Bruce Clay Interview: SEO, Before SEO Was Cool
Bruce Clay was SEO way before SEO was cool. His name has become synonymous with corporate SEO training. Having created one of the first iconic SEO agency brands, nestled in the lovely foothills of Simi Valley, CA, his book, SEO For Dummies is a staple. He is a mainstay in the international online marketing conference circuit and an early advocate for the “Siloing” concept of channeling authority and energy throughout content management systems by linking. Bruce Clay Inc. has made the INC5000 multiple times and with good reason. With a couple of advanced degrees from Pepperdine, dude is extremely buttoned down. Bruce Clay, the agency, has a presence Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, London, Tokyo, and soon in China and Brazil.
Next week at SMX Advanced Seattle, he’ll be speaking on the Mega Session: SEO Vet’s Take All Comers, day two (June 8th) at 3PM PT. Also, the ever ubiqutious Bruce Clay SEO Training, a full day affair Bruce teaches himself takes place as customary after ‘Advanced June 9th. It’s not too late to enroll.
On a personal note, Bruce is a real friend to aimClear, having unselfishly shared a lot of proprietary insight as to what it takes to run full day training sessions, and truly empowering us to launch the aimClear® Facebook Marketing Intensive full day workshop. He’s a mentor and a friend, and I’m pleased to share this interview after sitting down with him in his Simi offices last month.
| aimClear: Bruce, you’ve been in the SEO teaching space since the beginning. What SEO values are timeless, and never change regardless of technological or algorithmic industry changes?
Bruce Clay: While it has always been true, it seems more important now to remember that you cannot beat quality. Quality content, quality tools, quality training, quality staff and quality services. We have spent a lot of time to teach the core principles as well as keeping pace with the growth and evolution of the industry. Very few people understand the investment in time and research to build a competent training course, especially in a space where things change each week. Timeless values include on-page factors that are and have always been something students have control over and that generally does not involving begging, and where changes can quickly produce results. Links are a big part of SEO provided you attract them and do not fall prey to the easy link schemes (like buying links). And we are seeing local, social and soon mobile influence results. I do not believe that anything in SEO is timeless, but quality in all you do counts.
| aimClear: What are the qualities you look for in an SEO professional? What backgrounds do you seek out and why? What are your favorite interview questions to shed light on a job candidate’s aptitude?
BC: It is difficult to find a “one size fits all” employee. We like to hire people with a little experience and train them, or people with solid broad experience – and still train them. Our clients are big and small, and every client is different, so every project is different, and every employee needs to adapt. Knowing not to spam, having a solid experience across all internet marketing optimization skill segments, amazing research and analytical abilities, the ability to write clearly, and work as part of a team are our major qualities. I have a list of questions, but “what do you want to be when you grow up” seems to always be asked. Funny that nobody wants to grow up.
| aimClear: Regarding SEO, what are your predictions as to what will gain significant influence and importance over the next 12 months?
BC: In our first Newsletter of each year I publish my list of expectations for the year, and I have a pretty good history of being right. I think the emphasis on local will dominate for about another year, then we will see Google emphasize dominance in news areas.
| aimClear: Bruce Clay, the agency, has weathered every generation of professional SEO evolution, and thrived. What secrets can you point to as key for the longevity and success?
BC: Moderated growth, commitment to quality, only accepting win-win projects, focus on research and knowledge transfer, and offering tools, training and services. We have a solid brand, and with it comes trust and that allows us to have our changes implemented… obviously key to gaining results. We require every SEO client to attend our training class or we refuse the project, resulting in a better educated and trusting client, and with this a greater success and satisfied client.
| aimClear: What’s your speaking schedule at SMX Advanced, 2011? What will you be covering and why are the topics crucial?
BC: I am speaking at the Ask the SEO session [sic, Mega Session: SEO Vets Take All Comers], as well as conducting the full-day partnered SEO Training class. As time permits I generally meet with clients throughout the week. I think that as important as my speaking and training is that this is a sold-out event. We are sending Susan and Jessica along with Lisa Buyer to live blog sessions on the Bruce Clay Blog to make sure that everyone can pick up on the gems during this week. So in essence BCI will be presenting knowledge at several levels during the conference. We have been offering industry research and knowledge to attendees and readers alike for years, and we look forward to continuing this tradition at SMX Advanced.
| aimClear: Thanks for your time today, Bruce. See you in Seattle!