There’s been a lot of buzz lately criticizing TopSEOs, a business which purports to rate Search Engine Optimization experts, though ratings are influenced by payments. Both Aaron Wall and Edward Lewis skewered the service with pretty convincing points.
The rating service and talk about it reminded me that I actually did a sort of rating via a blog post here back in 2007 entitled “Some Top In-House SEOs“. In that post I sought to list out the cream-of-the-crop of search engine optimization experts working within major companies.
The main difficulty of attempting to rate SEOs is that it’s quite hard to know precisely what they’ve recommended or done to optimize a company’s websites. For instance, you could be an absolute genius at SEO, but if the company is lethargic or incompetent programmers oversee their sites, none of the SEO expert’s talent might be reflected in the actual site. That’s an extreme example, and in most cases some degree of the expert’s recommendations will be properly implemented. But the point is that site configuration may not really be used to reflect an expert’s actual ability, particularly if compared with other colleagues.
Back when I wrote “Some Top In-House SEOs”, I wasn’t really prepared for the large amount of attention it received. I was immediately pressured by a lot of people who wanted to be added to the list, but didn’t meet the criteria I was using. Quite a few people asked me to update the list over time as well, and I quickly saw that it would be necessary if this was done ongoing to be open about the rating criteria I was using — else people would question why so-and-so was listed while so-and-so was not.
The criteria I used back then was very basic. I wanted to list only people who were employees of top companies that performed organic search optimization of one sort or another for those company’s websites. I wanted companies which were readily-identifiable by a majority of people in the U.S., so they had to be MAJOR brand names: top-50 websites, Fortune 500 companies, and Internet Retailer 500 companies. Finally, I had to be able to find/identify the SEOs who worked for those companies, which usually meant that they’d have to self-disclose what they did (many SEOs operated somewhat anonymously behind corporate walls). So, the SEO needed to blog or speak at conferences, and disclose who they worked for. In one or two cases, I discovered individual’s names through news interviews or press releases. I also mined the list of top-linked SEOs from LinkedIn (apparently no longer in operation? formerly: http://www.linkedseo.com/).
I made a number of mistakes, of course. I didn’t feel I had time to write to and receive confirmation from each person. In some cases I just “outed” people from behind the corporate curtain for the first time!
For the most part, people loved the attention and recognition! I felt a bit stressed from those who clamored to get in, and I pretty much stated that I wouldn’t add any until I updated a year down the road. In quite a lot of cases, I think that headhunters mined the list in order to lure people away to other companies, so many benefited from the exposure.
Here it is, about three years after the fact, and I thought it’d be interesting to see where are they all now? So, here’s the list once again, with individual’s former companies listed from back then, and who they work for now. Nothing scientific – I merely base this on what their LinkedIn resume or website states. It’s been neat for me to revisit this list! So many of these folks became friends and close acquaintances since I wrote this up! It’s also fascinating to see how many of them have moved on to advanced titles and to owning their own companies.
Some Top In-House SEOs – Where They Are Now:
Then: Director Product/Business Intelligence at Yahoo! Inc.
Now: Founder, CTO, VP Engineering. at Cloudera, Inc.
Then: Regional SEO Manager at Yahoo
Now: Regional SEO Manager at Yahoo
Then: SEO Manager at LendingTree.com
Now: VP – Digital Marketing at Bank of America
Then: Director of SEO for Business.com
Now: Principal at SEMinhouse.com SEO Consulting
Then: Search Marketing Manager at HP
Now: Vice President at Edelman Digital
Then: Director of Search Marketing for Advertising.com
Now: Director of Digital Sales Baltimore-Washington at Radio One, Co-Founder at Local Roll Call
Then: Search Marketing Manager (EMEA) at Hewlett-Packard
Now: Website Marketing Manager at Snapfish
Then: Search Marketing Manager at Imaging & Printing Group – HP
Now: Senior Account Executive at MySpace
Then: Search Marketing Lead at Marchex
Now: AVP of Business Development at PT Kreatip Komunikacitra
Then: Strategic Alliances & Search Marketing at Lexis Nexis
Now: Director, Global Brand Marketing at LexisNexis
Then: SEO/SEM Manager for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online
Now: Search Engine Marketing Director at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online
Then: Associate Manager, Search Engine Marketing at Shopzilla.com
Now: Senior Director, Traffic Operations at Shopzilla.com
Then: Search Marketing Specialist at Time Inc Interactive
Now: Associate Director Audience Development- Search Marketing Specialist @ Time Inc
John Ellis :
Then: Online Marketing Manager, Search for ResortQuest / Gaylord Entertainment
Now: Independent Search Engine Marketing Consultant (SEO & PPC)
Then: SEO Manager at Monster.com
Now: SEO Manager at Monster.com
Then: Manager, Search Marketing at Sports Direct Inc.
Now: Senior Program Manager of SEO at Microsoft
Then: Search Marketing Manager at The Weather Channel Interactive
Now: Search Marketing Manager at The Weather Channel Interactive
Then: Director, Search Engine Marketing at Shopzilla.com
Now: Search expert w/ international experience, currently exploring Brazilian Internet market
Then: Search Engine Marketing Media Manager at CNET Networks
Now: Sales Engineer at Microsoft
Then: SEO/SEM Manager at Citysearch
Now: SEO & SEM Director, Citysearch
Then: Manager of SEO Strategy at iVillage, Inc.
Now: Head of Search Engine Optimisation (UK) at Razorfish
Then: SEO and Sr. Project Manger – Marketing at Kaplan University
Now: Manager, Marketing Analytics & Strategy at Sapient
Then: Chief Marketing Officer at E-Loan
Now: VP, Worldwide eCommerce Marketing at Symantec
Then: Director Online Marketing at Expert Realty
Now: VP Search Marketing at BodyLogicMD
Then: SEO Architect at LendingTree.com
Now: AVP Interactive Product Development at Interval International – IAC
Then: Sr. Online Marketing Specialist at Symantec Corporation.
Now: Web Consultant
Then: SEO for Yahoo!
Now: Online Visibility (Social Media & Search/SEO) Consultant
Then: Search Marketing Manager at JCPenney.com
Now: Account Director at Camelot Communications
Then: VP of Traffic Generation and SEM / SEO for Fox Interactive Medi
Now: VP of Online Marketing at Salesforce.com
Then: Director of SEO at LocalLaunch
Now: Founder at Intuitive Investments
Then: SEO for Marchex
Now: Self-employed Marketing Consultant
Then: Manager, Search Engine Marketing at Findlaw
Now: Director, Online Bar Review at Micromash
Then: Director, SEO/SEM at AOL
Now: SVP, Search Marketing Strategy at Digitas
Then: Distinguished Engineer / Product Manager of IBM’s OmniFind Search Product
Now: Chief Strategist at Converseon
Then: SEO Strategist at Shopzilla
Now: SEO Strategist at Shopzilla
Then: SEO for HP
Now: VP Marketing at Outright
Then: SEM/SEO Manager at Intuit
Now: Consultant, Customer Acquisition & Retention at AboutAirportParking.com
Then: Manager Search Engine Marketing at E W Scripps
Now: Manager Search Engine Marketing at E W Scripps
Then: SEO Producer, Cars.com
Now: SEO Director at Turner Broadcasting
Then: SEO/PPC Manager for eHarmony
Now: Cofounder at Convertro
Then: Search Marketing Manager at LendingTree, LLC
Now: Director, Search Marketing at LendingTree, LLC
Then: Web Communications Manager at USinternetworking, an AT&T company
Now: Senior Project Manager, Go Forward Media
Antonella Pisani Vernier:
Then: Director of Search Engine Marketing & Optimization at ProFlowers
Now: VP, Acquisition Marketing at Provide Commerce (ProFlowers / RedEnvelope)
Then: International Program Manager – Mobile & Devices at Adobe, Inc.
Now: Web Project and Globalization Manager & Int’l SEO/SEM at a Silicon Valley Company
Then: Manager, Search Marketing at Barnes & Noble .com
Now: Director of Marketing at [x+1]
Then: Sr. Search Media Analyst at Microsoft
Now: Product Manager – Analytic Services at Microsoft
Then: Global Director of SEO for Shopping.com
Now: Partner at Boost Search Marketing
Marshall D. Simmonds:
Then: Chief Search Strategist for New York Times
Now: Chief Search Strategist for New York Times
Then: Director SEO (Search Engine Optimization) at Edmunds.com
Now: Executive Director of Search Engine Optimization & User Insight at Edmunds.com
Chris Silver Smith: (Huh! I listed myself in this list! Narcissistic much?!?) 🙂
Then: Head of the Technology & Development Department, Idearc Superpages.com
Now: Director of Optimization Strategies, KeyRelevance
Then: SEO Manager at Classmates.com
Now: VP of Interactive Marketing at Obvio.us
Then: Senior Manager, SEO at MTV Networks
Now: Director, Digital Marketing at MTV Networks
Then: Search Marketing Consultant at FindLaw
Now: Regional Digital Director at OgilvyOne Worldwide/Soho Square
Then: Affiliate and Search Marketing Manager at PETCO
Now: Director, Marketing at SurfStitch
Mike Banks Valentine:
Then: Senior SEO Manager at Fox Interactive Media
Now: Director of SEO at Demand Media
Then: Team Lead, Search Marketing at FindLaw
Now: Online Marketing/Strategy at Plaudit Design
Then: Search Engine Marketing & Optimization, Web Marketing Hewlett-Packard (HP)
Now: VP Internet Marketing at Bodybuilding.com
Then: Senior Marketing Analyst at Washington Mutual
Now: Senior Marketing Analyst – Washington Mutual
Then: Online Marketing Manager at Network Solutions
Now: Online Marketing – PRWeb at Vocus
Then: SEM Manager at FXCM (Forex Capital Markets)
Now: CEO Kangamurra Media
Then: Search Marketing Strategist at Microsoft
Now: Manager – ASG Search at Microsoft
Then: Director, Marketing and Strategy at IBM
Now: Vice President, Global Solutions Marketing at Ricoh IBM InfoPrint Solutions
If I’ve made some error as of the date of this blog post, or if you don’t wish me to list your name, feel free to contact me.
* See also my commentary about this post and rating methods at my personal blog: “Top In-House SEOs Reprised“.
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