Lee Odden

The Fallacy of SEO Celebrity

Lee Odden     Rant, SEO

I am curious if anyone else has noticed a trend over the past year or so where people (I have nobody specific in mind) in the search marketing business seem to increasingly gravitate towards becoming a “SEO celebrity”. It’s a bit like like moths to a flame, really.

A while back, I had a search marketing job candidate answer the, “Where would you like to be in 2-3 years?” question with, “I want to be a famous SEO”. “Why?” I would ask. “Because that’s my goal”. Fair enough, but it’ll be tough to pay the bills with a wallet full of famous.

An amazing number of people seem to think becoming well known in the search marketing business is an end in and of itself. Not seeing the forest for the trees, these folks put vast amounts of time into link bait ridden blogs, networking up and getting addicted to the rush of ego that comes from being recognized. Is it because they misunderstand reputation marketing or are they really thinking being a “SEO celebrity” is a bankable goal?

The reality is, the benefit of getting a brand out there, whether it’s a personal brand or a company brand, is to establish credibility and confidence in abilities to the target market. Becoming known is a stepping stone to achieving other goals like new clients, speaking gigs (especially paid speaking gigs), connections with marketing partners, talented employees and other activities that generate business.

Earning that business, delivering and being successful because of providing value is what earns a reputation. Establishing a well known brand and reputation in an industry is only worthwhile if there’s something to back it up. Otherwise, all that is achieved is a hollow online existence requiring the constant feeding of “notoriety crack”.

I personally network enthusiastically and our blogging team has been known to write a few compelling blog posts from time to time. But there is a reason for it, a goal. It’s not to be well known, it is to open doors for potential clients, employees or marketing partners to do business.

Writing blog posts for the benefit of the industry and getting links from other SEO blogs is fine, but being able to write blog posts that consider the needs and pain points of your target audience and giving enough information to demonstrate your expertise while not completely giving the goods away to competitors is a skill worth developing.

Make no mistake, if a potential SEO client has heard of a SEO consultant or agency from several credible source(s), then it can shorten the sales cycle to next to nothing. It can attract more desirable clients at better market rates. But there is a difference between being “that” guy or gal everybody knows but with little to back up the notoriety – ie clients/income and being the well known person/company that got there by consistently doing great work and attracting a premium client roster.

Maybe it’s really an issue of the “chicken or the egg” coming first. How is a new person/agency going to get clients if no one knows about them? Alternatively, how will anyone know about them unless they have some impressive clients to brag about? If that’s the case, then I say blog on, network like crazy and get some business going.

I’m curious if any readers have noticed the “need to be SEO famous” thing lately? Is it an issue or is it a good thing that gets more good content published and networking going on than otherwise would happen?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he’s the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he’s likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.