SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

The game industry has suffered from a lack of fresh blood for marketing in recent years, but that doesn’t mean the next generation is unskilled. One such talent is Joel Commins-a former digital marketer who now excels at online business and search engine optimization consulting. He sat down with us to talk about his past life experiences, what he’s doing now, and how he feels about the future of SEO as an industry.

The “mentor definition” is a person who helps another individual in their career or life. The term can also be used to refer to someone who has been helped by another.

Bill Slawski, owner of SEO By The Sea, Director of Search at Go Fish Digital, instructor, mentor, and friend, has left an indelible mark on the SEO business.

To a lot of people, Bill was a lot of things. Since 2019, he’s been a regular writer to Search Engine Journal, and he’s been a friend and mentor to many of us for decades.

It’s not often that someone can claim to have formed and affected a whole industry. However, this is one of those instances.

Bill Slawski died on May 19, 2022, according to the SEO business.

Our community’s sense of loss and despair was tangible.

We’re heartbroken to report that @bill slawski, a coworker and great friend, has died away. Words alone are insufficient to communicate our grief. We will be eternally thankful for the chance to work with Bill. As further information and arrangements become available, we’ll let you know.

May 19, 2022 — Go Fish Digital (@GoFishDigital)

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Bill affected the lives of everyone in the search business as a search patent specialist, colleague and mentor to many, and friend to many more.

I promise that someone you work with, learn from, or work for has read one of the hundreds of pieces he produced or contributed to, seen one of his interviews, attended one of his speeches, or listened to a podcast on which he was a guest.

Bill’s tremendous knowledge and skill, along with an unrivaled love for the intricacies and technical developments that make search engines tick, contributed significantly to this.

Bill and I chatted a few weeks back while we were working on a feature story on the patents he believes are the most important to search marketers.

He discussed his passion for patents in the interview.

“One thing I usually tell people about patents is that they’re the greatest place to discover assumptions about searchers, search, and the web.” “These are search engineers who are sharing their thoughts as well as addressing difficulties,” he said.

He was fascinated by seeing what engineers were thinking and hearing what they had to say about various online difficulties.

“When they duplicate a patent and file a continuation,” Bill continued, “it’s one of my favorite sorts of patents to check up.” “I like to look through these continuing patents and see how they’ve evolved since they don’t say, ‘This is what we’re doing,’” says the author.

Bill’s natural interest and genuine desire to understand the nuances of the search algorithms we use every day made chatting with him and reading his work a great pleasure.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to Bill or cited his work in my work over the years, and I’m sure many others have as well.

He had a knack for making even the most difficult subjects understandable to readers and marketers of all shades. As a consequence, he has made incomparable contributions to our collective knowledge of how search works.

Bill Slawski’s efforts and understanding are fundamental to the modern practice of SEO.

I know I speak for everyone at SEJ when I say that we are all immensely appreciative for what he kindly shared with us.

Loren Baker, our founder, considered him a dear friend and valued colleague.

“In more ways than one, Bill Slawski was a great friend of mine. First and foremost, he was an unexpected mentor who helped me much early in my profession, long before social media or Search Engine Journal existed. “He was a friend and coworker of mine,” Loren said.

Loren Baker and Bill Slawski

Bill and Loren worked together for a few years and spent a lot of time smoking cigarettes and discussing Google patents in the parking lot in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

“If anything, Bill showed me that SEO was much more than simply ranking,” Loren said, adding that Bill also taught him the value of infusing a story into all of your work.

“He taught me the ethics and craftsmanship involved in making digital art that people would want to read, share, and eventually search for and click on–touching their lives,” he added. “Bill will be sorely missed.” It’s tough to say goodbye to friends.”

Bill was the go-to source when it came to understanding how search engines worked or how they changed the way we search or live our lives, having begun in 1996 and establishing SEO By The Sea in 2005.

But there was so much more to it.

Bill was generous with his time and ready to share his expertise of search, information retrieval, natural language processing (NLP), and other information technologies with anybody who was interested.

He had a knack for describing complicated patents, algorithms, ideas, real-world behavior, and search engines in layman’s terms.

Bill appeared to have an intuitive sense of what you knew and didn’t know, as well as where you were perplexed. He’d be able to fill in the blanks without making you feel foolish for asking. Even though he’d answered that question a million times before.

You didn’t have to be an SEO superstar or a seasoned practitioner to participate.

He would cheerfully spend hours explaining topics and giving (or building) tools to assist if you didn’t grasp anything or had queries. And, as many in the business who met Braggadocio will testify, he made you feel like a long-lost buddy, even if you just “met” him by text.

“It’s like going to a convention for the first time and being one of the first people there.” And all of the chairs are still vacant, and there isn’t much conversation. That was the state of SEO at the time… I recall stumbling into an SEO forum and just lurking. ‘This is a bizarre profession,’ I thought as I listened to what everyone was saying. ‘I’m not sure I’m up to it.’ In the end, I succeeded.

I began by building and advertising a website for a handful of pals who had launched a company. As a result, assisting them in their commercial endeavors was a very effective motivator.” Bill Slawski was interviewed on cognitiveSEO Talks on April 5, 2018.

Bill’s expertise was vast, and it went well beyond search.

Bill worked for the Superior Court of Delaware for 14 years as a court manager, administrator, technologist, and management analyst, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law.

He loved the water, as well as wildlife and flora. He enjoyed traveling and attending conferences, but he eventually discovered tranquility in nature and made frequent use of it. And he told us all about it.

Bill urged everyone to look behind the headlines and search terms.

When someone shared an accomplishment, he was quick to offer words of encouragement and congratulations. He urged everyone to think beyond the box, to not be afraid of new experiences, and to learn more about the search ecosystem as a whole, rather than just the technology, so that we might better serve our families, communities, colleagues, and customers.

His generosity, commitment, and passion for the business had no boundaries.

The King of Podcasts on Twitter

I’m really saddened to learn about @bill slawski’s death. One of the first SEOs I began reading and following. He will be much missed, as will his usually astute contributions to patent analysis and search. Bill, may you rest in peace and thank you for everything! 🙏

May 19, 2022 — Aleyda Solis (@aleyda)

Marshall Simmonds on Twitter

Bill was a known figure on social media and a VIP contributor here at Search Engine Journal, but he was so much more.

Matt Southern is a reporter with the Associated Press.

Bill Slawski’s outdoor photography, which he posted on Twitter, is one of the things I’ll miss the most about him.

He took time away from the computer to observe life’s beauty, despite his significant involvement in SEO and internet marketing.

That is something I believe we could all benefit from doing more of.

Roger Montti is a journalist who specializes in breaking news.

Bill Slawski was someone I knew from the forums and search marketing conventions for about 20 years. All of the stuff he uncovered in the patents caused a sensation, and it went a great way toward demystifying what search engines worked.

What struck me the most was his generosity with his time and the way he encouraged me and everyone else. I consider myself fortunate and pleased to have had the opportunity to call him a friend.

He’ll be terribly missed.

Brent Csutoras, Owner and Advisor

So much of our marketing journey has been spent figuring out not just how things operate with Google, but also what they’re attempting to achieve in the next years, so we can be ready to pivot when necessary.

Bill’s work with patents gave invaluable knowledge that only a few people were capable of extracting, but which benefitted everyone.

He was critical in helping us get to where we are now as SEOs and digital marketers.

Bill Slawski was a quiet man who had a big impact.

“I met Bill Slawski for the first time on Kim Krause Berg’s Cre8asite forum. I was simply lurking, taking up wisdom from bragadocchio, Black Knight, Grumpus, Barry Welford, and others while I tried to figure out what SEO was all about. Bill began almost 10,000 posts there during his tenure as an admin, and one of the first things that impressed me about him was his patience in sharing his expertise. I had no clue who he was at the time, but it was clear from away that he was someone worth listening to.

Facebook user Doc Sheldon

That was him.

Life is meaningful, according to Atul Gawande, because it has a story–one motivated by a profound need to find meaning outside of ourselves and a transcendent yearning to see and assist others reach their full potential.

Bill’s life revolved on this concept.

Not just in the unrivaled knowledge and resources he has bestowed upon us, but also in the inspiration, direction, and encouragement he has bestowed onto us all. That is his legacy, and it will be carried on.

It’s been tough for me to press Publish on this essay since I don’t believe anything we publish can do credit to that legacy.

Bill’s library of material will remain unaltered in eternity on Search Engine Journal, and we’ve kept comments available below for everyone to contribute their contributions to this memorial for Bill.

Thank you for sharing your expertise, enthusiasm, and insight with the SEO community, Bill.

You’ll be terribly missed.

Angie Nikoleychuk and I collaborated on this piece.

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