The recent kerfluffle surrounding “TOP SEOs” rating service reminded me that I actually did a sort of rating directory of in-house SEO professionals myself a few years ago. Today, I revisited that listing of professionals in: Top In-House SEOs: Where Are They Now?
I never claimed to have used some consistent/formalized approach in producing that original list of people – as it fell out, it ended up being people who worked for highly-recognizable brands as SEOs and disclosed that fact through LinkedIn, blogging, and speaking at conferences. Nothing very scientific.
However, the experience of just publishing that informal list made me realize immediately how difficult it is to really rate people fairly. If you do ratings, you need to be very open about the criteria you’re using, and it should be real criteria as opposed to doing it merely based on being paid. Recent uproars over Yelp ratings and TopSEOs.com highlight how sensitive such an exercise can be.
Edward Lewis, aka pageoneresults, likes to rate SEO consultants according to HTML validation of their own websites. While one may not agree with his approach, his criteria is pretty transparent, and you have to respect the points he makes. Since the criteria he’s using for ratings and rankings is open, it’s not duping people into thinking a company with zero qualifications should be considered expert – the rankings are based upon actual, measurable results. (Now, I’d love to see the dots between validity and actual rankings connected more for this approach – such as weightings of valid/invalid code according to actual impact upon search rankings, but regardless of that, one can appreciate what he’s trying to accomplish.)
Another guide to search marketing companies that I like is the one at SEOmoz – the SEO Marketplace. It’s just a directory, but pretty useful just in the way it’s been assembled.
If I ever do attempt to assemble a new list of experts or companies in some sort of exclusive form, I would be upfront with the criteria I used to determine whether a firm would be listed or left out.