29 Most Influential People in the UK Natural Search Industry

In SEO, The Digital Marketing Blog by Kelvin32 Comments

Everyone loves a good list, and I’m no different. Recently I was compiling a list of UK search marketing types for a colleague to keep track of. In the process I realised that as far as I was aware there was no list of the most influential people in the UK search marketing industry, so quickly the original project morphed into the list below.

And before you start reading, this is just one man’s opinion. There is a huge likelihood you’ll disagree with the order, and an even greater chance that I have made a few glaring omissions. If you can think of any, do let me know in the comments and I’ll make the additions.

If you want to quickly follow all the people from the list (who have twitter accounts) you can here.

So without further ado, here’s the list in reverse order.

29. Usman Patel

Job Title: Commercial SEO Manager

Company: The Times Online


Biog: The Times have been especially clever with their SEO efforts of late so when I came across Usman on Twitter I knew he was someone to follow. All the national papers have been making huge efforts but the Times have really impressed me and Usman seems to be behind a lot of that good work.

28. Kristina Smith

Job Title: Search Marketing Manager

Company: Amazon.co.uk

Biog: Kristina seems to keep a fairly low online profile compared to a lot of us SEO types who love the sound of our own virtual voices. I actually only came across Kristina when doing a bit of a search for talent on LinkedIn, and though I’ve never spoken to her, working for one of the most SEO- savvy companies in the world you can be sure she has a trick or two up her sleeve.

27. Jonathan Stewart

Job Title: Head of Search & Social Media

Company: Review Centre


Biog: I’ll apologise in advance if this list is a little Brighton-centric but we’ve got so many great SEO companies down here. Jonathan used to be Head of Natural Search at iCrossing and has recently made the move to one of the most interesting in-house SEO roles in the country at Review Centre

26.  Paul Roach

Job Title: Technical SEO Lead

Company Guardian

Biog: Another in-house SEO who doesn’t like to blow his trumpet too loud. The Guardian are another paper who’ve fully embraced SEO and published one of the funniest and most astute pieces of mainstream pieces of journalism about SEO ever.

25.  Teddie Cowell

Job Title: SEO Director

Company: Guava


Biog: Guava, who used to be known as Neutralize,  are one of the longest-running and most respected agencies in the UK. To someone outside the company Teddie seems their top don of SEO, so was an obvious choice for this list.

24. Paul Reilly

Job Title: Head of Search

Company stickyeyes


Biog: SitckyEye’s are one of the UK’s biggest and fastest growing agencies in the NMA chart over the last couple of years and hit ninth place this year. Being in charge of that SEO team would be enough to make the list, but Paul’s great tweets sealed the deal

23.  Lisa (Ditlefsen) Myers

Job Title: Director & Founder

Company: Verve Search


Biog: I had the pleasure of giving my first ever SEO conference presentation with Lisa and I can honestly say I don’t think I ever have or ever will meet a more passionate SEO. She lives and breathes search, so it’s no surprise over the last year she’s set up her own firm Verve.

22.  Judith Lewis

Job Title: Search Director

Company: i-level


Biog: Judith is probably the friendliest SEO in the UK, a reputation which is no doubt based on her habit of dishing out chocolate at any SEO meet-up or conference.  On top of that and her role at i-level she’s a prolific journalist writing for some of the most prestigious b2b publications in the UK.

21.  Tim Aldiss

Job Title: Director of Strategy & Communications

Company: FreshEgg


Biog: The second alumni of Spannerworks/iCrossing on our chart is Tim who fairly recently made the move along the coast to our friends FreshEgg in Worthing. He has an excellent track record and is currently working for one of the most generous SEO companies – they paid for beer and organised our last Brighton SEO meet up before Christmas.

20.  Jamie Riddell

Job Title: Former Director of Cheeze

Company:  https://www.jamieriddell.com/


Biog: As one of the founders of Cheeze, Jamie set up one of the most successful search marketing companies, which was turning over more than 12m a year before its sale to DMG. He’s currently on a sabbatical and no doubt dreaming up a plan of world domination.

19.  Jon Myers

Job Title: Head of Search

Company: MediaVest


Biog: Jon’s presence on this list ensures SEO’s royal couple are both represented (Jon’s & Lisa are the happy couple) in our chart. He’s one of the most respected moderators on the SEO conference circuit and also in one of the highest profile SEO job’s in the country.

18.  Richard Baxter

Job Title: Director

Company: SEO Gadget


Biog: Anyone who’s worked in the travel or flights sector will know just how competitive those SERPs are, working at Cheap Flights Richard pwned those results. Now he’s got his own consultancy called SEO Gadget and regularly produces some of the best writing available on the net about industrial scale SEO.

17.  Andy Atkins Kruger

Job Title: Owner and CEO

Company: WebCertain


Biog: Andy is the world leading authority on international search marketing, no shadow of a doubt.

16.  Ciaran Norris

Job Title: Head of Social Marketing

Company: Mindshare


Biog: There’s a lot of wannabe celebrities in the world of SEO (me for example), but very few of them have been on telly. Ciaran was recently on the Channel4 news talking about NewsCorps threats to pull their content from Google. Getting on telly was a coup, while managing to explain it without confusing millions of viewers was even more impressive.

15.  Andy Heaps

Job Title: Head of SEO

Company: Latitude


Biog: Some people think of Latitude as mainly a PPC company, and that’s a big mistake. Andy and his posse of search marketers in Cheshire know their onions. If you aren’t already following him on twitter, start following him, now. No seriously stop reading follow him now.

14.  Lyndon Antcliff

Job Title: Writer

Company: CornwallSEO.com


Biog: The man is a legend, if you don’t believe me read this post and tell me you don’t agree.

13.  Kevin Gibbons

Job Title: Director of Search

Company: Seoptimise


Biog: Writing a good, well-followed SEO blog is hard. Writing one on behalf of an agency is even harder. That’s what Kevin and co have done with the SEOptimise blog and for a search agency who blog they are the ultimate benchmark.

12.  Will Cooper

Job Title: Deputy News Editor

Company: NMA


Biog: In the world of SEO it’s fairly easy to get caught up in the echo chamber of the blogosphere and completely forget about the world outside our little cabal. To general digital marketers NMA is the bible and Will is their head honcho of search.

11.  Dixon Jones

Job Title: Marketing Partner

Company: MajesticSEO

Job Title: Director

Company: Receptional


Biog: If there’s a godfather of SEO in the UK it’s Dixon, who consistently delivers some of the greatest presentations at SMX and SES conferences. The latest string in his bow is his involvement with MajesticSEO who make SEOmoz’s LinkScape tool look anaemic in comparison.

10.  Will Critchlow

Job Title: Director

Company: Distilled


Biog: Distilled are the SEO’s SEO agency in the UK, I personally love their style. But on top of that there’s also the UK branch of the SEOmoz mafia, which means they’ve been responsible for some great UK-based training events. And I can honestly say Will’s presentation at SMX last year was one of the most obvious moments in my career when I realised I’ve still got so much more to learn!

09.  Matthew Wood

Job Title: Founder

Company: affiliates4u.com


Biog: a4u expo is an analytics marketing conference, and I can say with total conviction it was also the best search marketing conference of 2009 as well. If you have even the slightest interest you should attend! I was lucky enough to convince Matt to let me speak last year and I was honoured to be in such illustrious company.

08.  Rob Kerry

Job Title: Head of Search



Biog: Every white hat SEO wishes they had the black hat chops of Rob. He was until very recently editor at Sphinn, the SEO’s industry’s answer to Digg, and if that wasn’t enough he’s one of the main men behind LondonSEO‘s free beer SEO meet ups. I think collectively the UK industry owes him several thousand beers in return.

07.  Mike Grehan

Job Title: VP & Global Content Director
Company: Incisive

Biog: The Brit who took it to them yanks! The most opinionated man in search helps programme SES and dishes out vitriol and great SEO advice in equal measure.

06.  Doug Platts

Job Title: Head of Natural Search

Company iCrossing UK


Biog: He’s only been in the hot seat at iCrossing for three months but they’re such influences on the UK search market place he had to place this highly on the chart.

05.  Andrew Girdwood

Job Title: Head of Search

Company: Bigmouthmedia


Biog: Girdy as I like to call him (not sure whether that’s his nickname) is the main man of natural search at officially the biggest search marketing company in the UK. His personal blog is a must-read and has probably forgotten more about SEO than most of us will ever know.

04.  Patrick Altoft

Job Title: Director of Search

Company: Branded3


Biog: If you’re a regular reader round here you may know how highly we rate Blogstorm, Patrick’s Blog. Nearly every post we write features a link to the site and we’re not alone the AdAge Power 150 rates it as the biggest SEO blog in the UK.

03.  Dave Naylor

Job Title: Owner

Company: Bronco Internet


Biog: If Dave had a TV show I’d watch it, If he had a Conference I’d attended and I’d pretty much do anything he tells me to. He manages to be hilarious and informative at every session he’s on at search conferences, which is really impressive as most speakers struggle to be even one of the two.

02.  Mel Carson

Job Title: Community Manager

Company: Microsoft Advertising


Biog: Okay I have a confession to make; all the rest of this list have been SEO types and Mel is from the PPC side of things, and that’s a testament to how influential I think he is on the sector. He’s the public face of Bing in the UK and hugely approachable. A great example of how companies should handle community management.

01.  Fili Wiese

Job Title: Search Quality Analyst

Company: Google


Biog: Forget Matt Cutts, Fili Weise is the UK’s rival. You know you’re in trouble when he starts making notes during a conference! Joking aside Google usually keep so much close to their chest when it comes to the SEO community and Fili is such a breath of fresh air and rightly has a place as the most influential person in the UK search industry. He works at Google after all….


If you want to quickly follow all the people from the list (who have twitter accounts) you can here.

A big thanks to @ivinay for helping us compile this list you should follow him to because he is a thoroughly nice chap.


  1. Author

    Great suggestion Malcolm, might not be able to update that today but I’ll get on the case and do an update!

  2. Agreed – twitter names would be great.

    A twitter-list possibly more helpful as wouldn’t have to click through to every profile and quicker for you to make.

    Cheers! 🙂

  3. Wow – thanks for the mention Kelvin! I’ll have to make sure I have extra chocolate at SES London for you!

  4. My goodness, why is *yet another* list like this necessary? Please, just answer that.

    1) If any of these people is truly successful, they don’t talk about their real successes.

    2) Those whose work ends up being influential also know the art of shutting up, CLOSING TWITTER and getting on it. That’s where the real money is made.

    Stop patting each other on the bottom. From the outside, it’s amazingly unattractive.

  5. I agree with your comment on Judith totally. She has no airs and is absolutely brilliant. Met her at the 2009 Everywoman Conference and she shared so much information that has helped my business in such a short period of time.

  6. This list is funny, ahh the London SEO clique, how I miss it (not).

    The best SEO’s are the ones you never hear about .. especially with Google profiling known SEOs … or did you miss that?

  7. Author

    Felix, if they deliberately keep under the radar they aren’t going to want to be on a list like this like this, so I’m sure they aren’t too upset!

  8. What a great list! It’s dead on, too. I’ve dealt with several of the people on the list and they’re all seriously quality SEOs.

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  10. Really useful list, especially when one is searching for the most reputable SEO individuals in the UK. Been already following 50% on twitter, added rest cause am sure they will share invaluable insights.

  11. Cheers for the mention.

    Need to get a new disguise now though…

    …Perhaps a false nose to go with my glasses.

    Am currently averaging 18 new followers per hour. 😉

  12. A guy who should be on this list, but isnt is a guy called Kev Jones at techmark.

    Always top of my if Iget hit by a bus folder

  13. Wow – just woke up in Seattle to this! Thanks very much Kelvin. What a great way to start the year. Agree DaveN should get his own TV show – how do we make that happen?!

  14. Wow – what a lovely way to start the new-year, thanks for the mention!

    The one thing I’d mention is that the people this list misses are those who don’t make a lot of noise, either in the press or at shows, but who have a huge amount of influence. For example, the heads of search at the major media agencies (like the one I work for) have budgets that dwarf those of any search agency, but don’t necessarily get much recognition as they’re too busy running massive campaigns.

    Like, and Andy Mihalop, now at Carat, previously i-Level and Performics who tried to teach me everything he knows, but who has still forgotten more than I’ll ever know.

  15. Author

    Very true Ciaran, I must confess I have conflated noisy (in a good way) with influential.

    And it does favour search specialists agencies. But then that’s the side of the fench I sit on so not hugely surprising really.

    The whole world of search marketers within the world of major agencies is an interesting one that I’d love to know more about if you ever fancied writing a bit from your insight…

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  18. Great list Kelvin, always good to find a few people in the industry that I hadn’t come across before. Also wanted to say thanks for the clockwork pirate doc – v.interesting and sprung up an idea or two i hadn’t thought of… 🙂

  19. What about a new list next?

    “29 SEOs who aren’t as influential as you might think they are.”

    Seriously, though, very interesting reading. Came to this from your becoming a Clockwork Pirate pdf. Mark

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