SEO Stars Vs. SEO Celebrities

Nov 1, 2011 • 8:08 am | comments (18) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Industry News

SEO StarRob Kerry has a wonderful post named Celebrities Killed The SEO Star. In short, Rob said, "I believe that celebrity SEOs, brands and blogs are feeding a generation of untested and poorly trained search marketers, who pass themselves off as SEO experts."

Ah, link bait at it's best - at least within the SEO space.

I have known Rob for a long time, in fact, he blogged here in his earlier days.

I am not going to suggest Rob is talking about me as being an SEO Celebrity? Why? Well, because he defined an SEO celeb as a "high profile SEO bloggers recently ceased client work and personal projects, in order to appear impartial and trustworthy to their community." I was never an SEO that provided client work, I started off as an SEO blogger. But I made that decision to remain impartial and trustworthy and it has worked, I think.

In any event, let me take this argument and flip it around a bit. Note, I write this while my house has been with out electricity or heat since Saturday and I am not expecting it back until this coming Saturday (note: my office has power and heat.)

Most SEO "Stars" I know of became an SEO star through mentions and vouches from SEO Celebrities. There are very few SEO Stars that are well known without being mentioned by blogs - such as SEOBook's blog. :)

Now, I am all for SEOs testing and using hard data. In fact, SEO Scientist and many others have been pushing for this for years. It has gotten some SEOs who are really respected in trouble for using data wrong.

There is room for the SEO Celebrity and the SEO Star but ultimately, results and SEO technique comes from day to day practice, not blogging. I would think that is common sense.

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

Image credit: Albachiaraa / ShutterStock.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: October 31, 2011


Rob Kerry

11/01/2011 12:35 pm

Hi Barry :) The post was designed to open up discussion, so all feedback is appreciated, good and bad. The post isn't targeted towards any one particular person or website, in fact 3 or 4 different people have asked me if it's about them and it could even be mildly connected to the site on which the post was published! I decided to publish on SEO Book, because I know that Aaron supports free and open discussion. It was ballsy of him to do so as a community owner himself. It's worth noting that not a single link was placed in the original post, so no linkbait intended. Aaron added a link to Ayima because we tend to fly under the radar and concentrate on work rather than natter, so his readers may not know us :) Out of the 360+ retweets, almost all have been positive and supportive of my views, which were discussed offline within the UK SEO industry before I published. SEO Communities and "Celebs" are in no way a bad/evil thing in themselves, we just need to get away from the pointless content churn and put more emphasis on teaching the next generation of SEOs solid knowledge. If the employers of SEOs, both in-house and agency, are saying there's a problem - we need to start re-assessing. Many communities already have the necessary information/knowledge to hand, they just don't push it, in fact many suppress it deep within their site to appear more "fresh". SER is a vital source of consolidated search news for the SEO community, I'm a fan. I use it to base new tests/theories off of, news is still important :)

Harris Schachter

11/01/2011 12:55 pm

Egos aside, I think the general point here is that within a subfield of internet marketing such as SEO, the only real form of "certification" or "accreditation" is personal performance. I think you'd both agree that we are all trying to move away from the snake oil salesman perceptions, regardless of level of experience.


11/01/2011 01:15 pm

Meanwhile this was posted on SEObook.  Ironic much?

Bob Jones

11/01/2011 01:36 pm

Your Sphinn link is broken.

Barry Schwartz

11/01/2011 02:30 pm

ugh, fixed, missed a whole paragraph. now there.


11/01/2011 03:37 pm

The more popular these "SEOs" are the more it will hurt when they faceplant. Humour is important.


11/01/2011 03:43 pm

In my opinion, I still see a number of new SEOs who take the reigns and start pushing their skills to the max, testing breaking etc. I often get contacts from such people to give me a view of their data / findings - my recent post on Dynamic Meta Descriptions was one of those - posted first by @sharkSEO:twitter  and then verified by my own tests. ( ) As most know, I have long insisted SEOs need to test, play and build their own stuff to try and break the algo limits. however i am seeing more and more people joining the SEO community, tweeting, blogging, joing forums, and just copypasta other peoples opinions. I see agencies that crank out the same set menu logic to their SEO approach - I see webdesign agencies who hire "SEO specialists" whose idea of advanced SEO is title tag automation.  How do they get their jobs? They have a few posts under their "SEO Blog" a hundred twitter followers, and are interviewed be people who only know  the general party line about SEO, and so by spewing other bloggers info, they pass themselves off as "skilled". Is Rob 100% right? Probably not. But he makes the largest call to action - if you want to be a serious SEO, you need to be hands on and not just rely on others conclusions. In your case Barry - I rely on you 100% of the time to pick up chatter, and as you know, I feed you anything that strike me as new. I wouldnt call you a celebrity SEO, but would certainly frame you as a Celebrity SEO Blogger - to blog about these developments as you do incessantly is a necessity for our industry. But will only reading what you, Danny, Aaron, Dave Naylor etc put out and other SEO bloggers make me competitive? No.    That only leaves me well informed. And THAT is only half the equation :)


11/01/2011 03:53 pm

It's apparent that by SEO celebs who dumb down the industry he means SEOmoz. Assuming that SEOmoz is probably the best SEO blog these days all other known SEO bloggers are even worse. So better everybody gives up blogging and only true SEO stars who only work for clients are allowed to rant in order to educate the youth on SEO.


11/01/2011 03:55 pm

Coincidentally Bill Sebald posted something in the same vein at the same time, pointed out that there is greater SEO learnings from the guys you probably never heard of.  I think we need to get past this celebrity stuff once and for all.  Networks like Twitter let us do that.


11/01/2011 04:05 pm

I firmly believe most of the very best SEO's (certainly in the UK) are unknown to most of us. They don't blog, they don't interview and they rarely share their techniques or testing, preferring instead to pass on their experience and knowledge directly to their clients. It is these people who are the stars in my opinion. The shame of it is they don't share, but they obviously don't feel the need to do so and that's fine. Some of the celebrities in SEO (in fact most of them) appear to be those who trawl the conference circuits week after week and therefore they are just that celebrities, not always experts or even in some cases people who have had real success from modern, post-panda SEO work. Hell, when panda hit back in February, most of them were on the circuit and not doing client work. I accept testing helps, of course it does as Rishi says it's the only way you learn, truly learn what works and what doesn't, but not even that makes you an SEO expert or a star. I prefer to see people who actually do the work on a regular basis offer advice and you can pick up more in a day on Twitter in this industry than you can from almost any I've ever known, providing you follow the right people of course. I've nothing against those who make a living from the conference circuit in SEO, god knows I've done the same in another industry, but I'd rather take advice from someone doing the work, day in day out than someone who happens to appear in every damn blog post whenever an opinion is required. The industry is incredibly clicky at the top end with some massive ego's and rarely does there appear to be room for the quiet voice of interest or question, so I am happy Rob has highlighted the issues he has and as for Barry on this post, sir, you are one of the few I read regularly and although you don't fit the SEO celebrity tag, you almost certainly offer one of the best services in the industry, that of the SEO celebrity blogger.


11/01/2011 04:29 pm

I couldn't agree more. There are so many SEOs out there that are far better than the likes of the so called "SEO celebrities" but don't want to speak in front of hundreds of people. A lot of the conferences I have seen coverage of over the past year have seemed like they have contained incredibly basic information that any savvy SEO is already aware of. These SEO celebrities are actually using these poor SEOs, which you talk about, in their own way to make it seem like they know a lot more than they actually do. To a decent SEO that enjoys client work and just getting on with the job, a lot of these people are no better at their jobs than everyone else and in some cases, worse.


11/01/2011 04:29 pm

The best SEOs, the unknown, work for themselves because there is really no reason for a great SEO to make money for someone else unless they are very well compensated. The only reason you would want testing and training is to satisfy the need for "SEO Agents" at marketing firms, which companies throw millions at because they don't know any better.

Rob Kerry

11/01/2011 04:35 pm

Depends on their pricing model - an agency can get the best of both worlds :)


11/01/2011 05:15 pm

I have no doubt that running an agency is a worthwhile career path for an SEO. I don't like the headache personally. I find it more fulfilling running my own sites and keeping an ear close to the ground instead of wasting that time on dealing with whinny corporate management that will never understand how the internet works.

Dave Fowler

11/01/2011 10:42 pm

In February last year, whilst listening to a speaker in the main auditorium at SES London, I watched two SEO bloggers sat in front of me live-posting and tweeting, commenting on, or liking each others entries as they went. They were sat next to each other. It looked kind of sad, really, that effort to appear authoritive. That said, I'm proud to work in an industry where so much knowledge is so willingly shared, it's just that I'll always prefer to be a thought reader than a thought leader (what a tiresome and over-used phrase that is). Good work will always speak for itself, regardless. OK, back to it...

Divya Mhatre

11/02/2011 05:58 am

I loved wht you have written.. Blogging doesn't give you brains to solve SEO problems but day to day work & finding it solutions help to make u an SEO expert in true manner.. Well said :)


11/02/2011 01:02 pm

I've worked with some amazing SEO's who do make the time to blog and others who don't want to get involved with that side of the industry and just get on with it. Doesn't mean that either one of them is better or worse at SEO. Looking at this across the industry I think that SEO Bloggers do make the time to keep thier ear to the ground so it's worth listening to them. However just remember nothing in SEO is true until YOU have tested it.

multilingual seo

11/30/2011 11:23 am

   Five experience in seo project i don't listen about seo start can you tell me about seo start this is a new technique define me about seo star and seo and tell me how we use seo star this stretedgy register from Google search engine because maximum searches start through Google search engine.

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