Courtney Herda leading a meeting at Smarter Searches


Smarter Searches is an award-winning, digital marketing agency focused on creating effective internet marketing campaigns for businesses that want to grow. We combine significant search marketing expertise with real data to generate website traffic, increase ROI, and stimulate online engagement.

We believe that good design is not a luxury good. We believe that seeking diverse perspectives and working as a team make a more successful product. We believe that you don't have to wear a suit to be serious. We focus on customers, not on trends. With our unique process of crafting customer personas, carefully studying the data, and focusing on strategic, cross-channel brand cohesion and creative, we are able to design campaigns that build your business. We focus on smarter, more strategic thinking as a way to affect change in the digital marketplace. The world is constantly changing. Your marketing has to keep up.


We are a team of strategists, creatives, thinkers, and hard workers. We approach work and play with a strong focus on strategy and experimentation, using data to drive meaningful decisions.



Online and digital media have completely transformed communications between businesses and their customers. How customers respond to and interact with marketing materials and how we define success in our marketing goals continues to evolve. We help you unlock the full potential of the internet to reach customers, according to your unique business goals, implementing and guiding online marketing strategies that bring real results.

You are likely very busy trying to do what you do best: running your business. Online marketing is time-consuming, yet unquestionably essential in today’s world. In reality, your business can’t thrive without a strong online presence. As soon as customers realize they need a service or product, they search for whatever it is they are looking to purchase online to view product reviews, consumer reports, and competitor pricing. We make sure you are not only on the front lines of the transaction but that your ad is also preferable in comparison to your competitors.

We focus on smarter, more strategic thinking as a way to affect change in the digital marketplace.

Courtney Herda smiling headshot


Founder and CEO


Courtney Herda, Founder and CEO of Smarter Searches, is a digital marketing expert and search engine optimization (SEO) guru based in Knoxville, Tennessee. With a genuine understanding of how people utilize the power of search and interact online, Courtney grew Smarter Searches rapidly from the ground up. Adept at creating successful, customized online marketing strategies to grow businesses of all sizes and improve their online presence, she has 15 years of experience in the digital marketing space. With a laser-sharp focus on developing creative, groundbreaking strategies to unite the search process, user experience, and customer engagement process, Courtney has earned numerous prestigious accolades – she was recently inducted into the Greater Knoxville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” and was recognized as one of the only women to earn the Pinnacle Award for “Young Entrepreneur of the Year.” Earlier in her career, Courtney served as the search engine marketing manager at media company, E.W. Scripps and for financial talk radio host and TV personality Dave Ramsey. Today, Courtney also teaches Digital Marketing Strategy at the University of Tennessee, a course that educates future marketers about how to utilize various media platforms to promote customer engagement, enhance a traditional marketing mix, and measure effectiveness.

40 UNDER 40 - 2016


Chris Wilson Chief Operating Officer Chris Wilson, Chief Operating Officer of Smarter Searches, is a digital marketing professional specializing in technical search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), and digital strategy. With an ability to swiftly pick-up new skills and adapt to an ever-changing digital marketing space, he uses a dedicated personal touch to help clients solve problems, improve their search results rankings through technical improvement and optimization, and increase visibility online to help them grow. He's an expert at expeditiously learning new skills and takes on a significant amount of responsibility. Chris manages the company’s PPC accounts and works to leverage SEO results for increased paid and organic performance. Previously, he served as an Account Manager and Account Executive for Smarter Searches. Reliable, dedicated, and driven, Chris also has marketing experience with a government contractor in the Washington, D.C. area, managing marketing, website, social media, and traditional advertising efforts. Chris is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s public relations program. Mara Deyo Creative Director Mara Deyo, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Smarter Searches, is a content and design expert based in Knoxville, Tennessee. In her role, she designs and builds WordPress and Shopify websites, writes SEO-friendly blog posts and email marketing campaigns, and designs branding and marketing materials. With a passion for graphic design and a business-minded focus, she continues to work her way up the marketing ladder, bringing a passion and deep expertise for marketing, content, and advertising to the team. Mara holds a Bachelor of Science in communication and advertising from The University of Tennessee. Lani Fort Senior Brand Manager Lani Fort, Senior Brand Manager at Smarter Searches, is a social media and social advertising expert based in Knoxville, Tennessee. In her role, she manages our clients’ social media accounts and paid Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn ads across a wide range of industries. She also writes SEO-friendly blog posts and email marketing campaigns, and designs marketing materials. Lani comes to Smarter Searches with 5 years in marketing and social media experience with a nationally recognized collegiate retailer. She excels at working assertively for clients’ goals, initiates new ideas and promotes them by energizing others, and thinks quickly on her feet. A Florida native, she graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Advertising, but we don’t hold that against her. In her spare time, Lani loves makeup tutorials, reality TV, Hallmark movies, and champagne. Christian Hardin Director of Video Production Christian Hardin, Director of Video Production at Smarter Searches, is a creative storyteller based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Whether you desire an innovative video header for your website, or an engaging video to tell your business' story, Christian will work enthusiastically to complete the project. As an expert in video production, you can trust he will provide the necessary knowledge and direction to keep you calm in front of the camera. Christian wholeheartedly believes that every story has a reason to be told, and will take your vision as his own, to create the story you want to be told. Christian is a graduate of the University of Tennessee's public relations program. Courtney Herda Founder & CEO Certified in Google AdWords Search, Display, Mobile, Video Shopping, and Analytics and Accredited BingAds professional. Hootsuite Certified. HubSpot Certified. SEMRush SEO Certified. Member, Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization. blurred close-up of JoJo JoJo Apodaca Digital Marketing Assistant JoJo Apodaca, a Digital Marketing Assistant at Smarter Searches, is expanding his knowledge and skills in digital marketing and is excited to grow as a part of the Smarter Searches team. He grew up in Chattanooga, TN and moved to Knoxville to pursue his education. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a degree in marketing and a minor in retail and consumer science. JoJo is rarely caught without a smile and his laugh has often been described as “infectious.” Outside of work, JoJo enjoys day trips to Asheville or Gatlinburg and also has a passion for cars (especially BMW and Mercedes). Chris smiling with baby on his lap Mara smiling against a brick wall Headshot of Christian with a brick wall background Courtney Herda headshot Headshot of Lani with blurred background Headshot of JoJo smiling against a brick wall
Our new intern Noa

Meet our intern!

At Smarter Searches, we love our interns. They are not grunts who fetch coffee or run errands or clean the bathrooms. We let them help us in actual marketing tasks and in our day-to-day work so that they get a feel for what agency life is like - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our interns put out incredible work and touch many of the projects you see us put out, from blog posts to research to creative to organization and reporting.

Meet our new 2020 summer intern: Noa Siskind! Noa is a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring in Public Relations. At Smarter Searches, Noa writes blog posts, designs marketing pieces, and assists with social media and content marketing. We look forward to seeing her develop her skills over the coming months!

If you're interested in our internship program or learning more about Smarter Searches, send a resume and writing sample to