Google Dance 2007 T-Shirt

Back in 2007, at the SES San Jose, I picked up the T-Shirt I was wearing today. I believe it must have been the last Google Dance at a large search marketing conference. The SES in San Jose in 2007 has gone down in history as the point Google brought down the hammer on Paid Links.

Google is not the Government

To make sure you know your history, make sure you read these posts, and understand how we got there. Sometimes it's just important to understand your history to know what will be coming next..So for those who were not there, here are the links to some great readings:

This was also the last SES where Danny Sullivan was working at the SES conference before he started Searchengineland, Third Door Media and the successful SMX conferences.

T-shirt Google Dance at the SES San Jose 2007
T-shirt Google Dance at the SES San Jose 2007

At least I can say, I got the T-Shirt...

A couple of observations;

  • It's been 5 years since the war on paid links started, and there is still no end in sight
  • Paid links have gone underground, even more off the radar all SEO's thought would happen back in 2007
  • Paid links now come in disguise; AKA guest posts; content marketing or sponsorship
  • After 5 years, I still fit this T-Shirt.. (really!)

Honestly, link-building is a blind spot on my SEO resume. First I worked for eBay, getting links thrown at pages left-and-right. My job was just to not shoot ourselves in the foot and let the link equity go to waste. Second, Slashdot and SourceForge, the sites I've worked at for 14 months, both have Billions of links. Yes, Billions with a B! Now, at Airbnb, I can see where we are going. This will be a link printing machine if we play our cards right. Why.. Because the product doesn't Suck!

Which brings me to a quote of a good and wise SEO friend of mine:

The best SEO is a product that doesn't suck. Otherwise it's just manipulation.

The best SEO is a product that doesn't suck. Otherwise it's just manipulation.



  1. Andrew Shotland says:

    I think you should retitle this post: “No One Knows The Inbound Linking Problems of a Pretty Girl”

    1. @Andrew Shotland After your tweets, now I get it… “Nobody understands the real problems of a handsome, genius SEO. It’s hard to be me..”

  2. SimonHeseltine says:

    I made the mistake of getting the wrong size shirt at that party, and my daughter now has it :)

    1. @SimonHeseltine I miss those Google dances with Lava Lamps and free candy until you get sick…

      1. robdwoods says:

        @thenextcorner  @SimonHeseltine My problem wasn’t the free candy. Google says “Don’t be evil” then gives you free beer. I think I missed a couple of sessions the next morning. I remember riding on the bus from the conference to the dance that year with some SeoMoz folks.

        1. @robdwoods  @SimonHeseltine Yeah, I remember somebody on the paid link panel pointing out the free beer we were all going to drink at the Google Dance that evening, and probably blogging about it, with a link to the Google website. Not that they would need another link, but hey, the irony of the whole Paid link debate put in  a different light.
          Paying for free beer, getting links, is that considered as a paid link? I guess now days it is, since Overstock got a slap on the hand when they were giving discounts to college students to link back from their .EDU profiles with exact match anchor text. At the time it seemed like a great program, but the overwhelming footprint of exact match anchor text was too easy to spot!

        2. SimonHeseltine says:

          @robdwoods  @thenextcorner  aye, funny thing that we were all there and didn’t meet until much later :)

        3. @SimonHeseltine  @robdwoods Old Timers #FTW. That was the whole purpose of my post here. Know where we are coming from, to understand where we are going!

        4. robdwoods says:

          @SimonHeseltine  @robdwoods  @thenextcorner It was a while ago :) I remember meeting The Oatmeal at a Google Dance when he worked for the Moz. I’m an old timer but not a REAL oldtimer… I think my first conference was SES New York in ’04. I remember Yahoo’s 10th birthday party at SES NY in ’04 or ’05. They were pouring single malt scotch in wine glasses. You just don’t see those parties anymore…probably a good thing actually.

        5. @robdwoods  @SimonHeseltine Well, if you remember SES NY ’04, you’re an even older timer than me (is that grammar correct..? Can we call in the Grammar Nazi?).
          I only moved to the US early ’06, and started building relationships in the SEO industry at my first conference; SMX Advanced in Seattle ’06. Met up with Scott Skurnick  & Scott Polk for drinks and dinner. Still friends with those guys!

        6. SimonHeseltine says:

          @thenextcorner  @robdwoods  my first conference was SES Chicago 2005 and I hardly spoke to anyone… by Chicago 2006… that was a different matter, people haven’t been able to shut me up since 😉

        7. @SimonHeseltine  @robdwoods Same here Buddy! I had 3 main objectives when I moved to the US (other then to start a family, get married etc.):
          1. Build a wide network among industry peers
          2. Build my skills as a public speaker
          3. Become Director SEO for eBay, and in charge of all SEO
          Check marks behind all three objectives, and funny enough, #2 & #3 help #1…

        8. SimonHeseltine says:

          @thenextcorner  @robdwoods Not too dissimilar over here, although perhaps a different company in #3 😉

        9. robdwoods says:

          @SimonHeseltine  @thenextcorner it’s funny how so many of us have similar paths. My first couple of conferences I went to sessions and spoke to no one. I’m not even sure what broke me out of my shell. Probably going to a conference with a co-worker that was more outgoing :) I also suffer from the “no one can shut me up” syndrome now…  Seriously though I thought Missy Ward’s idea she spoke about of having experienced conference goers mentor newbies was great. We should adopt that in the SEO world. I’d be completely up for giving a newbie a pre-conference run down and then introducing them around. It sure would have helped me get out-of-the-gate with networking.

        10. robdwoods says:

          @thenextcorner  @SimonHeseltine I’m still working on 1 and 2, though I guess you never really stop working on those. I don’t think I’ll be able to hit #3, unless they let me work from Vancouver :) which I’m likely never ever leaving.

        11. @robdwoods  @SimonHeseltine Yeah, I like that as well Rob, although I always make an efort myself to sit at tables during lunch with people I have not met yet. And when people walk up to me to greet, I make an effort to introduce my newly met table friends to my older friend.
          That’s how you become…. The Connector!

        12. @robdwoods  @SimonHeseltine Well, eBay just moved their whole Internet Marketing department to Seattle, so that might be closer than you think.. :-)

        13. robdwoods says:

          @thenextcorner  @SimonHeseltine The funny thing is I live so far out in the ‘burbs that I have a 1 1/2 hour commute to downtown Vancouver and I can drive to Seattle in 2 hours….

        14. ScottPolk says:

          @thenextcorner  @robdwoods  @SimonHeseltine  Scott Skurnick  Scott Polk  Yep – SMX Advanced .. what a great conference and networking. Dennis has always been one of those you are glad you met and even happier to still be friends with.

        15. @ScottPolk  @robdwoods  @SimonHeseltine  Scott Skurnick  Scott Polk Thanks Scott… Always welcome the opportunity to hang out with you!
          Now go take care of pregnant your soon to be wife, and practice the two most important words: “Yes Dear!”

        16. schachin says:

          @SimonHeseltine @robdwoods @thenextcorner @scottpolk ….San Jose was one of my first conferences…. :) Dave Davies from BeanstalkSEO & Jim Hedger from DAM Media were some of the first two I met. Without them I woukd have been lost :)

        17. @schachin  @SimonHeseltine  @robdwoods  @thenextcorner  @scottpolk 
          Looks like we all had some mentors when we first got into conferences. To reiterate Robs comment from above here:
          “Seriously though I thought Missy Ward’s idea she spoke about of having experienced conference goers mentor newbies was great. We should adopt that in the SEO world. I’d be completely up for giving a newbie a pre-conference run down and then introducing them around. It sure would have helped me get out-of-the-gate with networking.”
          Can we actually make this happen outside of the conference organization, or would we need to get the help of the people in charge.

        18. robdwoods says:

          @thenextcorner  @schachin  @SimonHeseltine  @scottpolk I think it would be much more effective to get the organizers involved. I thought the idea was a brilliant one on Missy’s part and it would be something that helps the next generation of online marketers and maybe one that makes our “industry” a little better and more respected over time. The more I think about this the more I’d like to do something to make it happen. It is something one could start on their own, but would probably be much more effective with someone like Danny or Brett on side.

        19. CurtisRCurtis says:

          @robdwoods    Yes I remember coming down to one of the conferences in Seattle; actually I think it was the SEOmoz one a few years ago & thinking; “damn” Rob has really gotten out of his shell. Now you’re just a regular partier :)

        20. SimonHeseltine says:

          @robdwoods  @thenextcorner  @schachin  @SimonHeseltine  @scottpolk It was Frank Watson who took a bunch of us newbies under his wing @ Chicago 2006.  I remember there was me & rhea  in that group :)

        21. Rhea Drysdale says:

          @SimonHeseltine  @robdwoods  @thenextcorner  @schachin  @scottpolk  rhea I love that night. I met Frank, @SimonHeseltine Neil Patel Cameron Olthuis Lee Odden Carolyn Shelby and so many more awesome folks. Whatever happened to Physics SEO? That guy was a genius and I only ever talked to him that night. Also, the best part of the night was a drunk Chicago Bears fan proposing to me in the bar. :) Simon, thanks for the memories! Also, @thenextcorner totally agree with Laura Lippay ‘s comment.

        22. robdwoods says:

          @thenextcorner  @schachin  @SimonHeseltine  @robdwoods  @scottpolk Just in case I registered :) it was best I could get that wasn’t already taken…

        23. SimonHeseltine says:

          @Rhea Drysdale  @robdwoods  @thenextcorner  @schachin  @scottpolk  rhea  Neil Patel  Cameron Olthuis  Lee Odden  Carolyn Shelby  Laura Lippay Heh, I remember your proposal, That was right before we met everyone, IIRC it was James from NZ that introduced us to Frank.

  3. DaveDavies says:

    An awesome party to be sure but I preferred the shirts from the year before (the “Google Labs” year). :)
    For those who don’t remember – they looked like

    1. schachin says:

      @DaveDavies I still see those around sometimes :)

    2. robdwoods says:

      @DaveDavies Damn! Now I’m wondering what the hell happened to mine… I probably wore it until it got ratty then used it for painting.

      1. DaveDavies says:

        @robdwoods  I’ve still got mine.  Us it as a gym shirt now mind you. :)

        1. @DaveDavies  @robdwoods My wife threw away a boat load of free conference T-Shirts 2 years ago. (Donated I should say).
          I felt bad I don’t have those good oldies anymore, but then again, walking in free T-Shirts from conferences is not really fashionable!