44 Creative and Innovative Link Building Experts and Their Strategies

Update: This post was originally published last Sept 3, 2011, which was entitled “26 creative and innovative link building experts and their strategies”. A lot of changes have happened in the link building scene these past several months, which made me decide to update this big list of resources. 

With the constant advancements that occur on various search engines’ algorithms, it is certain that the search and link game will be harder in the days/months/years to come compared to what it was like a decade ago.

Search users’ behaviors tend to grow and change as these developments arise and being employed by search engines, which makes the online marketing space more competitive, especially when it comes to link building.

Many say that link building is tough, well, yes, it is, seeing that the search industry is still in its youth stage and still has immense potentials of growing.

There are also a good percentage of companies all over the world that are still in the juncture of realizing the importance of building a strong web presence for their brands. If this other piece of the pie starts to get involved in the online marketing game, then that might just inundate the web with more sites hungry for links, which clearly means a birth for more spammy linking tactics or a new dawn for more innovative strategies.

Nowadays, in order to be efficient and to truly attain great results from your link building campaigns, you may have to fully require creativity in your strategies for reasons such as:

  • Search algorithms continuously change in order to keep up with their users’ needs.
  • Competition – on any industry – keeps on growing by the day.
  • Web users are getting smarter.

The rules in link building may frequently change, but its essence as an aspect of web marketing will always remain vital, whether it integrate itself to other new developments (like social signals), as it is the most uncomplicated way for search engines to determine websites’ authentic popularity and authority.

Having that said, I decided to list some of the most creative and innovative link builders in the industry that I know, including their works that somehow influenced my views as an SEO, and perhaps to serve as an inspiration in developing your own link building strategies.

Rand Fishkin1. Rand Fishkin, Founder and CEO of SEOmoz“white hat SEO evangelist and the face of modern Search”

5. Eric Ward, Link Evangelist at Adgooroo“link building wizard”
Wiep Knol6. Wiep Knol, Founder of Gila Media“creative link marketing expert from the Netherlands”

Tom Critchlow7. Tom Critchlow, Former VP of Operations at Distilled (now works for Google) – “the face of Search’s next generation”

Michael Gray
8. Michael Gray, President of Atlas Web Service and author of Wolf-howl“legendary link ninja”
Todd Malicoat9. Todd Malicoat, author of Stuntdubl“one of the pioneers of link baiting”
Garrett French10. Garrett French, Founder of Citations Lab“content-based link building expert”
Rae Hoffman-Dolan11. Rae Hoffman-Dolan, CEO and Managing Director of MFE Interactive“the link interrogator”
Ross Hudgens12. Ross Hudgens, author of Authentic Marketing“thought-leader on scalable link building”
Napoleon Suarez13. Napoleon Suarez, SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive“out-of-the-box link building specialist”
Ryan Clark14. Ryan Clark, CEO of Linkbuildr“ingenious link development strategies straight from Canada”

Melanie Nathan15. Melanie Nathan, President of CanadianSEO – “link building extraordinaire”

Hugo Guzman16. Hugo Guzman, VP at Zeta Interactive and author of Enterprise Interactive Marketing“corporate-level link building expert”
Justin Briggs17. Justin Briggs, SEO Consultant – “the link building scholar”
John Doherty18. John Doherty, Director of Distilled NY – “the fastest rising pundit on the Search sphere”
Debra Mastaler19. Debra Mastaler, author of Link Spiel“the link guru”
Dan Cristo20. Dan Cristo, Co-founder of Triberr“the serial web entrepreneur and developer”
Tad Chef21. Tadeusz Szewczyk, SEO blogger at SEOptimise and author of SEO 2.0 at Onreact“Global SEO player from Germany”
Kristi Hines22. Kristi Hines, author of Kikolani“leading media curator in the industry”
23. Jennifer Van Iderstyne, Online Marketing Director at Search Slingshot“the link building artist”
Wayne Barker24. Wayne Barker, Online Marketing Consultant at Boom Online – “the link specialist from Nottingham”
Julie Joyce25. Julie Joyce, owner of Link Fish Media“the link specialist”
26. Michael King, Director of Search at iAcquire – “advanced inbound marketing strategist”
richard baxter27. Richard Baxter, CEO at SEOGadget“the link gadget”
jon cooper28. Jon Cooper, Author of Point Blank SEO“the link building prodigy
paddy moogan29. Paddy Moogan, SEO Consultant at Distilled and Author of the Link Building Book“the link wizard”
d7ac2fd6d788d54f55f94f2650fd838d30. John-Henry Scherck, SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive – “the link mechanic”
d4f22u1a2235x2t0l73432. James Agate, Founder of Skyrocket SEO“the guest blogging genius”
de89d42d1f5abc2c1d4dd05c55a1128133. Kane Jamison, Founder of Content Harmony“the data-driven content strategist”
mypic34. Stephanie Chang, SEO Consultant at Distilled – “the link building teacher”
Back Camera35. Ed Fry, General Manager of“the link baiting prodigy”
cyrus shepard36. Cyrus Shepard, SEO and Content Marketing Consultant for SEOmoz – “the content astronaut”
1675b74ff21652c29edde2c7e82f0a3937. Peter Attia, SEO Consultant at Cucumber Nebula – “Any color of hat link building expert”
anthony pensabene38. Anthony Pensabene, Content and SEO Consultant at Skyrocket SEO – “one of the best writers in the industry” 
bill-slawski-1039. Bill Slawski, Author of SEO by the Sea“the link scientist”
michael martinez40. Michael Martinez, Author of SEO Theory“the link theorist”
chris dyson41. Chris Dyson, Author of Triple SEO – “the link MacGyver”
chris gilchrist42. Chris Gilchrist, MD and Founder of Hitreach“wordpress SEO expert from Dundee”
tim grice43. Tim Grice, Head of Search at Branded3“the link wizz”

Some of my Link Building Posts

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Image Credit: Justmathing

30 SEO Experts Share the Most Compelling Content that Influenced Their Works

CompellingThe Internet still stands as the greatest invention of mankind, thus far, in my opinion. Since its creation, the Internet has made almost everything in reach, whether it’s through trading, communication, entertainment and most extensively with information, wherein any sort of information were made very accessible to people, worldwide, over the web.

This concept of the web allowed many of us to build professions out of it, which have evidently caused for more human ideologies to transcend its usual capacity, making this generation much wiser (judging from how most users make use of the web’s potentials these days).

Speaking of professions, I believe that Search is one of the most challenging fields in the Internet industry, as this field’s competitiveness in nature extremely necessitates knowledge, experience and persistence in execution to succeed. Another reason why the Search is very challenging is that it will continuously encompass other relevant sectors of online marketing to be aligned with it such as social media, mobile, conversion rate optimization, content development and other modes of inbound marketing along the process of its evolution.

With the way how this industry constantly progress, the more it appears to be a mere battle of marketing perceptions, in which practitioners will have to create their own guiding principles around it based on their own understanding acquired from experience and accumulated information – because that’s practically how an expert is created in this industry.

The Question

So if ever you’re wondering of what kind of content do make the most impact to experts, which might also be helpful in better understanding how this industry works, I asked some of the most seasoned experts and thought-leaders in the Search industry to share the most compelling content they have read or created that influenced their work as an SEO.

Tom Critchlow

Tom CritchlowTom Critchlow is the VP of Operations for Distilled NYC. He leads some of the best SEO consultants in the world – working at Distilled, have managed SEO for local to Fortune 500 brands, and have presented at some of the biggest conferences in the industry. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tomcritchlow.

Tom shares:

Here’s a few pieces that have inspired me recently:

As you can see, both Rand and Will influence me greatly. A good rule of thumb is to find people you look up to and spend as much time with them as possible. For SEO content, this piece from Rand recently really struck a chord: White Hat SEO – It F@$#ing Works

Ross Hudgens

Ross HudgensRoss Hudgens is the SEO Manager at Full Beaker, Inc. He specializes in developing scalable link building strategies and he has shared some of the most ethical and remarkable views on Search through Authentic Marketing. Follow Ross on Twitter @RossHudgens.

Ross shares:

Bill Slawski’s Reasonable Surfer Model post is the one that most sticks out in my mind for having changed the way I did SEO. Before, a link would be a link. After, where I placed the link dramatically changed, as I modified my reasoning to the browsing habits of the imagined “reasonable surfer” – that is, ideally, high in the main body content – as that would be how I would maximize the value of my placed link. Few things have changed the methodology – and improved my link building results – quite like Slawski’s post did.

Hugo Guzman

Hugo GuzmanHugo Guzman is the Vice President of SEO and Social Media at Zeta Interactive. He has been in the industry for nearly a decade and have tons of experience in managing large scale campaigns, from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Follow Hugo on Twitter @hugoguzman.

Hugo shares:

It’s hard to pick just one article, but if I had to, I would pick the original Stanford paper that formed the basis of what we now know as Google: The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.

Though there have a been a lot of changes to Google over the years, there are some core concepts presented in this paper that are essentially timeless (e.g. the value of citation in categorizing and rank web documents). But perhaps more importantly, I think that the key for me is to not focus on any one article or source of industry or business information. Instead, I rely on a steady stream of great articles that are delivered to me by a combination of sources like my Twitter (and Google+) stream, my RSS reader and great industry content curator hubs like Sphinn.

Oli Gardner

Oli GardnerOli Gardner is the Co-Founder and Director of Marketing at Unbounce. He usually writes about conversion centered design, landing page optimization and social media marketing. You can follow Oli on Twitter @oligardner.

Oli shares:

I would have to be selfish and go with an article I created myself. “TheNoobGuidetoOnlineMarketing” was definitely the biggest piece of work I’ve written to date. It started innocently enough – and then with one reckless email to Rand Fishkin promising something “epic” for the SEOmoz blog – I’d suddenly engaged my obsessive-compulsive nature and the need to produce something that would hopefully become historic, or viral (#shudder) in some way.

So how did it influence my work? Well, instead of spending a couple of days writing a guest post, I spent the better part of three months (evenings, weekends, and some normal work time) designing a 15 million pixel infographic and writing 14,000 words, to create a 6-month Internet marketing plan. I wanted it to help and inspire people, but also to provide visual evidence that online marketing is a massive and multi-disciplinary endeavour with multiple channels and challenges. Rand even graciously offered the idea that I not give it away, and use it for the Unbounce blog instead, so that I could benefit from the expected link juice. But a deal’s a deal, and I also knew that it would have much wider reach (and the most engaged online community – seriously, they rule pretty hard) if I kept it as a moz guest post.

I did end up putting the fullsizeinfographic on our own site to give it a home – also realizing that it was likely to need updating over time.

Having people send photos of a 5ft poster of the graphic hanging on their office walls was amazing, and definitely the moment it felt like a success. It’s since been translated into about 7 languages and continues to spread to new people every day. It’s also created online relationships that have manifested into real friendships in person – and that’s better than awesome.

Perceptions as an SEO? I’ve really only engaged in SEM (Marketing rather than Optimization) by creating great content and hoping it meant enough to people to create inbound traffic and links. What I will say is that this approach (giving, with the hope of getting) has opened many doors that would have otherwise been closed – or at least very hard to open.

It’s taught me a top-down approach to content creation, where you can recycle and branch off small parts of a big piece of content – creating new blog posts and eBooks that keep the small ideas growing (and enabling progressive interlinking along the way).

Biggest lesson? Always tell people what you plan on doing. Self-imagined peer pressure is an amazing motivator. It literally changed my life 15 years ago when I told people I was going to go live in Canada and be a wildlife photographer. And it changed my career when I over-promised AND over-delivered on that little guest post…

Cyrus Shepard

Cyrus ShepardCyrus Shepard works as an SEO Strategist for SEOmoz. His work at SEOmoz is focused on developing strategies for link building, content creation, on-site optimization as well as SEO outreach. You can follow Cyrus on Twitter @CyrusShepard.

Cyrus shares:

Before I started working for SEOMoz as the In-house SEO and Web Strategist, I worked from home for a few small clients. The article that changed my worldview of SEO, the one that literally knocked my socks off, was Rand Fishkin’s All Links are Not Created Equal: 10 Illustrations on Search Engines’ Valuation of Links.  I read every word three times, printed it out and posted it on my wall (it took 7 pages.)

What made this article such a revelation for me was that it showed me the science behind so many aspects of Google’s Algorithm that I knew to be true, but couldn’t quite place my finger on. Those that have labored in search a long time often have a “gut feeling” about what works and doesn’t, but often it’s hard to quantify or otherwise define these instincts. On one hand, Google’s algorithm has become complex to the point that we can never fully define it. On the other hand, articles like this one do a great job of pointing out a general truth of search ranking factors that make practical sense.

Looking back at this article today, it’s still relevant. I also see some gems in there that webmasters often overlook. Today we have a better understanding of link models. I’m researching this topic myself instead of just reading about it. Now I work for Rand Fishkin and do SEO for SEOmoz. Yep, that was a good article.

Dan Cristo

Dan CristoDan Cristo is the Founder of Triberr and also the Director of SEO at Catalyst Online. Dan has been performing SEO since 2002, have managed and optimized some of the biggest brands on the web, and developed web-based businesses as an entrepreneur. You can follow Dan on Twitter @dancristo.

Dan shares:

I ran across an article today on Search Marketing Wisdom: Why I Joined Click2Rank

The article is written by Alan Bleiweiss. He talks about how Click2rank appeared like a profitable company, but internally it was anything but that. He also tells about his personal journey, how he “woke up, found God and got his career on track”. It really spoke to me on many levels.

Zarko Zivkovic

Zarko ZivkovicZarko Zivkovic is the CEO and Founder of Practical SEO and he also works as an Advanced SEO Consultant at DejanSEO. Being considered as one of the most recognized emerging influential SEOs in the industry, Zarko specializes on both on and off site ethical optimization. You can follow Zarko on Twitter @ZarkoCompare.

Zarko shares:

Ok, so I’ve skipped the books I loved on SEO, like How to become a clockwork pirate and Ontolo Link Building, there are a few pieces of content I love and that I went back to a few times to check something. One I would recommend to anyone, a beginner or an advanced SEO is The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (With Giant Infographic) by Oli Gardner.

This is rather new, but Oli made this one count, an older one of his I also love and is a great resource for landing pages: The 12-Step Landing Page Rehab Program (Infographic)

And also a new one that I stand by and think is definitely something to take in mind for anyone that intends to stay visible in the future is The Future of Great Links by Rand Fishkin.

Ann Smarty

Ann SmartyAnn Smarty is an SEO Consultant who’s best known for the term guest blogging. She is an editor and a contributing writer at Search Engine Journal and owns MyBlogGuest. You can follow Ann on Twitter @seosmarty.

Ann shares:

Using Negative Thinking to Plan for the Worst in Online Marketing by Julie Joyce – I am not a pessimist but I am guilty of negative thinking. The way Julie put it really appeals to me. Listing out “if then” statements for both successes AND failures can help you more quickly respond and recover. If a new technique works brilliantly on a few pages, by all means, roll it out to more.

Do You Have to be a Kiss-Ass to Succeed in Social Media? by Jennifer Mattern – This one should be read by EVERYONE who plans to engage in social media marketing. You can succeed without “constantly raving about, linking to, or promoting someone in the hopes that they’ll eventually notice poor little you and honor you with their virtual presence”… Instead, figure out what you have to offer and what might set you apart. Then your success with social media is to no one’s credit but your own, and you can build deserved attention rather than practically begging for it.

How One Guest Post Made a Difference by myself – This one actually describes how guest blogging can change your life and career. That’s how it happened to me and I hope the article will change someone’s life as well.

Matt Sawyer

Matt SawyerMatt Sawyer is the Head of SEO and Digital Marketing at Datadial, a London Digital Web Agency. He is one of the most influential SEOs in the UK and has successfully managed campaigns for small startups to international brands. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattuk.

Matt shares:

I’d actually like to choose 3 posts if that’s okay, although none are mine and one is a 2-parter, so I don’t think I’m cheating (too much).

The first is a 2 part post by Rishi Lakhani over on SEOMoz:

As any SEO will know link building is probably the hardest part of the job, and link building for small business is the hardest part of all. We all wish that all of our clients were big brands that attracted links in huge numbers, but most of us aren’t that lucky!

The post goes into real detail and has some great practical ideas for link building for small business.

The second post is over at Smart Insights by Dan Barker – Using Google Analytics to Audit and Improve SEO

Again, reporting and forecasting to any degree of accuracy in SEO is always tricky, every news clients wants to get some idea of the kind of uplift that they’re going to see from improvements in their keyword rankings, and you as an SEO need to know which keywords are going to be most effectively targeted first.

The post outlines and includes a Gap Analysis report template, we create these reports at the start of each campaign, you can use them for link building strategy and you can even refine them to include sales data so you can factor in revenue uplift.

Stoney deGeyter

Stoney deGeyterStoney deGeyter is the President/CEO of Pole Position Marketing. He is one of the most respected people in this industry, with years of experience in website usability, architecture and SEO management, and also a speaker at some of the most prestige conferences in the industry. You can follow Stoney on Twitter @StoneyD.

Stoney shares:

When I started compiling the Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period, it hit me that this SEO and web marketing stuff is pretty vast. This is all stuff my company has been doing for years, but organizing and putting it all in one place was a real eye-opener. This checklist has become one of our first sources for reviewing a website, and something we refer back to frequently. It’s easy to forget small, yet important issues, and having this on hand has been valuable for my team.

Hamlet Batista

Hamlet BatistaHamlet Batista is the Chief Search Strategist on Duplicate Content at Altruik. He is a world-renowned and deeply respected SEO strategist and thinker who has trained and provided technical advice to some of the top minds in the search marketing industry. You can follow Hamlet on Twitter @hamletbatista.

Hamlet shares:

I can say that “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine” written by Google founders when they were still in school, was the defining piece of my SEO career.

It can be hard to decipher complex patents and research papers, but the additional insights you get can always give you the competitive edge. Just make sure you don’t obsess with the details and try to keep looking at the bigger picture (what search engines are trying to achieve) and work as a search engineer yourself by experimenting with new ideas, and listening to the data.

Debra Mastaler

Debra MastalerDebra Mastaler is a Link Building Training and Promotions Consultant at Alliance-Link. She’s also the author of the Link Spiel blog and a columnist at Search Engine Land. You can Follow Debra on Twitter @debramastaler.

Debra shares:

Honestly? I can’t think of a single article that’s influenced me when it comes to SEO, but I can think of three sources I can’t do without when it comes to education, information and opinion:

Education: Bill Slawski’s SEOByTheSea has helped me understand the ins and outs of SEO more than any blog or website out there. Bill’s common-sense approach and clean writing style is well suited for a non-technical person like me; he has a wonderful way of breaking down complex issues and making them easy to understand. I’m grateful he takes the time to share what he discovers.

Information:  Search Engine Land is to me professionally what the Washington Post is to me personally – a news source for what’s happening in my world. If I want to know about the latest update or understand why something is happening, I’ll find it on SEL. It’s a daily read.

Opinion: Anyone who thinks “you cannot antagonize and influence at the same time” hasn’t read Aaron Wall’s blog at SEOBook. I don’t always agree with Aaron or his methodology but I look forward to his posts because he makes me think. I want to see and hear different sides and opinions, doing so helps stretch my thought process and become better at what I do.

Neil Patel

Neil PatelNeil Patel is the Co-Founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. Before he became as one of the most successful entrepreneurs on the web, Neil first started as an Internet Marketing Consultant for his own company. You can follow Neil on Twitter @neilpatel.

Neil shares:

One of the most remarkable articles is the Beginner’s Guide to SEO by SEOmoz.

The reason I love that article is that it has made teaching people about SEO a lot easier. For example when someone comes to me and asks how to get started in the world of SEO, that is the first article that I make them read. It seems to work well as most of the people I point to the article have made a career out of SEO.

Napoleon Suarez

Napoleon SuarezNapoleon Suarez is an SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive. He specializes in developing out-of-the-box link building strategies. Follow him on Twitter @napoleonsuarez.

Napoleon shares:

The post that influenced me the most was this one by Melanie Nathan – The Reciprocity Building Method. It birthed my broken link building idea that many people have said was my best one.

Danny Dover

Danny DoverDanny Dover is the Senior SEO Manager at AT&T and the former Lead SEO at SEOmoz. He also authored the best selling book “Search Engine Optimization Secrets“. You can follow Danny on Twitter @DannyDover.

Danny shares:

By far, I think the most useful SEO article is The Beginner’s Guide To SEO by SEOmoz. That guide answers 90% of the questions that new SEOs tend to ask. When I first started to learn SEO, an early version of this guide inspired my first lightbulb moment. Since then, I think the guide has only gotten better and more useful.

From a pure theory and interest perspective, I recommend Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question. It isn’t about search engines exactly (or maybe it is?) but it does provide an interesting take on the bigger picture of what exactly SEOs and search engineers are working on.

Ryan Clark

Ryan ClarkRyan Clark is the Founder and CEO of Linkbuildr Inbound Marketing Agency. He has more than a decade of experience in SEO and his team provide effective branding through online relationships, social media and high quality link building. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @linkbuildr.

Ryan shares:

While you mentioned the option for a plural response, there is one link that I always share with anyone and everyone who’s concerned about link building. That link is – 215 Link Building Articles, Blog Posts and Columns from Eric Ward. While I hate to sound like a kiss ass, Eric’s work over the years has influenced how I conduct my link building efforts and it has paid off big. How could you not when the man goes by the nickname of “The Link Moses” and quite possibly coined the term Link Whore, lol!

Why? When I started out 12 years ago making websites, my linking process was definitely in the grey/black area of things and it paid off big time. My start was with a network of niche travel sites, and once the money started rolling in I didn’t care how I bought links. After selling that network off, I started a new venture around 2002 which was my first big lesson in getting stung by Google’s algorithm. If I didn’t have that nest egg from my previous sale, I don’t think I would have stuck around to start off a consulting firm.

After that big sting, I had really took an interest in offering something not a whole lot of other companies did…getting links through hard an honest means. Creating wicked awesome content that is targeted to bring in certain types of links is fun and most of all rewarding, and it is what you have to do to survive longer than one algorithm update! While it’s a slower process, it definitely is something big brands are looking for when it comes to attracting links.

Eric has been paving the way for years when it comes to the natural process of acquiring a link. So bottom line, what is Eric’s advice in a nutshell, or at least what I perceive it to be? Building relationships on and offline will lead to the most natural, powerful and useful links you’re ever going to need and get. Not only will your rankings go up, you won’t have to only rely on Google traffic because you will have built a following of your own. That’s something that will last and allow you to sleep better at night!

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa GabbertElisa Gabbert is the senior marketing copywriter at WordStream, where she manages their Internet marketing blog. WordStream providesPPC management software, PPC services and a Keyword Research Suite. Elisa also writes poetry, book reviews, and perfume criticism. You can follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.

Elisa shares:

I’ve written about my all-time favorite search marketing articles before on the WordStream blog. I’ll just highlight one of them here: “The New York Times Algorithm & Why It Needs Government Regulation” by Danny Sullivan. There are two things I love about this piece:

1) It’s a satire, which is so refreshing and funny; most of the time, complaints in the search marketing blogosphere come in the form of straight-up rants.

2) It’s a great reminder that Google is a public company trying to make a profit; they want to make their users happy, but ultimately this is self-serving.

The upshot is, it’s a waste of time to sit around complaining that Google has too much power. If you want to profit off their system (by ranking in the SERPs), then you have to play the game.

Mark Thompson

Mark ThompsonMark is the creator of StayOnSearch and has been a full-time Internet Marketer for over 5 years.  During his 5 years as an IM, he has worked for 2 Internet Marketing companies, where he has managed hundreds of marketing campaigns that range from SEO, PPC, Social Media, E-mail Marketing, and Affiliate Marketing. You can follow Mark on Twitter @m_thompson.

Mark shares:

Outstanding content creation is the foundation for excellent organic SEO growth and I’ll prove it.  Last year, I wrote a post “100 Marketers You MUST Follow on Twitter“, was a collection of some of the most influential and active marketers on Twitter.  I could have simply just added their name to a long list and link to their Twitter handle, however I took it a step further and wrote an original comment about each person.

This took me over 4 hours to do, but in the long run it positioned my post as an authority and was a great piece of link bait.  Now the post has over 500 retweets, almost 200 FB shares, and almost 500 stumbles.  It just goes to show you how high-quality, original content can really have a significant impact on your SEO and overall authority.

Ruud Hein

Ruud HeinRuud Hein is an experienced SEO. He’s employed with Canada’s largest SEO company Search Engine People, where he works on large-scale audits besides being the blog editor. His recent theories include a predictive model on How Google Plus One Works For Ranking. You can follow Ruud on Twitter @RuudHein.

Ruud shares:

Ammon Johns, one of the most respected SEO’s and a brilliant thinker, came up with and documented The 3 Page Optimization Technique. That was in a time when there was no single dominant search engine while each of the major ones had quite different algorithms.

It’s one of the best SEO articles to read because it teaches you a whole different way of looking at SEO. Instead of being put in a box (“I have to optimize this page”), Ammon doesn’t just think out of the box; he builds his whole new own box.

His way of looking at SEO as an integral, indistinguishable part of content changed and colored my perception of SEO. To give another example, when people would state how something is more difficult to rank because of the number of results, Ammon would state:

  • a) No matter how large the competition, you’re always competing with just 10 sites – the ones on page 1, and
  • b) Ranking is meaningless … it’s all about the dollar.”

Not long after I saw Dr. E. Garcia’s writings like the Keyword Density of Non-Sense and his LSI tutorials.  I’m no math wizard and by puzzling together the math references in the technical documentation I started to see this beautiful world of information; a universe with multiple dimensions in which documents and terms are placed, are neighbors or not, overlap or not.

His writings opened the world of information retrieval to me, showing me that almost anything and everything about search is well documented and right out there, written for all to see and read. The ONLY parts hidden from our view are the exact weighing values search engines assign.

Writing the How Search Really Works series helped me consolidate my understanding of search by putting everything down in a streamlined fashion. It helped me understand search was moving to a balanced model of No Single Point Of Truth in which no one element — no H1, no <title>, no <a href> — determines ranking.

There’s a lot to read out there. From statements made by people within companies, giving away the directions these companies want to move in, to research papers telling you quite exactly what they can know how; the truth is out there 🙂

Kieran Flanagan

Kieran FlanaganKieran Flanagan is the European Search Manager at Salesforce. He specializes in SEO, PPC, web analytics and conversion rate optimization. You can follow Kieran on Twitter @searchbrat.

Kieran shares:

One of the most important aspects of working online as an SEO is to figure out what content to read and how much of it. The most common mistake I see new SEO consultants make is consuming too much information and not implementing enough.

If you take the pareto principle (80 – 20 rule), it should be applied to how you consume content. 80% of your time should be spent implementing with 20% of it spent learning and consuming. If you adopt this process, you better make sure that 20% is good, so always look for actionable content.

The big fluffy guides that make a lot of noise in the SEO world are often written for promotional reasons and the SEO behind them haven’t implemented 90% of what they contain. They just sound good.

With that being said, I rarely bookmark SEO articles these days and refer back. I might of done in my earlier days but I have since changed laptops 3 times. The following are 3 articles that have influenced both me and my work habits over the past couple of years.

1) The Link Builder’s Guide to Analyzing SERP Dominators for Link Opportunities by Garrett French

This is one of the best articles online in terms of how you should look at your competitive landscape. The beauty of this article is it can be used in so many different ways. When starting any market, this is the first action I take as it can return so much great data.

2) Chris Gardner Wiki Page

I watched the pursuit of happiness when I was having a really difficult year. That story inspired me to better myself and work for the things you want most in life.

3) Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing by Hubspot

These days most of my focus is spent on mastering inbound marketing as a whole, not just SEO. Hubspot are leading the charge of inbound marketing, something I feel most of the best SEO’s will transition towards over the coming years. This article captures the shift that is happening between creating a marketing plan that interrupts users and one that offers mutual benefit, helping your prospects to become better employers or employees.

Joe Hall

Joe HallJoe Hall is the CEO and Founder of 22 Media LLC. He has developed numerous web projects and is also a contributing writer at Search Engine Land, Marketing Pilgrim and Search Engine Journal. You can follow Joe on Twitter @joehall.

Joe shares:

I think one of the best articles I ever read was by Mike Grehan in 2004 called, “Filthy Linking Rich And Getting Richer!“. Mike explains network theory and how it applies to making money and ranking web pages. Its a powerful piece because it shows an interesting intersection with SEO/wealth/social media…..which at the time was way ahead of its time give it was only 2004.

Lisa Barone

Lisa BaroneLisa Barone is the Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media. She’s also the Social Media Editor of SmallBizTrends and a columnist at Search Engine Land. You can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaBarone.

Lisa shares:

There have been a ton of great articles and resources that have shaped me as a marketer over the years. I remember a really fantastic piece about driving and the importance of being in the right lane and forcing others out of your way and whatnot, but, well, I don’t remember where I read it so that’s not what I’m going to share here. 😉 My second choice is Bill Cosby’s Carnegie Mellon University keynote speech from 2007.

As SEOs and marketers, all the tips and tricks posts are great. So are the commentaries and the insights. But I think sometimes what we really need is the permission to go big and to not be afraid of being great. Because when you lose that fear of “being wrong” or “failing”, you take more chances, you experiment more, and you go out and do things. As SEOs, I think we could all stand do more of that – more testing, more thinking outside the box, more seeing what works instead of just reading about it.  As people and brands and businesses, I think we could all stand to do more of that.

It probably sounds cheesy, but the reminder that fear is never an excuse to hide greatness has given me a kick in the pants more times than I care to admit. Because, as Mr. Cosby lectures, you didn’t get here by being nervous. You got here by being great”. How can you NOT be influenced by that?

Garrett French

Garrett FrenchGarrett French is the Founder of Citation Labs, LLC – a content-based link building company. He’s best known as the Co-Founder of Ontolo, and as its in-house link qualification expert. You can follow Garrett on Twitter @GarrettFrench.

Garrett shares:

11 Experts on Link Development Speak Out – Rae Hoffman-Dolan

  • I read, reread, and read this again. I printed it out and underlined it. This piece came at a critical time for me and helped shape my thinking about link building. Also it showed me the power of interviews with groups of experts.

Link Value Factors – Wiep Knol

  • I read and reread this when it first came out to help shape my approach to campaign design.

The Reciprocity Link Building Method – Melanie Nathan

  • This piece formally introduced me to a concept that I’d heard of but hadn’t “gotten.” I read this piece and said – oh, I can do that!

Tool: Yahoo: Site Explorer

  • This tool inspired me deeply. I will miss it terribly when it’s gone.

Tool: SEOBook Link Suggestion Tool

  • This tool got me rolling on thinking well about querying Google for link prospects.

Tadeusz Szewczyk

Tad ChefTadeusz Szewczyk, also known as Tad Chef, is an SEO Consultant and a professional blogger at SEOptimise and CognitiveSEO. He is perhaps the most internationally known SEO in Germany. You can follow Tad on Twitter @onreact_com.

Tad shares:

The perhaps most important article I wrote myself was my guest post on Google Blogoscoped about “SEO without SEO” back in July 2007. It’s still online: 10 Steps to Success on the ‘Net Without SEO. In a way it was a manifesto. Many people mistook it for another “SEO is dead” post but it was far more than that. It was a “SEO 1.0 is dead, long live SEO 2.0” post.

Much of my ensuing success stems directly from this post. Then of course my SEO 2.0 was a proof of concept and it worked.  In 2007 Google Blogoscoped was in the top 40 of the most influential blogs in the world. Also Philipp Lenssen was a German native speaker and inspite of that he was one of the most popular bloggers in the world. I thought, if he can do it, why can’t I? Before that I was only blogging in German and did two guest posts for Blogoscoped to get some links.

Around 2007, I also started reading a lot of self improvement articles. I quickly ventured beyond simple lifehacks. I can’t pinpoint the exact article that made the biggest impact but this one on “Hack Yourself” was certainly among them. It has been offline for a while so I copied it using BO.LT: Hack Yourself.

I’m reading so many blog posts and articles on SEO that naming the single one that mattered most is a daunting task. Nevertheless I’ll try. When I started the SEO 2.0 blog, I wasn’t the first person to have used the term of course. I started out by looking at other people’s definitions. While the one by Lee Odden made most sense the one by StuntDubl has impressed me the most by its spirit.

Paul May

Paul MayPaul May is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders of BuzzStream. He has spent most of the last fifteen years either starting or working on early stage startups.You can follow Paul on Twitter @paulmay.

Paul shares:

Nothing I’ve seen or read has had a bigger impact on me and our business than Eric Reis’ “lean startup” presentation.  It’s not about SEO, but I think most of the lessons apply to it.

Back in early 2010, BuzzStream wasn’t growing as quickly as we wanted to be and I had a general feeling that we just weren’t operating as effectively as we should be.  Out of pure serendipity, I ran across a video about the lean startup idea and it captured many of the things we were doing that were making me uncomfortable.  This video explaining the lean startup concept (and the accompanying presentation) cover it really well…it’s long, but it’s well worth it.

For us, the biggest takeaway from the video has been the idea that the one thing you can do that will have the biggest impact on your chances of success is to minimize the time required for learning in your organization.  When you’re building a new product, there are so many unknowns and usually the only way you can really determine if you’re doing the right thing is by testing it against the harsh reality of your market.  Given this, rather than trying to come up with detailed requirements and then build the perfect feature set, your odds of success are much higher if instead you focus on minimizing the time required to move through the loop of “build-measure-learn.”   It’s a simple concept, but it’s had a huge impact on the way we do business.  Specifically, we solicit much more feedback before developing a feature and we bake measurement into almost everything we do.

The circumstances that make this relevant to product development are also applicable to SEO.  Specifically, the reality is that every SEO project is different and there’s rarely a universal right answer.  For example, if you’re trying to rank for an affiliate site in the gambling space, your link building tactics are likely to be very different than a mid-sized technology company that’s trying to create a new product category.  There are so many unknowns in SEO and it’s easy to want to figure it all out before moving forward with a plan.  In many cases, you’re just better off trying to come up with the “minimum viable solution” first and then testing…and, in the same vein, you’re usually better off focusing much of your initial effort on determining what you’re going to measure than on building the perfect plan.

Wiep Knol

Wiep KnolWiep Knol is the owner of Gila Media and also Co-founded the Dutch Link Building Agency – He is best known as a link marketer from the Netherlands who specializes in developing creative link marketing strategies. You can follow Wiep on Twitter @wiep.

Wiep shares:

I’m not sure if this is something you’re looking for, but two articles that have influenced me a lot were anything but exceptional. Two articles from SearchEngineLand, which were published only one day after each other, both mentioned my personal link building blog.

These links were actually quite buried in a SearchCap (SearchCap the Day in Search – July 5, 2007) and a Search in Pictures (Search in Pictures: Google Bathroom, Yahoo Art, Sulu @ Google Parade) article, but both meant a lot to me. It was only two months after I launched my personal blog, and the fact that SearchEngineLand -THE authority in SEO- linked to my blog (twice!) gave me a big boost in confidence and motivation.

Where a remarkable article or an insightful book can usually make you think different, it’s small signs of recognition and appreciation that can make you act differently – which is even more important. Don’t miss the positive signals that cross your path, and use them to keep you going.

Jeffrey Smith

Jeffrey SmithJeffrey Smith is the Founder of SEO Design Solutions Internet Marketing Company. He has been in the Internet Marketing industry for more than a decade and his company is also well known for its creation of the popular WordPress plugin – SEO Ultimate. You can follow Jeffrey on Twitter @Jeffrey_Smith.

Jeffrey shares:

Here are my picks for others I read:

“Information Retrieval Demi God” – Dr. E Garcia

Some favs from our Blog:

General Stuff

Practical “Hands-On” Tactics & Stuff:


Tools we are working on:

Adam Audette

Adam AudetteAdam is president and chief strategist of leading boutique SEO agency AudetteMedia, where he is responsible for the strategic direction of the company. Adam has been active in the search marketing industry since 1996 and is a highly rated speaker at premier industry events including SMX and SMX Advanced, Searchfest, SES, BlueGlass, MozCon, and Pubcon. You can follow Adam on Twitter @audette.
Adam shares:

  • Ambient Findability: essential reading, takes search and information architecture to the next level.
  • Search Patterns: more essential reading from Peter Morville
  • I would be lost without Search Engine Roundtable. Barry Schwartz gives the search industry all the news we need to know, including lots of esoteric and obscure SEO tidbits.
  • I lean on Bill Slawski’s SEO By The Sea for lots of brilliant patent analysis, especially important because of the takeaways Bill offers.

Tom Demers

Tom DemersTom Demers is a co-founder and managing partner at Measured SEM, a boutique search engine marketing firm offering PPC and SEO services ranging from specific link building services to end to end pay per click advertising services. You can follow him on Twitter @TomDemers.

Tom shares:

As an SEO the most formative things I read were the Beginner’s Guide to SEO and then a series of articles on SEO Book. The beginner’s guide was really foundational in that it was such a thorough, solid introduction to search marketing and was basically the first authoritative thing I read on the subject. It was also impactful in that I read something Rand said about how getting featured in News Week meant less for their business in terms of leads and new business than the Beginner’s Guide – for someone new to SEO this was a pretty eye opening insight into the power of content marketing.

Reading SEO Book had a different impact on me as an SEO as reading some of the longer, more philosophically-oriented posts Aaron writes (like his posts on freetards and media literacy) had a major impact on how I viewed the Web, my understanding and interpretation of Google’s motivations, and my overall approach to SEO and web based businesses in general.

John Doherty

John DohertyJohn Doherty is an SEO Consultant at Distilled in New York. He is also an Entrepreneur, a Traveler and certainly one of the fastest rising stars in the field of Search. You can follow John on Twitter @dohertyjf

John shares:

When I started in SEO, I devoured all of the blog posts, websites, and comment chains that I could. The most formative piece of SEO writing I have read is, of course, SEOmoz’s The Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

The most educational and overwhelming blog post I have read is Oli Gardner’s N00b Guide to Inbound Marketing, published on SEOmoz.

The blog post I learned the most from (among many) is Justin Briggs’ How To Build Links with Infographics.

Again from Justin, his Breaking Down the Mormon SEO Strategy taught me a lot about investigating SEO strategies, chasing down leads, and finding inspiration from others. It’s a textbook on SEO consulting.

Finally, the blog post that inspired me most recently was Rand Fishkin’s WhiteHat SEO – It F&*^ing Works!

And the most entertaining post I have read recently was Dr Pete’s 6 Extreme Canonical Tricks post. Pete has fun with SEO and learns a lot in the process.

Follow up

I will update this post in the coming week(s), as there are other contributors who can’t submit their answers yet. If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed or follow me on Twitter.