I have been “kicking the tires” of the premium content offerings from SEOmoz and SEOBook and had planned to write up my impressions as to the value of each. However, my exploration of these two sites led me to a conclusion quite a bit more profound than I anticipated which I would like to share with you.

Rand and Aaron would have to be considered two of the most prominent “SEO Celebrities” (though I´m pretty sure they both despise the term). Through an incredible amount of hard work and smarts, they achieved top visibility in our industry. Being well-known allows them to charge premium rates for their services, giving them excellent income potential. However, market forces combined with the finite number of hours in a day caps their ability to earn via the consulting business model.

Unlike consulting, the success of a premium content business model depends on subscription sales & customer retention…a process that is much easier to scale. Rand and Aaron already have a premium “brand” in the market…if they can create content valuable to a mass audience and offer some level of personal attention to each subscriber (leveraging their already substantial brand equity), they can produce a much higher revenue stream for themselves. However, their strong pre-existing branding (aka “Celebrity”) is essential to making the premium content offering work. Their “sphere of influence” is necessary to push the offering to large numbers of people quickly, allowing the services to gain immediate traction in the marketplace. Once their audience is exposed to the content offering, the overall marketplace perception of it will determine whether their ventures are successful.

Premium content can also be a winning formula for subscribers too. For the price of less than 1 hour of a typical SEO consulting fee each month, somebody can subscribe to both Rand´s and Aaron´s premium services and there is plenty of value that can be mined from each.

As an example, Aaron offers “premium forums” as part of his content offering. I haven´t looked a forum in several years due to high “noise” levels and personal agendas. However, Aaron´s new forums are remarkably clean and uncluttered. Most importantly, Aaron is actually guiding the discussions and answering the queries. Just knowing that Aaron is available for general SEO guidance in a forum setting is, in my opinion, worth the monthly fee.

Furthermore, for a person learning SEO or needing a refresher course, all of Aaron´s learning modules and videos are available for study. Many people pay $,$$$ to learn SEO in a classroom setting…a self-motivated student can learn SEO from Aaron for a much more reasonable sum.

The SEOmoz offering is a bit different…a premium content member is limited to 3 questions per month asked and answered by one of the SEOmoz staff. However, Rand & the gang offer some very useful tools for SEO practitioners, premium guides on a number of relevant industry topics & some partner discounts that, if used, would easily pay for the monthly fee.

Aaron and Rand should also be able to get some lucrative consulting gigs from premium subscription members who require more personal attention than is being offered to them. Because the “premium” relationship has already been established, Aaron and Rand have an excellent chance to convert the “premium member” into a full fee client.

We keep hearing discussions about how “SEO Celebrity” is about attention, coolness, groupies etc. That´s crap. “SEO Celebrity” is about leveraging personal brand for professional gain. Aaron and Rand have a strong enough brand to create a unique income stream that most of us aren´t capable of developing and they should be commended for offering a service that´s win-win both for them and their subscribers.

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon´s Search Engine Marketing Association.

6 thoughts on “The Syndication of SEO Celebrity

  1. Todd – the only point I’d add to this is that in a survey of our members, only about 20% know who I am personally, and less than 10% are people I’ve met in person. I suspect those numbers are even smaller for Aaron.

    Let’s not forget that there are many other subscription services in the SEO field – WebmasterWorld being the most obvious, SEOBlackHat, Hubspot, Market Motive, etc.

    The “celebrity” notion to me is fun and it’s interesting, but I don’t think celebrity can power a business model like this – the product has to speak for itself. The “celebrity” element, to whatever degree it exists, does very little for the value of the subscription.

  2. Rand, I’ll take your survey numbers at face value, though they don’t “feel” right to me.

    Because you are one of the most visible members of our community, anything you promote will be in front of a large number of people and just about all of the SEO “linkerati”. Your tremendous influence can get your premium services to a necessary critical mass of people where it would have a chance of being financially viable. Very few folks can leverage that amount of influence. If your product wasn’t any good, your visibility couldn’t make it succeed but your visibility can get a large number of people to evaluate your premium services in order to make a buying decision.

    Sure there are other premium services but the bulk of the marketing momentum for both you & Aaron would seem to come from extending your personal brand (unlike the others with the possible exception of SEOBlackHat which I’m not too familiar with).

  3. Thanks Aaron, that’s what I figured. I know Rand’s info comes from a survey, but I’m skeptical, and that’s why I asked.

    There’s a community called SEO Black Hat? Really? I’ve never heard of it either… 😉

  4. With 2045 members as of today, it really is the case – I personally know maybe 200 and 400 have potentially heard of me personally (prior to having a brand association with SEOmoz). But, yeah – it’s not about celebrity. The word-of-mouth about the brand spreads much better than the word of mouth about the individual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *