Detlev Johnson

Detlev Johnson is one of the early pioneers in search engine marketing and web optimization services. Originally a musician, he played guitar in a band called Jr. Johnson and the Mystics. Known as the “Guitar God” he taught lessons in a room upstairs at the old “Music Village” in Bend, Oregon. His joy for music led him to explore music technologies which he used to create a studio for recordings. In 1996, a local company — Image First — hired Detlev because of his music background and acquired programming skills to work with QuickTime macromedia technologies. Detlev would program multi-layers of video so that when users clicked on image “hot spots”, subsequent videos would open up. At the same time, Detlev developed website and started optimizing them for company customers. Looking for a way to get into the whole marketing and agency world, he jumped on an opportunity in 1998 with a local multi-media company called the Multi-Media Marketing Group including other famous SEO pioneers — Marshall Simmonds, David Lindeman, and James Putney.

During his time at MMG, Detlev innovatively created SEO techniques like the “table trick” where an empty set of cells are placed in a table causing the content to appear higher on the page getting stronger response from the search engines. Over the years, Detlev has been amazed at the prevalence of “black hat” strategies and advice given to large clients, and conversely endorse “white hat” techniques. Along the same lines, Detlev says:

“Oh yeah, look for the low hanging fruit . . . If you’re going to be an agency you better know where to find that low-hanging fruit for any type of client that there is. And that is that you should know within ten minutes, I mean I’m talking conservatively, you should know within thirty seconds what the problem is going to be when you hit a site, because there is still so much opportunity out there, every site out there is practically garbage when it comes to search engines.”

Detlev encourages the optimization mindset of thinking about what the search engines want. He said, “Just know what the search engines want and that’s the key to unlocking all of this mystery of SEO.”

Today, Detlev has resurrected the I-Search Digest e-newsletter mailing list in SearchReturn. SearchReturn is a moderated free email newsletter and digest of subscriber posts related to search engine news and techniques. He is a member of the Search Engine Marketing Council (SEMC) with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) as the chair of programming. He continues assisting the development of DMA’s Search Marketing Certification program. Detlev serves as a news correspondent for the “The Daily Searchcast” and other news sites. He participates in SEO industry conferences and discussions.