Do you remember how you fell in love with SEO?
Those hot summer nights looking up page ranks and going through backlink lists…
Oh, these were the days!
One of the main guiding lights on our SEO journey is usually the SEO experts – those prominent voices in the community who share their knowledge and skills with others.
They can fill you in on all the intricacies and little details of the SEO craft and provide you with a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
Search Engine Journal gets it like nobody else, that’s why they’ve prepared the list of SEO experts to follow in their SEO for Beginners ebook.
But… I’m not an SEO expert.
So I’m not going to arrange or rank this list based on my admittedly quite shallow knowledge of SEO.
What I am is a social listening expert.
Thus, once I saw this long list of SEO influencers, I got curious: how do people talk about these experts online.
Who gets mentioned the most?
In what contexts are they usually talked about?
Yes, social listening can answer all these questions and more!
Given the nature of influencers – the way people look up to them and their expertise – it’s especially fascinating to analyze conversations about them.
So let me tell you briefly about the methodology I used for the analysis before we move on to our discoveries.
As a basis, I took 202 experts mentioned in the SEO for Beginners guide.
I created a social listening alert, using Awario (disclosure: I work for the company) for each of them.
A social listening alert is a combination of keywords, filters, and conditions that are applied to these keywords.
All of this allows you to find relevant data online.
In our case, for each SEO expert I specified the following keywords and conditions:
I didn’t specify from which countries and in which languages I want to gather the data because I figured that SEO knowledge is international.
To eliminate tweets made by the expert themselves, I blacklisted their own Twitter accounts.
The data I gathered came from Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, news sites, digital media, forums, and other websites.
Overall, Awario found and analyzed more than 70 thousand online mentions.
Logically, the first question to ask is “Who are the most talked-about SEO experts?”
So here’s the top 20 according to Awario:
Top 20 Most Mentioned SEO Influencers
|Rank||Name||Number of mentions|
|8||Dr Pete Meyers||1,930|
Out of the 202 names on the list, these 20 were mentioned the most.
Now, I would analyze all 20 (or even all 202) if I could, but I’m afraid this article would become too lengthy.
Instead, let’s look at our top 5 and see what characterizes conversations around these five experts.
Barry Schwartz is the founder of Search Engine Roundtable and has covered search for over 16 years.
Schwartz is also the News Editor at Search Engine Land.
As you see from the Topic cloud, both of these projects are mentioned quite often alongside his name.
If we look at the sources of his mentions, we can see that he gets the most credit from Twitter and the web.
Let’s look further into what sources bring Schwartz the most attention.
Even though Twitter is responsible for almost half of his mentions, it’s not exactly the most visible platform for him.
Industry media and websites are much more influential when it comes to exposure.
Here are the top 10 most influential websites that mention Schwartz.
From this topic cloud, we immediately learn that Campbell is an incredible SEO educator.
If you’re wondering why “benefits for engagement” is mentioned so often, it’s because of Campbell’s course on CTR and its benefits for engagement kind of went viral.
It was mentioned 101 times on Twitter.
Another prominent topic is link building, which was featured in AP News.
If we look at the sources of mentions, we get a pretty similar picture to Schwartz’s analytics with one exception: YouTube generates a lot more mentions for Campbell.
We could possibly pin it on the fact that Campbell has an active YouTube channel, so it’s only logical that he gets mentioned by other YouTubers as well.
Cindy is the first woman on our list – normally I wouldn’t highlight it, but SEO is a very male-dominated space.
For example, look at the gender breakdown of conversations around our top 5.
According to Awario, around 80% of all users talking about the top 5 most mentioned SEO experts are men.
What’s curious, for Krum the analytics skew a bit more equal in terms of gender divide – 66.8% male versus 33.2% female.
Perhaps, women feel more encouraged to speak up when they see another woman killing it in this industry?
As for non-gendered data, let’s start with the Topic cloud.
I think it’s obvious that a lot of Krum’s insights are themed around mobile SEO – 222 mentions of Krum also included the word “mobile.”
What’s interesting is that along with niche-related terms we can see positive words like happy, love, and hope.
I guess Krum encourages people to be more positive not just about SEO but about life in general.
The sentiment analysis proves that. 22.9% of all mentions of Krum are positive.
As for sources, one thing you notice immediately is that there are no mentions coming from Reddit.
Even though for the other two names on our list so far Reddit has been the smallest platform, Krum doesn’t have any presence on Reddit at all.
Another detail that sticks out is how much of the buzz around her name comes from Twitter.
Interestingly enough, when we look at the top influencers of Krum we still get industry websites – Moz, Slideshare, Search Engine Journal.
But, if we look at her top mentions, we can see some other influencers from Twitter and YouTube.
Shepard is an SEO consultant who used to be a Lead SEO for Moz and now is running his own company Zyppy.
Even the topic cloud of his mentions immediately tells you that his area of expertise is quite vast: there are a lot of terms that have equal weight, i.e., relatively equal number of mentions.
If we look at the sources of his mentions, Twitter once again plays a large role.
Media websites and blogs take second place, with Moz’s blog and Medium being the two main sources of mentions.
Oberstein is a former CMO for Rank Ranger and the host of the #SEOchat on Twitter.
He is also the main liaison to the SEO community at Wix.com.
Apart from usual SEO terms such as snippets and ranks, a lot of Oberstein’s mentions feature the conversation around tools and software – all these things that are so essential to any SEO expert.
Since he used to work on the marketing of an SEO tool, he knows the ins and outs of the market and readily discusses the advantages and disadvantages of different tools.
— seotomation (@seotomation) November 14, 2020
Like some other people on this list, he also gets a lot of acknowledgment and interactions on Twitter – 82% of his mentions come from this platform.
And once again, when we check the most influential sources of his mentions, it’s mostly industry media (and Wix’s Twitter account which makes sense since he works for them).
Firstly, while Twitter is almost always the biggest source for the volume of conversations around an expert, niche media and industry-related websites always win in terms of reach.
It means that if you want to establish yourself as an expert, do not ignore important industry outlets – in the case of SEO we’re talking Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Moz, and others.
Content is still king!
Another thing that stuck out: while it wasn’t exactly represented in the analytics I shared, I’ve noticed that most experts actively engage with each other.
When you look at the Twitter mentions of one expert you can always find a Twitter account of another from the list in there.
That shows how active and close-knit the SEO community is and how lively the conversation around it is.
Don’t be afraid to interact with your peers when you’re entering a new community!
All screenshots taken by author, November 2020