Fifteen Years Is a Long Time in SEO

I’ve been in an introspective mood lately.

Earlier this year (15 years after starting Distilled in 2005), we spun out a new company called SearchPilot to focus on our SEO A/B testing and meta-CMS technology (previously known as Distilled ODN), and merged the consulting and conferences part of the business with Brainlabs.

I’m now CEO of SearchPilot (which is primarily owned by the shareholders of Distilled), and am also SEO Partner at Brainlabs, so… I’m sorry everyone, but I’m very much staying in the SEO industry.

As such, it feels a bit like the end of a chapter for me rather than the end of the book, but it has still had me looking back over what’s changed and what hasn’t over the last 15 years I’ve been in the industry.

I can’t lay claim to being one of the first generation of SEO experts, but having been building websites since around 1996 and having seen the growth of Google from the beginning, I feel like maybe I’m second generation, and maybe I have some interesting stories to share with those who are newer to the game.

I’ve racked my brain to try and remember what felt significant at the time, and also looked back over the big trends through my time in the industry, to put together what I think makes an interesting reading list that most people working on the web today would do well to know about.

The big eras of search

I joked at the beginning of a presentation I gave in 2018 that the big eras of search oscillated between…

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