When I started as an SEO I looked around for a role model. I wanted to find the most successful digital marketer and explore their methods and thoughts until I had a good enough grasp to venture off on my own.
Instead of finding one, I found many, all of whom had fantastically different ideas of what was the best way to do online marketing. Some used complicated systems on each client, some revelled in creating incredible content experiences for consumers and industry partners, some had their heads stuck in spreadsheets and came out with miraculous solutions. Some were dreamers or had a knack for leveraging whatever was available. Some made others stand out, work together and find great fulfillment in their work.
I broke these down into specific ideals and named them accordingly. I explored them and defined them. I was having so much fun putting them together that I wanted to share them with my team, and that created such a fun atmosphere that I wanted to share them with my other friends in SEO. So what you'll find below are the SEO Archetypes that I came up with as well as the thoughts of some awesome digital marketers on where they feel they fit and why.
When you're done reading, pass it around and figure out where everyone you know falls! Enjoy!
The System SEO
I don't jump on every sparkly new toy (looking at you, social media) that comes around. I don't spend every wakeful minute staring at spreadsheets with my fingers crossed either. I know what works because I've implemented it a thousand times; I either have or I create a system that works for every client. The creativity lies in taking processes that I am absolutely certain work and fitting them into a particular client's situation. If I don't already have a foolproof tactic for a problem, then I come up with one that I know is worth duplicating for multiple situations. I'm always innovating and optimizing. Incidentally, my kitchen is generally clean.
"I'm not really a big fan of complex processes, so I always tend to simplify things mainly to make it easier, faster and more efficient for our team to achieve the goals we set for each campaign. So I guess I fit more in the System SEO archetype (but not the technical type, as you'll definitely be surprised to see how simple we do things out here).
Continuously creating replicable processes based from simple formulas that we strongly believe work has been a big part of our growth this past year. And I also think that this core principle has been one of our strongest USP as a company."
Jason Acidre, CEO of Xight Interactive and Author of Kaiserthesage
The Content Marketer
I know that the pen is pretty darn strong, and that makes articles, videos, audio, graphics and interactive media mighty because content is communication; and I'm communicating wonder and excitement. I sit down with my content teams regularly to make sure that they remember this fact, that they're not just writing for SEO. They're responsible for sharing the work that the whole company is proud of.
"Although I border on a few different archetypes I tend to gravitate more to the Content Marketing archetype. I am always thinking of new ways to communicate helpful information to our audience in a way that tries to relate to them. When I am not creating new content with my team I am consuming as much content from other authorities as I can. Inbound.org has become one of my favorite mediums for this. In addition to content creation and curation, I especially like to be personally involved in as many of our social media efforts as possible. For me, transparency and being genuine are very important so I love to use content marketing to uphold these philosophies. The end results have been consistently good for us, which motivates me to do more."
Vinny La Barbera, CEO of imFORZA
"My best fit would be the Content Marketer archetype. In my past lives as a teacher and part-time preacher, I never ceased to be amazed by the power of words...and moving stories in particular...to persuade people and encourage them in a particular direction. Now for both Virante and our clients I revel in creating word-pictures (and sometimes literal pictures, or videos, or graphics) that build authority, trust, and move people toward action. Want to see Happy Mark? Give me a keyboard and an hour free to write!"
Mark Traphagen, Director of Digital Outreach at Virante Search Marketing
"I associate myself mostly with The Content Marketer archetype. Great content should always be at the heart of a successful online marketing campaign, but it's now more important than ever. The array of content types at our disposal mean there are endless creative opportunities not just for content teams, but for customers to embrace and really stand out from the crowd.
A joined up process is essential as this isn't content creation for the sake of it. We take an analytical approach; intelligently using all the data available to deliver the content that the audience or fan-base wants.
There is still an important technical element which shouldn't be overlooked. Creating and sharing content is one thing; but the pages, website and platform you are using should be finely tuned. Don't forget the basics even if they seem blindingly obvious!"
Nick Pearse, Campaign Delivery Manager at Vertical Leap
"I'm probably the content marketer type. I know how important content that holds true value to the reader is and how effective it can really be because I see it work on a daily basis. I do my fair share of spread sheet burrowing too though; I'm very self-disciplined when it comes to managing my time and getting stuff done but having a specific person in mind when creating content, getting it placed somewhere great and watching it work for my client gives me a big buzz more than anything else."
Dave Colgate, CDM at VerticalLeap
"I really love taking a content approach to SEO and link building. I've never been a fan of pushy advertising and feel that creating valuable content is truly a much more meaningful way to reach potential customers. To me, content is the true way to get others to like your brand, visit your site, and buy your products and services."
Michael Smith, SEO & Inbound Marketing Consultant at Powered by Search
The Stats Junky
I spend a good chunk of my morning floating merrily through numbers. I don't care about Ego KPIs; I'm looking for fall-off in the sales funnel, which buttons aren't being clicked, what is distracting my users from what I'd like them to do. I have a million tests running and I dream of new ones while napping over my keyboard. Always Be Testing, Incremental Development, and who is this person who keeps asking me what I'm trying to say with the blue button?
"I'm torn between seeing myself as a Content Marketer and Stats Junky. I spend my whole morning sifting data trying to get it to tell a human story - and the human story it invariably tells is that if you create marketing people love you'll build an audience. The data analysis then is mostly just what kinds of content people will love the most and how they want it!"
"Having to work with a website that has millions of pages, gets tens of millions of unique page views every month, being responsible for meeting company targets I can't be anything else but a "stats junky." Having to audit traffic, revenue, and different SEO elements for tens of thousands of pages at once and within very tight deadlines is not unusual just as running 20-30 conversion optimization tests simultaneously is a regular part of my job."
Vlad Rascanu, Sr. SEO Specialist at Expedia.ca
I have a big idea. Not just a little big, but immense. When I was in school people saw me as distracted; really I was just otherwise motivated. Now when I talk about my idea, people can't help but be captivated by the scale and beauty of my objective. I'm famous on Inbound not because I thought of it first, but because I held true to my high standards. I have or I will have fought through the apathy and old standards and built a well-oiled empire. And now it's hard to fathom that I ever sweat--though I do.
I had certain people in mind when I wrote this section--I'm sure you all know how busy this month is so you won't be surprised that they didn't have the chance to get back to me! I think a lot of you have some degree of the Dreamer in you.
I don't need a system and I don't need a dream--I need you to get me an intern, a USB key and a sandwich so I can make your website hit number 1. No one has a backlink profile quite like mine, because no one has my imagination and confidence. I'm the master of leveraging the strengths and tools that are already lying around and combining them in surprising and stunning ways. Start-ups love me and so does my fan following, always waiting to see what I'll do next. I swagger away as my traffic explodes.
"MacGyver all the way... Just give me a spreadsheet, duct tape, Google and a few hours - we'll be getting some links in no time - and if it's a bacon sandwich you're offering I'll get the job done in half the time.
I work with a lot of small businesses and start ups who often don't have the big budgets for "content marketing" or "relationship building". By getting to know their business and the industry they are in I can come up with a few innovative ways to re-purpose their existing content or find ways to get press from some of the great work they are doing, but don't publicize."
I'll leave you with one of my favourite MacGyver quotes that I think sums up an SEO's existence:
"Typical. Just when you're getting ahead, someone changes the odds."
Chris Dyson, Wishes he had a Mullet @ tripleseo.com
The Relationship SEO
I care about every member of my team and every client. I take responsibility wherever I can because I know it'll help others succeed without worrying. It also helps that I'm pretty darn good at what I do. I make sure that my team is always in top shape, bringing donuts and smiles and being available but not pushy with advice. I facilitate, catalyze and mentor success into being. I also love my industry and help everyone I can--in return my connections guide me and help me along the way. The website is number one and maybe that had a little to do with me, but I had a lot of help from my friends.
"I see myself fitting into the Relationship SEO archetype. Being an in-house SEO, it's so important for me to make sure that there's a ton of collaboration and clear communication between other members of my team and me. I'm constantly building and maintaining my relationships with my content creators, dev team, social media team, designers, PR team and more to make sure we're all driving toward a consistent inbound marketing strategy. It's something I couldn't do nearly as well on my own. I'm also dedicated to building relationships with other people in my industry as a way to not only find new link building and social sharing targets, but also to continually level up my own industry knowledge and understanding."
Thanks for reading and here's a big shout out to all of the amazing SEOs who contributed to this article, and especially the SeoQuake Team for letting us contribute!
I love working with all of the talent in the online marketing industry and if you ever want to get in touch I'd love to hear from you.
About the Author: I go by Troy "Fawkes" Boileau and I'm an SEO & Inbound Marketing Consultant at Powered by Search, a successful and quickly growing Toronto SEO agency. I enjoy meeting new people, content marketing and working on exciting projects. I would love to hear from you if you have any other fun ideas!
If you can indulge me for a second: I love SeoQuake. Years ago when I was just curling into my little SEO cocoon, SeoQuake was one of the companies that came up in every other conversation and after I finally fell into the career I still use SeoQuake every day. That having been said, I want to start with a huge thanks to Kerin Foster and the SeoQuake Team both for having an awesome tool and for trusting Powered by Search and I with their name and readership.