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How is anybody who started in SEO before 2010 not a millionaire?

1:38 am on Jan 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I only got into SEO in the last few years and from researching and talking with some buddies, it seems that SEO was significantly easier before the panda and penguin updates. In fact it was so easy that one of my buddies who knows almost nothing about SEO had created and sold a drug rehab site for more than $40M.

So I'm genuinely curious, in a time when SEO was pretty much LINKS, LINKS, LINKS(and a sprinkle of over optimized on page), and automated tools to do it all for you, and in a time when you could literally rank for "car insurance" in a month with an EMD and 10 thousands GSA links, did you guys make crazy bucks?
3:15 am on Jan 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I did very well. I went from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 25 room 7,000 sq. foot house. In a matter of 4 years. I built a niche site that a lot of people were looking for.

I was just about to fully cash out when Panda hit. I had a 20 Mil dollar offer for my site that was getting 12Mil unique visitors monthly. Panda hit and it went to 3 M unique views. Right during due diligence.

Probably for the best, if it hit 6 months later, I'd still be in court. It was a huge company.

All and all, I can't complain. I'm able to work from home and watch my kids grow up and make it to every game. I got a few bucks left to pay for college. Thanks G for getting me there.
4:19 pm on Mar 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yes makes sense, still remember: it was easier than now, not that it was "easy" to make lots of money, many people where doing the same using the same techniques on whatever niche you where in.

Things got weird and interesting before panda, there was a lot of confusion on why some sites had better positions while having terrible SEO techniques, if I recall correctly it was around the blog/wordpress era and also during the time when Google started filling space with advertised "positions". Then panda hit and things got even worse. Some sites where hit even they were clean, nice, white hat, etc. Some recovered, some never did. The SE algos where a lot more clear and easy to understand than now I guess.

Another turn on "why not making money", well, some clients just won't understand or accept what has to be done, so a lot of good projects ended being half of what they were meant to be due to the blind client. Things won't be as they should if they won't let you do your job. Some could say "but your job was seo", well, yes but content is king, and when the client just won't deliver the content, or the content as it should be... you are fried. Not every time you can charge for creating content for them.

While I built sites on my own for me, personal projects etc, and they proved the concepts of SEO well applied work, I still had competition (thus that's what I mean is not that easy), but I made some good businesses based on my traffic, positioning and readers on some cases (not all) for over more than 10 years (sorry seems like yesterday, I guess it's about 20 now). The money making in those cases was also "Adsense" and I was happy. No client involved = I could do things as I learned they should be.

Diff than some cases around here, never got the chance to sell a site for so much money. Had some offers but Adsense was way better on the long run. Even had offers on domain names (and just sold one). Sometimes one wishes to hit that big, sometimes you even refuse because they are so many years invested. Lucky the ones who could do it, just as Pj-man says, some were doing great and then things kinda collapsed, sounds terrible if that happened during a site sale.
7:02 pm on Mar 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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A good number of WebmasterWorld members did become millionaires (not that a million is what it was, yes, I'm old even unto inflation), some dropped out, some died (WebmasterWorld has been around for almost a generation), and some are still about. A good many, such as Pjman built a solid very comfortable foundation but circumstance chopped the next economic step.

As with every gold rush, there are a few who make it huge, some who make it big, more who find a new comfortable life, and a great many who work for wages. Even among those who got there first.

Don't be deceived - often the wealthiest most successful are the quietest most helpful; there is a fascinating behaviour of paying forward in return for help received prior in the webdev industry. Conversely some of the loudest squawkers are the cheapest poorest hustlers trying to scam their way up the ladder (eg: remember that period of AdSense cheque photos? with never ever an accompanying AdWords statement?). On these fora there is no way to know who is behind the facade besides the quality and value of their posts, which says little to their economic situation.

That said I must say that time and circumstance coincided extremely well for me. And I continue to play because webdev is such a broad and increasingly deepening activity that when I get bored (as I have regularly) I can afford to delve into new interests such as quality traffic generation (aka NOT Google), developing return visitors, marketing and media strategy, direct ad sales, non-standard affiliate pre-sell optimisation, and analytics especially as a driver for contextual page/site delivery...

There are still mini-gold rush opportunities all over the web. However, if you just want to keep mining the same old Google ground...
1:51 pm on Mar 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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There are still mini-gold rush opportunities all over the web. However, if you just want to keep mining the same old Google ground...

I can't think what to add to this ... absolutely spot on.

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