Remembering Eric Ward
The American search engine optimisation trailblazer, Eric Ward, has died, leaving a mourning community in his wake, as well as a wealth of ideas and writing work.
For Eric Ward, succeeding on the internet was as much about connecting people, as conforming to algorithms and search engine playbooks.
Affectionately known by friends and colleagues as LinkMoses, Ward was one of the earliest internet marketing pioneers, encouraging linking strategies before Google and its linked-based algorithms even came onto the scene. He created linking campaigns for Weather.com, The Link Exchange, the AMA and PBS.org. Amazon CFO Jeff Bezos sought him out personally when creating Amazon Books. His ideas are now so widely accepted that they have become watchwords in the search engine optimisation community.
From paper to online trailblazer
Of course, it did not start out that way. Ward did work in advertising in the 1980s, even selling Yellow Pages adverts at one stage, and did well. But he soon came to believe that traditional advertising channels were set to be challenged by the burgeoning possibilities of the internet. In 1992, he enrolled on an evening school graduate course at the University of Texas, in Knoxville. Immediately after graduation, he set up his NetPOST service, the internet’s first “website awareness building service”, according to Ward’s own site.
Eric Ward leaves behind a wife and three children. But his community also stretched into the online space he worked in until his passing this year. A memorial page set up for his family featured over a hundred messages from friends and colleagues, many from the search engine optimisation community, citing how Ward’s support had been invaluable to them. Colleagues and marketeers write about him as a mentor and role model, as personable as he was knowledgeable.
That makes sense, since his approach to search engine optimisation was also one with a strong appreciation for organic strategies. His link-building strategy was intended to foster and build communities, aiming to connect long-term, trustworthy content as a way of promoting a website. It involved building bridges and pointing to the most convincing content and function of a site.
Work and voice
A regular writer for Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch, Ward continued to stay at the head of the curve in his field. You can also read his thoughts and articles on his personal website: ericward.com.