The online marketing industry is full of voices. You should ignore most of them. The very nature of online marketing, whether it’s SEO, paid search, social media, or email marketing, creates a strong incentive for those who peddle online marketing services, myself included, to speak out. This creates a lot of noise, and finding the right information can be tricky to a business leader or entrepreneur trying to figure out what’s what. It’s hard to know where to start and who to trust. The following list includes 10 of the experts on online marketing that I follow and listen to, and who I believe do a great job of speaking to other experts, as well as the general public. Note that not everyone on this list is known as an online marketing expert. Some might be marketing experts generally, but I feel their knowledge is directly applicable to online marketing, nonetheless. As a disclaimer, I do not have any business or personal ties whatsoever to any of the individuals or business entities listed in this post, other than that I’m a consumer of the media and tools they produce. In alphabetical order by last name:
Even if you’re in the SEO industry you may not be familiar with the name Brian Clark, but you probably are familiar with his website CopyBlogger. If you are engaged in content marketing, blogging, or social media marketing, chances are you may have ended up on Clark’s website to find tips and tricks without even knowing it. As a writer, I find myself visiting the site on almost a daily basis. I have tabs with CopyBlogger pages that I leave open for weeks at a time to remind me to reread them over and over again. If I had the opportunity to meet all 10 of these marketers, I’d probably fan out over Clark more than any other one. What Clark has done with CopyBlogger is not great just because he’s a great writer, but because he has enlisted other great writers and marketers like Jerod Morris to work alongside him and write helpful posts like Can You Resist Clicking These 3 Headlines? (One is So Good I Had to Copy it). You can follow Clark on Twitter, but follow @CopyBlogger as well, and sign up to become a member on the CopyBlogger website and receive their tips delivered to your email inbox.
Belle Beth Cooper
Cooper gets on the list in the “rookie” category. She came to my attention after she started blogging on behalf of Buffer, one of my favorite apps. She shares great tips for bloggers, social media marketers, and writers. Her writing is witty, entertaining, and no online marketing expert I know wears a crown better (now that I’ve mentioned it she can never change her profile pic). Belle also publishes helpful marketing content at the Huffington Post, The Next Web, and she’s active on Twitter.
The only person on this list who isn’t a marketer himself, Cutts has made a name for himself as the head of the webspam team at Google. He leads the fight against companies and individuals who would use various tactics to influence Google’s search engine rankings in ways Google doesn’t want them to. That also means he’s an “expert’s expert” and one of the top guys SEO professionals listen to because when Cutts speaks, it’s a window into Google’s soul. Follow Cutts on Twitter and of course Google+.
SEOMoz was one of the most successful SEO firms of all time. So successful, its co-founder Fishkin decided to turn it into a company, renamed Moz, providing tools and services to online marketers. Fishkin recently stepped down from the CEO role at Moz to focus more on what we online marketers love him for–providing insightful commentary on the state of online marketing. Now that he’s got some spare time, Fishkin has also promised to finally write a book, choosing to focus on the topic of startup marketing. Fishkin is active on Twitter and Google+, but also make sure to follow him on his blog and sign up for the email newsletter.
Hyatt is a former book publisher turned best-selling author on the topic of becoming a knowledge expert. He shows you in a very transparent and informative way how to set up a website/blog and use readily available and affordable technologies to get your message out there. If you only have time to follow one expert, Hyatt is my top pick. Follow him on Twitter, sign up for the emails on his website, and read his book Platform: Get Noticed In A Busy World.
There aren’t many best selling books on online marketing, but Kaushik has written two of them. His experience as the Analytics Evangelist for Google led to his books Web Analytics: An Hour A Day and its companion Web Analytics 2.0:The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity. In an industry where too many practitioners engage in SEO as though it were an art form, Kaushik shows how to bring science to the game and beat the competition. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Patel’s Wikipedia profile says it best, but to be brief, Patel is the co-founder of CrazyEgg and KISSMetrics. The tools he and co-founder Hiten Shah have built are used by thousands of online marketers, but head on over to Patel’s blog and start reading. Patel covers everything from how social signals influence search engine rankings to how you can build your blog audience. The only thing you won’t walk away with is the time to implement all his great suggestions. And be sure to follow him on Twitter.
Reynolds started out as a high-school economics teacher but a job at a web marketing firm led to him founding Seer Interactive, an SEO firm based in Philadelphia. Reynolds has the distinction of being the only expert I included on this list whose primary work is running a client services firm. If I didn’t run an SEO firm myself and I needed to hire one, Seer would be on the shortlist. Seer has worked with clients like Crayola, LinkedIn, and Intuit. But the reason Reynolds is on this list isn’t because he runs a great SEO firm, but because of his contributions to the community. You can get a taste of Reynolds’ wisdom on Twitter and Google+, but also take a look at his great presentations on SlideShare.
Sullivan is one of the most recognized faces and names in the SEO industry. He’s been a pioneer in the space since 1995 so he was into SEO before SEO was cool. Danny is a founding editor of the online publication Search Engine Land and is heavily involved in one of the industry’s most popular event series, SMX: Search Marketing Expo. Sullivan has a no-nonsense, frank approach to his commentary on SEO that is refreshingly honest and occasionally painful for so-called SEO experts. His tweets are a treasure trove of helpful information for those doing online marketing, and he’s also active on Google+.
Ditch the caffeine, just listen to Vaynerchuk’s books using the triple speed function on Audible.com’s app. Vaynerchuk is excited to share what has worked for him when it comes to social media, what he’s seen work for others, and how you can use social media to work for you. He’s realistic about how much work it takes, while showing how rewarding it can be. Follow him on Twitter, get his emails, and read his books of which the most recent is Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World (coming to Audible.com in April, 2014, allegedly).
The downside of a list like this is that everyone who gets left out feels bad, and someone is going to feel like I left their favorite guy or gal off. There are many other amazing marketers out there like Barry Shwartz, Seth Godin, Jayson DeMers, Mitch Joel, Bruce Clay, Aaron Wall, Michael Gray, and Chris Brogan, to name a few. A note on Seth Godin, since I know I’ll get flack for leaving him out of the list if I don’t explain why. I left him out because chances are you’re already following him. He doesn’t need to be on this list, although now that I’ve said this, I suppose you can make him #11.
You might notice this list is light on the females. I don’t think I’m biased towards men (if anything, it’s the opposite), but for one reason or another the field seems to be dominated by males. I could have put more women on the list, but I’m not the type to insult a woman by including her based on her gender rather than her talents and abilities. If you think there are female marketing experts I should have included on this list, please let me know who they are so I can start following what they say.
Who did I miss? Who would you add to the list? Who are the up-and-comers who should be on the list next year?