10 SEOs Who Transformed My Career: A Thank You Letter
Updated: Jun 19
You might be familiar with those “top SEOs to follow in 2023” lists or “the 10 best SEO experts” kind of thing. They usually include a bunch of white men who don’t work in SEO (and Neil Patel). This is not that kind of list. At all.
Something that makes the industry a very unique space is that it’s still under construction. There is no formal SEO education and all of the industry knowledge comes from either personal experience or the generosity of SEO communicators, experimenters and researchers.
Another thing that makes our industry different is how incredibly ever-changing it is. Anyone who is trying to create content at the forefront of search will find that their stuff gets outdated sometimes even before it goes live.
And the result of these two little quirks of working in SEO is that we need our community. We need to empower each other and recognise the fantastic contributors that have built the industry as it is right now.
I’ve been in SEO for nearly a decade and some of the people I have encountered throughout my journey have left an indelible impact on my professional growth. So in this article, I want to express my sincere gratitude to these exceptional people. Their contributions to the industry have been invaluable, and I owe much of my success to their guidance and support.
Areej Abuali: Championing inclusivity and amplifying women in SEO
Areej Abuali holds a special place in my heart for her remarkable work in creating and running the Women In Tech SEO community. Areej's unwavering dedication to amplifying the work of women in the industry and promoting inclusivity is truly commendable.
Through the Women In Tech SEO community, she has started a monthly newsletter, a podcast, a mentorship program, a series of workshops, a knowledge hub, an interview series, a directory of female speakers, freelancers and business leaders, and an international women-only SEO event that consistently sells out year after year. All of these resources are free to the community, which makes this even more remarkable.
She has also started a conversation on fair compensation for speakers and writers in the industry, which benefits us all as a collective. And she walks the talk. I was a speaker at the WTSFest in 2021, and she paid me before I had even arrived home.
As an SEO professional, Areej shines for her e-commerce expertise, and personally, I love seeing her speak. Not only is she a great SEO professional, but she is also an exceptional human being. Her contributions have fostered a sense of belonging and support, making a positive impact on countless individuals, including myself.
And whenever something messed up happens, I know she is only one text away.
Areej, I know I promised to stop praising you in public, but damn, you are remarkable. Thank you.
Aleyda Solís: A treasure trove of SEO resources
Aleyda Solís' dedication to sharing invaluable resources with the SEO community has been nothing short of extraordinary. I’m pretty sure she has somehow figured out time travel or the secret to not needing sleep.
Through her website, learningseo.io, she provides an exceptional resource for those looking to enter the industry. Through her marketing newsletters, #SEOFOMO and #marketingFOMO, Aleyda elevates the work of other experts and helps everyone stay up to date with the best news and SEO knowledge being shared. And last but not least, with her YouTube series Crawling Mondays, she helps mid-level, and senior professionals deepen their knowledge.
Aleyda is also a professional speaker and author. Before I even considered doing any amount of public speaking in the industry, the fact that she could get on stage and be successful in her second language showed me that it was possible. And if it was possible, I could do it too.
Before my first ever in-person talk at BrghtonSEO, I found her tips on public speaking for non-native English speakers super helpful. much
Jamie Indigo: Simplifying the complex with wit and puns
Jamie Indigo is much more technical than many of us, and they are extremely skilled communicators. They manage to make the most complicated stuff seem simple.
I am a massive fan of their writing in the Rich Snippets newsletter for Traffic Think Tank, and it has become a weekly source of inspiration for me. Their puns, jokes and reporting make me want to dive deeper into the most complicated topics. And they never share any fluff, so I know I’m not wasting my time.
They recently told me they feel like nobody reads their stuff. I read it, Jamie, it’s really good.
MJ Cachón: A Spanish pioneer and catalyst for growth
MJ Cachón's contributions to the Spanish SEO landscape have been transformative. She has been training SEO professionals for longer than I have been one!
Her deep knowledge in technical SEO, handling migrations and ScreamingFrog tutorials have encouraged me and helped me deepen my knowledge in technical SEO. Her content taught me all the basics of conducting audits and handling migrations with ease.
Her role in establishing and growing the Mujeres En SEO community showcases her commitment to fostering growth and knowledge-sharing within the industry.
I think she is a role model for all of us in the Spanish SEO community, and I cannot thank her enough for showing me that I can be as technical as I want to.
Mordy Oberstein: What Even Is This Guy
Mordy Oberstein is *the* pioneer in the emerging SEO relations industry. He is the OG of SEO evangelism, and the work he has done at Wix speaks for itself. The platform has gone from being mostly disregarded by SEOs to being a solid favourite. Even my personal website is on Wix (and I work for a different CMS 😬).
Mordy has a beautiful podcast called SEO Rant (I was a guest once, it was wild), he runs #SEOchat on Twitter, and so many other things that I would have to devote the rest of this piece to him and then his ego would explode, and he’d be downright unbearable.
But that's not the reason I'm including him here. Mordy has always had time for me. When I started working at Sanity, he offered me tons of advice. He has never been too busy to help me brainstorm a problem, give me career advice, or just have a friendly chat.
Also, Mordy is hilarious.
Barry Schwartz: Guiding SEO out of the dark ages
Barry Schwartz's contributions to the SEO community through his reporting on Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable over the past 15 years have been pretty crazy. In 2022 alone, he wrote 166 articles for Search Engine Land!
Barry has lifted the veil on SEO, transforming it from a mysterious practice into a mainstream and respected profession. Barry has shed light on the intricacies of SEO, making it accessible and respected by all.
His work has been a guiding light throughout my learning journey, and I, along with every other SEO, trust his insights to keep me updated with the latest industry trends.
On a separate note, he has a neat sense of humour, and he’s always down for whatever Mordy comes up with.
Kevin Indig: An inspiring mind and collaborative spirit
Kevin Indig has one of the most impressive careers out there. He is now an independent growth advisor, but his previous gigs included running SEO at Shopify, Atlassian or G2.
Right now, he cohosts the podcast Contrarian Marketing and runs one of the best SEO newsletters I have ever subscribed to: The Growth Memo. In his newsletter, he shares really intelligent content that goes beyond sharing other people's content or simple tactics. He gives us a peek into his brilliant brain, taking us back to first principles or doing a deep dive into interesting case studies.
But the reason I'm grateful for Kevin is that he has always made time to talk to me. We were first introduced when I was doing market research on link building in the German market, and since we have exchanged advice on career stuff, money and even wedding planning.
I recently worked with him at Sanity in creating an e-commerce SEO handbook, and the communications were smooth as honey. The quality of his work was top-tier, and he brought absolutely no ego to the table whenever I requested changes or made edits.
Kevin, I admire how smart and humble you are.
Lazarina Stoy: Brilliance meets generosity
Lazarina Stoy is an actual genius. She is generous, kind, funny, and so, so, so smart.
She is an excellent communicator in every single way. Her slide decks are structured, accessible, and beautifully designed and get the message across like no others.
Her talks are engaging and authentic, and she can make anyone feel as passionate about machine learning as she is. And she always, always, always offers an actionable tool with a low barrier of entry to using ML in SEO.
It is a pleasure and an honour for me to even exist alongside her.
Lily Ray: Navigating uncertainty with confidence
Lily Ray's expertise in reporting and analyzing Google algorithm updates has been a game-changer for me.
She reports updates every time and deep dives into them in partnership with Sistrix. She figures out what are the common patterns in the affected sites, theorises what the nature of the update was and offers some tips on how to improve your content based on what the updates tell us about the direction in which SEO is going. This has taken algorithm updates completely off my plate, and I am grateful for this.
Additionally, her exploration of AI applications in search, such as Bard, SGE, and Bing Chat, is expanding our understanding of the future of SEO.
Richard Lawrence: A hidden genius and invaluable mentor
Richard Lawrence is not as well known as other people on this list, which seems criminal to me. His skills in data analysis, combined with his creativity, take him to an entirely different level.
Working with him at Sanity is a real privilege. Our weekly chats on SEO, life, AI, and even our cats have enriched my professional growth. Richard's ability to communicate effectively with leadership has been a guiding light, making me a better professional every day.
Rich's exceptional ability to communicate effectively with leadership has not only elevated my professional growth but has also challenged me to rethink and refine my strategies. I am deeply grateful for his guidance, wisdom, and support. He makes me a better professional every day.
What we can learn from them
When you look at this list, a very obvious pattern emerges: they're all about giving back and building a community.
I believe that as SEOs, our community is our most valuable asset, and they are showing us what it takes to build a healthy, thriving industry:
They're all making SEO accessible. They've created websites, YouTube series, and newsletters to break down complex topics and help everyone get the hang of SEO.
They are dedicated to inclusivity and diversity. They're putting in the work to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups and create a sense of belonging.
They help others grow. They offer guidance, support, and advice to help aspiring SEOs reach their full potential. In this case, me!
They're constantly learning. Their dedication to staying ahead of the curve is seriously inspiring and keeps the industry moving forward.
I love everyone on this list for many different reasons, and they are a constant source of inspiration for me. They remind me that success isn't just about individual achievements but also about lifting others up. While there are some bright SEO stars in this list, it’s the constellations that make the night sky.
Dear reader, I hope they can be an inspiration for you too, and that they encourage you to support and recognize the contributions of our peers and work together for growth, inclusivity, and excellence.