Looking to know more about me, Danny Sullivan? Here’s some background on my career.
College work, internships and freelancing aside, my start as a professional journalist began when I was hired as an editorial researcher for the Los Angeles Times in 1989, eventually working full-time alongside graphic artists to produce newspaper informational graphics. In 1994, I left to become a graphics reporter for the Orange County Register.
In 1995, I left newspapers. I’d seen the web and also seen that my paper and newspapers in general weren’t going to get there as fast as I’d like. I joined a friend’s company as general manager, to produce web sites for businesses in Orange County & Southern California. In our time, Maximized Online put the Long Beach Grand Prix, the Santa Ana Zoo, Calavo Avocados and even the County of Orange online. We also ran one of the first online greeting card services, Build-A-Card.
One of the other things we did was search engine optimization — before it was even called that. Not much was known about search engines back then, so I spent a lot of my spare time researching them and the industry in general. I published it all what I called “A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines” in April 1996 — marking what became my new career as a search journalist.
Maximized Online closed in mid-1996, to focus instead on software. On my own, I continued updating the guide and expanding its coverage of search engines. In 1997, I gave it a new name: Search Engine Watch. By the end of that year, I sold the site to Mecklermedia and continued on running it. You can read more about the history here.
In 2005, Mecklermedia sold the site — as well as a conference series that I helped create called SES: Search Engine Strategies (now defunct) — to another company called Incisive Media. I stayed on for a year, then chose to leave.
I carried on all the things I was doing before through a new company called Third Door Media, which I cofounded at the end of 2006 with a long-time friend and colleague, Chris Elwell. The company produced Search Engine Land as an online publication focused on search engines and search marketing. SMX: Search Marketing Expo was its associated conference series.
After twenty-one years covering search, I decided in June 2017 that I was ready for a break and a change. I stepped down as Third Door Media’s chief content officer and retired from my time as a search journalist.
I thought I was also retired from search generally, but then I was approached by Google about joining the company to help explain how search works to the public, as well as help bring feedback in to improve search. It was a fresh new challenge, and I began in that role in October 2017.
If you’re looking for some further background, I’ve been cited in several books about search, which include:
The Google Story, by David Vise and Mark Malseed, has a chapter about me.
The Search, by John Battelle, who gave me special thanks for background on the subject.
Googled, The End Of The World As We Know It, by Ken Auletta, cites me and names me as “the closest approximation to an umpire in the search world.”
In The Plex, by Steven Levy cites me.
The Filter Bubble, by Eli Pariser cites me in the second paragraph of the book’s opening (that was pretty cool).
Those are all great books, by the way. Even if I weren’t cited in them, if you care about search, they’re excellent reads and background. I especially consider the books by Battelle, Auletta and Levy to form a “search trilogy” that should be essential reading by anyone who cares about the industry.
Below are news articles specifically about me or where I’ve been recognized beyond just being quoted in a story.
Here’s How Veteran Search Engine Expert Danny Sullivan Writes
Copyblogger, March 2015
Danny Sullivan Talks Search Engine History & The Future Of Search
Internet History Podcast, Dec. 1, 2014
100 Influential Tech People On Twitter
Business Insider, April 14, 2014
Top 50 Most Retweeted By Midsized Marketers
AdWeek, Feb. 7, 2014
101 Signals: You Only Need to Listen to 16 People to Know What’s Up in the Tech World
Wired, Aug. 2013
Small Business Owners: Top 50 Twitter Influencers Worth Following
DBCC, June 27, 2012
.net 227: Danny Sullivan Interview
.net, May 2012
140 Best Twitter Feeds: Danny Sullivan
Time, March 28, 2011
Danny Sullivan’s Desk
Coast Magazine, June 2010 (page 44)
Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Content Hurricane
DishyMix Podcast, October 2007
Got a search engine question? Ask Mr. Sullivan
USA Today, Aug. 1, 2006
A Brief Look at Danny’s Appearance on Nightline
Search Engine Watch, Jan. 21, 2006
Walt Mossberg’s Favorite Tech Blogs
Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, 2005
Helping Webmasters Land in Search Engines’ Nets
New York Times, March 23, 2000
In my time covering search, I was also cited by a wide range of publications and media outlets, including the New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, ABC Nightline and various shows on NPR, as well as in several books. You can find a rundown of these here.
If you’re after what I’ve written about in terms of digital and search marketing, then you want my author pages below:
- Danny Sullivan @ Search Engine Land
- Danny Sullivan @ Marketing Land
- Danny Sullivan @ MarTech Today
- Danny Sullivan @ Search Engine Watch
I also did some general consumer tech writing for CNET a few years ago. You can find archives of my articles here.
Over on Medium, I have some additional tech articles here.