18+ Ways to Tell if You’re an SEO O.G.

Are you wondering if your “SEO expert” has been around as long as he claims? Feeling like you’ve been in the business since the beginning of SEO time?

Here are 18 ways to tell if you’re an SEO O.G. (“old guard” or ‘original gansta”.) Plus, you’ll find even more tips, thanks to a little help from my SEO friends.  If you’re new to the SEO world, you’ll enjoy reading how much things have changed. And if you’re an O.G. SEO too – enjoy! Here’s your trip down memory lane.

  1. You remember when getting a Yahoo Directory listing was a big deal.
  2. You have a robot t-shirt from the original Googledance.
  3. You remember when Search Engine Strategies was so small that roundtable sessions were the norm.
  4. People didn’t know who Danny Sullivan was.
  5. One word: Looksmart
  6. You didn’t optimize for Google – because Google didn’t exist.
  7. RankWrite was the only resource that discussed SEO copywriting.
  8. You remember prospects telling you, “We won’t pay you, but we’ll give you a piece of the company. Our company is gonna be huge.”
  9. You remember the dotcom crash, the F*cked Company site and a bunch of companies going out of business.
  10. A little engine called GoTo.com launched – and you debated whether PPC was really viable.
  11. “Big Boy” reminds you of Inktomi first – then the hamburger chain.
  12. I-Search was THE email newsletter to read. Having your post featured was a big deal, too.
  13. Search Engine Strategies San Francisco was at the Fairmont – complete with a sit-down, steak lunch.
  14. “Content optimization” meant making sure that you had a 5.5% keyword density for AltaVista.
  15. You remember when Bruce Clay was featured in Wired magazine.
  16. You remember answering the question,”Commas or spaces in the meta keywords tag?”
  17. You didn’t need glasses when you first started your SEO career (after all, you were probably in your late 20’s or early 30’s!).
  18. Danny Sullivan called you a “first generation” search marketer way back in 2006.

Plus, here are some more – thanks to all of my O.G. friends who contributed!

HUGE thanks to David Burke of VisualFuture (and Sally Burke, too!) who let me post this pic from “back in the day!’ Folks pictured are David Burke, Sally Burke, Jill Whalen, Craig Paddock, me (back when I was a blonde) and Chris Sherman.

22 replies
  1. Ammon Johns says:

    Oh, I just have to add a few bits of nostalgia to this! :)

    You remember instant spidering from AltaVista, or better yet, instant ranking with Infoseek (submit it, see where it ranked, tweak it, and resubmit).

    You remember when part of ‘web promotion’ was deciding on a web ring strategy (before Yahoo bought it). You had to consider banner exchanges too.

    You remember when Excite, Hotbot, and Direct Hit were engines you thought about.

  2. Doc Sheldon says:

    You beat me to it, Ammon. Submitting my site to Infoseek was my first effort at optimization, long before I ever thought about working in the field.

    As for webring strategy, my strategy was simply to find as many as I could in my niche and weave my way through them.

  3. Eric Enge says:

    I do remember when GoTo launched! I had a call with one of their sales reps and laughed at the idea. No way that model was going to work.

    People would NEVER click on a search result they realized someone had paid for.

  4. Ammon Johns says:

    Nah, I loved GoTo! I didn’t know if it would last, but boy was it a great tool.

    Two major reasons for loving GoTo:

    1) You only paid per click, impressions were free. That meant you could do FREE branding campaigns by placing memorable, high-bid ads that nobody would actually want to click… I raped that before they set a minimum clicks rule.

    2) We didn’t have News search back then. But in a special deal with Overture (right around the time of the name change) I got a special ‘Hot Line’ deal for my client CNN where we could get any keyword placed in just 1 hour. :)

    We had to be more inventive back then.

  5. Omnireso says:

    Well, back then there was another big deal : being listed in ODP / DMOZ ! Almost every Internet Access Provider had its huge directory too (and what about Lycos, does it ring a bell ? ;-)

    Thanks for reminding us we’re getting old !

  6. Lisa Williams says:

    This was a hoot, thank you Heather. I worked in content creation for the web in 1996 and started my biz in 1998 (and bought my first SEO book written by you;) A friend actually introduced my to Google and I remember thinking “White space, no clutter, just searching, don’t know if it’ll last but cool idea!”

    • Heather says:

      Hey girl!

      LOL! And just a few years later, right before Google went public, people were begging to be a “friend of the company.” Definitely one cool idea that worked! :)

  7. Bill Marshall says:

    I remember my first internet connection – command line email by telneting into the local university network on a 4800 modem. Building a Gopher site prior to my first company website. HTML2 and having images for the first time. Mosaic. The US Robotics Sportster 14,400. The announcement of Alta Vista. Serps being filled with thousands of Amazon results. The first cold call from an SEO company and running rings round them.

    “Tell that to kids today and they don’t believe you” M Python ;-)

  8. Dianna Huff says:

    OMG! I got more than half! Woohoo! I remember when I had a link TO Google on my website — so that I could show prospects how “cool” I was using this way cool new search engine.

    I remember when Yahoo was founded and reading the news story in the Murky News about the two guys sleeping under their desks in a trailer on the Stanford campus.

    My first modem was 14.4 — and I remember how excited I was to get a 56K one. Yeah baby!

    Loved, loved, loved F*cked Company. It’s how I found out my client had split the country — with the $3.5K owed to me.

    How’s that for O.G.?

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Dianna, I LOVE your O.G. cred! I too remember those old modems. 56K seemed lightening-fast compared to 14.4

      I also remember not quite getting the “Google thing” when I could just use AltaVista instead. My, how things have changed.

      Sorry about losing $3.5K back in the day. I just did a search (in Google, naturally!) and learned that the owner of F*cked Company is still around and even on Twitter (@pud). Ah, memories… :)


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