One thing we struggle with as SEOs is measuring success.
What do you base success off?
What you rank for? How much you earn? What everyone thinks of you? or simply how much you care?
Its a tough one and its not really talked about much in the seo community.
In my opinion there are only 3 potential ways to even consider measuring how “good” of an SEO you are:
- What others in the industry say about you (reputation)
- What terms you actually rank for (effectiveness)
- How successful financially you are (earnings)
And as Google is constantly changing and sometimes asking people directly about earnings can be a touchy issue, I decided to compile a list, written by SEOs, about SEOs, for SEOs.
I’ve compiled votes from 40+ SEOs who work in the industry, responding to 1 simple question:
“Who are top 3 SEOs in the world.”
And who better than SEOs to vote on SEOs
I emailed over 150 SEOs across the globe. Around 40 responsed and here are the results.
Results BELOW! In infographic form (obviously) – Pins Please!!
Individual votes below:
I’ll kick this off then
My votes are for: Bill Slawski, Steve Morgan and Jerry West.”
The seo nice guy goes with – Rand Fishkin, Dr Pete and Cyrus Shepard.
Another difficult question! I don’t know the ins and outs of what most SEOs do, the site’s they’ve worked on, and the rankings they’ve achieved, so I’m going to base my decision on which SEOs consistently publish great content on their own sites. So, in no particular order…
– Brian Dean (https://backlinko.com) Why? The No.1 source for finding ways to get links to sites.
– Jason Acidre (https://kaiserthesage.com) Why? Regular comprehensive articles on a wide range of SEO techniques and strategies.
– Matthew Barby (https://www.matthewbarby.com) Why? Creative SEO ideas and how to get the most out of tools.
Cyrus went with the classic:
I love all the SEOs, so sorry to say I can’t contribute to this one 🙂 Think of all the SEOs who I wouldn’t be able to pick! (valid point)
I’m not a big believer in ranking SEOs against one another. There’s so many folks I think are impressive in this field that calling out any three would feel like a disservice to the hundreds of other great ones.
I do not really have 3 SEOs that I would consider as the top SEOs. Three, of the many, that I pay attention to are Bill Slawski, Linda Buquet, and a member of several forums that goes by Godoveryou.
I wouldn’t be a good fit as we do all of our testing in house and don’t follow anyone. Plus, the best three SEOs in the world aren’t know. They are smart and stay underground. 🙂
There is no such thing as the best SEO in the world. Search Engine Optimisation has reached a point where individuals specialise in certain disciplines such as technical SEO, outreach, strategy, mobile, internationalisation, localisation and content. On top of all that there’s your usual x-hat labelling. Instead, I’d like to highlight a few people who’ve recently inspired me in my own journey.
Michelle Robbins. SEO Level: Oracle. Third Door Media
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Michelle in Munich during SEOktoberfest and found her level of insight to be a step above most people I know. Her profound understanding of search technology and ability to predict future trends hasn’t happened overnight. I believe that after a decade of industry expertise one starts to develop a special kind of intuition and deeper understanding of current and future events. Best way to get in touch with Michelle is on Twitter.
Enrico Altavilla. SEO Level: Scholar. Search Brain, Italy. Enrico is a self-labelled “atypical search marketer”. Given his technical abilities and the profound understanding of information retrieval and search engine principles it’s hard to understand how this man doesn’t work for a search engine. I would argue he understands crawling, indexing and ranking process better than most Googlers given only a fraction of their engineers is involved with core search and search quality. Enrico is particularly active on Google+ so make sure you circle him after reading this.
Martin Reed. SEO Level: Wizard. Head of SEO, Dejan
Martin represents all the brilliant SEOs out there who quietly amaze those around themselves but prefer to stay out of public spotlight. I’ve worked with him since the inception of my company and he’s always been the one whose advice I seek when I find myself out of depth. In addition to technical SEO mastery, Martin’s strength is in the ability to see things from a different angle than most of us, which makes him an extraordinary problem solver, a rare and valuable talent in any organisation. Here’s more (or less) info about Martin.
1. Brian Dean (Backlinko.com)
He’s shown it time and time again, Brian doesn’t just get results (Backlinko.com is a DA 65 domain getting a ton of traffic from Google in less than 2 years), he also does an excellent job at teaching you how to do the same. His tactics changed my online businesses and We are seeing a real before and after Brian.
2. Jason Acidre (https://kaiserthesage.com/)
Love what Jason is doing over there, always practical, always illustrated and always innovative tutorials. A real hands on no BS SEO Blog
3. Nick Eubanks (https://www.seonick.net/)
He’s one of these guys you don’t see much because he’s running his businesses most of the time but when he gets out you always get blown away with the originality yet accuracy of what he shares.
1) Nick Eubanks. He is always available to discuss about things, and to teach (me) new things. People are saying that he is even handsome. Now, I’m not entirely sure, but he is a good looking guy for sure.
2) Chris Dyson. He is smart and I like the fact he goes straight to the point, no bullshit. Experience is talking, and I like when people is teaching me something because they tried, and not just because they read it.
3) Aleyda Solis. She is one of the first ‘SEO hero’ I met in real life in Italy. She is always ultra kind with me and I like her because she is an incredible always-in-motion person. And I tend to like people like her.
Julia Logan aka Irish Wonder
I have worked in the industry for a long time and out of everyone I’ve interacted with, Rishi, Martin and Julia understand most about the web and its relationship with search engines. They have all had years of experience working with large data and interpreting it to understand how they can use it to their advantage. From information architecture and content to spamming techniques and algorithm manipulation, all three I believe are the best at what they do.
This is an extremely hard question to answer, as SEO as a phrase is really starting to mean Internet Marketing, and SEOs becoming more Digital Marketers.
As far as people actually still doing SEO, I would say I look to Loren Baker, Andrew Beckman and Tyler Shears when I have questions about traditional SEO.
Loren Baker has been in SEO, on all fronts, for about as long as anyone. Andrew Beckman also has a long time in SEO and is really knowledgeable in Paid and Local SEO. Tyler Shears is wicked smart but remains more behind the scenes, working in organic link building and reputation management through SEO.
Besides myself, i believe Matt Cutts is probably the top SEO in the world as he and his team are making the rules! He who makes the rules is king. In the normal world, I think there are many good choices. Eric Enge, Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan, Ian Lurie, Brian Clark, Bruce Clay, Greg Boser, Jayson Demers and Loren Baker.
But again, these guys are the most vocal SEO’s in the world that talk about SEO openly. I know there are better out there but they don’t share their secrets.
Terry Kyle, Brian Dean & John (Limbocker), off the top of my head on a hazy sunday morning…
Many of the best SEOs intentionally are not particularly public. For instance, my original mentor in the SEO industry was a guy nicknamed NFFC & most people only know him by his nickname. I’d certainly put him in the top 3 & a couple others who are a bit more publicly known would be Jim Boykin and Joe Sinkwitz (aka Cygnus)
Best SEOs in the world … hmmmm. Depends how you define it? Best at securing rankings when a business doesn’t deserve those rankings? Best at creating a content system to help the company perform over the long term? My answers would differ for each.
A couple I really like and admire are:
1. Wisam Abdulaziz (he’s our head SEO) … both content and algorithm inner workings
2. Dave Naylor … not sure about being a great creator of content, but definitely knows a lot about the inner workings of the algorithm
3. Rand Fishkin … I think he’s done an amazing job creating a site with great enough content that it performs over the long term … it’s the Wikipedia of the search world
Jim Boykin (Internet Marketing Ninjas CEO)
Jim has managed to remain in the forefront of SEO despite having been involved with SEO for about 15 years. His contributions to the industry after major algo update have been invaluable.
2. Ian Lurie (Portent CEO)
Ian has been involved for about 20 years and is one of the geekiest persons in the industry. Ian’s technical approach to SEO is incomparable. He’s one of very few SEOs still looking for scientific evidence before making sharing an opinion. He’s also a great creator and contributor of advanced SEO tools and processes and an excellent presenter.
3. Dan Petrovic (Dejan SEO Director)
Another brilliant technically-minded SEO. Non-stop innovator and researcher with a very practical and actionable approach to getting things done. His ability to spot new Google trends, changes and updates is one of his biggest skills.
It’s an interesting question you pose and I can guess most of the names that will bubble to the top of your list. Ultimately, these will be the people discussing and theorising about SEO – mainly known around the industry through self-promotion at events – rather than those at the coalface.
I’m a big believer in those that are hands-on, doing SEO on a daily basis, are typically more up to speed than the majority of the “big names”, therefore my top 3 is based on people I know can both implement and deliver results and not just converse about it.
· Jonny Artis
· Mike McDougall
· Matthew Barnes (a very talented up and comer!)
If you get any other votes for any of these I will be massively surprised J.
Brian Dean – His link building ideas are always on point, thinks outside the box and I often find myself lost in his site for hours.
Jon Cooper – Another great link builder, his link building guide (https://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies) has helped me out tons of times.
Rand Fishkin – He’s no doubt going to be at the top of the list, and as much as he does frustrate me on times. He knows his stuff and Moz is a damn good resource.
I don’t have an opinion on who the top 3 SEOs are in the world, but there are certainly people in the industry who I have a lot of time for. If I had to pick three, I’d probably recommend the following:
– Eric Ward – Eric has a subscription called LinkMoses Private. For $8.00 per month, you’ll get 1 or 2 emails which containing link building opportunities, updates on what is happening in the industry and loads more. Whilst the link building opportunities are usually fairly niche, they open your eyes to new ways of acquiring links and they can be transitioned for your clients projects. It’s well worth the $8!
– Barry Schwartz – As most people will know, Barry is the founder of Search Engine Roundtable, a brilliant blog that keeps you up to date on the changes Google are making. There are regularly case studies to show what does and doesn’t work, along with articles all about updates that Google look to be making, before Google announce them.
– Aleyda Solis – If you’re not already following Aleyda on Twitter, you should be (@aleyda). She regularly posts updates to new tools available on the market, along with posting out lots of articles that are well worth a read for keeping up to date with SEO, new tactics etc!
Rand Fishkin, although I suppose he’s more of a digital marketer than an SEO. Then again, I think all SEOs are digital marketeers now. Interesting how buzz words and phrases come and go… The Moz blog and Rand’s personal blog speak for themselves really, but it boils down to being THE thought leader and pioneer in the field and running an agency that constantly pushes the boundaries for knowledge and sets the bar when it comes to best practice.
Will Critchlow and his Distilled team. Distilled U is an amazing resource for new comers and seasoned SEO professionals alike. There is always something new to learn in SEO and Distilled help with this massively.
Kath Dawson, who I have the pleasure of working with at Strategy Digital (and Alexei Lee who is our Head of Social & Promo). Kath is an expert in Google + strategies and I’ve learned heaps from her, and Alexei supports our social team. His expertise is amazing. Together they form an SEO Social Media Strategizing Monster, a little like Zaphod Beeblebrox but with more internet knowledge. admittedly, I’m biased because I work with them, but then part of the joy of working in digital marketing is being able to work directly with innovators like this that you can learn so much from.
1.) I suspect that many of the people doing the best SEO in the world are people we’ve never heard of, who are just doing great work for their clients and not talking about it much to the larger industry. I also think there are a lot of people all over the world doing great search marketing in different ways. That said, here are three people whose work I trust absolutely, and who I think are doing a lot to further the state of SEO in the world today:
Marshall Simmonds (@mdsimmonds): Marshall is the number 1 person I would go to if I had an SEO problem I couldn’t solve. He’s incredibly smart and has a ton of experience with large, difficult websites. He really understands the business side of SEO and how it integrates with larger marketing programs.
Mike King (@ipullrank): I think Mike’s contributions to the field of SEO are some of the most important ones happening today. There are a ton of people out there attempting to be “thought leaders” and pulling it off to various degrees, but Mike is consistently testing new methods and using data in new ways, and sharing his results with the industry. He’s invested in improving SEO as a craft and as a business.
Annie Cushing (@anniecushing): Annie really understands how to measure and sell SEO. Her work in data visualization for SEO contributes to an industry focused on meaningful change and marketing practices, rather than on shortcuts or vanity metrics. Her audit checklist is an amazing resource that I point new SEOs to all the time as an example of the proper time and care that should go into a full website audit.
This isn’t a perfect list of top 3 SEOs in the world by any means – they’re all Americans, for one thing – but it’s certainly a list of top SEOs whose work is important and influential to me. There are other people who are making huge contributions to the industry (Dr. Pete would be a close 4th for me).
My top 3 SEOs is a really difficult one. Naming the top 3 SEOs in the world is impossible really, as no-one really knows much about what anyone else is up to and although we’re all global marketers we are all limited networks of one kind or another.
In many ways it also depends on what you mean by top SEOs, for example there are those SEOs who rank well for terms like SEO, SEO Consultant, Freelance SEO Consultant etc – they obviously know what they’re doing and are demonstrating it in the results they get for themselves. Others concentrate their efforts locally and that’s harder to work out. There are those who speak a lot on SEO and are incredibly knowledgeable but I sometimes wonder how much opportunity they have to actually carry it out! and there are those others who have done very well from carrying out SEO who work in house or who wouldn’t normally consider themselves SEOs – so we just don’t know about them.
It’s always hard to say how good an seo actually is, therefore I thought I’d look at those people I respect (and a list of 3 is nowhere near enough!). The content from these three always makes me sit up and take note:
Michael Gray from https://graywolfseo.com/ – he’s been blogging on SEO since 2004 (and probably earlier) and is a go to authority – longevity counts for something in SEO. I’ve been involved in SEO for about 10 years ago and in that time I’ve seen a lot of people come, in the past 5 / 6 years I’ve used the domain GrowTraffic.co.uk and so have been much more focussed on what other SEOs are doing and it’s always surprising how many people pop up and drop off.
Likewise I rate Barry Schwartz of https://www.rustybrick.com he’s had a similar amount of longevity and generally puts out some pretty useful and topical posts, plus he’s really active on social media – and I often get seo news in my twitter stream first from him.
I’d also choose Gianluca Fiorelli of https://iloveseo.net – I find his insights fascinating and coming at it from an international perspective (he’s a native Spanish speaker) Gianluca often provides a different take on things.
This is an extremely hard question. There are some super brilliant SEOs out there – people like Dan Shure, Mike King, Dr. Pete, Cyrus Shepard, John-Henry Scherck, Jon Cooper, Sha Menz, and Matt Brown have provided a lot of amazing pieces (or presentations) that inspired me this year. There’s a bunch more, but you asked for three…
So if I have to make a top 3, my list is for SEOs who produced stuff I bookmarked, and re-visited the most this year (in no particular order):
1. Bill Slawski – breaks down so much great patent stuff and really helped me think about engines differently.
2. Annie Cushing – picked up a lot about technical auditing, excel, and how to make deliverables look better.
3. AJ Kohn – I never miss AJ’s stuff. It’s fantastic, larger picture stuff that always resonates with me.
Jimmy Wales and Jeff Bezos. Barring those, I’m always impressed by Justin Briggs, Ross Hudgens, and AJ Kohn.
It’s hard to say who are the top SEOs since being expert and being visible are different things, often. I’ll name three SEOs I esteem a lot:
Ryan O’Connor. Ryan is an expert at ecommerce SEO and is knowledgeable about actual techniques to use to get results instead of just theory.
Kevin Bland. This is one of the foremost experts in the carpet niche and has a brilliant twitter feed.
John-Henry Scherck . JH is an expert in working with big brands and tweets great little tips all day.
David Mihm – his local knowledge is unparalleled
Bill Slawski – algo knowledge and Google patents
Justin Briggs – link building and content marketing / old school turned new school
Matt Cutts, The dude currently ranking all the big pharma keywords. Or one of the dude(s) ranking Louis, cheap uggs, payday loans, etc, Jacob King
Paddy Moogan, Backlinko and Wil Reynolds
Ill name a couple of guys which you probably haven’t heard of before who ive considered over the years to be worth listening too but they are by no means “the best” or “guru’s” , just guys which know what they are talking about ( or did ).
Some of the guys which i liked to keep tabs on… “old welsh guy” from umbrella consultancy, I believe he’s still in the wales area but he’s slipped away from the lime light in recent years ( Spoke on the BBC news once upon a time but these were the days where directory submissions worked lol ), but still the guy knows what he’s talking about.
MOG Martin, ( Martin Mcdonald ) Also one of the old guys worth listening too and appears on some of the top blogs from time to time, he does alot of talks and SEO conferences but i believe he’s slipped off the map in recent years , he’s normally contracted to large company rather than being freelance so his insights and thoughts are less visible now days.
Wiep Knol, probably one of the best link builders of his day for link baiting and creative link building , again we are talking a couple of years ago now, ive not looked into whether any of these guys are still active.
David Naylor , another UK marketer who’s done very well for him self and his company is still one of the UK’s best i believe.
If you got this far, thanks for reading and why not share :).
Thanks to everyone who contributed. Maybe the next round up can be even bigger! Have a great 2015!