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I’ve worked in SEO for 13 years. I had a successful consulting business. I ran the SEO department for a company owned by eBay. I led SEO for brands like Calvin Klein, GNC, Levi’s, and Sports Authority. I’ve been asked to speak at search conferences. Have you heard of me? No – I’m not a rockstar. Well, not any more. **
Despite this I am really proud of what I’ve accomplished. I have some room to brag, and I have a lot of experience to share. I have even more to learn.
But so does the SEO rockstar. This industry caters to the popular (just like scientology), and thanks to the medium we’re in, we all get direct interaction with the spotlight.
That spotlight can make you crazy.
What Are SEO Rockstars
Our industry is like a music scene. We have the anti-hero Kurt Cobains, the technical wizards (Jimi Hendrix?), the thoughtful Bob Dylans, and a fair share of Kid Rocks (style, no substance). There’s also a sea of indie acts who want to be on MTV. Then, there’s the others who happily sit on the outside, happily playing music in their basement.
I hesitate to call that last group “outsiders” because I think that gives “the other side” too much weight. At the end of the day we’re all sharing. Unlike the music biz, where I can’t interact with Justin Bieber (no matter how many letters I write that little bastard), I have a shot at really communicating with some experts in this industry. For every Rand Fishkin or Danny Sullivan who won’t tweet back to you, there are hundreds of equally – if not more – qualified SEOs who will. Again, it’s the beauty of the medium we’re in. Go ask Justin Briggs, Jonathan Coleman, Ian Howells, Eppie Vojt, Nick Eubanks, Dan Shure, AJ Kohn, Dr Pete Meyers (the list goes on); these guys are happy to help you.
I can’t think of any industry where the genesis was the blogosphere. Our birth was through anonymous forum boards. We had flame wars on Jill Whalen’s or Search Engine Watch forum boards. We were maniacs. I got to learn my craft and play on the internet all day. If you were lucky enough to have a boss who understood the SEO thing, you had a great job. But from these humble beginnings it’s clear to me why we continue to have flame wars, outings, and complete silliness. We’re still maniacs. But, we also get brilliance and inspiration from an even larger, massive community of thousands of different personality types.
If you were expecting to learn how to be an SEO rockstar from this post, I can’t help you. I have no idea. But I can tell you that at the end of the day, if being good at what you do and supporting your family is your main concern, use the gift of the whole SEO community and establish yourself in your own networks. I’m most proud of the fact that each week I get calls from clients and recruiters asking for what time I have available.
That’s the kind of security every SEO can have. In that, we’re all in this together.
** And to prove that years ago I was a rock star, c’mon… look at this picture!
Update: There was a good comment from Ross Hudgens that I thought I should add here:
Rand or Danny frequently won’t tweet back (which can be interpreted as them being dicks) because when you get that big and have that many responsibilities, they would get absolutely nothing done if they did that all day. I know for one that Rand is one of the helpful if not the most helpful SEOs in the industry, and to give him a “rockstar” monkier as if that makes him smug would be a huge, not justified descriptor. There definitely are people who probably are dicks who won’t respond purely because they ARE thinking they’re too cool, but the reality is that it’s frequently the randomness of trying to contact someone who simply doesn’t have the time to address every single @ mention.
One of my (small) points in this article was to not care if you get a tweet back from Danny or Rand, because (big point) there’s others – like you, Ross – who are equally skilled and might just have more bandwidth to help more people individually. We should be thankful to this industry for being one that shares and collaborates, and not think so much about labels.
There probably are people who get butt hurt when someone won’t respond to them, but that’s another issue that I don’t have an opinion on. If anyone read into this and thought I was trying to make anyone look smug, they misinterpreted my intent (not that I thought you were accusing me of that); I think you make a good point, and I’ll add this chat to my post.