How I Became Obsessive About Obsolescence-Proofing
Mike Levin, an SEO expert who coined the phrase 'long-tail marketing' in the industry, is determined to stay relevant in his field. After his father's death due to diabetes and heart failure, Mike was nearly killed by a robber, motivating him to study SEO with a 'fool me once won't get fooled again' attitude. With HitTail, a keyword suggestion tool he created in 2005, Mike is determined to stay ahead of the curve and never become obsolete.
Never Become Obsolete: My Journey to Obsolescence-Proof My Career After a Near-Death Experience
By Michael Levin
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Hello World! I’m Mike Levin. I’m an SEO who hasn’t done much SEO for myself in ages. In the early days before Google got so smart (before RankBrain), I could do almost any page to the top of search results, given the targeted keywords were anything but the most competitive (and fortified) out there. I was the master of the long-tail, and even helped coin the phrase long-tail marketing in the industry. Today, I don’t even hold the first position on my own name, much less any automatic revenue-generating side hustles. It’s time to remedy that, and you can follow along as I do it in this much more competitive landscape.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. I got into the field in the late 1990s when I switched out of graphic design and print production into being a webmaster. My path led me into New York City as a vice president of a tiny marketing agency that was looking for some high tech super powers. I provided it by creating HitTail, Web 2.0 keyword suggestion tool in 2005 that had a 15-year run, finally being shut down in 2020. It was much longer-lived than most products from that era. I got a lot of things right. With a little refactoring, tender love and care it could have had another decade of life breathed into it juiced with machine learning, for basically the same purpose as a writing topic suggestion engine. Who knows, with all the AI-writing tools, it probably could have done the writing too. But that’d have been too spammy.
In thin double-crunch-crisis I realized how deeply damaging wrong moves could be at this time. I had images of flipping burgers in my 50s, unable to support my soon-to-be-born child. I saw my dad go through such a decline. He did not have the benefit of Google and the Internet. I think it would have done him good. His research turned up
My dad ended up obsolete in his own field as a textile quality assurance engineer, was forced to switch businesses in his late 50s, bought a check cashing store, died from diabetes and heart failure, dumped the place on me where I almost got killed by a robber. I considered myself lucky to even get back into tech after that, you know as opposed to dead. At 40 with a kid on the way the way with my marriage and career going downhill, I was terrified of going obsolete in my own field just like my dad. So I made a study of it with a fool-me-once won’t get fooled again attitude. I was 40. It was 2010. I was losing altitude, terrified and motivated.