SEO Old Hats

Thirteen plus years ago my boss at the time asked if I would be interested in learning to optimize the company’s websites for the search engines. That was the start of a new career path. In thinking back to those early days when all this SEO/SEM/online marketing/PPC stuff was new to everyone, it feels like much has changed yet much has remained the same. Some of the search engines and directories are gone and been replaced by others, some of the then known players are gone, but many are still leaders in the industry. There’s not a definitive timeline that makes you an expert, but after 13 years I allow myself to say I’m an old hat in this industry. How about you? You know you’re an “old hat” when you can remember:

  • When Yahoo!, Looksmart, and DMOZ were the dominant directories
  • AltaVista, Lycos, and Excite were the top search engines
    • Remember the buzz when Google came into the game
  • GoTo.com was the first PPC search engine and you monitored your bids manually
  • Attending the first Search Engine Strategies Conference held by Danny Sullivan in San Francisco
  • Subscribing to Search Engine Watch and reading every forum you could find to understand this new world of “search”
    • Where the likes of Ammon Johns (aka Black Knight) and Brett Tabke (and many others) answered a multitude of questions – many asked over, and over, and over….
  • The Keywords Meta tag actually contributed to rankings
  • Having to manually submit your website(s) to AltaVista, Lycos, Excite, etc.
  • Using Bruce Clay’s Search Engine Relationship Chart  (go to 11/2000)

  • Teaching company lawyers what the Title and Meta tags were and how competitors were using them to rank for the company’s branded terms (learned lots about trademarks and what could be considered trademark infringement)
  • Big debates between Black Hats and White Hats, now everyone who participated in those first debates are “old hats” too!

Well enough about the past. If you want to walk down memory lane, here’s a couple fun reads: http://www.thehistoryofseo.com/; http://www.seomoz.org/blog/seo-since-1999

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