I have been working in various Internet-marketing capacities since towards the end of my journalism career in 2006 — whether as a semi-professional blogger here and at my Considerations journalism-website; as marketing and communications manager for The Cline Group as well as in roles at prior start-ups, agencies, and other firms; or as one who has offered SEO-consultant services himself. And I owe much of my knowledge to the giants who have come before me. If you follow my writings or social-media accounts, please do so as a supplement to these other SEO experts — I merely take their original research and thoughts and elaborate on them (while linking to their analyses, of course) in the context of my personal experience.
Unless, like me, you are fanatically obsessive about all aspects of online marketing, you likely do not have the time to follow dozens of blogs, websites, and RSS feeds each day. So, here is a short list (in random order) to save you time — I hope you will learn as much from them as I have learned.
The Internet’s Top SEO Experts
1. Danny Sullivan is the editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land, which is owned by Third Door Media. (Sullivan is also partner and chief content officer of TDM, which owns other companies including Search Marketing Now and Search Marketing Expo.) He has been reporting on search engines and how they relate to marketing since 1995. In addition to his writings for SEL, his personal blog is here. Sullivan’s Twitter is here. He has split much of his live between the United States and England, so I’d love to share stories sometime. (I lived in London for a college journalism internship at TNT magazine — and under-the-table work as a bartender — during the summer of 2000, and I’ve always been a geek who loves “Doctor Who” and “Red Dwarf.”)
2. Rand Fishkin is the CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz as well as the co-author of “The Art of SEO.” After starting a career in search marketing in 2002, he has been named on the 40 Under 40 and 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30 lists, has been profiled in multiple business and journalism publications, and has given keynote addresses on search throughout the world. His Twitter is here, and his personal blog is here. Personally, I just added him because, like me, he has a short beard — there are few of us anymore. Still, in all seriousness, if all you read of his writings and talks on SEO are SEOmoz’s “White Board Fridays,” you’d learn a lot just from them alone.
3. Ann Smarty is the editor of Search Engine Journal, and her last name does not do her expertise justice. Smarty is knowledgeable about all aspects of SEO, but her specific knowledge is best in the context of blogging and the tools that bloggers and website owners can use. While others on this list discuss the overall theories behind search marketing (which are important!), she focuses more on the practical aspects. It is important both to understand the theory and to execute it in your daily life. In just two small examples, I first learned about the Tweet Last Post and Redirection plug-ins for WordPress from her posts (the former is useful for Twitter, and the latter is an easy way to do 301 redirects). Smarty’s personal website is here, and her Twitter is here.
4. Aaron Wall. is the founder of SEO Book. There is not a lot of biographical information about him online, but do not let that dissuade you. (Personally, I sometimes miss the pre-Internet days, when people could be more anonymous!) Wall’s company and writings alone speak more than enough to his expertise. In addition to his writings on SEO, one of the most valuable offerings of his firm is its tools — an SEO toolbar, Rank Checker, and many others that are used by countless online marketers (including this one). His Twitter is here, and his personal blog is here. Personally, I also like that he often responds t0 e-mails and website-forum comments personally — the same cannot be said for too many online-marketing executives.
5. Justin Briggs is an SEO consultant at Distilled and an associate at SEOmoz. In the past, he was SEO manager at Paramore|Redd Online Marketing in Tennessee. While other people tend to offer advice on on-page optimization and how to build a website that search engines (and people) will like, Briggs focuses more on back-link building (a necessary, often-understood, and controversial practice). For just one example, you can see a recent article by him here. His personal website is here, and his Twitter is here.
- Matt Cutts is a person with whom any online marketer would pay $5,000 to have lunch. After all, he’s the point person at Google in regards to its search algorithm. Still, with all due respect, this post is meant to highlight those who know how to use what Google does (and does not do). Cutts tells you what the search engine does to begin with. (blog, Twitter)
- David Meerman Scott (no relation) is the author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “Real-Time Marketing & PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now.” He is an evangelist of so-called “inbound marketing” in general. (blog, Twitter)
- Bill Slawski is the author of SEO by the Sea. If you want to know not what search engines are doing now but rather what they may do in the future, read his blog. He saves all of us the trouble of reading their new patent filings. (Twitter)
Disagree with this list? Feel free to recommend other good SEO writers in the comments. Just, please: No personal comments about anyone, and please keep it civil and professional.
Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.