Interview with Bruce Clay: SEO Expert

By Michael Bell Monday, November 5, 2012

Since 1996, Bruce Clay, Inc. has been the leader in the search marketing industry through SEO Code of Ethics, Search Engine Relationship Chart®, and SEO Training and Certification programs that promote ethical SEO practices. Headquartered in California, Bruce Clay, Inc. has global locations in Australia, Switzerland, India, Japan and Brazil. I recently met Bruce Clay at the SES Conference in San Francisco, California through a workshop I took called Introduction to SEO, which I found to be very eye-opening since I have just started learning about SEO and wanted to gain a better perspective of it. In order to gain a better understanding of the things I learned in the workshop, I had the great opportunity to present the following questions to Bruce to learn a few more details on Search Engine Optimization.

What advice do you give companies that want to do their own SEO?

Invest time to learn how to do SEO properly, right out of the gate. Your strategy and your site will have staying power if you take the time to learn the proper SEO tactics for your website. Take a course and read a book, attend conferences, and by all means, read each and every one of the top-ranked websites for search engine optimization.

Make sure you’re working within Google’s guidelines. Understand them and the SEO tactics that Google believes are actually helpful to its search engine. Remember that one of the search engine’s main priorities is to serve up the most relevant results to users. Work with the search engines to make your site relevant and help it to be found.

After you learn how to perform SEO in a quality way, your team needs to be able to stay current on trends, or they will quickly fall behind. SEO is not performed only once and then you are done, it’s an iterative cycle that goes on and on as long as you have competitors.

Being strategic means knowing where the digital world is headed, including where user behavior is shifting, and continuing to listen to what Google is saying (and what it’s not saying). Do this, and use your knowledge and experience to make proactive choices so your site can stay relevant.

What common mistakes do many companies make when they do their own SEO?

Too many companies think SEO is easy, cheap and that you can successfully fool Google. Clearly, Google is fighting deceptive tactics, and the penalties are severe. Take a shortcut to save time and money and you will be hurt by Google.

The opposite of strategic SEO is reactive SEO. And when companies chase algorithms rather than being proactive with their SEO, they will run into problems at some point.

Too often, we see businesses in a real mess because they tried to get rankings with gray area tactics. I’m not talking about those things that blatantly go against search engine guidelines; those are spam tactics. I’m talking about SEO tactics that are not fully acceptable to Google, yet do not immediately trip any spam alarms. Ultimately, these types of tactics don’t have the end user in mind. They are usually performed for the purposes of self-interest.

For instance, how you perform your linking practices can be an example of gray area tactics. Some companies may not know they’re doing anything wrong because they never learned that many link strategies end up in penalties. Or maybe the company that sold them the links, for example, told them “this is how you get rankings.” This goes back to learning how to do SEO properly, so you can protect your business, even when you outsource.

You know you’re performing gray area (or worse) SEO tactics when Google makes an algorithm change and the company’s entire SEO strategy shifts to find that next shiny thing that’s going to get your site visibility. This is reactive SEO.

Can you explain Siloing and how you utilize this concept from an SEO standpoint?

In its simplest form, siloing is about relevancy. It analyzes user behavior online and works to match your site as the authoritative source for the things people are searching for. On a more technical level, it starts with research about the business, then research about audience behavior online, then your website’s architecture. You build search engine optimized navigation when you use siloing, focusing on matching your site structure to how people search. From there you build a clear content hierarchy that emphasizes important links.

Then, when you create quality content around topics that stem from that keyword-rich site architecture, this does a couple things. First, it builds subject matter authority in the eyes of Google and your users, so you can be considered a relevant source of information. From a user’s perspective, you are creating an information-rich, relevant site that provides a great experience and answers user's queries online. But the site must first be found in the search engines. Siloing helps a site to be recognized for the queries that are most relevant to its audience.

There are a lot more technical concepts around siloing that I’m not diving into here. But just remember that the goal is relevancy. This also just so happens to be Google’s goal.

You can learn more about this topic in our siloing manual.

More By Michael Bell

There are 3 comments left for Interview with Bruce Clay: SEO Expert said: Thursday, July 20, 2017

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