I’ve been speaking at search conferences since 2001 and have spent a ton of time getting to know who is who in the industry. In fact, I look forward to seeing some of you at SES Chicago to discuss Buyer Legends. Every day it seems that there are another dozen experts to follow on SEO. But, who should you really be paying attention to in 2014?
For starters, solid SEOs need to have a proven track record in the ever-changing world of search – remember, search engines like Google frequently update their algorithms. Another criterion is the ability to master everything from creating content for social media accounts to establishing PPC campaigns to turning profits for their clients. After all, it is about delivering the results.
With all those factors that in mind, here is a selection of 37 SEO experts you should know about in 2014, in no particular order. Some you may have heard of, others not so much. Regardless, these experts have the chops to deserve your attention.
Kristopher B. Jones is an industry leading SEO expert, entrepreneur, and author of the best-selling book Search-Engine Optimization: Your Visual Blueprint to Effective Internet Marketing. Kris is the former president and chief executive (CEO) of the Pepperjam Affiliate network and is currently an advisor to our friends at Internet Marketing Ninjas.
“Get your most supportive customers to write reviews about your business and submit them to Google+.” – Kris @ SEM Rush
Marcus got his start in search after developing the SEO tool linkvendor.com, which led to him becoming a pioneer in search analytics software. He founded Searchmetrics in 2007. His clients include very well-known brands like Siemens, T-Mobile, and Symantec.
“The cool thing about search is the way it just keeps changing and growing, meaning website owners and marketers are constantly needing to adapt and exploit new opportunities to maximize their search presence.” – Marcus @ Econsultancy
Bruce has been involved in search since its infancy, having founded Bruce Clay, Inc all the way back in 1996. Bruce has been at the forefront of the SEO industry ever since. He is a popular speaker at industry conferences, and is also the author of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies.
“Too many companies think SEO is easy, cheap, and that you can successfully fool Google. Clearly Google is fighting deceptive tactics, and the penalties are severe. Take a shortcut to save time and money and you will be hurt by Google.” – Bruce @ Delaware, Inc
Murray Newlands a well-respected online marketer and professional who manages SEO PR at Influence People. Murray is deputy editor of Search Engine Journal, and is a frequent contributor to well-known business brands Inc., Entreprenuer.com, and VentureBeat. He wrote Content Marketing Strategy for Professionals with Bruce Clay.
“It’s not enough to just produce content. Your content must educate, inspire, or entertain your audience.” – Murray @ Entrepreneur
Mikkel has been working around search engines since 1997. He is the host of the Strike Point radio show and is now publishing shorter and more focused books on one specific topic rather than the traditional textbook, which tries to cover too much information and gets outdated quickly in this industry. The first two books are good examples of how specific the topics will be: Search Engine Reputation Management and Digital Marketing for Healthcare.
“I published this idea about 10 years ago. It is a very effective strategy…I’d call it the best SEO strategy ever, and it’s very, very simple. DO NOT OPTIMIZE FOR SEARCH ENGINES. Focus on users to stay ahead of the engines, this is the best SEO strategy I can offer you today and tomorrow.” – deMib
With a “Search Personality of the Year” award under his belt, Marty is a very successful innovator in search. He is the founder of AimClear, serving large clients like Intel and Firestone, and is often found speaking at industry events all over the world.
“The coolest SEO practitioners test their keywords, messages, landing pages, and funnels with PPC and then apply what they know to SEO.” – Marty @ SEOCopywrtiting.com
Mr. Zarokian is an industry veteran with three distinct company foundations under his belt. He started by founding his search engine marketing company Submit Express in 1998, followed by social media firm iClimber in 2008, and most recently Reputation Fighters in 2013.
“SEO [enables] businesses to push down negative pages [to] the second page or lower, where they will be ‘buried’ and attract less attention.” – Pierre @ SEJ
John is sometimes referred to as a “start-up addict.” He is the founder of Adogy, a Palo Alto-based advertising agency, is a frequent contributor to Search Engine Journal and The Examiner, and has twice been named in the top 10 of the “Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts” by Hannapin Marketing.
“Put up amazing content that their customers want. Build products they want to use. Be a company people have to talk about.” – John @ Reputation.com
Brent is the CMO of Pixel Road Designs and founder of Kairay Media, which specializes in content marketing and viral content creation. You can find him speaking on the search and social marketing conference circuit or being mentioned in leading publications such as Forbes and Wired.
“[The] secret sauce is just hard work and dedication. Those are the keys to success with social media, or actually just about anything in life.” – Brent @ SEJ
Cynthia “The Social Media Girl” is the director of social media marketing for RankLab. She’s been involved with major corporate social media campaigns including clients like Chevrolet and Levis. She has also been a keynote speaker for PubCon.
“Social media as it is now is not here to stay and we should hope that it isn’t. The concept and idea of social media will remain, however, and it will evolve and change just as anything in life should.” – Cynthia @ CytnthaLive.com
Travis is a self-described “eternal smartass” who got his start as a standup comedian. He’s spent the last 15 years developing and optimizing hundreds of business websites and can be found the speaking at industry conferences like SMX and SXSW.
“Success and fortune are a fickle bitch, so you have to keep moving forward, learning, growing, and evolving in this business world. Eventually, one of these ideas will bust through.” – Travis @ traviswright.com
Duane is known as “the online marketing guy” whose current role is a senior product manager for Bing and their Webmaster Outreach Program. He is also staff at Search Engine Forums and speaks at search conferences like SES and Pubcon.
“If it’s me and it’s my budget and I’m spending the money, I’m putting the money into usability before I’m putting the money into SEO.” – Duane @ Stone Temple Consulting
Jason is the founder and CEO of Seattle-based marketing agency AudienceBloom. He is a very frequent contributor to popular sites and blogs like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Search Engine Watch. Jason is very passionate about demystifying SEO for small business owners.
“[More] content results in higher quality, and that’s good for everyone. Lower-quality content will be buried in the noise and won’t yield any ROI.” – Jayson @ Oktopost
Heidi is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies and has held top marketing positions at well-known content brands including The Economist and DoubleDay. She has also taught marketing at a variety of universities including New York University and Rutgers.
“You always need to keep tabs on what’s happening around you. Keep up with changes in the environment (including styles, politics, and economics), transformations in technology, and the evolution of competitors.” – Heidi @ TopRankBlog
Aki is the author of a beginners guide to blogging called How to Start a Blog and Earn From It. She also is a regular contributor on topics such as content marketing and blogging at Search Engine Journal.
“Every action must have a goal – and not just any ordinary or broad objective, but something that is clear, specific, reasonable and actionable.” – Aki @ SEJ
Drew is the president of AudienceBloom and also serves as a freelance social media strategist and freelance writer. He has several years of experience creating tons of successful social media campaigns for his clients. Drew is also a frequent contributor to publications including The Huffington Post, Technorati, and Forbes.
“The best writers have their favorite authors, so read a few favorite blog posts before sitting down to write. Imitation really is the best form of flattery.” – Drew @ The Huffington Post
Loren Baker is founder of SEJ and Foundation Digital, his digital marketing agency. Loren has been on the SEO scene for more than 15 years, working with some large fortune 500 companies like General Motors and Disney, and is a bona fide legend of the industry.
“It may sound counter-productive, but focusing less on link building can actually gain more links.” – Loren @ SEW
For the last five years Mitchell has used his online strategy skill-set to help more than 40 national and local businesses thrive online. He is currently the owner of Red Barn Ventures and contributes content to Mashable and the Wall Street Journal.
“The solution to this is to build your brand and business on sound principles that will earn trust over time. It takes quite a while to earn ‘real’ trust, but is well worth it.” – Mitchell @ Maple North
Stuarts’s mom refers to him as a “social butterfly” but he’s also the founder of Get Found First, a pay-per-click advertising agency founded in 2008, as well as a cutting-edge Internet marketing simulator and course Stukent.
“I would argue that the number one reason all agencies lose business is lack of strong and effective communication.” – Stu @ Get Found First
Greg has been involved in search engine optimization since what feels like the beginning of time! He is currently the president and co-founder of Foundation Digital, located in the Greater Los Angeles area. You can usually find Greg at leading search engine industry conferences like SMX and the Affiliate Summit.
“I look at [SEO] like I’m a weather man. I think I’m a really good weather man, but there are times when you say it’s going to be 75 degrees and sunny and somebody’s party got rained on. That’s because we don’t control everything.” – Greg @ The History of SEO
If you’re looking for super affiliates tips, Zach will tell you how he has made millions of dollars over the last 10 years in affiliate marketing. Be sure to check out his podcast titled “Rise of the Entrepreneur,” which can be found on iTunes.
“Anyone can write an article, but actually being able to write something that people can relate with and makes them want to take action immediately… now that’s powerful!” – Zac @ Agile Leverage
Matt Southern is a freelance writer who simplifies search engine and content marketing with a self-proclaimed “uncanny talent” for breaking down the complex subjects into digestible bits of information.
“A solid strategy is like a road map for success. Without one you’re just navigating through the Web aimlessly.”- Matt @ mattsouthern.com
Ania is the CEO and chief strategist of Add Optimization, as well as the CEO of EasyFinance.com. With more than 10 years experience in inbound marketing, her insights have made her a pioneer in the search technology field.
“There is a big connection between lead generation and SEO due to the fact that the majority of quality leads come from the [search] space.” – Ania @ LeadsCon
Bob’s “official” job title is “SEO Nerd” at CBS Interactive. Bob is known internationally as a “SEO of the Stars” and you can usually find him sharing his knowledge of creating and implementing innovative digital strategies at SEOktoberfest.
“SEO isn’t purely a link game, so why should negative SEO be purely a link game?” – Bob @ SEJ
AJ is this founder of Ghergich & Co. and has been involved in SEO since 2004. His boutique agency creates and promotes visual assets such as infographics, blog posts, and other forms of kick-ass content marketing.
“When you are learning SEO it can be easy to just get into the habit of reading best practices and assuming they are true. The best knowledge you can give yourself is by doing.” – AJ @ Powered by Search
Ann Smarty is indeed very, *ahem* smart-y when it comes to SEO and content marketing. She is currently a blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and founder of MyBlogU and ViralContentBuzz.com
“I never offer a guest post unless I am 100% satisfied with it and unless I am 99% sure (you can never be 100% sure) that it’s a useful one.” – Ann @ Brick Marketing
Eric is the CEO of Single Grain, a Southern California-based digital marketing agency who works with both Fortune 500 companies and up-and-coming start-ups. Eric is also a frequent contributor to Entrepreneur.com.
“The number-one cardinal sin most new social media marketers commit is not sticking to a regular posting schedule.” – Eric @ Entrepreneur.com
Marcela has been involved in SEO for the last 15 years and is the founder of Griffin Media, which serves many internationally recognized clients. She wants you to know if you are interested in learning more about SEO she is absolutely your girl!
“To know what your audience craves, you have to get into their heads. Building marketing personas goes a long way in helping you create content targeted to their interests.” – Marcela @ Social Media Explorer
Pratik prides himself in the providing his clients with real, tangible results. He’s been doing just that within the digital marketing space for more than seven years. You may have seen Pratik featured in such publications as Forbes, Moz, and SEW.
“Estimates and correlations might not count as proof of ROI, but when you tie your strategy to numbers, your actions become harder to ignore.” – Pratik @ Crazy Egg
Brian’s byline is “Smart. Social. Storytelling.” He’s a marketing consultant, freelance writer, and also a professional speaker – Brian has spoken at NYU, UNICEF, and for The American Advertising Federation. He has also contributed to such publications as The New York Times and The Next Web.
“People tend to trust other people more than they do the idea of a brand, which is why it’s important to occasionally focus on the key individuals that have built your business in order to help build trust as your team explains its story to others.” – Brian @ The Next Web
Andrew is currently the CEO of Traffico, a content marketing, digital strategy, and PPC management firm. Andrew has worked for major players like AOL, as well as several start-up Internet technology companies.
“Metrics are essentially a way for decision making to be easier. At a glance, you can see how much traffic your website is getting, whether your pages are performing as intended, and see ways you can improve your sales.” – Andrew @ SmallBizTechnology
Since 2010, Peter has been the director of search at Pixloo, which helps people sell their properties online. When he’s not busy with Pixloo, Peter shares his love for SEO and online marketing on publications like Search Engine Journal.
“Online reputation management is no longer just about being the most popular. It also has to do with security of a financial asset, personal assets, personal safety and well-being.”- Peter @ SEJ
Joost is the CEO and founder of Yoast, which he started in 2010. Yoast consults clients on SEO, online marketing, and WordPress. In fact, you’ve probably used – or are currently using – one of his powerful WordPress themes. Prior to founding Yoast, Joost launched the biggest CSS3 resource on the Web, CSS3.info, and the extension Quix.
“There is a lot of snake oil and a lot of people selling weird stuff around SEO that either does, or doesn’t work, or just works temporarily, which is why the trade has a bit of a bad name. But in the end, today good SEO means getting your site in order technically, then writing awesome content, and have people link to that awesome content so you can get found, which is a bit of a three stage rocket.” – Joost @ Zerply
Eric has been working behind-the-scenes in the SEO world for more than 10 years. In 2006 he founded evolvor.com to help those in the music and entertainment industries, and has turned it into a boutique marketing and advertising agency. He recently took on an additional role as director of marketing for DineAbility.com
“Stop reading articles about SEO. Stop reading articles about ‘How Facebook is Going to BLAH BLAH BLAH’ your business. Start caring about your customers, about your service, about being the best damn business owner you can be.” – Eric @ evolvor.com
Dr. Pete is a marketing scientist at Moz. Because he’s a cognitive psychologist, he is able to use his knowledge to make “data cool.” He specializes in SEO, online marketing, and data science. He was previously president of User Effect.
“Be curious – about how things work, about what makes people tick, about anything, really. Curiosity is probably the driving force behind data science, and it leads to the kind of passion that can also make you a good marketer. Connect with people early and often – don’t wait until you’re between jobs to network. Building up relationships takes years, and it’s vital to your long-term career opportunities.” – Dr. Pete @ Job Shadow
Rae Hoffman, aka Sugarrae, is an outspoken blogger who covers everything in the SEO, social media, and affiliate marketing field on her blog. She’s also the co-owner and CEO of PushFire, a Texas-based Internet marketing agency.
“You and you alone determine whether or not you’ll be successful in your business goals. There are no acceptable excuses in life. There’s only action and inaction-and your choice of which road you decide to take.” – Rae @ Flippa Blog
Avinash is the best-selling author of Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. He’s also the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, co-founder of Market Motive, and runs the website Occam’s Razor.
“I love SEO. It is such a fascinating science and the rewards are awesome. The thing that appeals to me personally is that there are, mostly, a clear set of logical things we have to do in order to rank high for relevant keywords. It is fun to do those things at a system or marketing level.” – Avinash @ Moz
Apologies to the other handful of people I missed. Who else would you include?