Too Many Years of SEO Experience?

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I was recently on a website where a guy claims 12 years as an INDUSTRY LEADER in SEO and SEM.  Does that even make sense?

For those of you who can’t do math that would mean that he has been an industry leader since 1997.  That would be a neat trick since, as this Fortune Magazine article shows, search is so new then that news sources still have to explain to people that they even can search the Internet.

This is what Yahoo! looked like in mid-1997.


Google doesn’t even get started until 1998.  It doesn’t really become anything that anyone cares about until late 1998 or early 1999. 

Wikipedia says, “the earliest known use of the phrase search engine optimization was a spam message posted on Usenet on July 26, 1997.

Did this guy post that spam message?  Maybe that is what passes for “experience” in a slippery industry like SEO.

In reality, the best, anyone could actually claim in 1997 is to have had good understanding of search engines.

If they were doing anything in 1997, you might not want to brag about it. In 1997 the optimization that did exist meant repeating keywords as many times as possible on your page even if it didn’t make sense, a tactic now punished and filtered out by every search engine in the world. Even if you were an industry leader in doing that, how could that be useful today?

I see this all the time in technology.  The tech world isn’t like a lot of other industries.  It just hasn’t been around long enough for there to be anyone with 30 years of relevant experience.  More importantly that that, it changes so fast that even if you could find someone with 30 years of experience, SO WHAT?

A pioneer in C programming could have 35 years of experience.  Of course, 8 to 10 years of that experience would come before the language was standardized.  If you needed experience in object-oriented programming something in the realm of 20 years would the maximum.  (It existed before then, but it didn’t really come into mainstream use until the 1990s.)

Statements touting many years of experience like this are meant to appeal to the 60 year old executive types who may not fully understand various technologies and want to apply the same rules that exist in their world to the tech space.  So, a CFO with 30 years of accounting experience reasons that a guy with 10 years of accounting experience is more seasoned than a guy with just 5 years, so an SEO expert with 12 years experience must be better than one with 5.

Of course, pretty much everything more than 3 years old in SEO is crap now thanks to updated algorithms and savvier search programs, but whatever.

I don’t have any problem with Mr. 12 Years as Industry Leader, it just strikes me as kind of odd.  I’d rather see a tagline like, “Helped 30 of the Fortune 50 to the top of search rankings” or something more relevant. But, hey, go with whatever works for you.  Just hope that nobody does the math.


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