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How Do You Become a Thought-Leader in the SEO Industry?

A thought leader is someone who is looked to as an authoritative source of information. One of many different ways to demonstrate thought leadership is to consistently create content – whether it be in the form of blog posts, articles, or video interviews and blogs. Though, as SEOs, we are used to presenting our clients as thought leaders and authoritative sources of information, do we often give as much thought to presenting ourselves as such? What makes a thought leader in the SEO industry?

A Little History and My Story

In early 2011, many SEOs turned to writing content as a way to dig themselves and their clients out of deep, miserable Panda shaped holes. Unique, high-quality and oft-updated content was (and still is) the way to go. Being an authority and an expert was (and still is, too) extremely important, as knowledge tends to make text shine. These are the tenets of SEO content (among others, of course!) that I have learned since I arrived at EverSpark way back in the summer, just at the peak of that desperate time period when the ripple effects of Panda were just beginning to really affect many sites. I was hired as a recently graduated honors student with a degree in English and was valued in the wake of the massive update for my mechanical, grammatical and creative writing prowess.  And for nearly a year now, I have been working here as a writer and editor, blogging about SEO & social media for nearly as long.

Over time, my role expanded, of course – but the one thing that hasn’t and probably will never change is my unique perspective. I don’t have a background in SEO, or even in marketing; I’m a writer at heart, though I truly have learned a lot (how my brain has not yet reached capacity, I don’t know). Most importantly, I’m an outsider here – but I have come to view that particular position as a very positive thing. I’m able to watch the SEO industry function and evolve -both in the blogosphere, as I research possible blog topics, and around me, as I watch the day to day doings here at the office. I do not participate (usually) in the SEO side of things, but I am an active observer and sometimes find myself actually understanding (imagine that!) the things my coworkers are doing to promote our clients on the search engines and across the online universe. I write about new developments and industry wide changes – reporting on them, sometimes adding my two cents from my unique outsider vantage point (and sometimes not commenting at all – it’s not always bad to let the facts speak for themselves).  But would I call myself a thought leader? Not in a million years. Do I want to become one? Of course!

Virtually everyone I work with is creative, innovative and demonstrates thought-leadership within our company daily with new ideas that better our clients’ online presences. In fact, I often wonder what the heck they have me here for.  Especially in SEO, a business that has such a bad rep but that is populated by so many talented, truly brilliant people, thought-leadership is necessary but esoteric. Surely, knowledge is incredibly important to have when you wish to demonstrate industry leading creativity – but even knowledge can be made up for to some degree with thorough research (I’m the perfect example of that fact!). So how does one become a thought leader – a voice presumably heard ‘round the SEO world? Is it just years of experience, is it adaptability and creative thinking, is it knowing the right way to market yourself and your content, or is there something more to it?

Being an innovative thinker and writer in an age when your thoughts and typing skills can barely keep up with daily industry changes certainly requires a degree of creative thinking: in SEO, where “tried and true” tactics are only true until the next algorithm change (possibly) makes them obsolete, the moving parts of the industry keep us all on our toes. But being a blogger and leader can’t just be about reporting facts, or about simply finding fresh angles to the thousands of blog posts and stories published daily about the goings on in the SEO world. Perhaps it’s about developing and sharing unique solutions to problems and obstacles that SEOs face. But do “unique” and “different” solutions to SEO problems exist in enough volume to pave the way for true thought-leaders to emerge? Do many SEOs even want to share their “secret sauce” in order to become thought leaders in the search engine marketing space? Or are our thought leaders only those who don’t practice SEO, just report on it?

My Thoughts… on Thought Leadership

In an effort to become such a leader in the space, it’s important to write and write often, well and thoroughly. Instructional posts for the benefits of others, with screen shots, can be very helpful for establishing authority and demonstrating knowledge in the SEO space.  I know most of the bloggers I follow do this every now and then, and as a reader and learner, I always appreciate it.

Possibly equally important is the ease of engagement that comes along with being a leader in the industry. Being able to engage and connect with readers and followers must put you on the road to thought leadership. Twitter is a great place for thought leaders to build large follower counts, share information, and demonstrate expertise. Also good for this is the continually growing Google +.

A thought leader writes about important news in the industry, comments on them, and provides one or two creative solutions or innovative ideas about that news.

You Tell Me

What do you think makes an SEO or an SEO blogger a “thought leader” in the SEO space? Is it adding useful and fresh perspective to the online conversations going on around us on a daily basis? Is it simply providing compelling information that backs up prevailing notions out there already? Have any tips for developing thought leadership? Drop us a line in the comments, or leave us the link to your blog post discussing your opinion, and we’ll share it on our Facebook page!


More Information

Learn more about EverSpark’s approach to SEO by visiting our blog for regular updates about anything and everything going on in the interactive marketing world. Have questions that are more specific to your business? Give us a call at 770-481-1766.

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