Long-Time SEO Jill Whalen Moves On, Praises Google For Rewarding Content More

jill-whalenJill Whalen, one of the first major personalities in the SEO industry, who has been practicing SEO for nearly 20 years, has announced she is moving on from SEO.

The reason why, may shock some of you.

One of the reasons is that she feels that she no longer needs to be the voice “reason in the industry.” Why? Because Google now works. The tricks to beat and spam Google, Whalen said, no longer work as well. Since Google released Panda and Penguin algorithms, as Jill said, the voice of reason is now found virtually on all SEO blogs, forums and at events and conferences.

Jill wrote:

Finally, however, Google put their money where their mouth was with their Panda and Penguin updates. At last the only real way to do SEO was what I had been espousing all along. And it’s a beautiful thing! Today’s SEO blogs and conferences are bursting with SEO consultants talking about how, when you create amazing websites and content for your users, the search engines will follow.

That leads Jill to say, this “means, my friends, that my work here is done.”

Congrats to Jill for making this big move and for being the voice of reason throughout all these years. Personally, I remember from conference to conference, you sitting up on the panel, vouching for content over other methods. We wish you best of luck and don’t be a stranger to the industry you helped build.

For more on Jill’s next steps, see her last newsletter.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | SEM Industry: Community


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Lisa_Barone

    Our priorities are the things we do, not the things we say we do.

    Congrats, Jill, for following your heart and the things that matter to you. You’ve left this industry far better than you found it and we thank you for that. You’ll be missed and I’ll certainly be watching for what’s next! Go get ‘em! :)

  • http://level343.com/article_archive/ SEOcopy

    Excellent move…a woman I’ve admired and followed for years. Jill, I wish you well in your future endeavors, and have signed up to your evolution. Btw Great timing on your race very impressive 9:42!

  • http://www.sagerock.com/blog Sage Lewis

    Just be and do. I try my best to live by that principle.

    You’ve been a great advocate for our industry, Jill. And I’m sure you’ll be an amazing advocate for the industry you light on next.

    Doing anything for 2 decades is exhausting. It’s hard to remake yourself in a small circle over and over again. Sometimes you just need to move to a new circle.

    Have fun and congratulations on your brave move!

  • http://samblogs.com/ Aka Sam

    Have been following you from a long long time. If you say its time to move, it will really disappoint some of the SEO’s out there…

  • http://www.torontoseogroup.com/ Mike Childs

    A strong pioneer gets to see proof of concept on a grand scale and then takers her final bow – awesome!

  • David Abramson

    Agreed! As long as there are search engines then there will be “search engine optimization”. It’s just different now…the new SEO is writing content that relates to what people are interested in (and thus searching for online) and engaging with communities that are interested in what you have to share. Seems like she’s (wisely) moving on from CLASSIC SEO, not abandoning the pursuit of being visible on search engines

  • Louise Desmarais

    I remember listening to Jill’s wise words at a Search Engine Strategies conference in Toronto more than 15 years ago. I still have her slides from that presentation, and have followed her ever since! I will miss Jill’s newsletters always packed with insights and sage advice, but her heart is telling her to move on – and you can’t argue with that! Go girl!

  • MikeInEdmonton

    All the best Jill, I have been a fan of you for years. Good luck in your future endeavor.

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com/ David Burdon

    I might be going against the grain but I still see people gaming the system. In many categories SEO has got a lot tougher. And worse, the start up costs of a new SEO project have got a lot higher relative to the potential rewards. Google’s secure search and the shrinking screen space for organic results are seeing to that. But there’s still an ROI to be earned in SEO.

  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ SKI USA

    We will miss you big time, Jill Whelan :(

  • otriadmarketingrepman

    If this isn’t the DEATH of “traditional” SEO I don’t know what is — and good riddance to it and all it’s practitioners!

  • http://blackhatpwnage.com/ igl00

    Either way http://blackhatpwnage.com is still rocking with methods to cheat google ;) but i admit – now you need better content not usual spu TBS stuff.

  • Karine Heyden

    Hahaha, oh man, thanks for the laughs…

  • Psychobilly99

    SEO is dead… LOL

  • http://www.webmaxformance.com/ Igor Mateski

    Hmm… can’t say I didn’t think the same, but my last 2-3 clients still get bombarded with sales reps pitching link building services, promising the world without ever requesting access to the website they’re “SEO-ing”, and all that for only $99/mo. The world of SEO is far from being a dead industry. Best of luck to Jill’s next move, whatever that may be. Her Higher Rankings newsletter really was a great source of logic.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    The death of traditional SEO, if you did know what it means, is what Jill has long written about. So, it’s not dead.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    The death of traditional SEO, if you did know what it means, is what Jill has long written about. So, it’s not dead.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    No one knows that this was 80% of SEO. Nor would I say everyone thinks that scams are SEO. There are scam that present themselves as SEO. That doesn’t make themselves SEO.

  • http://www.shop.graciousstore.com/ Gracious Store

    Is Jill Whalen,influential in Panda and Penguin, that has set the new tone for SEO that is now working?

  • Harith

    With all due respect, Jill represents old school SEOes who haven’t been able to follow developments in SEO industry. However, I wish Jill luck in her new direction, whatever that might be.

  • 1StopMobi

    Spammy content [poor anchor text, over-optimizing] is pretty much an eyesore and is generally on low PR content sites which are now degraded in ranking.

    In all due respect, algorithm updates have now reared a new animal, “Keyword not defined” in analytics and is somewhat contradictory relative to the statement that google now works in relation to quality content. It appears to describe that an adwords account better be funded so as to be able to visibly see why a keyword campaign would be considered successful versus not paying and visibly not seeing the keyword metrics “consistently”. I am not quite clear where the quality content factors in on this metric but pay to play is pretty evident along with investor ROI.

  • http://www.nomorepencils.com/ David Bennett

    So does that mean when you create great content, soon or later they will beat a path to your door?

  • http://www.squirrly.co/ Alexandra Petean-Nicola

    I’m thankful that in those 20 year, she did not give up on pushing the industry in the right direction. Creating something useful and interesting is what counts and what should always be found by people in their searches. Good luck Jill, in all your future plans.

  • http://www.otriadmarketing.com/ Christopher Skyi

    Hi Danny. Well, I don’t want to flight over percentages and definitions. My point, which I guess was lost — I should have been more clear at the start — is that Google did kill off a lot of bad SEO (and most of it, “traditionally,” in my opinion, and in the opinion of others, at least for small and medium size business owners, was bad — see http://bit.ly/bad-bad-seo ), and like the end of WWII when Patton suddenly found himself in peacetime, so too old SEO warriors like Jill were destined to soon fade away. Jill leaving the field signifies that the war against bad SEO is now largely over . . .

  • Harith

    “Google rewarding great content” is nothing but myth and PR campaign. You can read on webmasters forums sad stories of Google killing white hat sites with great content.

    Jill Whalen must have here own reasons for preaching “Google rewarding great content” !

  • http://www.linkworxseo.com/ Link Worx Seo

    Well, that is a something I was not expecting. Congratulations on your career and thank you for all the great reading through years. Have learned a lot from the articles you have written. GB to you and your family.

  • http://brennanmarketingservices.com/ Dennis

    Thanks for you insights Jill.

    Can I have a few of your clients?

  • http://www.DesignA.ws/ Design A

    Here’s an article I wrote recenntly on What is SEO? for those that are still trying to figure it out or are unsure of best practices. Hope it helps!

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