The Birth of Search Engine Journal
It all started on a sleepless night 8 years ago. After taking a hiatus from the world of online marketing to do some traveling and teaching, I decided to start getting back into the swing of things and checking out what had changed in the world of search. On that sleepless night in 2003, I started logging back into my forum accounts, checking my archives of iSearch email newsletters and renewing my interest in SEO.
I had stepped away from search in 2001, after a few very active years in this great industry’s infancy. In just 2 years, a lot had changed. Most specifically, Google was now a major player, and some of the tactics I had used in onsite optimization years before were starting to get outdated. Google had recently bought Blogger.com as “web logging” services started to become more and more popular. I had an epiphany; “Why not build my own SEO blog and write up my thoughts and research on it, instead of only participating in forums and email newsletters?”
When I looked into registering “searchengineblog.com”, I saw that it had already been taken by Peter deVanzo (who I knew from the v7n forums). So I thought, what about “Search Engine Journal”, and wallah!
The brand name Search Engine Journal made so much sense to me because it achieved two goals which ended up shaping the direction of my blog. First, “journal” is similar in concept to “blog”, and it drove me to update daily, like keeping a web journal. Second, the word “journal” also positioned the site to be prestigious, like “Wall Street Journal”.
At first I ended up using Blogspot to power SEJ, then a guy named Sushubh Mittal contacted me about a new open-source blogging platform called b2. I had never heard of b2, but I took a chance and made the move. Sushubh’s ws the among the best advice I ever received because b2 later became WordPress. I can honestly say that SEJ was the first search-marketing blog powered by WordPress!
The rest was history; I diligently submitted the SEJ RSS feed whereever I could, asked for links from search resources I knew, and got up every day at 7 am to cover the morning search news. The hard work and great timing (we were one of the only search blogs on the market) paid off. In 2003 I sold my first ad placement for $35 a month (I remember how happy I was because this paid for my hosting!), and by 2005, SEJ became a full-time job.
Thanks to Archive.org’s Wayback Machine, here’s SEJ back in December 2003!
Enter Search & Social, then BlueGlass
Search Engine Journal did become a full-time job and also a great lead-generation tool, as I have met a lot of amazing people via the site and at conferences. This ultimately led to private consulting gigs for both SEO and blog marketing. In 2008, I found myself pretty tapped out managing SEJ, a handful of clients (some still with us today), traveling to conferences and everything else.
I had met Dave Snyder & Jordan Kasteler, who had launched a small agency called Search & Social, and we ended up partnering for a conference in Florida call IM Spring Break (named after IMBroadcast.com, an online marketing video site we had launched). After that highly successful conference, I called Dave & Jordan about rolling SEJ & my consultancy into Search & Social; Search & Social Media was born.
Our agency was growing, and our media network, with the flagship SEJ, needed some help on the editing and content side, so we brought on Ann Smarty as an assistant editor at SEJ. Ann did an incredible job of keeping the content up to date, recruiting guest bloggers & columnists, and also assisting with the marketing of the site. I still played a daily role however, steering the direction of SEJ, building partnerships, bringing on advertisers and marketing the SEJ brand.
Search & Social Media later entered into a merger with 3 other awesome companies to form BlueGlass Interactive, which is a stakeholder in Alpha Brand Media. Honestly, I have not had the time to devote to SEJ since then. The community has more or less been running itself under the watchful eye of both Ann and Jenise Henrikson, the CEO of Alpha Brand.
Say Hello to Jim Nash!
I made a very difficult decision 3 or 4 months ago: to step away from my editor in chief title at SEJ and empower a new person to take over its day-to-day direction, content management and brand building. After an exhaustive search of over 10 candidates, Jim Nash was tapped to helm SEJ’s new era.
Jim has a stellar background in news editing with a resume that includes NBC’s SyFy Channel, InformationWeek, ThisOldHouse.com and the Chicago Tribune. Jim has taken on the task of being in charge of my baby, a brand & authorative blog I built out of nothing and that transformed my career, and built up the careers of many in the world of search marketing. Jim Nash has one heck of a project on his hands and one hell of a critic in myself, and I’m absolutely confident that under Jim’s leadership, SEJ is headed in the right direction.
The first part of that direction is a new rebranding, which we’ve launched today. SEJ’s new logo, image, theme and color scheme is sleek and was a redesign that was very long in the making, but this new design will only be as strong as the site’s voice and content.
Jim has recruited some of the top minds in SEO and search marketing to share actionable ideas about increasing your return on investment. I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the posts and industry experts contributing to this blog. Jim is steering SEJ in the direction of quality with a mission to spread the education and knowledge of SEO, while also giving those who want to contribute a podium to do so.
My Next Steps
I’m going to leave it to Jim to intro himself, but here’s a little bit about the direction in which I’m heading.
I’m still going to be advising Search Engine Journal & the Alpha Brand Media family. My primary focus
full-time career, however, is as VP of marketing at BlueGlass Interactive, where I lead branding, our conference series, client growth and business development of BlueGlass.
We have A LOT of great people at BlueGlass, amazing clients and ground-breaking products on our horizon, and a man can only wear so many hats … so it’s time to step back from SEJ a bit and focus primarily on the growth of BlueGlass.
Does this mean I won’t be blogging anymore on SEJ? No way, Jose! As a matter of fact I’ll probably be able to blog a little more than I have been lately, and contribute some out-of-the-box ideas around search marketing, especially after stepping away from the day-to-day. I’ll probably be blogging more often than I have over the past year!