Pioneers (The history of SEO)

I decided to look backwards at the history of SEO and how the search industry evolved to understand how we got to where we are today. To then consider where we might evolve to in the near future.

Pioneers is an ongoing project to piece together the early days of the SEO industry and to better understand how search works today. To understand the beginnings of SEO is to understand the fundamentals, and if you get the ‘why’ then you get the ‘how to’.

I’ve always had the belief that if you surround yourself with smart people then some of it will rub off on you. Who better to surround myself with than some of the smartest minds in our industry and those who helped to shape the SEO industry.

Pioneers is a series of interviews and conversations with SEOs who were instrumental in helping to form the nascent industry in the 90s. Or, they have been significantly influential and contributed to the development of the industry over the last 25 years.


Pioneer two: Bill Slawski

Bill entered into SEO after working as a court administrator and helped a friend who wanted to start a business.

Bill bought a book on HTML and built a site that was ‘an ugly Christmas tree with spinning globes’.

Bill is probably best known for his reporting on patents and the insights he gleaned from his in-depth research. His intelligence is staggering and the depths and knowledge that he has about SEO and patents is exceptional.

In this conversation Bill talks about:

  • How he created one of the very first pieces of digital PR link bait that generated thousands of links
  • How he started the Cre8site forum with Kim Kraus berg and encouraged John Mueller to take a job at Google
  • His favourite patents
  • How it frustrates him that people misrepresent patents and make stuff up for click bait
  • And, LSI keywords are a complete fiction

Pioneer one: Ammon Johns


Ammon first began working in SEO before it was even known as SEO in the mid 1990s. Ammon has worked across all challenging industries such as Adult and Dating, and consulted with large multi-national companies such as CNN and Aviva.

Ammon was an admin with Cre8site in the early 200s, which was a central hub for SEOs at the time, and a place of hangout for many big names in the industry, including several Googlers.

Ammon brings a unique perspective to SEO with an abstract way of looking at strategies. His focus has always been on marketing and taking SEO out of a silo and into a holistic approach to promoting a business online.

In this conversation, Ammon talks about:

  • How he became involved in SEO & became an admin at Cre8site
  • What topics were being talked about at the early SEO conferences
  • How PubCon got its name
  • What spamming techniques were working in the early days
  • How the SEO industry has changed and why he prefers the industry today

Coming episodes:

  • Mike Grehan
  • Micheal Bonfils
  • Bill Slawski
  • John Mueller

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