Returning webmaster after 15 year break...what's changed?

Hey everyone -

I’m not even sure if sitepoint is still the place to be for webmasters, but it was the top forum back in 2006-2007 when I started launching websites. I guess the forum has changed a lot, because I couldn’t dig up my old account, unfortunately. Its probably best not to see what I was posting when I was 16-17 years old, anyways.

I made a decent amount of money back then from Adsense, YPN, and affiliate ads, but ending up selling most of those websites here on Sitepoint (I guess that’s Flippa now?).

Anyways, I’ve decided to come back to the webmaster world to try and bring in some extra income into my life and was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction. Here are some questions for you veterans:

  • What other forums/discord channels are good for people like me to join?
  • How has the industry changed in the past 15 years? I know mobile responsiveness is a priority, but are people still making money online?
  • What are your favorite ways of monetizing a content website?
  • How has SEO changed over the past 15 years? I presume I still need good content, h1 keywords, easy to navigate website, and strong backlinks, right?
  • Is there any advice you’d be willing to share?

Thanks again all - looking forward to rejoining the community!

Welcome back. As for your title, “what has changed?” the answer would be “everything”.

  1. Forums like this one still very much cater to web developers. I should know, I am one and I answer regularly here. I have been doing websites for about 22 years. Glad to see an old school vet. Also you want to check out Between this forum and stack, you can get most of what you need.

  2. Yes definitely. Since you left, we have seen the rise of CSS processing (SASS), React style frameworks utilizing shadow DOM, a whole slew of new JS APIs built into the browser (Promises, fetch API, async/await, arrow functions etc.), focus on things like cloud services, bundling tools like Webpack, tons of APIs and more tech than I could count. The one shining beacon in it all is that the browsers are very much in line with one another and following somewhat of a standard now. Way better than 15 years ago when IE did their own thing.

  3. Monetization these days is tricky. You still have ads of course, but you also have memberships which are pretty much the draw these days, offering limited content like ebooks and dev resources. Sitepoint has several books that they sell along with other subscription based perks for instance.

  4. The basics of SEO are pretty much the same. The one change is that many search engines focus less on meta tags. Meta tag for “keywords” is largely ignored. It is all about the content and the semantic structure of your site (Check out new tags like <article>, <aside>, <nav> and more). Tags that are not really doing anything other than signaling the structure of the page.

  5. Yeah, start at a site like MDN and just go through all the content. Your work 15 years ago will help, but you will largely be learning everything over again. Ask questions here as you go. Start just like you did 15 years ago, learn HTML first and its new tags, then move onto CSS and its new selectors, then JS and learn its new browser APIs. Then be sure to pick up a server-side language like PHP, ASP.NET or Python through a framework like Django. From there you can branch out into CSS processing, HTML5 specific tooling, JS/Typescript in a framework like React (which is the most popular) and go from there.

Will some of the skills you learned 15 years ago still build a site? Sure, just not a very good one. Your customers will expect more. 15 years ago someone would just want a website to say they have one, now they are essential, most people have one and are looking for one that is flashy and easy to use.

One last thing is, you will be competing with a whole new set of industries designed to allow users to click and drag to build their website with little code (WiX for instance). You will also be competing with a ton of people who have WordPress. WordPress runs nearly 1/3 of all Internet websites and is by far the most popular CMS for small and medium sized businesses.

You have a lot to learn my friend. Stick with it and get crackin! :slight_smile:


In my view you do not need some of the fancy high-tech stuff that @Martyr2 has described, at least not initially.

I would recommend first looking at CSS Flexbox and CSS Grid to give mobile responsiveness.

I guess you are not going to make much money these days using Adsense etc.

What aspects of web development were you involved with back then?
I guess HTML and probably some CSS at the least. But did you also get into scripting on the client side or server side?
I just ask to get an idea of what you did then, to compare with where those things are now.

Fancy high-tech stuff? What I described is very much in line with ordinary web development. I also stated that they should start with the basics and work up from there. I didn’t suggest they go off and learn web workers and stuff. If they follows my suggestions, they will naturally run across CSS flexbox and CSS grid along with all the mobile responsiveness stuff.

But anyways… sure. :wink:

I posted because in my personal view for someone who has not created a web page for 15 years by far the top priority is to make pages that are responsive one way or another. There is no need initially to know about SASS, React, fetch, promises, arrow functions, new HTML tags or Django.

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What have been changed for the 15 last year in Seo? The most important in Seo is to get some backlinks from high level authority domains in the same domain activity as yours …