Do you know your SEO consultants? Read this through for your guide to the good, the rad and the sexy of internet marketings most in-demand professional – the SEO consultant.
(Image parodied from Kaptain Kobold‘s parody.) L – R: Mike Tekula of Tek Web Solutions, David Mihm of… David Mihm Web Design, and the sexiest man in SEO, Pat Sexton. Much kudos too, to Tamar Weinberg for her awesome photostream with the massively long tail.
The Good SEO Consultant: This guy/girl is optimizing his site for the keywords SEO consultant because he’s seen other consultants doing it and because Overture once said that this keyword had nice traffic. He’s an indie with a handful of his own clients and likely does subcontract work for larger SEM firms/agencies. That is, when he’s not blogging up a storm and trying to figure out whether at 1 am, he’s better off sleeping or publishing a few more tweets, stumbles, and sphinns.
This good guy has bought and read the SEO Book, reads the major industry blogs and dreams of having automatic cash-earners that make money while he sleeps. He knows that these won’t come from reading Clickbank scam ebook, but still hopes/figures that there’s got to be some way to do it with affiliate marketing. Occasionally he’ll break a new story in search marketing but the majors will likely ignore it as they either a) don’t know him b) consider the discovery unworthy of sharing/linking or most likely c) didn’t hear about him breaking the story.
This guy is worth networking with and is definitely going to be a major force within 1 – 3 years. Play nice with the good SEO consultant now and you’ll find an invaluable ally later.
Demographically speaking, a good SEO consultant is most likely:
- from a middle-class background,
- 20 – 25 years old,
- to have 2 years or less SEO experience,
- a Problogger, Copyblogger and SEO Book fan,
- earning – $30K annually from SEO,
- doing SEO part-time,
- getting entry-level job offers from larger firms,
- an SEOmoz commenter.
The Rad SEO Consultant:
This consultant has been blogging for a while and has built himself/herself a certain following and a solid network of friends. If his major site lost all its SERPs in Google tomorrow, Sphinn’s front page would have his explanation of why, and his friends would help him get a new site back up within a few months.
As far as experience goes, the Rad consultant has easily seen/worked on 20+ projects, either for clients or for himself. He’s done that amount of work within 2 – 5 years’ time and is seeing the financial rewards for it. In the same vein, the rad SEO consultant’s experience includes either attending or speaking at SMX, SES, Pubcon and other web industry conferences (think Affiliate Summit, Traffic, Ad: Tech, etc.). By now he’s realized that there is no such thing as ‘passive income’ and especially not online because it takes work to either create a marketing campaign, manage it or optimize it.
The rad SEO consultant is still approachable and has the time to do email, though on occasion he might be flooded by work and miss an email. A great contact to meet and become friends with while the going’s good rad.
This expert’s profile probably includes some or all of these points:
- in a serious relationship and/or engaged,
- 24 – 35 years old,
- uses a feed reader to follow 20+ blogs, though not all of them on a daily basis,
- earning $50 – $100 K annually,
- doing SEO full-time or about to,
- getting senior consultant/marketing director job offers,
- Power Sphinn and social news/bookmarking user
The sexy SEO consultant:
This person is at the top of the game and could write a book on SEO that would satisfy everyone from beginner to pro. Their blog has 5000+ subscribers and likely several authors, most of whom are sexy consultants too or else are at the rad level. The things you’ll find there are consistently original, new and very often practical.
The sexy SEO consultant’s expertise, as was mentioned above, is extremely broad. When they’re not devoting time to client work, these elite SEOs are reading blogs, articles and the occasional whitepaper (occasional, because that’s about how often these things offer value and aren’t sales pitches *cough Business.com cough*), though their reading is skewed toward the establishment bloggers. (A little diversity would be great ;).) That said, count on them to consume a hundred + posts a week, even if they don’t link to them all (the sheer volume Sexy SEOs are faced with is another reason stories from good consultants with lesser relationships might not get linked to much).
This consultant works on his firm’s largest clients’ sites if he does actual SEO at all. Most likely he’s directing a team of rad consultants or developing the SEO strategy to be implemented by project managers and lower-level consultants. He’s networking in the wider business community, sending his people to shows to extend the firm’s reach,
When they’re not bringing sexy back (above, and not-safe-for-work bringing sexy back here), Sexy SEO consultants are likely being profiled as follows:
- 30 – 50 years old (beyond that and you’re either the CMO/owner of the firm/unaware that SEO exists)
- Earning $80K + annually
- A member of the local country club
- A reader of the business pages
- Making job offers
- A regular speaker at SMX etc.
- Have considerable discretionary spending
- Spend much of that money online, especially on high-end travel and electronics
And now for the million-dollar question: Which consultant fits where?
Actually, I think most of those criteria can be mixed and matched so that these personas are more general guidelines/ideas. Much of it is based on my own experience and observations. The same way I used to stay up till 1-2 am reading Problogger and Yaro Starak (whose growth seems to have plateaued), I now stay up reading a variety of posts from Sphinn, my feedreader and other blogs I like. Similarly, I’ve gotten a spot on a panel at SMX West, though it’ll be my first time there.
Edit: Some people thought I hadn’t posted since the Truth About Influence. If you subscribe, you know that I’ve actually written on link buying, n-grams, UGC and more in my most recent scratchpad, as well as on 3 new metrics for social media.
Take a rad consultant like Dave (left; picture by Tamar). He’s been to several conferences and is moving up to Portland, where I understand he’ll be working with the SEMpdx folks and probably with her favorite sexy SEO consultant. Yet considering how good Dave is, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he’s earning $80K + annually, and I could also see him reading the business pages waiting for his tee time at the local club.
Look at someone like Vinny. He comments regularly at SEOmoz and has recently made himself available for link building campaigns. From speaking to him privately, I know that he’s got a deep understanding of real estate SEO that would place him in the sexy SEO category. Yet he also is a huge SEOmoz commenter, is about 35 – 45, married (unless I’m thinking of someone else?) and would be a welcome senior consultant at most firms I know.
Ann doesn’t fit any of these molds neatly. The number one ranking for ‘posters’? That was her. She’s been blogging for a month. (And is one of the best contacts I’ve made through SEOmoz!)
My understanding is that Guillaume, 28 years old, is moving to hit 30 employees very soon. On the one hand, he’s at the sexy SEO consultant level, yet on the other, I think he reads less than I do and probably doesn’t have as deep a level of expertise as I do. But then again, he owns/runs a firm, and his core competence is on business building, which goes back to the country club networking thing. And he’s got a great social media guy like Nic to back him up anyway ;).
If you liked this, do subscribe to my RSS feed – there’s much more where this came from ;). Plus I have a pretty button:
Update: Guillaume and I are having an interesting discussion in the comments. Turns out that he’s 26, and already has 30 employees. And like I promised below, here’s a juiced link to NVI. (BTW, if anyone can tell me how to fix the Stumbleupon button in IE6, that would be great; I just installed the plugin and am not sure about its finer points yet.)
Jean-Francois is in his early 30s and runs an agency roughly the same size as SEOmoz. He’ll be speaking at an Infopresse mini-conference on social media (Infopresse is Quebec’s Web Pro News but with less depth of expertise and broader coverage) So some people do fit the mold.
Finally, and similarly to J-F, look at Lee Odden’s photostream and tell me he doesn’t fit neatly in the sexy category!
Update 3: A whole bunch of you have shared some great comments. Here are the promised link love :). Mike’s Tek Web Consulting gets another link. This blog has also been graced by the likes of Allan Stewart, better known (and indeed, well known) as Firefly SEO. Likewise, his high sexiness, David Saunders of I Do SEO. Francis Vallieres is an interesting fellow (and another competitor who my awesome blogging has apparently distracted from doing client work … how’s that for advanced SEO tactics?? ).
Some of you shared decent comments below, but you’ll have to work harder for a link. Let me share your domains at least: nowball.com for Dev Carmichael, Sexyseo.blogspot.com for Sexy SEO, Catfish.cc for SEO Catfish and dotcomsecrets.com for Internet Marketing Joy.
What do you guys think? Are these personas about right? Which do you most identify with? What kind of SEO consultant are you? Let me hear it in the comments :D! Any quality answer gets a free dofollow link in updates to this post :)! Like this post? Get the RSS feed.