It’s official. The legal paperwork is filed. The website and associated properties are changed over. The bank accounts are changed (almost). Other than the DBA I now own for collecting old payments as they come in, it’s both with a bit of sadness and excitement that I can say The SEO Pub is officially closed for business.
What a trip it has been. I got started in this online marketing journey all the way back at the beginning of 2001. This was back in the days when you had to be invited to use GMail, if any of you remember that. I actually began by messing around with the fledgling new Google AdWords that had just launched a few months before.
I felt like a Don Lapre commercial, only my tiny classified ads were all over Google’s search engine and not in tiny newspapers all over the country.
Google AdWords was truly the Wild West back then. Clicks cost pennies. There were no rules about ads leading directly to affiliate offers. You didn’t have to own the site your ads led to. You could pretty much advertise anything that was not illegal.
Your ads didn’t even have to match the landing page. Want to run an ad for selling t-shirts and drop the visitors onto a page selling penis pumps? No problem.
You might think I’m joking, but I know someone that was making money doing exactly that.
Although I was running successful ad campaigns, I was always looking for new ways to generate more traffic. That’s how I got started in SEO. To be honest, I had no idea there was a name for what I was doing. I just knew I was working to make my websites show up in relevant search results.
I had long been a lurker on popular internet forums. I never got involved in conversations. Partially, I think I felt I was not as knowledgeable as the regulars and loud voices on these forums and had nothing to offer. I just read a lot, tried testing things I saw people talking about, and just kept adding to my online toolkit.
Fast forward to 2007. I started to see more and more misinformation floated around about SEO, PPC advertising, and online marketing in general. I don’t have statistics to prove it, but I largely blame it on multi-level-marketing companies invading the online space with their often unspoken, and sometimes spoken, mantra of fake it until you make it.
It really bothered me to see so many honest people and business owners looking for legitimate answers to their questions about online marketing being led astray by these Pied Pipers who had clearly never sold a thing online in their life other than courses about how to sell things online.
I don’t remember the first thread that compelled me to do it, but I remember it was anger that drove me to it. After a long time of lurking in these marketing corners, I finally decided to join the conversation.
As I interacted with some of the names I had seen over and over online I learned something about SEO, PPC advertising, and online marketing in general. I learned that I knew a lot more than most of them did and had a lot more to offer.
That may initially sound arrogant, but I bet many of you who have worked online for any significant amount of time went through a similar journey. Even though you may have been ranking pages and making money online for years, you might still have felt like you were just a small fish in a big pond and believed you didn’t have the experience or expertise to share what you knew about online marketing. Then at some point you may have had an interaction with one or more than one of those individuals who talk a big game online and it clicks for you too. You realize that you know more than you thought you did.
Back to my journey.
I started answering people’s questions online. Mostly about SEO. Search engine optimization and Google AdWords have long been my real passion online. Before I knew it PM’s started piling up with people coming to me directly with their questions or wanting more clarification on discussion threads.
Although there were many unique questions, I started to see some of the same questions a lot. The thought crossed my mind that I should set up some kind of a resource where I could answer those questions. I could then refer people to those answers instead of typing them over and over.
I know. I should start one of those blog things everyone is talking about these days (this was 2007).
But I didn’t want to just talk about search engine marketing. I wanted it to be a little more fun than that. I needed to add something else to it.
And one day shortly after while drinking a beer, it hit me. The SEO Pub was born. I could write about SEO topics that interested me or that I saw a lot of misinformation about and I could also talk about beer. It was a win-win.
For those of you who followed me back then, you will remember that intermixed with search engine marketing related posts you would also find frequent reviews of my favorite (and sometimes not so favorite) beers. There was even a Beer of the Month section.
The SEO Pub made some decent money through affiliate offers, but I never really pushed that side of it hard. I had plenty of other affiliate sites and that was where my online empire really was.
But something interesting happened pretty quickly after launching The SEO Pub. Instead of just questions about SEO topics, I started getting inquiries from business owners wanting to know if I could help them with their SEO.
The first few I offered some advice where I could, but politely turned them down. I didn’t think people really wanted to hire me for that. These were exceptions, not the rule.
The requests did not stop.
I realized that even though it was not what I intended when I started this, I had a potential business on my hands. Unlike so many of the other people I saw taking on clients at that time, I actually had a few years of experience in ranking websites and making money online.
Later that year I formed and launched the business side of The SEO Pub at TheSEOPub.net. I kept the blog style site going on the .com version.
Many happy clients later I realized there was no real point in keeping the two sites separate and merged them into one site on TheSEOPub.com, and that is where it has lived until this week.
For a few years I have been considering renaming the business. I love The SEO Pub, but we handle so much more for clients than just SEO. In fact, we frequently get contact requests asking if we handle PPC advertising or social media marketing (even though it says so right on the website). The brand name always felt limiting, and as I mentioned above it wasn’t really chosen with the idea of building a business around it.
Two things have stopped me from rebranding the business sooner.
Perhaps I should have made it a priority sooner, but there was alway other work to do. The thought of the legal paperwork to change the business name, changing over bank accounts, new emails, new logins, new business cards… all of it felt a little overwhelming.
Turns out, the legal paperwork took all of 20 minutes to fill out with my state and cost me about $100. The bank accounts, well the only hassle with those is my local branch is close, the next closest one is open by appointment only, and they will not do it online. Oh, and I forgot one of the forms I needed the first time I went in, so now I have to go back again tomorrow. No big deal though and should take about 15 minutes.
The other stuff. It is all just excuses I kept making.
The name though. Now that was a tough one.
Those of you who have known me for longer than five minutes know of my affinity for Spartans. I have had a mild obsession with them since I had to do a history report in 7th grade. We were allowed to pick pretty much any topic from European history. Someone in my family said I should look up the Battle of Thermopylae. For those unfamiliar, that’s the historical battle that the movie 300 is loosely based on. I’ve been a fan of Spartans and Spartan history ever since.
In fact, I left a small part of the story above out where I started a business with a partner called Spartan Online Marketing. Later I created The SEO Pub Academy, which I later moved to Spartan Marketing Academy.
Something Spartan related was always a possibility, and I did consider it. In the end, it just felt too cliché. Too overdone. No disrespect to anyone running a business today using that name.
I wanted a name that told a better story about what we do.
I went through names that had words in them like summit and peak. Summit Marketing is not a terrible name, right? I went through names from Greek and Roman Mythology. Powerful gods and mortal heroes. Nothing really grabbed me.
One day I was trying to brainstorm new names. Probably the 20th time in two years I had done this. I started just writing down words that were related to what we do and the results of what we do. Objectives, tasks, customer interactions… everything.
The list was much, much bigger than this, but it went something like...
Rankings Advertising Reporting Analysis Optimization Marketing Promos Press Content Conversions Sales Leads Clicks
And that was when it hit me. Clicks. Every customer journey on a website starts with this. Everything we do is about sticking out from your competitors and getting Clicked.
Whether it is ranking in search engines, running ads in Google Ads, building a following and posting in social media… the end goal is to generate sales or leads, but that starts with getting Clicked over your competitors.
Once that name popped in my head, everything else just Clicked into place, pun intended.
You can expect all of the same great service and content (plus a lot more and bigger things on the way) that you found at The SEO Pub.
New name. Same great service.
I thank those of you who have followed me and The SEO Pub this far. I’m excited for what comes next.