Our History: Always Looking Forward

1998 and the Reign of Directories

February 9, 1998, webFEAT Complete was founded by Michelle Selnick to solve the problem of the times: building websites that will hold their own in the budding digital environment.

In the early years of webFEAT, SEO was barely a thought, and the only “search engine” that merited traction was Yahoo. And Yahoo, at the time, was essentially an alphabetical directory. In order to get your website officially listed on Yahoo, companies were better off getting a professional to design their website, pay Yahoo $199, and submit the website for listing approval (which in itself was not a guarantee). Official approval, could take anywhere between two and three months, if you were lucky to get approval at all.

Design to SEO: How webFEAT Became Complete

During the reign of directories, webFEAT Complete was predominantly based in website design. We didn’t focus on search because the rules were just so unclear. It wasn’t worth our telling the clients that we could get them listed because it was too much of an unknown. There was no real way to optimize your website for better placement—because, no matter the search term, all listings were ordered alphabetically. It was not unlike phonebooks of the time: categories and a listing of everyone by company name.

Potential websites were framed as a digital brochure—taking a traditional piece of marketing collateral and transforming it to be better suited for the current marketing environment. Back then, pursuing traditional marketing methods was still the key to success—especially with the digital search limitations. Even after designing websites for our clients, we would assert that—in order to reach prospective customers—printing the domain on business cards, invoices, cars, trucks, promotional materials, and other marketing collateral was crucial to the promotion of their domain (and source of organic leads for their business).

The Rise of Google

Slowly but surely Google just took over. Even though webFEAT Complete has been in business for about 19 years, it took probably near the first 10 of those years for our clients and prospects to go, “Oh…huh Google is really…ok…we’re going to have to start paying attention.” We had been keeping close tabs on Google for some time. Instead of only creating page titles, and adding in keywords and meta keywords (like we had been doing for the longest time for Yahoo directories), we realized that there were some rules developing with the introduction of Google that were actually solid enough to show the potential of optimizing websites to rank for certain terms.

Meta keywords were a big seller back then. Before Google adjusted the rules, Yahoo was using meta keywords as their primary way of organizing their directories. If you had a meta keyword listed on your website, you would get listed in that keyword search directory. It was a mess. Businesses were spamming keywords left and right, and coming up for all kinds of keywords. You could put “chocolate pudding” as a meta keyword in a website design, and your website would rank for chocolate pudding…even if you were a manufacturer of gears.

Solid Data Over Black Hat Magic Tricks

While webFEAT started up reoccurring SEO services within the company: adjusting keywords within content, updating sitemaps, providing researched solutions to big marketing questions with specific strategies, black hat SEO techniques were running amok throughout the digital marketing industry.

“One of the more prominent techniques was using “invisible keywords” on your website pages. White fonts on white backgrounds, black fonts on black backgrounds, filling up all the background spaces with the keywords you wanted to come up in search for—literally embedding keywords that were invisible to visitors but able to be indexed.

But, from the get-go, we knew black hat SEO wasn’t good form or technique. So we stayed away from it for all of our SEO projects—it didn’t look like a lasting way we could optimize sites for search. Now, we were definitely asked many times to do black hat SEO, because of the sheer popularity of that technique. But the trends we were noticing in Google kept telling us it was only a matter of time before that technique got busted and punished. So we refused every time and backed up our responses with the research.”

Why webFEAT Complete Stands Strong

There still aren’t many companies that do what we do. Over the years, we’ve believed more and more that what’s needed in this digital marketing world is a company that offers a truly complete program: if you have a request or need, you let us know and we get it done for you. Websites are evolving more and more into the digital representation of your business. It is a presence. And that presence must be up-to-date and fully functioning at all hours of the day. Way back when webFEAT Complete started, that kind of business was unheard of. Even as SEO started gaining popularity, there were far more companies that were solely focused on one-time SEO than something than an SEO program that would bring lasting benefit for websites. So, not surprisingly, most of those companies that were here when I started webFEAT Complete are since long gone.

Our biggest advantage is growing this company to be sure everyone we add to our ranks has the time to learn and share information and best practices. Every day here at webFEAT Complete, one of our team members has learned something that the rest of us didn’t know, and that’s really how you build the strength of your talents as a professional and as an overall company: being associated with a strong team who are all ready to learn. You must always think on your feet, listen to your team, and trust in the value of research.

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