We’re excited to have interviewed Los Angeles SEO expert Bruce Clay, from Bruce Clay Inc., for the next installment of our Featured SEO Expert Series!
Bruce Clay Inc. has offices across five continents and is composed of SEO experts who all have at least 10 years of industry experience.
Bruce Clay is one of the earliest founders and promoters of SEO. He has been in the industry for 25 years and has been credited with coining the term “search engine optimization.” He has been teaching SEO courses for almost two decades.
What would you say is unique and/or challenging about the current Los Angeles SEO industry?
“The whole industry has already been here 25 years. One of the things that happened to me over time is that I’d hired most of the experts in my region.
“The biggest problem I faced was finding talent locally because once you’ve hired all the talent, there’s no more talent. And the talent I look for is really, really not that easy to find. It’s hard to hire people in my area that have the ideal level of experience in the industry.”
How does your agency stand out in a crowded market like LA?
“I started the company 25 years ago sitting at my dining room table. That was three years before Google. I believe it takes 10 years to really be an expert. In my 25 years, I’ve observed that the last 15 years are when the industry started developing people who really knew what was going on.
“Two years ago, I switched my hiring model so that 100 percent of people that work for me as analysts for SEO and PPC have a minimum of 10 years’ experience. I won’t even interview anybody at under 10 years, and we’re averaging 14 or 15 right now. This expert-only approach has actually worked out well for us.”
Can you share a success story from a local SEO campaign centered around your area?
“There are plenty of small businesses that focus on local wherever you go, but we don’t sell a lot at a local level. So, in my area, I don’t sell many local projects unless it’s something like legal – typically, real estate. And even my real estate clients are national accounts.”
What is the best advice you ever received in business as an entrepreneur?
“I’ve survived three or four recessions, a war, 9/11 and now a virus. The biggest impact has been the virus.
“The best advice I received, as soon as the virus hit, was to max out all my lines of credit. I had forgotten that during recessions, banks have a tendency to shrink your credit lines. And the last thing I wanted was hundreds of thousands of dollars that I couldn’t draw on anymore during a recession due to the virus. So I maxed out all the cash on my lines of credit, which turned out to be absolutely a wonderful thing to do.
“Another bit of great advice is to have a lead generation process that does the work for you – an outreach program – because many people don’t know how to reach out to you themselves.”
What do you think is the most important quality that makes an SEO agency truly great?
“As an SEO agency, you can’t hire anybody that’s been doing it for two years and expect them to have any degree of experience to do the job correctly, at least not fully.
“There’s a lot of people who run tools and echo back what the tool’s telling them, and fewer people understand what the data is saying enough to really move the needle. But there’s even fewer people than that who understand at a wisdom level how to take all these separate data points and merge them together and then uncover the problem, not the symptom.”
Any predictions for the future of SEO?
“There’s some confusion right now about the positioning of content. Content has been given credit as being “king,” but content is going to be pushed down the food chain. It’s going to be a piece of it, but technical performance is necessary to get content ranked and is going to change SEO dramatically.”
What is your reaction when you hear that “SEO is dying”?
“Google doesn’t care about SEO. They’re testing constantly to find the best result. Something like 60 percent of all pages that were on the first page of Google results three years ago are gone – they’re no longer on the first page. And I think it’s gonna get worse.
“The number of Google changes per day is somewhat astronomical – eight to 10 a day. The only thing I know for sure is that as artificial intelligence (AI) gets in there and Google is guessing – and they may guess wrong a lot – there will be even more volatility in the search results.”
What do you think is the most important contributor to keeping clients happy?
“I’ve had a number of companies tell me they’re tired of hiring an SEO agency and then having to train their agency on how to do SEO. To keep clients happy, an agency should not get caught in the trap of being average.”
Interested in being considered as an SEOblog “Featured SEO Expert”? Reach out to our team at [email protected]! We’d love to hear from you and give you a high-traffic platform to share your SEO agency’s story and insights.