Think of SEO as football (or soccer, for my American friends): which players deserve to be in today’s SEO dream team? Take a look at the top 11 I chose for 2016!

Football SEO: the top 11 SEO players in 2016


Rand Fishkin

Rand FishkinHe’s been one of the most influent full stack professionals of the SEO world for years, and he’ll be riding high for a long time. He keeps on engaging the audiences like no one else with his charming speeches and now he is even writing his own book. His hair and moustache almost reached perfection in 2016, so he definitely deserves to be the superstar forward of my SEO dream team.

Aleyda Solís

Aleyda SolisGuru of international SEO, entrepreneur, most wanted speaker, influencer, and much more. Just as she provides super useful free SEO tools for the community, she’ll likely provide her teammates with wonderful assists. She attended a lot of big conferences all over the world in 2016, so she’s ready to join the top 11 as one of the most prolific SEO players of our times.

Gianluca Fiorelli

Gianluca FiorelliMaybe I’m partial because he is Italian just like me, but I do think he is the perfect attacking midfielder for the SEO dream team. His strong creativity, combined with his spirit of community participation, makes him the best candidate for that role. In case you didn’t know, he created The Inbounder, one of the greatest conferences of the world for inbound marketers (take a look at the 2016 stellar line-up).

Cyrus Shepard

Cyrus ShepardYou need talent, tenacity and common sense in order to be a strong midfielder, and I believe Cyrus Shepard amply demonstrates these qualities every time he speaks (or posts) about SEO. Recently he also proved he’s not scared of making difficult decisions and started a new journey: congrats Cyrus, you won a jersey holder!

Peter Meyers

Peter MeyersA scientist is what I need in the middle of the field. The central midfielder should be able to circulate the ball effectively and tirelessly, just like Dr. Pete does in the SEO sphere providing the community with continuous updates on the MozCast data (especially in late 2016, after the Penguin 4.0 rollout). The real engine of the team.

Ann Smarty

Ann SmartyContributing on a regular basis to many of the major marketing publications on the web means having really a lot to share. Also, Ann’s uttermost importance in the blogging and content marketing fields is plain for all to see, and it’s still growing. Her efforts in 2016 show how critical her help can be in building a winning SEO team. Welcome on board!

Danny Sullivan

Danny SullivanAlways timely and accurate in his pieces, he constantly shows great determination and passion for his role. If you want an example of the care he puts into his work, take a look at the article he wrote about RankBrain. He’s a real SEO soldier who has all the qualities to be the captain of the 2016 dream team, running ceaselessly up and down the right wing.

Bill Slawski

Bill SlawskiBeing an expert on search engine patents really means knowing the stuff you deal with. Bill’s very solid background makes him perfect for the role of defender in the SEO football team: he has a deep knowledge of his “enemies”, so he can predict their moves and stop them easily. If you’re not following him yet, take a look at his blog and read some of the gold he published in 2016.

Rae Hoffman

Rae HoffmanRockstar of SEO and affiliate marketing, she runs the “often controversial Sugarrae blog” (her own words). Besides winning the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award as Affiliate Marketer of the Year, in 2016 she also stood out thanks to monster posts like this one. I love her badass attitude: it’s right what I need to complete the defensive unit of the dream team.

Larry Kim

Larry KimHis immense experience in online marketing is matched only by his spirited nature. Undoubtedly one of today’s most positive and influent search engine marketers, he actively contributes to the most important online publications and jumps on the stage of major conferences without a break (take a look at his schedule for 2016 at the bottom of this page). He’ll be unstoppable on the left wing!

Marie Haynes

Marie HaynesShe is the #1 authority in the SEO industry when it comes to Google penalties, and this makes her perfect for the most defensive (and maybe the most critical) role of the team. In 2016 she had a lot to do in facing new Google spam-related updates, and she proved once again she’s able to handle this stuff like no one else. Put on your gloves Marie, the team needs you!


And finally, a small surprise: the referee!

Gary Illyes

Gary IllyesWebmaster Trends Analyst at Google, he is the undisputed point of reference for SEOs all over the world. We ask him all sorts of questions and complain with him about everything: he is in a difficult position, but holds steady. Get ready to whistle the kick off Gary, but please do not use too many penalty cards with my SEO champions.


What do you think about the 2016 SEO dream team? Is there anyone you don’t like? Should I have included someone else? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.