The 7 Classic Archetypes of SEO

The archetypes listed here derive from Joseph Campbell’s, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces.’ Deeply rooted in the myths and legends of many cultures, I hereby present ‘The 7 Classic Archetypes of SEO’.


Rand Fishkin – The Hero

Occupation: CEO of Moz (formerly, SEOmoz)


“The essence of the Hero is not bravery or nobility, but self-sacrifice. The hero is one who will endure separation and hardship for the sake of his team. The hero must pay a price to obtain his goal” – Joseph Campbell


Rand Fishkin, hero of the SEO community. His ongoing quest to rid the world of inferior marketing tactics and Black-Hat SEO is relentless. His chosen weapon? A PowerPoint remote. His chosen armour? A checked shirt and a pair of yellow sneakers. Rand leads the Mozzer army in a valiant crusade to spread the TAGFEE message throughout the land.



The Mentor – Avinash Kaushik

Occupation: Founder of Market Motive Inc. and Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google


“The essence of the mentor is the wise old man or woman. The mentor represents the wiser and more godlike qualities within us.” – Joseph Campbell


Avinash Kaushik, the wise wizard of the search marketing industry. Only truly happy when poring through reams of data and unravelling the most complex of statistical conundrums. Little patience for those mere mortals who worship false metrics and whom he denounces with the battle cry, “Stupid Fucking Idiots!”



The Threshold Guardian – Matt Cutts

Occupation: Head of Web Spam at Google


“The Threshold Guardian is the first obstacle in the journey. The threshold is the gateway to the new world we must all enter to change and grow.” – Joseph Campbell


Matt Cutts’ life quest is to stop web spammers and low-grade webmasters reaching the gates of Google’s SERPS. An adversary to every black-hat SEO, Matt can be found stroking his cats, sitting in his lair, deep below the Santa Cruz Mountains.



The Herald – Danny Sullivan

Occupation: Founding Editor of Marketing Land & Search Engine Land


“The role of the herald is to announce the news which begins the journey.” – Joseph Campbell


Danny Sullivan sails the seven seas to bring the news to those in the SEO and digital marketing industry. His journalism background gives him the required skills to be the true Herald of SEO news and gossip.



The Shapeshifter – Dave Naylor

Occupation: Head of Bronco Marketing


“The Shapeshifter changes role or personality, often in significant ways, and is hard to understand. That very changeability is the essence of this archetype.” – Joseph Campbell


Dave’s background in Black Hat SEO makes him the Shapeshifter. Although now strictly ‘White Hat’ and running a legitimate and ethical digital marketing company, can we ever be truly certain to which side his allegiance belongs?



The Shadow – Earl Grey of Syndk8

Occupation: Founder of Syndk8


“The Shadow archetype is a negative figure, representing things we don’t like and would like to eliminate. While the shadow is a negative force in the story, it’s important to remember that no man is a villain in his own eyes.” – Joseph Campbell


Earl Grey describes himself as a “prophet and messiah”. No-one knows his true identity or precisely where he resides. A true hacker, strictly in the camp of Black-hat SEO. He could use any tactic necessary to raise the ranking of his own (and his allies’ ) websites or to slay the website of a competitor. The Shadow is the Hero’s nemesis.



The Trickster – Jason Calacanis

Occupation: CEO of


“The Trickster is a clown, a mischief maker. He provides the comic relief that a story often needs to offset heavy dramatic tension. The trickster keeps things in proportion.” – Joseph Campbell


Jason is known for his playful and disrespectful sense of humour. He is regarded as a clown character who started a number of successful tech businesses. Jason carried off a hoax in 2010 convincing the mainstream press that he had a “reviewer’s copy” of an iPad before the device was ever available.



So, which SEO Archetype are you?



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