Natural Search Blog


Some Top In-House SEOs

In-House SEOs are a special demographic of optimization specialists that we don’t hear a lot about. Circumspect, they toil in the shadows while controlling vast networks of links and content of some of the highest-ranked sites on the internet. Many of the articles about in-sourcing versus out-sourcing of SEO seem to be biased in favor of optimization firms. Independent SEOs often view In-House SEOs enviously, assuming that they are paid premiums for optimization work of sites that already have natural degrees of PR due to prestige and already-existing marketshare.

Top In-House SEO Specialists

While these ideolized impressions may be off-base, In-House SEOs do enjoy some influence in the SERPs rankings for their site subject verticals, and some of them are undoubtedly paid well for their roles. Due to concerns about proprietary intellectual property, most In-House SEOs have to be fairly quiet about their work. Even so, some of them have engaged with public technological community, and a number of them blog to various degrees or are active in other ways.

In-house SEO specialists have some advantages that outsiders can’t have. They know their own technical environment – servers, networks, domains, specialty applications, content, internal analytics, and they’re experienced in their own industry with its unique needs and concerns. In a lot of cases, an outsider can’t do as good a job at designing and integrating an optimization strategy as an in-house resource. Even considering this, external SEO firms shouldn’t bash internal SEOs quite so defensively – many in-house search marketers still call in consultants and service providers for special projects.

I’m an In-House SEO (among other roles). I was curious about who my peers were in this arena, so I’ve set out to identify some of the top In-House SEOs here. It’s not possible to identify anywhere close to all of them, and I’m likely just scratching the surface here. I’m mainly interested in those others who blog, though I’m open to listing any I find. I’m trying to focus on SEOs for top-ranked companies and huge internet sites.

This is still a very nascent specialization in many ways, so there’s not just a whole lot of standardization of titles, compensation levels, etcetera. Many companies now refer to the role as “Search Marketing Manager”, though some have identified greater strategic need and importance with the work and have assigned the title of “Search Director” or “Vice President of Search Marketing” for it. In many cases, the role may also involve SEM work as well, and in larger companies, there may be a number of specialists all working on aspects of the overall optimization work. (For a nice breakdown of some common SEO roles, check out Rand’s posting on SEOmoz about comparative pay rates.)

I’m not really differentiating between those who are full employees of the companies they optimize for, and those who were perhaps full employees and then moved out to consult solely for those same companies in order to perhaps gain higher levels of pay while reducing the pains which come with working inside mega-corporations. Where possible, I’m linking to their blogs, and failing that, I’m linking to one of their personal profiles. In a few cases these are individuals that I know, but most of those listed I came across through internet research, so be aware that there’s potentially a high degree of error involved in the list. Also, I’m a bit arbitrary about those I chose – I tried to focus on widely-recognized name-brand sites, internet juggernauts, and well-established companies.

Some of the Top In-House SEOs:

Amr Awadallah : Director Product/Business Intelligence at Yahoo! Inc.

Aidan Beanland : Regional SEO Manager at Yahoo – Aidan is also a frequent speaker at Search Engine Bootcamp in Australia and he’ll be speaking at Search Summit Australia.

Jennifer Blamy : SEO Manager at LendingTree.com

Jessica Bowman : Director of SEO for Business.com – Jessica sometimes writes articles for SearchEngineJournal.com, and oversees optimization and SEM for the Business.com directory of sites.

Michael Brito : Search Marketing Manager at HP

David Carberry : Director of Search Marketing for Advertising.com

Steve Carrod : Search Marketing Manager (EMEA) at Hewlett-Packard

Gene Chan : Search Marketing Manager at Imaging & Printing Group – HP

Michael Cheung : Search Marketing Lead at Marchex

Kathleen Coughlan : Strategic Alliances & Search Marketing at Lexis Nexis

Terry Cox : SEO/SEM Manager for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online.

Christopher Curtis : Associate Manager, Search Engine Marketing at Shopzilla.com – Christopher has also apparently written a few articles on search marketing topics, if you search around.

Darren Dalasta : Search Marketing Manager at WhitePages.com

Rudy DeDominicis : Search Marketing Specialist at Time Inc Interactive – Rudy previously did search marketing for Ziff Davis, AOL, and Paper.com.

John Ellis : Online Marketing Manager, Search for ResortQuest / Gaylord Entertainment – optimizing for GaylordHotels.com, Opry.com, and ResortQuest.com

Matt Evans : SEO Manager at Monster.com

Duane Forrester : Manager, Search Marketing at Sports Direct Inc. – Duane is also a SEMPO Board member.

Derek Fulford : Search Marketing Manager at The Weather Channel Interactive – Weather Channel had a news story earlier this year about how effective their SEO project uses analytics heavily.

Jason Hall : Director, Search Engine Marketing at Shopzilla.com

Seth Hammac : Search Engine Marketing Media Manager at CNET Networks

Julie Handleman-Baerwald : SEO/SEM Manager at Citysearch

Liz Keller : Manager of SEO Strategy at iVillage, Inc.

Mia Kemp : SEO and Sr. Project Manger – Marketing at Kaplan University

Imran Khan : Chief Marketing Officer at E-Loan.

Vic Kuzmovich : Director Online Marketing at Expert Realty – Vic was formerly SEO for WebMD’s Medscape.com property.

Rob Lenderman : SEO Architect at LendingTree.com

Jeff Leong : Sr. Online Marketing Specialist at Symantec Corporation.

Laura Lippay : SEO for Yahoo! – Laura earlier did SEO for CNET, and she now works upon Yahoo properties.

Paul Low : Search Marketing Manager at JCPenney.com

Bill Macaitis : VP of Traffic Generation and SEM / SEO for Fox Interactive Media (MySpace, FoxSports, IGN Ent).

Philip Maher : Director of SEO at LocalLaunch! a subsidiary owned by Dex Media.

Matt McGee : SEO for Marchex – specializing in optimization for local search, and small business websites. Marchex has made a name for itself by buying up tons of local-oriented domain names based on vertical keywords, city names, vertical + city name combinations, and zip codes in a sort of domainer or “direct navigation” strategy, and they recently have started working on improving the quality of all those many sites.

Sean McGinnis : Manager, Search Engine Marketing at Findlaw

Andy Mihalop : Head of Search Marketing at Reed Business Information

Melanie Mitchell : Director, SEO/SEM at AOL – Melanie handles SEO/SEM for AOL.com, MapQuest, AIM, Netscape and TMZ.com. Melanie has spoken at past PubCons and SES Conferences.

Mike Moran : Distinguished Engineer / Product Manager of IBM’s OmniFind Search Product – Mike has worked for IBM for nearly 30 years, and is expert in search technology, search marketing, content management, personalization, analytics, and more. Mike also speaks at conferences such as SES, ad:tech, Consumer Reports WebWatch, OMMA East, and Enterprise Search Summit. Mike has applied paid and natural search optimization strategies for IBM properties.

Iestyn Mullins : SEM Manager at SHOP.COM

Michael Nguyen : SEO Strategist at Shopzilla.

Paul O’Brien : SEO for HP – Paul also guestblogs some here at Natural Search Blog.

Giovanna O’Grady : SEM/SEO Manager at Intuit

Paul Pedersen : Manager Search Engine Marketing at E W Scripps – overseeing search marketing efforts for a handful of major Scripps sites.

Dan Perry : SEO Producer, Cars.com – Dan previously managed enough .EDUs to make any good SEO salivate, Dan now works on Cars.com, an acquisition of NewCars.com and has been a board member of SEMPO and has spoken at various conferences, including Emetrics, SES (San Jose, Chicago, Toronto and NY), and ad:tech.

David Perez : SEO/PPC Manager for eHarmony

Robert Pettee : Search Marketing Manager at LendingTree, LLC

Amy Pickwick : Web Communications Manager at USinternetworking, an AT&T company

Antonella Pisani : Director of Search Engine Marketing & Optimization at ProFlowers – 2004 Washington Post news story mentions her: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4969899/

Roni Raulwing : International Program Manager – Mobile & Devices at Adobe, Inc.

Greg Reitman : Manager, Search Marketing at Barnes & Noble .com

Jennifer Wood (Rodriguez) : Online Marketing Manager at The Seattle Times

Thomas Shaffer : Sr. Search Media Analyst at Microsoft

Aaron Shear : Global Director of SEO for Shopping.com – Aaron previously worked at Inktomi and then consulted for a few SEO firms. Aaron now focuses on optimizing for Shopping.com’s 50 million plus products.

Marshall D. Simmonds : chief Search Strategist for New York Times, overseeing SEM/SEO for NYTimes.com, Boston.com, IHT.com and About.com.

Scott Skurnick : Director SEO (Search Engine Optimization) at Edmunds.com – previously did search marketing for Circuit City.

Chris Silver Smith : Head of the Technology & Development Department, Idearc Superpages.com – perhaps needless to say, but I count myself in this list, too! I did research on SEO for Superpages many years ago, and I founded the SEO program which has been quite effective. I performed SEO for GTE, then advised for some Verizon sites, and I now do this for Idearc. Verizon spun off our company in November of this past year to form the publicly-traded Idearc Media Corporation. I founded Idearc’s new SEO Council which I also chair. I’ve been guest-blogging here at Natural Search Blog, and I sometimes speak at SES conferences. I’ll likely be speaking at the SES Conference in New York this April.

Jennifer Mathews Somogyi : SEO Manager at Classmates.com

Julie Sun : Senior Manager, SEO at MTV Networks

David Temple : Search Marketing Consultant at FindLaw

Patrick Terrell : Affiliate and Search Marketing Manager at PETCO – Patrick will also be speaking on the SEO panel at the Online Marketing Summit 07

Mike Banks Valentine : Senior SEO Manager at Fox Interactive Media

Julie VanMersbergen : Team Lead, Search Marketing at FindLaw

Tanya Reitze Vaughan : Search Engine Marketing & Optimization, Web Marketing Hewlett-Packard (HP) – Tanya has spoken at SES before on in-house SEO work.

Alfonso Veggetti : Senior Marketing Analyst at Washington Mutual

Meg Walker : Online Marketing Manager at Network Solutions – Meg specializes in online marketing, PPC management, banner advertising, search optimization.

Frank Watson : SEM Manager at FXCM (Forex Capital Markets) – Frank is also known as AussieWebmaster in his moderator role at Search Engine Watch’s forums.

Anthony Ziehmke : Search Marketing Strategist at Microsoft

Sandra Zoratti : Director, Marketing and Strategy at IBM – Sandra will also be speaking on the SEO panel at the Online Marketing Summit 07

For any of you out there who I may’ve overlooked, email me your info and I’ll update this list. Likewise, if I missed your blog link, please send me that.

UPDATE: I’ve had to halt additions to this posting, because I was simply inundated! You’re welcome to send me information about you, or recommendations for additions, and I may do an additional post listing “in-houses” in the future. But for now, I can’t accommodate further additions to this list.

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33 comments for Some Top In-House SEOs »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    All the Seo’s you named are unknown to me. But as you said these guys and gals work mainly behind the scene.

    Thanks for such great info.

    Comment by Affiliate Tips — 2/27/2007 @ 3:24 pm


  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    I beg to differ with you.

    I think that any good seo firm can do just as well as an in-house seo assuming they take the time to learn the market.

    G-Man

    Comment by G-Man — 2/27/2007 @ 4:23 pm


  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    Sure they can G-Man…

    Any SEO worth his or her salt can do their thing once they learn the market…

    But us in-house SEO’s know our market intimately, and have for a long time in many cases.

    Also, when dealing with corporations, there are often a lot of politics that need to be overcome to get changes made, and that’s often a lot easier from the inside.

    Michael Valiant

    Comment by Michael Valiant — 2/28/2007 @ 9:44 am


  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    Great detective work.

    What I would like to know is how many of these in-house SEOs decided to move projects in-house after trying to outsource the process to an SEO firm.

    I’d also like to know the identity of each such SEO firm, but I’m sure this information would be very hard to develop.

    In fairness to SEO firms, I would also like to know about cases in which marketers decided that doing SEO in-house did NOT make sense, and decided to outsource these tasks.

    Comment by Dave Pasternack — 2/28/2007 @ 9:58 am


  5. MyAvatars 0.2

    Great list!

    Missed a big one: Mike Moran from IBM and co-author of “Search Engine Marketing Inc”: http://www.mikemoran.com

    Also Meg Walker of Network Solutions: http://www.ebuzzmaster.com

    Comment by Lee Odden — 2/28/2007 @ 11:11 am


  6. MyAvatars 0.2

    Tanya Vaughan
    SEO – Hewlett-Packard – Specifically HP.com

    Tanya works with our company WebMama.com, an SEM agency, proving an effective combination of in-house and out-house efforts to produce high conversion results.

    Comment by webmama — 2/28/2007 @ 11:41 am


  7. MyAvatars 0.2

    This is one of the very rare articles that I have ever seen with regards to in-house SEO. As an “in-house” myself, I agree, this list must be small in comparison to what really out there. I think that a lot of the reasons In-House SEO’s are quiet has much to do with associating themselves with the company they are working for in fears they speak too freely or “off the cuff” and a competitor could come along and start learning from them. I have a blog and always have to be mindful when I write anything so it is not related to my niche. Thank you for the article.

    Comment by Michael Goldberg — 2/28/2007 @ 1:49 pm


  8. MyAvatars 0.2

    Lee, thanx for the recommendations. I’ve now added in listings for Mike and Meg.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 2/28/2007 @ 2:17 pm


  9. MyAvatars 0.2

    I think this is a great effort, but can’t possible do the job of raising the profile of in-house SEOs. SEO is but one tactic of comeptitiveness. Every webmaster today has to be part “SEO” or have an SEO on hand for consulting. Does that make every in-house webmaster and in-house SEO?

    When I consult I work with in-house web masters of all kinds. By the time we are done they are not SEOs, but they are far more competitive webmasters and many times they no longer need an SEO except for strategic work. And what about the marketers? Half the time the marketer picks up tech savvy and is more an SEO than the webmaster, who had the tech savvy but didn’t pick up the market savvy SEO requires (or didn’t find it interesting).

    Webmasters who specialize in competitive intelligence, webmasters who specialize in PPC, webmasters who specialize in SEO even. All great lists.

    Comment by John Andrews — 2/28/2007 @ 3:56 pm


  10. MyAvatars 0.2

    “All the Seo’s you named are unknown to me.”

    Yeah, and us in-housers like to keep it kind of on the downlow to keep the competition off of us ;) …I am flattered at the mention though, thx!

    Comment by phil — 2/28/2007 @ 3:58 pm


  11. MyAvatars 0.2

    Dave P, I used to work in house. My employer and I came to an agreement that I could leave, form an agency, and they would be my first client. This arrangement costs less for for my former employer, and is much more lucrative for me.

    Shared resources are often a great idea.

    Comment by Jonathan — 2/28/2007 @ 4:32 pm


  12. MyAvatars 0.2

    Thanks for the inclusion – I am flattered.

    Comment by AussieWebmaster — 2/28/2007 @ 4:40 pm


  13. MyAvatars 0.2

    Thanks for the love..and for putting this list together.

    - Michael

    Comment by Michael Brito — 2/28/2007 @ 5:09 pm


  14. MyAvatars 0.2

    There are quite a few missing folks you can find if you scan some sites like emarketingtalkshow, seoradio, etc.

    Good luck with the list, heres some notable misses:

    Jeff Coyle – KnowledgeStorm

    Kris Farmer – Tickco

    Deepak Kaushik – Ikobo

    Bill Pryor – Shoebuy

    Lawrence Coburn – RateItAll

    ds

    Comment by Nate — 2/28/2007 @ 7:59 pm


  15. MyAvatars 0.2

    Obviously, there are missing folks, like a previous post pointed out.

    It’s an on-going list, but it looks like you hit a few of the major companies and that definitely helps.

    Thanks for putting it together.

    Comment by John Ellis — 2/28/2007 @ 8:16 pm


  16. MyAvatars 0.2

    This is an EXCELLENT resource for hiring in-house SEOs!!

    Comment by lauralippay — 3/2/2007 @ 5:14 pm


  17. MyAvatars 0.2

    Quick question…for in house SEOs (which I once was). Don’t you get bored? What happens once you’ve killed your marketplace for top terms?

    I know I got bored in a fortune 500 with 1000 different web sites in a few verticals. once I got the rankings I started looking for new challenges.

    For some sites like an HP.com, that could be an ongoing job for a decent team, as with shopzilla and others, but what about some companies that have 1 or 2 big areas of focus?

    Comment by Wil Reynolds — 3/4/2007 @ 12:03 pm


  18. MyAvatars 0.2

    Why should it be any more boring than working for a consulting agency? New opportunities are constantly arising, so I’d say that most bored in-house SEOs are limited by their own imaginations. Also, the SEs are still evolving, so what works today sometimes doesn’t tomorow.

    Of course, I’m somewhat lucky at how many areas of focus I have had.

    For those interested, I’m likely going to post a separate follow-up entry about this In-House SEO list. I was quite surprised at the amount of interest this has drawn and continues to draw, and it obviously struck some chords with people.

    Webmama’s comment made me laugh quite a bit when she mentioned “out-house efforts”! I’m assuming she intentionally used the double-entendre! I had thought of that term when I wrote the article, but I didn’t mention it because I was afraid it would appear to express a large degree of criticism for external SEOs which I don’t feel/intend. But it’s still a really funny term!

    For most of us, I don’t think the in-house and “out-house” groups are all that diametrically opposed. 

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 3/4/2007 @ 2:48 pm


  19. MyAvatars 0.2

    Chris,

    How did you come up with this list? It is very encompassing, however, I wonder about the companies competing in the marketplace that have no voice through an SEO firm or published SEO manager.

    Comment by pittfall — 3/4/2007 @ 9:31 pm


  20. MyAvatars 0.2

    Thanks for including me.

    The reason that in-house SEO & SEM folks are often quiet is because often times our employers don’t want us speaking publicly for fear of poaching or exposing trade secrets. I’ve had that experience at a few companies.

    I know a couple of the people on this list – all good folks.

    antonella

    Comment by antonella pisani — 3/5/2007 @ 2:50 pm


  21. MyAvatars 0.2

    Thanks for putting this list together and including me. This list is a great way to start reaching out, sharing knowledge, and helping others overcome obstacles. See you guys as SES NY!

    Comment by Derek Fulford — 3/6/2007 @ 2:26 pm


  22. MyAvatars 0.2

    I tried to send a private message to you via MyBlogLog, but that got lost, I think, so…

    Firstly, thank you for compiling this list. Though I was a small agency guy for many years, I’m now an in-houser and it seems that there isn’t much of a means for in-house SEOs to connect with the community or THEIR community.

    Since list-keeping apparently wasn’t what you had in mind when you create this, I wonder if you’d allow someone else to carry the torch? I’d offer myself for that purpose…

    I’d also offer to help support the efforts of someone you choose. But I think it’s important to ask your approval since a link from this page would be useful to whoever moves this effort forward.

    Besides being an SEO, I’m also a programmer and I’d like to develop a simple web-based database for the community.

    Would you support this?

    Comment by ExposureTim — 3/8/2007 @ 8:53 pm


  23. MyAvatars 0.2

    Tim, thanx for the offer, but the list currently isn’t long enough to justify a database. As I said earlier, I’ll likely later on reprise the list and issue an updated one.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 3/9/2007 @ 3:20 pm


  24. MyAvatars 0.2

    Thanks for the shout-out! It’s much appreciated.

    Comment by Liz Keller — 3/13/2007 @ 9:30 am


  25. MyAvatars 0.2

    I would like to say thanks for the mention – Yes, working for Classmates.com as an in-house SEO has its challenges. With a very large website, large company, and with all the popularity the site already has the need for someone in house is definitely needed – though from time to time we do ask other agencies to take a look at the site and offer up any suggestions as needed – just as Chris stated in his post.
    I previously worked for an SEO company before Classmates, and must say that the two positions are completely different as far as techniques are concerned.
    Thanks again Chris for the mention – it’s nice to see us “in-houses” get some credit for our hard work ;o)

    Comment by Jennifer Somogyi — 3/18/2007 @ 6:15 pm


  26. MyAvatars 0.2

    Dave asked, “How many of these in-house SEOs decided to move projects in-house after trying to outsource the process to an SEO firm?”

    Obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but I have pulled in-house (with two different companies) after outsourcing, and I had several good reasons for doing so. I would have to say that the biggest reason, however, was simply the fact that we could hire two full-time in-house experts for the same price we were paying one out-house part-time expert. I won’t say which firms, out of respect, but I will say that it was a different firm each time.

    I agree with G-Man, however, that an SEO firm can do just as well if they take the time to learn the market. However, with the speed that SEO firms are growing, combined with the fact that there aren’t any people with experience left on the planet, which firm has the ability to allow their teams to “take the time to learn the market”. I don’t know any …and I know a lot of people working for firms.

    The great thing about working in-house is that you really are able to understand your business very intimately. I’m not just talking about understanding the market, but more importantly, what is important to your business units? How do they make money? Where are the opportunities to move into some “green space”? These are the things that really make a big difference in time spent.

    To answer Wil’s question, I definitely don’t get bored. However, I’ve never done in-house SEM work for a company with one business unit. Between Disney Parks and Resorts, and E W Scripps, I’ve been fortunate enough to work for companies with multiple business units, yet are definitely a united whole.

    …But even if you only have one business unit, like Chris said, you are only limited by your imagination.

    Comment by Paul Pedersen — 3/26/2007 @ 4:25 pm


  27. MyAvatars 0.2

    Interesting list. Weird that half of the companies that are on this list are currently looking fro new SEO/SEMs on the job boards.

    Comment by Jaan Kanellis — 4/5/2007 @ 12:26 am


  28. MyAvatars 0.2

    It’s not that weird when you consider that we are all trying to grow our teams. There’s a huge need in our companies and a tiny pool that we are all trying to pull from.

    Comment by Paul Pedersen — 4/10/2007 @ 12:11 pm


  29. MyAvatars 0.2

    Great list..though you missed a couple… I have interacted with one of the Indian firm who made some of the best online companies what they are today.. they have fair amount of knowledge. typical example – Dew Infotech’s Vishal Batish and Nitin Vyas based in Chandigarh, India – these guys provide excellent solutions.

    Just wanted to have their names around. they make sure that all credit goes to the people who interacted and took their services while sitting in USA.

    Comment by Duke William — 6/5/2007 @ 2:09 pm


  30. MyAvatars 0.2

    It is common to see SEO work being outsourced to India and I can easily recommend a couple of guys I know who work from India. These guys are innovative and well aware of latest things. These guys are great at service and can work extended whenever needed

    Comment by Nathan — 6/14/2007 @ 1:54 pm


  31. MyAvatars 0.2

    Just stumbled across this blog. This blog is fantastic. I am adding this immediately to my favorites list.

    I too am an In-house SEO and have had the opportunity to work with several different agencies over time. In my mind there is no doubt that in-house folks have a strong advantage. Though A seo in-house working along with an agency makes for a strong team!

    Comment by Liz Donaldson — 11/25/2007 @ 6:13 pm


  32. MyAvatars 0.2

    I agree with Liz. An inhouse team is essential. Anyone in growth mode knows that to be agile, you must augment your talent immediately with extended teams.

    Comment by T. D. Worthington — 1/21/2009 @ 10:34 am


  33. MyAvatars 0.2

    any new additions to this list?

    Comment by Inessa — 10/14/2010 @ 11:17 pm


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