to people you wouldn’t have otherwise “met.”

  • Christine DeGraff

    I think it’s important but I agree with the other guy – just blindly sharing things that you don’t feel add value to your network seems like a bad idea – and i don’t think people should assume that their relationships entitle them to unlimited access – so I can see why he needed to draw the line.

  • Shadab Malik

    I completely disagree. Whats value? Value lies in the quality of a thought. For instance, being a hotelier wouldnt stop me to share a quality article/post about increase in tulips prices to my network. I mean why not if its interesting and if you do it as a favor to someone you know.

  • Amy Fowler

    Hmmm, I get the person’s point. Although I’m really not precious about what I Tweet and will Tweet most things I find interesting, as well as anything someone I liked asked me to; so long as it wasn’t complete crap.

    I think too many people worry far too much about what they Tweet. They’re gone and forgotten in seconds so why worry? Unless you’re a massive brand, but that’s another issue.

    Anyway, what I don’t understand here is the need to go into so much detail about *why* they wouldn’t Tweet your article. Why not just say ‘hey, good post but I don’t think it really fits with my audience, so if you don’t mind I’ll give Tweeting this one a miss’?

  • Sarah

    I’m inclined to agree with your friend. I only share when I love what friends have written and it is relevant to my community. There are a few people in my network that frequently ask me to “please RT and share” things. And it’s super frustrating, even when it’s from someone I have a relationship with. No doubt the content she’s sharing is important to her (usually there’s a client behind it waiting for “big” results). But it’s the action that’s lame. If the content is as great and/or as important as she thinks it is – I’d stumble upon it if she posted it on her normal social networks.

  • Aaron Friedman

    Good point Amy. If I find it interesting, I usually give it a share as well. Total crap though goes ignored.
    But I like to think that through the network I have created, total crap will NOT be sent to me :)

  • Aaron Friedman

    See, Sarah, I don’t agree. Just because my friends share something on their social networks doesn’t mean that I will see it. If I have a personal relationship with someone, that by all means, please send it over to me and alert me to it. Why should out relationship be forced to stay on twitter when in real life we have gone out for lunch or drinks?

    But as I said, it will always get my attention. If it becomes excessive and annoying I may start to reconsider that person’s relationship and their motivations… but that has yet to happen.

  • Aaron Friedman

    I am not saying to share things that are TOTALLY irrelevant just because it comes from a friend. I trust that the people I know understand me and what interests me.

    A perfect example is if someone sent me an infographic about bacon… I do not eat bacon and would honestly feel pretty uncomfortable sharing that. But I think my network understands that. (and if they don’t they do now :) )

    But if I can relate to it, chances are I would be more inclined to share it if it came from a friend than from a total stranger. If I disagreed with it, I would let that be known, but I would likely share it to help a friend out if it meant a lot to them

  • Ari Nahmani

    We live in such a soundbyte, MOST recent news culture that things often get missed. I see no harm in letting friends and relationships you have online know.. personally.. that you have posted an article. Specifically asking them to share it may not be necessary – but the mere alert of something you deem shareable I think is totally necessary and fair game for relationships – online or off. If you are ‘close enough’ to talk about every day life, you should be definitely close enough to at least let them know about something you created. If they deem it valuable, they’ll share it.. hopefully. Otherwise, we’re all doomed to look at Gangam Style and Justin Bieber all day.

  • Aaron Friedman

    Dear G-d help us if it ever gets to that point! (oh, and I agree with your comment :) )

    Asking for a share is probably a slight abuse of a friendship… Simply sharing the article in some ways implies what you want, and the real people you are close with will take a hint.

  • Andrea T

    I agree with Christine that “sharing things that you don’t feel add value to your network just because someone asked you to seems like a bad idea”

    It should be something that is interesting and/or topical, but doesn’t always have to be both. Do what feels right under the circumstance.

    When promoting friends or family (their activities or products) on a blog, I make it a point of publicly stating that I’m promoting them because I believe in the product not because of our relationship. That said, it never hurts to ask your connections to promote you. They might occasionally do you the favour if it’s not in their usual scope.

    I too would be more inclined to share from a friend than stranger. I get annoyed when strangers ask me to share or RT and it seems that they haven’t given any thought to what value it has for me & my readers and/or followers. Creepier is when I get the request on Twitter from someone whose name I’ve never seen before. That’s the “spray and pray” method of sharing your stuff. Sometimes it feels desperate and while I empathize, I don’t like it.

    A thought about the value and impact of “real relationships” on online activities: You can genuinely vouch for those people and vice versa.

  • Aaron Friedman

    My pleasure :)

  • Aaron Friedman

    It single handedly changed my career and year.


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