It's My 3-Year Anniversary at WordStream: Look How Far We've Come!


My first day at WordStream was three years ago today. A lot has changed since I started this job. For example, this is how our PPC software looked in 2009:

PPC Software

Check out the column headings in that “Keyword Group Segmenter”:

  • “%v”!
  • “%k”!
  • “!”!

I’d tell you what they mean, but I don’t remember I don’t think I knew what they meant in the first place. o_O

Luckily, at some point we figured out that prospects and customers wouldn’t understand that stuff either. We have completely overhauled our UI in the past year or so, and here’s what the software looks like now:

PPC Advisor Dashboard

Much, much better, right? It helps that we have a (stellar) user experience designer on our team! When I started, the design of the product was up to our engineers. We wouldn’t be here without our great engineers (some of whom have been around even longer than me!), but thank God for Tara DiMaggio.

What else is different? Here’s just a smattering of the changes I’ve witnessed:

There’s one thing I do miss – we used to have a weekly company meeting every Monday, and the CEO would bring in lunch. That was possible because with 10 or 15 people in the office, we all fit around a conference table, and we could afford to feed everyone! Now we don't even have enough desks to go around. All this glorious empty space along the window?:

WordStream Offices

Empty no longer.

When Is a Startup Not a Startup?

The question is, are we still a startup? There are differing opinions on that. Some say you’re not a startup anymore after a year. Others say you’re only a startup until you’re profitable, or until you IPO, or get acquired by Google. I still tell people that I work at a software startup, but many would disagree. What do you think?

Incidentally, I just googled “when are you not a startup anymore” and got a first-page result called “30 Signs You’re a Booty Call” – which appears to rank because Google is interpreting “booty” as a synonym for “startup”:

Fishy Google Results

Google has changed a lot in the past three years too, and not necessarily for the better, but that’s a topic for another post …

Web Marketing Highlights

Google rolled out a new algorithm update this week, in an attempt to address “black hat webspam” (AKA over-optimization). Glenn Gabe wonders if exact-match domains will be punished by the new algorithm update.

Also this week, Google rolled out AdWords for video and Google Drive, a Dropbox competitor.

Bill Slawski reports that Bing might be working on its own version of Search Plus Your World.

Is Google+ dead? Aaron Lee argues that any social network is worthless if you don’t dedicate time to it. (“Some of my post gets better visibility and engagement than Facebook. That is because my network on Google+ is more targeted while my Facebook is more towards friends and acquaintances. Whenever I share something more personal, it has better engagement.")

Avinash Kaushik says you are what you measure, so choose your KPIs wisely.

Internal links: the other links! Former WordStreamer Ken Lyons has nine tips for developing a killer internal linking structure.

Viperchill breaks down the future of blogging in 11,000 words or so.

Also, check out the post I wrote after I'd been here a year: Seven Things I've Learned in a Year at a Search Marketing Startup. All still true, except maybe for #4 (now that I work from home, I'm usually the first one in my office ...)

Have a great weekend!

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Sergey Rusak
Apr 27, 2012

Way to go Elisa! Thumbs up!

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 27, 2012

Ha ha, thanks Sergey!!

Larry Kim
Apr 27, 2012

congrats and thanks to my best hire ever. :)

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 27, 2012

Aw, now I'm tearing up. Thank you Larry!

Laura Taylor
Apr 27, 2012

Congratulations!  We couldn't do it without you.

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 27, 2012


Ken Lyons
Apr 27, 2012

Hey, Elisa.Congrats on three years at WordStream! Wow how time flies....And thanks for dropping a link to my post on SEW.Cheers!Ken

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 27, 2012

Hey, it's Ken Lyons! Thanks, time flies indeed, painfully so...

Apr 27, 2012

Three years?!  Hard to believe!  Congrats, Elisa! Looking forward to hundreds more of your blog posts! 

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 27, 2012

Aww, thanks Jax! I can't believe it either!!

Tom Demers
Apr 28, 2012

Hey congrats on the anniversary!!! And on surviving having the desk next to all those empty soda cans for so many months :).Tom

Elisa Gabbert
May 03, 2012

That was part of the charm of WordStream!

Chris Andersson
Apr 29, 2012

Congrats from Sweden, you are doing a great job.

Apr 29, 2012

Congrats! that's a 3 years accomplishment and its not easy. Good job! 

Glenn Gabe
Apr 30, 2012

Congratulations Elisa on 3 years at Wordstream. In digital marketing years, that's actually 21 years. :)Also, thanks for mentinoing my post about Penguin and Exact Match Domains. I'm eager to see what Google has in store when rolling out future updates of Peguin... Again, congrats and keep up the great work blogging! 

Elisa Gabbert
May 03, 2012

Thanks Glenn! I knew there had to be some dog-year like rule!

Megan Marrs
May 01, 2012

Congrats Elisa! You do so much awesome work here, WordStream couldn't be what it is now without you!

Shawn McCarthy
May 01, 2012

I remember the "office squatting days" and "office sharing" days that came before the Christian Science building office. Those were the days :)

Elisa Gabbert
May 03, 2012

Hey Shawn! So nice to hear from vintage WordStreamers :)

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