Tony Adam got a taste of search by migrating to a variety of roles within Fame 1 Computers, Inc. (February 2002 to October 2005), a computer hardware and sales distributor in Los Angeles. His roles included: consulting, sales, infrastructure, network implementation, web design, and development. Tony says he helped Fame 1 Computers grow their consulting division and then they needed a web presence. He stepped into an SEO role in the process.
Adam may well be the first 'second generation internet marketer'. He got his start in 1996 working for his family's marketing company, MMG, with clients such as Intel, IBM, Art.com, and Microsoft. Since then he’s worked with many companies developing marketing and community strategies, including MSN, Zappos and Jeld-Wen. Adam's moderated the LED Digest, a discussion list for internet marketing and SEO, since 1997. He also moderates the SEM 2.0 group and is active on many industry sites.
John Audette, (currently with 501Strategies) was doing SEO before it had a name, before people knew what it was, before spider run search engines existed! You get the point; it was a long time ago, 1995 to be exact. John began his internet marketing career by writing a book that he attempted to have published but he could not find any takers. So he published the book himself and sold it online. With the revenue from the book sales, John started MMG (Multi-Media Marketing Group).
Greg Boser (aka WebGuerilla and half of the SEO Rockstars duo) is known for telling it like it is. His website comment policy is, “Don’t be a dumbass!” You get the point. So how did Greg get his start in the industry and how did he go from “squeaky clean” (according to Greg himself) to one of the industry’s rebels?
Christine was a missile officer in the military. Her daily activities consisted of running computer simulations of missile trajectories and deployments sites. She was part of the team that selected deployment sites for Desert Storm and other targets in the Middle East. Due to the nature of her job she became known as the techie geek by her co-workers. So when her boss needed a website for an upcoming conference, Christine was who he came to. Christine had never created a website before and she only had a month before the conference. She found some resources and built a “pretty hideous site” she reflects, using frames. In 2003, Christine decided to start her own company, KeyRelevance. KeyRelevance is a full service search engine marketing company.
Bruce Clay, president and CEO of Bruce Clay Inc. considers himself fortunate to have participated in the formation of an industry. “How many people can say that?” Bruce asks in an anything but boisterous way. Bruce started his business in 1996 when he got serious and decided that this was going to be a real business. By “this” he says, there was no name, the few people doing search engine optimization at the time called it different things.
Brent Csutoras, Todd Malicoat and Chris Winfield are the three musketeers of search, if you will. Through their years in the trenches of SEO they have become each other’s support systems, offering business and SEO advise whenever a comrade is in need. Together they sat down at SES New York 2008 to reflect and reminisce about how they began and developed their SEO careers. The one piece of advice they all have, build a network of experienced and trusted friends in the search industry. That has made all the difference to them.
Damien Finlay is the Managing Director at Epiar, a search engine optimization, marketing and copywriting firm. Originally, Damien worked at Oracle in database architecture. In 2004, on a visit to Edmonton, Alberta, Damien saw an advertisement for a Search Analyst and Account Manager for young company called Epiar.
Michael Gray, aka Graywolf began his SEO career in 1998 while working for a jewelry and home furnishings business. He was hired as their in-house developer and stumbled into search and SEO by trying to solve issues with their online store. Through his experience with online retail, Michael took his engineering background and turned himself into a self-taught programmer and SEO expert.
Jonathan Hochman is a lead consultant for Hochman Consultants. Launched in 2004, Hochman Consultants specializes in internet marketing, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click advertising. Jonathan graduated from Yale University with two degrees in computer science. He is a Qualified Google Advertising Professional, Yahoo! Search Marketing Ambassador, and Microsoft adExcellence Member.
Bill Hunt is the co-owner and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Strategist for Global Strategies International (GSI). Global Strategies International is a search marketing consultancy organization offering strategic advice, training and implementation services enabling Fortune 500 and enterprise companies to effectively reach Internet users in overseas markets. In this role at GSI, Bill helps companies use SEM to reach customers in overseas markets.
Also know as Andre the Search Giant, Andre Jensen is a seasoned veteran in the Online Marketing industry who also got his start with the core CompUSA folks in the mid-1990s. His real start in SEO centered on something as basic as parenting. In fact, his ticket to being hired at Multimedia Marketing Group started with the curiosity of marketing his parenting site online, andrejr.com.
Detlev Johnson is one of the early pioneers in search engine marketing and web optimization services. Originally a musician, he played guitar in a band called Jr. Johnson and the Mystics. Known as the “Guitar God” he taught lessons in a room upstairs at the old “Music Village” in Bend, Oregon.
Laura Lippay moved to Boston to participate on a rollerblade team in Boston before joining the Ringling Brothers Circus as a rollerblader in 1996. After the circus experience, Laura expanded on her interest in graphic design and multimedia in school before heading out near San Francisco working for The Linus Group.
Known for her SEO Copywriting prowess, President and CEO of Success Works, Heather Lloyd Martin sat down with Mark Knowles for an interview of how it all started. “Maybe I can just give it a shot and go online and see if I can be a freelance writer," were her famous words back in the late 90s that has presently landed Heather Lloyd Martin at the center of the search marketing community with a specialty in SEO copywriting.
Michael, currently SEO director of Resource Nation, left Massachusetts in search of a warmer climate in 2004. His destination was San Diego and he was fortunate to land an SEO job immediately on his arrival. The company was SEO, Inc. and Burkan Bur was his mentor. He also worked with Aaron Shear. For the last six years, he’s enjoyed going back and forth from agency roles to in-house work all while learning, growing and expanding his SEO skills.
Matt McGowan, currently the Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Operations at Incisive Media, started out in financial services at Charles Schwab in New York working on Wall Street. After transferring to San Francisco, Matt joined up with Pearson as a Marketing Manager, an international publisher of textbooks for education, business information and consumer publishing markets. After a few years, Matt became the Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations for PropertyRoom.com, then a small e-retail auction house.
Lee Odden, is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. TopRank is a search marketing agency integrating natural search optimization with social media marketing and new media public relations. Lee is also the CEO and co-owner with Sue Misukanis of Misukanis & Odden, Ltd., a full service marketing and public relations firm based in Minneapolis.
Jeremy Sanchez, co-owner of Global Strategies International, (acquired by Ogilvy in March of 2007) got his start in search engine optimization (SEO) as John Audette’s Executive Assistant in 1997 at the Multi-Media Marketing Group (MMG) in Bend, Oregon.
As chief search strategist for the New York Times Company Marshall Simmonds has been predicting the end of search since he started doing it in 1997. As we all know, Marshall’s expectations of the search engines’ progression has proved wrong but he still believes it will happen someday. The search engines are still really bad about figuring out what content on websites is about and until the engines are able to extract and classify data effectively, educating journalist, writers, editors and producers to write content for SEO is going to be vital, said Marshall.
Renowned search guru, nonchalantly says that he was a newspaper reporter that saw the web, liked what he saw and decided to leave newspapers and start working with a friend developing websites. A humble beginning with an exceptional future, Danny explains that he simply stumbled upon search. One of their first clients asked why they weren’t ranking tops in 1995. There weren’t any good answers at the time so Danny began digging for information. The following year, Danny published his findings on the web, as The Webmaster’s Guide to Search Engines.
Shari Thurow is the founder and Search Engine Optimization Director for Omni Marketing Interactive. She has been designing and promoting web sites since 1995. Shari says that the first site she ever did was a search engine friendly site and was for a large school bus company. She created all of their multi-media presentations and built their marketing database. During the process, she encountered two SEO early birds, Danny Sullivan and John Audette, who mentored her and became her good friends.
Dana Todd initially started out in the world of what was called at the time, “search engine positioning” in late 1995 as Vice President of Bien Logic (later SiteLab), a startup web development company. In her interview with Mark Knowles, Dana mentions that the search engine optimization (SEO) environment was much different than today. She explains that SEOs did not generally know each other and the industry was largely unorganized in its early phase.
An SEO guru, Aaron Wall is the creator and developer of SEO Book that initially came out in December 2003. SEO Book is a leading SEO blog covering marketing tips, search analysis, and more concerning the search space. Since creation, Aaron has revised SEO Book many times and has transformed it to a membership site with online training modules, tutorial videos, custom SEO spreadsheets, exclusive tools, and a community support forum. Aaron continues to provide SEO consulting working with partner Scott Smith at Clientside SEM.
Eric Ward, president of EricWard.com, was involved in launching many of the industry’s Internet success stories, including Amazon.com, Internet Link Exchange and Answers.com. The Wall Street Journal Online once said Eric is “The Svengali behind the scenes of some of the web's most famous launches.”
In the early 90’s, Jill Whalen was a stay-at-home mom with three kids. Being an early adopter of the internet, she started a parenting chat room to connect with parents across the country. To her surprise, the chat room became so popular that she got requests daily to start a website. Self taught Jill created her own parenting website. Once Parentsroom was on the net, Jill began attempting to get it to rank higher so that new people could find it.
There are a few SEO early birds that got their start at CompUSA in Portland, Oregon and Derrick Wheeler was one of them. He can still get you discounts on Windows! His start in SEO in the mid-1990’s was prompted by a co-worker at the time, Marshall Simmons, when Marshall left CompUSA to join a little company called Multimedia Marketing Group in Bend, Oregon. Little did Derrick know that the move would prompt a the journey that years later would give him the title of Senior SEO Architect for Microsoft.com.