I remember it like it was yesterday.
The year was 2000 and I was invited to speak at the Dallas Search Engine Strategies conference. Back then, SES wasn’t the huge, three-day monstrosity it is today. In fact, imagine a really big room with a bunch of roundtables. Yeah, that was the conference.
I was speaking with Jill Whalen on writing for search engines – and boy, was I nervous! I have a clear memory of saying a silent prayer before we started our session. I was that stressed out! 🙂
Back then, I didn’t know many women in SEO (and the ones I did know about were faithful subscribers/commentators in I-Search, the main discussion list for our industry.) I remember meeting Barbara Coll during SES Dallas. I also met Shari Thurow. But it seemed like the majority of the SEO crowd back then were men.
My, how times have changed.
Today, women rock the SEO world. When I go to conferences, the gender ratio is 50/50 – and many more women are leading companies and hold some pretty nice power positions. It’s a wonderful thing to see.
This post (and there will be a follow-up, too) features the women who made SEO great. These smart females were in the trenches back at the beginning and deserve to be celebrated. They have unselfishly led discussion lists, built resources, and helped set best practices. I am proud to call many of them my close friends.
Get to know these women and definitely follow them on Twitter. They have a lot to share and teach you.
Thank you, ladies. You inspire me every day.
Kim Krause Berg– Kim began designing websites in 1995 and within a year launched her own SEO/Usability consulting business, Cre8pc. Her impressive client list includes Geico, USC Information Technology Program, and the Discovery Channel – Travel. Kim is a frequent contributor to Search Engine Land, creating articles from successful marketing and web design to why blending usability and SEO really matters. Follow Kim at @kim_cre8pc.
Christine Churchill – Hands down, Christine is one of the nicest folks in SEO. As president of KeyRelevance, Christine has well over a decade of experience in the online marketing world. She has marketed cruise lines and hotels, steel foundries, schools, ecommerce sites – the list goes on! A well-known industry speaker, Christine has appeared at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, High Ranking Seminars, and is a regular contributor to industry publications including SearchDay, Search Engine Guide and more. Follow Christine at @ChrisChurchill.
Barbara Coll – An early advocate of web marketing, Barbara started WebMama in 1996 because she “didn’t think people understood the value of search generated visitor traffic.” From there, she quickly became a recognized leading expert in Search Engine Marketing. As the founding President and Chairperson of the Board of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), Barbara has helped to increase awareness and promote the value of search engine marketing worldwide. Follow Barbara at @webmama.
Debra Mastaler – With a diverse background – including 15 years’ marketing Anheuser-Busch and operating an organic food and clothing directory – Debra transitioned to being the link goddess we know and love today. As President of Alliance-Link, Debra trains Fortune 500 companies and top SEO firms on link building best practices. Among her many accolades, Debra was featured among Search Marketing Standard Magazine’s 2011 “Women of Internet Marketing” and voted one of Level 343’s Top SEO Women of 2011. Debra is also a featured guest speaker at SES conferences and SMX expo’s. She is a columnist for Search Engine Land and Search Engine Guide, and blogs at her own site, Link Spiel. Follow Debra at @debramastaler.
Susan O’Neil – As CEO and Founder of Website Publicity, Susan established a digital marketing agency in 1998, long before the internet marketing explosion. Website Publicity has an impressive list of clients that include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Lindt Swiss Chocolatiers, USA. She also co-authored Maximize Website Traffic, one of the first books on SEO ever published. Follow Susan at @suejon.
Jessie Stricchiola – One of the founding board members of the esteemed Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, SEMPO, Jessie has been “toying around” with search engines since 1997. The Principal at Alchemist Media – which is consistently ranked by B2B Magazine as one of the Top 100 Search Marketing Companies – Jessie pioneered the charge against PPC click fraud and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, and NPR. She co-authored the book, The Art of SEO, and serves as a litigation consultant on internet related issues. Follow Jessie @ltstricchi (protected account).
Laura Thieme – A 15-year veteran of SEO, PPC, and website/keyword conversions, Laura is the CEO of Bizwatch Search Analytics and owner of Bizresearch, which she started in 1997. She is a frequent speaker at SMX conferences, and has been featured in the New York Times, Internet Retailer, TechNewsWorld and Search Engine Watch. A renowned Google Analytics guru, Laura was called as an expert witness in a case involving trademark and metatags. Follow Laura @bizwatchlaura.
Shari Thurow – Shari was the first woman – person – who made people think about “search engine friendly websites,” and has been designing sites since 1995. Today, she’s a frequent speaker at industry conferences (in fact, I had the pleasure of speaking with her during SMX West in March) and a regular contributor to Search Engine Land. Shari has been featured in many publications, including the New York Times, USA Today, Wired, and PC World. Her search-usability site, Omni Marketing Interactive, offers fantastic resources. Shari is the author of Search Engine Visibility and co-author of Where Search Meets Web Usability. Follow Shari at @sharithurow (protected account).
Dana Todd – Known for her creative hair color (currently a brilliant jewel tone purple), Dana has over 17 years experience in digital marketing and is appreciated for her intelligent, no-nonsense speaking style. She’s also a past chairwoman for SEMPO after serving on their board. Today, she’s Senior V.P. of Marketing and New Business and V.P. of Perfomance Innovation at Performics, and a sought-after industry speaker. Dana has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and The Street. Follow Dana at @danatodd.
Amanda Watlington – Amanda is one super-smart woman. Her impressive resume includes working with 3m, Sharp Electronics, Mercedes Benz and Washington Mutual. She’s also a prolific writer, and has authored scads of articles and two books including Business Blogs: A Practical Guide (co-authored with Bill Ives.) Her site, Searching for Profit, says it all – she’s helping companies build long-term profitable relationships with their clients. Follow Amanda at @amandaw.
Jill Whalen – Jill and I started our SEO conference journey together and we were business partners for quite a few years (who remembers the RankWrite newsletter?) Today, Jill is the CEO of High Rankings and has been in SEO since 1995. She is a prolific writer and contributes regularly to Search Engine Land and Talent Zoo. She also runs the High Rankings Newsletter, which has about five million followers (OK, not five million – but she has a lot!) Follow Jill at @jillwhalen.
And if you’d indulge me as the blog editor (Laura Crest), I’d like to add a first-generation, original SEO woman who has taught me all I know about SEO, and who has generously – oftentimes patiently – mentored and encouraged me each and every step of the way in my SEO copywriting career…
Heather Lloyd-Martin – Known as “Firecracker” to some of her SEO friends, Heather is a widely-recognized expert, speaker, and SEO authority who has spread the SEO copywriting word around the world. She developed the SEO Copywriting Certification training program, was profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes, and is the immediate past-chair of the DMA’s Search Engine Marketing Council. Just this year, she was voted as one of Level 343’s Top Women of SEO, 2012. Heather is President and CEO of SuccessWorks, and can be found online here, at SEO Copywriting. Follow Heather at @heatherlloyd.
Stay tuned! Next week we’ll expand our list of women who’ve helped shape the SEO industry (and made it great!) with the second wave of SEO Women to honor. (So if it seems that we’ve forgotten someone, it’s very likely that she’ll be featured in Part 2).
In the meantime, our sincere gratitude to these SEO “old guard” (a.k.a., “original gangsta”) women for building the SEO industry, blazing the proverbial trail, and guiding the rest of us! You rock! 🙂
Photo thanks to Brett Jordan