Everyday, when I open up my browser, on computer or on my phone, I visit two sites all the time in any freetime I have. That would be seo.ph and seo.org.ph. Why? Sure there are many great SEO forums online. But being a Filipino, and I like sharing and talking with Filipinos also, both learning and teaching, I mainly go to these two forums.
I understand how hard it can be to run a site and not really make any money out of it. And the larger the website, the audience, the members, the diskspace and bandwidth become, the larger the resources, problems, time required to maintain the site, politics and all other stuff, good or bad increases too. All of this contributes to a cost, even if it does not seam monetary, the fact that you have to maintain a server and dedicate some time is a cost. Running an active, non-profit forum is no easy task.
History of SEO Philippines
I am not sure if I am the best person to give this history, nor have I documented this accurately like how a historian would. But just based on pure memory of what I remember, back in 2004 I a web design/developer for a company that does websites of doctors, dentist and lawyers. And I was given SEO instruction on how I build the site. And this sparked my interest right away that I started applying this to some of my own clients in the Philippines. one of them was a marketing training company and during that time was ranking for a number of terms related to marketing and also the Philippines. But often mixed with the results was a certain Marc Macalua. His name kept popping up on some of the terms I was targeting for marketing. It was not something he was targeting but he was just simply talking about online marketing on his blog. And this is where I found out he was running a blog called SEO Philippines and had a YahooGroup under the same name that I immediately joined since I was excited to learn more and share more to others as well. Since the only best way to learn from others, it to teach them too. The more you share, the more others share to you.
The SEO Philippines YahooGroup
The YahooGroup just started to grow in size. Many of the original people on that group were not all people that were doing SEO for a living. 2004 was a young age for the Philippines in doing SEO but there were a few people that were really either web developers, web designers, writers, bloggers, affiliate marketers, etc. It was funny how many people had different names that it was hard to identify by email alone, but somehow I didn’t care if I didn’t know your name. As long as we all share information with each other, it’s all good to me. When the group increased in size until emails became somewhat annoying already because of the high frequency of emails coming in from the group, Marc decided to move this on to an online forum. During these days, it is hard to remember who the active members were. I still recall web developers such as myself, Mike Lopez and Jason Torres were on the list. Forum owner Jedi Dancel, Veteran SEO Jonathan Casuncad, Blog personalities like Mike Abundo. Established SEO company owners in the Philippines like Mike Turner, Jonathan Bertrand and the main disturbance in the force, Mike Rogers and there were tons more.
Migration to SEO.ph & Isulong SEOph
As a natural progression, it was impossible to trace everything in YahooGroups, the forum was definitely better. During these initial months was also the time in 2006 when Marc held the first SEO.ph SEO contest. This was the Isulong SEOph. This is where I have seen and experienced how SEO really is against other SEOs in ranking. Where sometimes industriousness can beat strategy. And sometimes smart planning in strategy can also beat hard working industriousness. Either way, some people were more tired than others, and I always tried to look for the easy way out of work and find a way to win with less work. Looks like my ways then were not enough to beat these top 10 winners of the Isulong SEOph SEO contest. I was #11 in that contest and did not even win a consolation prize. But it was also in this contest where some of the new fresh talents started to emerge. Si Noel Bautista, Ely ‘Jozzua’ Apao, Zaldy Dalisay, Whin Clores, Gio Castro and more! The contest was a good learning experience, you did not have to win to make joining the contest worthwhile. As long as you learned something. contest were good.
Ituloy AngSulong SEO Contest
The second SEO contest by SEO Philippines, Ituloy AngSulong. I would say this was a successful contest also. New people started to emerge. And new link bait ideas and strategies came out too. How Jason Torres used design as link bait. How Gio Castro was still successful with his shadowing. Writer/Blogger Marhgil Macuha shows the power of content. Eligio Tapiador comes out of nowhere. Alfredo Palconit got over the blackhat drama of Isulong SEOph, there were tons of SEOs from Pangasinan! SEO cuties started appearing, Rhiza Sanchez, Ada Lajara. Online kid start making money online Alan Ocab started making waves. Rostum was only making $7k a month then. Zaldy Dalisay just kept winning some place in the contest even with a non-keyword focused domain. Robert Desacada had a life changing event and SEO has given him a new career. Dreamhost was disqualified in the contest! Yes that was one of the biggest SEO lessons I had. I started doing tool baits, theme baits, and all other sorts of baits. I guess if this contest organized by Marc did not happen, a lot of SEO lessons and friends I initially met in person would not have happened also.
Bayanihan Philippines, Politics, Conflicts, etc.
It’s funny how people complain at things even if they get a lot of things free. That’s how it was with Ituloy AngSulong but I am not going to go down into talking about that. Because I never paid attention to all the details. As long as I had fun doing what I needed to do, that is all I needed to know. A third SEO contest comes out… Bayanihan Philippines. The concept was good, the rules changed, but… due to unforeseen events, there were sponsor issues. If a sponsor backs out, what do you do? I guess this was a hard decision to make since cancelling the contest midway also meant some people were not paid. I guess this might have had a negative effect on the perception of the forum, or the perception of Marc in general also. But looking at all the effort he put into running the forum… I didn’t mind these mistakes.
As time pass by, SEO.ph was already a recognized group not only in the Philippines but also outside of the Philippines with Marc as the main man behind it. Many of the old members started developing careers in SEO. All were spending more time working, that everyone had less time managing the forum. I became of the moderators, one of the admins, and spammers would just come in left and right. It was a tough job.
Now since I am US-based, I do not know completely all the details of what happens behind the scene. I know there has been some movement trying to formalize the group. And different parties were trying to go in different directions. Everyone wanted their hand in there somewhere. I never really cared about that. All I did was continue to use the forum. Post, share and learn.
SEO.ph is gone
Now that Marc has announced he is stopping the forum, I must say the whole SEO.ph forum was a part of my growing in the SEO industry. And I think it is true also for other Filipino SEOs. So I would like to say thanks Marc for the effort you have exerted in running the group. It has influence several people and I believe it is a part of the Philippines’ SEO history.