‘SEO: The Movie’ aims to trace the rise of internet marketing

Grab your popcorn. There’s a new movie that looks back on the history of SEO from the mid-1990s to today.

Wait. A movie about SEO?

Yep. It may seem odd at first glance, but as anyone who’s been around the industry for the past 20 or so years could tell you, there are definitely some interesting stories to tell.

So that’s what John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility, set out to do. He began working on “SEO: The Movie” last October, interviewing a half-dozen industry veterans (including Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan and Barry Schwartz) about topics like

  • the early days of SEO and the impact that affiliate marketers, in particular, had on the industry.
  • the impact that the Google Toolbar had on SEO thanks to the visible display of the PageRank meter, and how that quickly created a marketplace for buying and selling links.
  • the monthly “Google dance,” when SEOs would suddenly find out if Google’s latest rankings update impacted them for better or worse.

Lincoln also narrates the movie, which covers topics up to and including recent developments like Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates.

A couple of stories really stood out to me: Rae Hoffman (aka Sugarrae) talking about how her first affiliate marketing commission check was worth more than what her then-husband was making in an entire year, and Rand Fishkin of Moz talking about the company’s early financial troubles and how attending two conferences set a course toward profitability. There’s also a section that very appropriately discusses the huge impact that former Googler Matt Cutts had across the SEO industry, from his days as “GoogleGuy” at WebmasterWorld and other forums up until his recent switch to a career at the US Digital Service.

I’m the farthest thing from a movie critic, but others who want to pick apart the film will rightly point out that it’s US-centric and that a lot of industry pioneers weren’t interviewed. (Link building pioneer Eric Ward even supplied Lincoln with a tongue-in-cheek rant about not being interviewed; it’s included during the end credits.)

The bottom line is that it’s impossible to tell the entire history of SEO in about 40 minutes. As Lincoln told me via email, his movie purposely focuses just on some of the key events from the early days of SEO up to recent times.

Still, I think industry veterans and newcomers will enjoy it. I did, and it left me hoping to someday see a longer version with more SEO luminaries — young and old — telling stories about how the industry began and evolved.

If you want to check out “SEO: The Movie,” the full-length movie is embedded below.

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Author: Matt McGee

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