In The Beginning
Back in 1995 while I was typesetting the blueprint for Canada’s information highway for Industry Canada (the Information Highway Advisory Committee Report), my friend and long-time collaborator Stephen Lau was contemplating a change in path from his PHD in biochemistry to web marketing. Forever the scientist, Stephen had purchased a PC, hooked it up to a very young internet (Google would only start three years later), and figured out a security hole which allowed him to begin polling one of the six search engines that existed at the time (today there are hundreds).
By polling, I mean every six seconds Stephen’s computer would capture and record the words someone had just entered in that search engine’s query box. At the end of each month, he would then sort this massive list of 438,000 “organic” search terms alphabetically in an Excel spreadsheet to qualify and quantify the keyword terms people were searching on most. It was pure genius and as the months went by Stephen began witnessing real time changes in consumer trends like when “Beanie Babies” shot to the top then waned as Christmas 1996 came and went.
As Stephen’s epiphany of a world with one hand on a mouse and the other on a wallet took hold, he made the decision to park the PHD and take the plunge full-time into internet marketing. Armed with the answers, he began populating the content, page titles and meta tags of his first client websites with the best of these most popular and relevant terms he was collecting.
As his customers’ sales increased along with their investments in web marketing, Stephen very quickly became “the man”. His decision to specialize in search engine optimization (SEO)—the ability to architect web content with the most qualified and popular words used in organic searches—made him one of North America’s very first web marketing specialists.