SMX West Speaker Series: A Taste of Marty Weintraub’s Contagious Inspiration

Marty Weintraub aimClearIf you keep tabs on the Internet marketing industry’s thought leaders, you’ve heard of aimClear president Marty Weintraub. Weintraub has written two books, publishes a widely successful blog and was named the 2013 Search Personality of the Year. He’s speaking at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) next month in “Keywords are Dead — Long Live Concepts, Entities and Audiences!” on March 3.

In this exclusive interview, Weintraub candidly discusses:

  • The death of keywords and the new means of targeting
  • The biggest marketing mistake that can be avoided in 2015
  • The origins of his company and its effect on his company’s culture
  • Advice for starting a blog and being perceived as a thought leader

marty weintraub aimclear

Kristi Kellogg: Tell us … why are keywords dead? Who killed the keywords?

Marty Weintraub: The search PPC industry is being turned on its ear. Keywords, the traditional targeting mechanism of paid search, are quietly being phased out. Google is methodically eradicating keywords and keyword data, replaced by psychographic audience targeting (which INCLUDES search data), crawling pages and product feeds. What’s fascinating is that some of Google’s new hybrid search/psychographic data layers seamlessly CREATE queries that are not transparent. Google is finally succeeding in its mission to minimize and/or eliminate marketers’ keyword discretion.

KK: What is the biggest mistake you see CMOs making in 2015?

MW: Almost uniformly, CMOs must understand that the division of marketing structure, is obsolete. Social has a crucial psychographic content display amplification component that is separate from performance PPC marketing. Obviously content and creative dovetails into everything from landing pages to blogs, social posts to text ads. PR is often separate from digital marketing, which is ridiculous. The biggest mistakes CMOs will make in 2015: missing the chance to tear outdated corporate structure apart to help the left hand know what the right hand is doing. If you SAY you want integrated marketing … try integrating your marketing teams.

KK: You often tell the story at conferences of how you started your own business while managing PPC from a hospital bed. How did that happen?

MW: We’ve all heard the expression “live like you’re dying.” Well, I’ve experienced closeness to death firsthand and it colored my professional outlook and ambition in profound and intensely beautiful ways. When I could not handle going to my job anymore, my employer essentially became my first client. I literally started our company, aimClear, in a hospital room at Mayo Clinic.

More importantly, the lessons learned battling cancer and struggling for survival permeate aimClear’s counterculture. I founded aimClear on the heels of surviving Lymphoma stage 3B, still handling the effects of chemo and radiation. As a result, our little “company that can” was born to a person ready to embrace the joy of life and work. That was 10 years ago. Every day still I go to the office feeling an invaluable combination of excitement, awe and fear. [Watch Marty speak about beating cancer.]

KK: How did you come up with the name aimClear for your agency? How has it transformed?

MW: Back in 2006 I was researching domain names and registered a bunch like “minnesotaSEO,” “SEOMn,” etc. A friend of mine suggested that I call the company “MovingTarget,” because the digital marketing landscape is always changing. Of course, “movingtarget” was not available.

I plugged “Moving” as the primary keyword and “Target” as the secondary in NameBoy, which was a domain synonym generator back in the day. NameBoy did lateral stemming on keywords input and found combinations for which the domain name was available. “aimClear” was the first suggestion stemmed from movingtarget. Since I knew even then that aimClear’s differentiating strengths were all about targeting, the name fit really well. The rest (as they say) is history.

KK: That is an awesome origin story. If you had to do anything over again in building your search marketing agency, what would it be?

MW: Honestly, I would not change anything major. It’s been a magical ride. That said, I trusted a few individuals along the way that disappointed me. Also, I could have had more faith and relaxed just a bit more to ENJOY that magical ride even more.

KK: What advice would you have for someone who was thinking about starting a blog?

MW: Just go for it! Think of your new blog as FAQ content for services offered. Create content that demystifies, empowers, removes barriers and otherwise facilitates readers.  The best way to be perceived as a thought leader is to actually be one. The research you’ll need to do will make you even more of an expert. Think of links and citations of external thought leaders are true citations to serve your readers.

KK: You were in a rock band and still jam out in the aimClear music studio. Do you have any current jam sessions in action? Can you share a favorite rock photo from back in the day? #TBT

A promotional shot of Shout band member Marty Weintraub in 1980. #TBT

MW: aimClear has a band and we’re about to release a record. Stand by to have your mind freakin’ blown.

KK: Whoa. Standing by. Where do you get inspiration?

MW: I was born inspired. I get it from being alive.

Have a question of your own for SMX West speaker Marty Weintraub? Share it in the comments!

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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4 Replies to “SMX West Speaker Series: A Taste of Marty Weintraub’s Contagious Inspiration”

STOP Posting speaker series! Its kinda boring & very INACTIONABLE SEO . The more blah’s you post , the more we loose interest on your website. Your RECAP Articles are BILLION Tons better than these kind of articles.

Hi Kichachik,

Thank you for your honest feedback! With our editorial calendar we aim for our content to be a robust mix of actionable articles (how-tos and tactical SEO recommendations), reporting (liveblogging and event recaps), and high-level industry overview (revealing trends and emerging strategies). The SMX West Speaker series is part of the latter, as we intended to illuminate strategies and trends in these personality-driven features. But your feedback rings true; our editorial mix in the past weeks has been lopsided and the content team has taken your comment to heart. The good news is that the first week of March, there will be a ton of liveblogged recaps published to the blog. Expect actionable Internet marketing tactics in our conference reporting.

Until then, we hope you can be patient with us. Expect the blog’s regularly scheduled content to return in March, and maybe sooner due to your direct request. And finally, if you don’t mind, someone from our content department would love to talk to you more about the types of posts you like and don’t like on the blog. Look for an email coming soon.


I would argue that keywords are certainly not dead, in fact they are often the first point of contact of any online purchasing decision.

Thanks Bruce for giving me the information.


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