SEO Experts- Who to Read

SEOs get asked questions that we don’t know the answers to all the time. Some obscure code reference will come up, or someone will have a question about a specific Google update, or want to know how to do something that feels like it should be the responsibility of an SEO but it’s just outside our knowledgebase. So what do we do? We read! I, for one, block out an hour to an hour and a half every day. What I do, anyway, is go to the web, to look for informed opinions from others in the same business I’m in (RSS feeds are my favorite tool for this, with the kinda ugly but still functional Google Reader). Over time, I’ve developed a portfolio of SEOs whose advice I trust- and some I don’t. Why do I spend time reading people I seldom agree with or even adamantly disagree with? For the same reason I listen to Rush Limbaugh AND NPR- I have to know what kind of disinformation I might be up against when trying to explain something to a client. Here is a (very) short list of 5 people you should definitely be reading on at least a weekly basis.


Matt Cutts

When Matt Cutts speaks, SEOs listen- although to me, it seems weird that the most prominent Googler in the SEO field is the head of the web spam team- it sends a very negative message that SEO is spam, and sometimes I wonder why we all listen to this guy so much- we’re not out there doing spammy SEO stuff, right? Cutts keeps a personal blog where he writes about working at Google and his life, and produces many videos on basic SEO questions for the community. Here’s one of the most famous, where he explains that Google doesn’t actually think that SEO is spam:

Matt is a good guy to pay attention to but if you are doing 100% white hat SEO you probably don’t have to worry about most of what he talks about.


Danny Sullivan

Danny heads up Search Engine Land and has been covering search engines for more than 15 years. He tends to tackle the big, overarching meta-issues in SEO and has a very even tone and perspective- though he doesn’t always agree with Google. When a major news source like The Wall Street Journal or Forbes needs an opinion about Search, Spam or Google- Danny is typically who they call. He does a lot of live blogging at big conferences and also writes a personal blog called “Daggle” when he’s not producing the Search Marketing Expo series of conferences. I like reading Danny because he’s often able to provide an historical perspective that others can’t.


Michael Gray

Michael is actually someone that I have had to recently stop following on Google+ and Twitter as his attitude towards Google is really full of vitriol sometimes, when they change something that has been making him money. Michael tends to be very abrasive when he doesn’t like something Google does, calling out by name Google engineers and posting profanity-laden updates from time to time. Michael’s main area of expertise (from what I can tell) is leveraging the Internet to make money doing affiliate marketing. I read his stuff (when I can stomach it) to find out what the grey and black hats of the world may be doing and thinking- Michael’s audience is definitely those who think that Google has an obligation to help them make money, as such, it’s worth paying attention to as it’s outside of the white hat echo chamber some of can live in. His techniques are valuable and over time he’s gotten better about providing the User value- but some of his stuff definitely skews to the dark side. (Note: no personal attack intended, I actually Tweeted back and forth a few times with Michael about cupcakes and Disneyland and I found him to be perfectly pleasant!)


Michael Martinez

Michael is a very, very smart guy who does a lot deeper thinking than most of us have the luxury for. His site features articles that are several thousand words long and generally go contrary to mainstream SEO advice- in other words, SEO advice that tends to try to sell you something. He really does spend a lot of time doing research, thinking and writing- you’ll want to read Michael once you already have several successful campaigns under your belt as some of his advice is truly “out of the box” and requires a lot of context to apply to a regular old SEO campaign. Don’t expect to hear platitudes from Michael- he’s not afraid to call a technique a bad technique, or call out another “SEO guru” on their bad advice. One last time, though, remember- this is advanced stuff. You could easily spend an hour reading and digesting a single article.


Jill Whalen

I haven’t been reading Jill long, which is a shame, since she’s been doing this longer than almost anyone; having founded her SEO company, High Rankings, in 1995. Jill is another no-nonsense author who’s not afraid to go against the grain when someone asks for her advice. Her focus is on things that work- not on theory- as such, she’s frequently at odds with the rest of the SEO community; take for example her position on H1 tags as an important piece of SEO real estate. If you want no-nonsense advice from someone without something to sell you- at least implicitly-read Jill. She basically invented the industry!


Who do you read? Who should I read? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks!

1 Comment. Leave new

One of the sharpest SEOs and one I trust is Aaron Wall of and the real SEOs I know also read Rand Fishkin of

There are different kinds of SEO talent: people like me who mentor bloggers and small business in common sense SEO (like the post linked to this comment) and professional SEOs who rank businesses in really tough niches like mortgages, insurance, travel, flights, and hotels.

I rely more on common sense, keyword research and copywriting skills. They do advanced analysis and change where content exists on what page.

Bil Hartzer is someone else you’ll want to know. I’ll submit this comment and then share a link to his page where he recommends free SEO tools.


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