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For this episode of E-Coffee with Experts, Dawood Bukhari interviewed Bruce Clay, Founder & President of Bruce Clay, Inc. Embark on a riveting conversation with Bruce Clay, the visionary behind SEO’s inception. Witness his journey from modem days to AI marvels, crafting an empire in the digital realm. Within Google’s algorithms, he decodes the symbiotic systems and sentiment’s role in link dynamics. Clay deciphers the intricate dance between algorithms, emphasizing the significance of shareable content. From the shift to intent-driven searches to fostering collaboration within the SEO community, Clay’s insights offer a roadmap to staying ahead in the dynamic landscape of digital marketing.
Google with some artificial intelligence has been able to figure out intent and purpose.
Step aside traditional commodities, SEO services are in a league of their own. It's all about expertise unleashing, no generic fixes allowed
SEO is an endless adventure! Embrace change, explore fearlessly, and unlock digital success
AI rocks the SEO world, taking us from the old-school keyword obsession to a mind-blowingly intuitive search era
AI's game-changing makeover for link building: Google now detects sentiment in backlinks, emphasizing quality and relevance in SEO
Content becomes truly captivating, share-worthy, and priceless when it's given that special human touch
Hello, everyone. Today we have with us the one and only father of SEO, Bruce Clay. Bruce is the founder and president of the Global Digital Marketing Agency, Bruce Clay, INC. Founder of SEO training.com, the author of Search Engine Optimization, All in One for Dummies, series of other books, a speaker and an Influencer. Bruce, you need no introduction. Welcome to the show.
Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Same here. Excited to have you and We’ll try to get as many knowledge bombs from you as possible in the short time we have.
No problem. I’ve got them.
Bruce, you have had an amazing journey. You created an entire industry that has been booming ever since.
How does it feel? Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you came to be involved in the world of search engine optimization.
Yeah, it was an interesting thing. Before this, I was General Manager of the networking division of ACER and decided I wanted to consult. I was looking for something, this was January of 1996.
And for those of you who are trying to remember that far back, we had these things called modems. So it was not like today. And we started building websites because it looked like it was the place to be. And in January 96, I decided I was going to consult. I became a consultant. I had this vision as a consultant, I would just name the company Bruce Clay and I would consult. And it took on a life of its own.
I was fortunate. My background is in programming. I have an MBA, but my background was not focused on sales and marketing, it was programming. And so I was able to write some code and be able to slice and dice web pages. And, you don’t have your keyword here.
You don’t have it there, put it here, there. And all of a sudden people ranked and then they started giving me money which was of course a good thing as a consultant. Yep. And then it took on a life of its own. I had to hire people, had to move out of the house, and have offices. I started speaking at conferences when Danny Sullivan started opening. That was back in search engine strategies at the time.
Yes. One of the earliest conferences. Yeah.
It was. It was. And I remember the very first conference we went to all he brought in all of the experts.
There were eight of us. That’s all the work. There were eight of us and we were sitting at one round table in the bar.
We all got there. We’ve met the night before. Had there been an earthquake in San Francisco, we would have wiped out the industry. All of the people who were publishing, writing, teaching, talking and, really advocates. We’re there, we were all there and at the first conference, 219 people showed up, which was back then. That was pretty good.
A good number. Yeah.
Pretty good number. Yeah. Then Google showed up in September 98 and all hell broke loose. All of a sudden, everybody was interested in SEO. I had to hire a bunch of people.
By then the few of us that were in the industry were pretty well published. Blog posts articles and newsletters were starting to show up and we were, advocating SEO.
And that’s how I got the label, Father of SEO because I was all over advocating. You’ve got to do SEO. It’s a marketing thing, and it did take off. Now it’s what billions and billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of thousands of people around the world. And the interesting part is most of us, many of the early people.
We’re business people. Yeah. And their companies got bought and they went on to other careers. I have been in this for 27 years, almost 28. And this is fun. I don’t know how I can’t imagine a career that would be a lot different. I’d like you to think about these two different levels. Maybe I’m drawing outside of the original question.
No, it’s interesting. Please go on.
But, in the beginning, you could sell SEO to anybody because it was an early adopter, right? Yup. After a while, it became more business-sensitive. And I was writing a lot. I had the philosophy that you answer questions until they surrender.
And that’s how you got business, right? You could prove that you were the expert. All right. And in the early days, that was quite simple to do, but that was the approach. And I stuck to the industry.
I kept promoting. I’ve got three books. I’ve spoken at well over 300 conference sessions. I do have offices around the world.
Usually, I picked a spot where I wanted to go for vacation. That’s right. It’s one of I haven’t been to Australia. Let’s open an office in Sydney. And they’re all separate companies because the world is at a different technological point. So in some parts of the world, they’re desperate for web design. Yeah because there aren’t a lot of websites. Whereas in the US web design is a commercial product that you can go anywhere and get it.
So every office is like a separate business entity. It would have its presidents, like its own PNL, everything’s separate from the other offices.
And in part that was because I set them up deliberately as a licensee instead of a franchise.
Okay. And I set them up not as a branch. And mostly that had to do with it being early-stage development. And in the United States, if I have a branch, I have to show their loss and winnings and everything else on my, U.S. Taxes and PNL on everything else. Whereas if they’re separate companies in their entirety, and I just get a, like a royalty, I get the license. It was so much easier and I could just open them. So that’s the way I did it. There are countries that I don’t have an office in But I’m open to it.
We’re in Europe, we’re in Australia, we’re in Singapore, we’re in Japan, India, so we’re around the thing. I’ll tell you what I think
This is an important concept and it has to do with pricing and services, right? So we have positioned ourselves to be more expert than the average site. We hire people or people that are intelligent and we can train, but we focus on being a little bit more expert than the average person. And the problem you face in the industry in general, is that the consumer doesn’t understand that. If I went and bought a mouse, it would be the same mouse. I can buy it anywhere. It’s the same device. Pricing for the same product makes sense. I can get it cheaper here, or, over here it comes in a gold box.
You can differentiate it, but it’s the same mouse. Whereas with SEO, it’s never the same mouse. Yup. Every company doing SEO does something differently. And so there is no real inherent ability to compare prices. Yes. It isn’t like it’s the same product. You can compare prices. They’re all different products. Yup. If you want an expert, you’re going to pay for an expert. Absolutely. But you can’t do a price comparison. No, because no two companies have the same degree of expertise.
No. I think, what I have, because we work with agencies and, as a strategic partner have seen you know, there are clients like across the board different types and sizes of clients. I think what I also have observed like these clients or these
Businesses that start comparing prices and don’t try to understand the strategy, the expertise, they end up always changing agencies. And, if you see their graphs and if you see the overall performance of their campaigns, it never picks up because they’re always comparing prices and productizing it rather than trying to ask the right questions to an agency, try to understand how they’re different if this is a good fit or not.
So I think, it is a problem that is still there but I think, if as an agency, you’re able to explain that and solve that you end up having a long-term good fit client which is like a good fit for both sides.
And again, I’m not sure how all industries work, but if I’m in an industry where it’s a commodity,
I tend to think of everything as a commodity.
And if I’m in a highly creative industry, I think of everything as being unique and I have to hire the best, right? So it depends on who you’re talking to and where the client is as to how they have this alignment of the way they do business with the way they expect you to do business, and sometimes that overwhelms you as well. The highly creative industries tend to hire experts, and people who are commodities. pumping out a thousand of the same thing every minute.
They look at everything as a product.
Yeah. Everything is a product. If you talk to Walmart, everything’s a commodity, right? Talk to a high-end architecture firm and it’s all about art creativity and thinking out of the box.
It’s an entirely different level. Very seldom do you find that the larger company, and I’m talking very large, the larger companies, if they get to a certain size where they can bring in a creative marketing team, they’re the ones that go crazy and are wonderful because they’ve got the money and they have got the ideas down?
Yeah. Some of the larger public companies in the world, their marketing teams at the echelons are amazing to do business with, and they’re willing to, okay, let’s do this. Let’s do that. Let’s try this. And they can succeed in that environment. Whereas so many great commodity businesses are fighting for pennies if you will.
They have problems. They have problems and they, they hire based on their perception of it as a commodity, right? Our U.S. office is a little bit different from everywhere else because the U.S. is such a mature market. But my average SEO, none of my SEOs have less than 10 years of experience.
I average 16, 16 years of experience. And the clients we get are clients that demand an answer to the toughest problem in the world. These are big companies whose serious impact on web traffic is a million dollars.
They cannot hire somebody who doesn’t have a brain trust, right? Absolutely. That’s who I cater to in the U.S. and to go back to your original question, that’s how we evolved at the beginning.
Nobody had any knowledge. We had to all dig in, get our hands dirty experiment, and try. Do you believe Google or do you not believe Google? Yeah. And I have a whole lot on that for you too. The fact is that we learned SEO from the bottom up. It was a lab. And I’ll admit the fun of SEO is in part because of that.
Yes. And I don’t mean to ramble, but I just love telling these stories. What I get to do every day is think of it this way.
It’s like a large computer simulation. It’s a game. The only difference is when I make a change in that game, I can kill off a real company. Yeah.
Absolutely. It isn’t like it’s pretend because the only way to do SEO is in the library.
Yes. I think, if you have to run a successful SEO agency you always have to have, tests going on, you always have to have that lab going on, and the moment you stop doing it, you’re just one among the many you will not see that growth.
I think that is, very important. And I think a good agency is that continues to do those tests, day in, day out, they’re continuing to flourish, but you’re right.
If you can only do something once you’re doing it in the live environment and that change can make or break the business.
Yeah. Google says they change things about 12, 5000 times, 12 times a day, kind of thing. And I think half of them are probably fixing the things that broke yesterday. So let’s say they do eight times a day. They change things. It’s constant improvement. It’s high. This should work.
It made it through our Raiders. The Raiders thought it would work. We put it live. Now we got to tweak it and we got to, okay, back off on this and turn up on that. And, oh, now it’s cooking and a hundred teams doing that every day. It’s a moving target. One of my sayings is that SEO is done when Google stops changing things and all your competitors are dead.
Also, like you also have said, like every Monday SEO is a brand new industry. Correct. It’s so important to keep on learning, and testing so that you’re ahead of the curve. Correct.
I publish lots of blog posts. Some are at a business level and some are at a technical level. If my blog has got lots of followers, I do webinars. I do all sorts of things, right? I have my tools. I have my training. Training became virtual because of the COVID problem. Covid, yeah. I used to teach a class. I’d have 30 people paying me three grand each.
So SEO training.com started in Covid, the training platform.
I owned it for a long time, but I built it because of Covid.
I already had a very successful training program, but it was a classroom course. So what I did is, I videotaped. A studio videotaped the entire thing. 15 hours, If you take out all the jokes and the lunch, and the breaks, and the Q&A, if you extract that out of the course, It was 16 hours of concentrated information. And, yeah, it was time to build it up because Covid, right? Yeah. So I built up SEO training, which I bundled into our SEO tools.
By the way, I bought SEO tools.com directly from GoDaddy in 2000. Okay. I was before you, but yeah, that’s a wonderful name to own, right? And I just went to GoDaddy and bought it. And it was amazing. I have tools, I have training, I have consulting services. We balance it out.
I published a lot, which is internationally supportive. The brand is very strong. It turns out that my very first interest was In an international office, All of the offices came to me, right? Somebody met me at a conference and said, Have you thought about it, I said, No, but let’s talk.
And they opened an office, did wonderfully. And then other people said, Oh, look, they opened an office. I can try that. And then I ended up actually around the world.
You’ve, turned out, so well for you, and, like it’s a story, worth telling and inspiring. How was Bruce as a kid?
I was an introvert, into math. I loved math and hated everything else.
I read books. I was into science fiction though.
Being an introvert when was your life first because you have spoken at so many conferences But if you like go back in time, like when was the first time you were on stage? Do you remember that time? Do you remember that experience? Would you like to share?
Yes and no. When I got out of college, I worked in a bank as a programmer. So I was doing, but back then, that was four million years ago, when they had tape drives, punched cards, and mainframes.
Okay, so I worked at a bank, and then I went to work for a software house. A premium product and when this was back in 1974. Which was forever ago, right? I’m ancient.
It was back in 74 and they were selling it for 60,000 dollars then, which is a lot of money. And they needed somebody to be a sales support technician, right?
So I strayed away from programming and became a sales support person. And part of that was I had to give training and I realized. If I understood what I was talking about well enough I could give the training and answer the questions. So I did that for two and a half years, and by the time I was done, I could present anywhere.
But here’s my advantage. When I go to a conference, if I’m presenting, I am the first person on the stage.
And I watch people come in seriously, right? I just see them come in and sit down and do their thing. And by the time it’s my turn, I’m normal. I’m not nervous. It wears off. The longer you’re in front of people, whereas if you walk in front of people and you weren’t able to do that sort of pre-warm-up, I’d be nervous. Everybody would. But I got to the point where I’ve given so many presentations. And if I know what I’m talking about, No problem, right?
And I think, like you’re doing what you’re passionate about. So I’m sure, every time you go on that stage, the passion is the same irrespective of, whether it’s the 300th time and, have seen a lot of your interviews talks, and I can see that passion still there.
Good. Yeah. I feel it. I enjoy it.
I think it keeps you young. To have something that you’re excited about, right? And if you get up in the morning and you’re saying, I could roll over or I could get up. But if I get up, I get to do this. So you get up. If that’s the way your day starts, then that’s an entirely wonderful experience and you can enjoy it.
Bruce, SEO has seen so many changes, like since evolution since you invented it from your point of view, what has been the most transformative, evolution so far?
Artificial intelligence has changed a lot. As and this is going to get not technical, but philosophical. In the beginning, it was keywords.
You put the keywords in the right tag and you rank. Yeah, it was all keyword-centric. And queries were keyword-centric. Yes, so I searched by keyword, and it would look on a webpage for the keyword.
And if they matched this site would jump up. That was the way it started. Before Google, there was Infoseek AltaVista, Excite, and all these different products. And if you are looking for a search engine relationship chart, I invented it. I wrote it. I published it. Everybody downloaded it. It was up on everybody’s wall.
And 23 different search engines were feeding each other and borrowing from each other and doing things like that. It was chaos. But it evolved to the point now where there are only a few search engines of any significance.
And the technology evolved. Google originally for 14 years had 128 variables in the algorithm.
Then it was 200. Then it was 300. Being a saying they have 500 that’s a lot of different things that have been added over the years. I think that there are two major shifts, and I think that a lot of people don’t understand them. And it’d probably be worth a while to just talk about it. The first shift was because of the way the algorithms work.
There are systems. Now, the concept of a system isn’t new, but if I have 300 variables, there might be 30 systems in there. There’s a system for on-page and a system for off-page and a system for server and a system for this and a system for that.
And within a system, and most people don’t think this way. Unless you can understand that the 300 variables are a group of systems and the health of any one system has to be there. How do you get to be first among equals? You do a query and you get 10 million results. Yes, to show up, you have to have a healthy group of systems, not just one. You can’t just do links. Yes, You’re unhealthy. Does that make sense? If that is the case, and it is, then our job as SEOs is to understand all of it. Yes, and make each piece the best it can be to make Web Vitals as good as it could be.
To make the speed as fast as it could be. And to make my page the best it could be. Yes. And to use schemas., All of the various components are part of the system. The next part that most people don’t know is within a system, they’re symbiotic. And that if I have three variables, if I get A right, variable A, I get perfect. But B and C are terrible, A doesn’t even count. Yes. You have to have all three for any of them to matter.
Okay, so now you’ve got that. Now the layers are the caffeine index, which is just data. Just spiders, sticks, and numbers in buckets, Data. Then you have Hummingbird, which is the name of the algorithm that sits above the index.
And that Hummingbird will attempt to figure out whether you’re appropriate, but you also have things like a rank break, where it’ll say this keyword is biased by web search history, or it’s biased by intent.
Let’s use those as an example. Hammer, We all know what a hammer is. Yes, except If you search Los Angeles, the number one result is the Armand Hammer Art Museum at UCLA. The number two result is MC Hammer. That’s number one and number two for Hammer. Okay? Yeah. All of a sudden, all of our ability to just look at a keyword is ripped away from us.
Definitely. It’s ripped away because now we need to know how that person searched. Did they search for pliers and screwdrivers and hammers? Or did they search for art and museums and hammers? Yeah. They search and you have no control over them. So suddenly the first issue is that Google with, some artificial intelligence has been able to figure out intent and purpose.
Yes. Now they’re going high into artificial intelligence where a lot of people for years have not paid attention. It’s time to pay attention. For instance, if you link to me, Google knows. If the sentiment is good or bad based upon the relationship to your page.
So if your page is being the worst 10 sites in the world and I’m listed, that’s negative sentiment. Yeah. If it’s the best 10 sites, that’s a positive sentiment. And sentiment now is used to bias the value of every link. Yes. For years, Google has said and be it right or be it wrong, Google has said they can detect good and bad links. Now, I never really thought that was true. I thought that was just Google saying it.
And by the way, that system concept is how people at Google answer the question. If you ask a question, they’re familiar with this system. This system may not care, but that other system might.
So for instance, it’s okay to have 404 errors on your website because this system doesn’t care. It doesn’t care, but that system does. Yeah, because they’re talking about theirs. We’re not talking about the whole thing. And so you get into links, you get into the issue, is it positive sentiment, is it negative sentiment? And you have to figure out if, it is organic.
Yeah. Is that an expert in your field so that it should matter as opposed to it’s an idiot? They don’t know anything about what you do. Absolutely. Here’s my big experiment. So Google said, we’re going to catch it all. Unless it’s malware, which is a legal issue, not a linking issue.
Unless it is just totally a violation of their standards, right? Gross. They catch it and they have figured out how to bias it.
And if you want to buy a link. Chances are that the site is selling to somebody else and that somebody else may have a footprint, so it backtracks to you.
They have figured all that out. Here’s a big experiment. I have 168, 000 inbound links. None of which have ever been built. They’re just 27 years’ worth of links, right? Yeah. I found a lot of things that were total garbage. So I disavowed them. Google does. We catch them all. You don’t need to have a disavow unless it is malware.
You don’t need a disavow. I went and took my disavow file off entirely. It’s empty on my bruceclay.com website because I’ve got hundreds of number-one rankings. I’m going to find out if it’s true or not. Yeah.
Just went up. I took out the disavow file, listened to John Mueller, I took it out, and my rankings went up. Because I had disavowed things maybe 10 years ago. Yeah, they have eyes. So they cleaned up their act and now it’s a good side. All right. But it was a disavow file. Yeah. So there’s a lot to SEO that you have to pay attention to. And the algorithm goes back to my concept. The algorithm is a series of systems.
Yes. The system has its own rules, and this one doesn’t pay attention to 404s, but this one does. Or, trust is an interesting thing. None of these systems care if here in the U.S. it’s called the Better Business Bureau.
None of them care about the better business bureau, but this little guy over here who cares about trust may very well care.
Yeah. It’s as good as, let’s say if somebody offers a service. For that business, it’s common sense that it has to be a service page, right? But are you looking at actually what is ranking in the top 10? Are you trying to understand what Google considers as ranking? Maybe, Google is looking for informative content. Yeah, you’re correct. There’s so much involved that you have to take care of, and that’s why I think it’s so interesting. And, like you said, with AI coming in. It’s so much more interesting.
For example, keyword research totally, the concept and the process changing towards more, like topical semantic relations and, like how will the AI come in and how will you do, like all of that stuff. But with all the promising things, coming in the algorithm with AI trying to understand the intent and trying to give good results.
What are the hurdles that you foresee or any main areas of concern that you foresee from an SEO standpoint?
Okay. So I’ve spent many hundreds of hours playing with chat and AI. And we’re developing a product for it. The thing about AI is, that AI is a tool, not a solution. You got to start there. If you think you could put in a keyword, tell it to write an article and that article is any good, you’re mistaken. And the way AI works is it’s logically just averaging the large language model.
It’s like Google looking at a million pages, averaging them, and saying that’s number one.
It’s not. If it looked at a million, the average is in the middle. You’re not going to rank at the top. AI cannot be creative. It can only regurgitate facts. It can’t create fact. It can’t do research. It can’t experiment. It can’t be bleeding it. And even if there was the ability to see experimental things, It can’t do it.
So where AI comes into SEO is and we ought to be fair about this, probably in life, 90% of the things that are written are not web pages, but most of the things written are emails.
And where AI is good is I could write an email being as angry at you as I can but I’ll just tell AI, write it in a friendlier voice.
I’m better now. And it can do that. Or take this outline and tell me, what is the message of the outline? You could ask it all sorts of questions to get answers. You don’t have to generate webpages from it, because where the real art is we’re creating a product called PreWriter.
What is AI before the writing? Okay. We do research right up to the writer, but the writer puts in the voice and the tone and it checks for compliance and legal requirements and it makes sure it doesn’t use words you don’t want to use and it in fact checks.
The writer is an artist, right?
And it turns out and we’ve done a thousand pages, thousands of pages with the tool, just in our internal testing. And it turns out that the tedious part of writing is doing some of that preliminary research. The research. And that if I had the right tool and we do, I could give you what you needed.
At a research level and a draft, and that’s the most you ever get out of AI right now is a draft. Just consider it. It’s not a finished article, ever. But if I took that and ran it through some of the tools that made it human, did as much as I could, that is something, at the most, that is something you give to your writer and say, now apply the art.
All right. Make it something that people would share. Make it something that people would read and not bounce off, make it something worth having, because if I want to be in the top 10 out of 10 million, average just doesn’t cut it.
And I think also how do you connect it to the brand voice?
Like, how to do with all of the content coming out through these AI tools at the end of the day, they all read the same? If you’re going to write about a topic, it’s the same information available for every tool. It’s going to use the same database, same internet, and then it’s just going to mix it all up and try to spit out, the output, which is, in whatever form you try, some people try not to, write long-form articles through AI.
They divide it into subtopics and then put it together, but whatever way you try it at the end of the day, it’s going to sound the same because it is the same information these tools, are using. But then if that, like you said, I think, that’s the problem.
The research takes time, but if the research is coming to a human and that human is an artist, and he understands the brand voice, he will be able to carve out a piece that stands out. And is worthy of the top 10 ranking.
And you can find that there are things that rank, right? Every day, I don’t have any idea why this ranks. Yeah, you’re always going to have that. And sometimes you’re going to find that AI stuff might fit in. Sometimes just the way they wrote it might work. Might be an exact match to the query. That could happen.
What we care about is If somebody did this search and they went to your website, what is their opinion of your website? Will they share it? Will they quote it? Will they write it down? Will they make it part of their research? Because if it isn’t shareable, it’s just somebody else’s facts written your way. And that’s all AI is at present for content and the biggest impact, going back to your question, the biggest impact for SEO is that people who don’t understand SEO will think that’s a solution and they’ll put in the keyword.
They’ll get an article, they’ll spell-check it, and they’ll publish it.
I’ve read a lot of articles, a lot of posts on LinkedIn, etc. where people have their graph, and they show the graph and how it’s going up. It’s not going up because of the quality of their content, it’s going up because they’re flooding Google, and Google hasn’t figured out whether it’s good or bad yet.
Google takes two weeks to decide if it wants to kill you or not. Yeah. And yeah, sure. You can put up an AI curve with your content and as long as it’s fast enough, you can show almost anything. Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s wrong for somebody to not apply art to content. Absolutely.
No, please go on. I was gonna say, I think that ultimately and we have a team of writers on staff here, right? And in dealing with our team and our product, I had the team provide the critiques.
And the very first critiques were, you don’t have any voice, you don’t have a sense of humor, you don’t have any compliance, you don’t have this, you don’t have that. I let them do it. They critiqued it. And then I came back and said, it wasn’t supposed to. That’s your job. I just did the homework. You get to write the article, right? And, all of a sudden, all the writers changed their attitude about it. Say, originally, the writers felt, oh, this is going to take my job, right?
Or, the value of my service just got cheaper, right? And it’s easy to understand how things like that could happen. For instance, going back in time, things get cheaper. Cars came out and buggy whips were not as popular.
Electricity came out, and candles were not as popular. So everybody’s worried that AI is going to come out and writing is devalued, right? And the answer is, if you are a writer and you hone your trade, this is an opportunity to be an artist. Yeah, to use the tools. Yeah, you use it as a tool, let it do some homework. It’ll think about things you might not have thought of. Now you can apply it and do unique, creative things. We based our entire AI product line, if you will, it does all sorts of things on the fact that we are not the writer, we’re the researcher. That’s it. We’re the researchers. We give you a draft. We give you the outline. We give you the keywords.
We tell you what the synonyms are, we help you, but we don’t have to be the writer.
And I think also where, people get it wrong is it’s, very common, let’s say one rare case where they got success like people promote that rare case so much, it’s just for example, somebody had cancer, did not do the normal course of, chemo surgery, whatever, did something else and got healed. They promote that story so much that a lot of people start following that and don’t follow the actual process.
But that’s not you know, the core or the majority, the majority is where you need to have the best content out there. And like you said, not just the content, you might have the best content out there, but nobody is considering you as the expert. You don’t have links, your web vitals are poor, and all of that stuff.
Like every department, as you said, every department has to make sense. That’s the majority, where every department is making sense. It’s just that somebody came to me like it was a new agency partner. They were talking to a client and they came to us and said, We want to do research, like an SEO audit, and research for them.
And we want to make an SEO package for them. These are their seed keywords. These are their top three competitors. And when we went back, we shared some references with them, where the competitors we had taken were around like 20-30 competitors and not just three, and they were like we had given you three, I said.
Every search term has 10 URLs ranking and then you take the overall search term. Let’s say there are 100, 200, whatever. You’re not just going to end up with 10. You have to look at every search term as an independent element. And then obviously you look at the entire website. I think that’s something which a lot of people, are missing.
But yeah, thank you for explaining that so well. This will help our viewers.
One of the things that we have to recall is that, as I said, in the beginning, it was keywords. If you’ve used chat at all, you find that with a keyword-based system. I would go to Google, and put in a keyword.
I’d have to scan some number of sites. Then for my next answer, I would take that information, do another query, and gather information. Whereas with chat, I can ask a compound question. I can say I have these ingredients. How do I prepare each to make a meal? A more complex question, right?
And I can ask it as one question, right? It could be five sentences. It could be a question. Some of my scripts are two and a half pages long, believe it or not. So this is pretty advanced stuff. I can ask it as a question and I can get a recipe. And instructions, step-by-step, ingredients, and everything to prepare a dinner.
I can’t do that with Google. I can’t say, Google, I have a can of beans.
Yeah. You just can’t do that. And I find that just like in the beginning, how people would search by keyword, I am starting to search by question. I’m searching by intent. That’s the shift. And that is the shift we’re seeing with AI. And Google has already started to respond to that.
They just recently put out some changes so that FAQs don’t dominate. Not because they don’t want them to dominate, but because they want to dominate with search experience. And by the way, search generative experience sounds like a 1970s rock band, right? It’s a strange name.
You have to understand where Google is going. That means that our content, site-wide content, we should start making it more informative for the questions. We should think the question is the way it works. Questions the way it works and we should bias our content towards questions. Our blog posts should answer questions.
We should get all of that working right now, because six months from now. Absolutely.
That’s so much valuable insight, Bruce. I think that’s something that, we need to hone on. We need to work on it because that’s what’s going to rank, let’s say six months down the line. Bruce, obviously you have had a successful career and, there’s so much more ahead in the journey for you, let’s say you had to go back, like any mistake, you know in your career you think that you would go back and you would change that?
Not really. I think that I have had more fun with SEO, but I couldn’t have done SEO until there were PCs and most of us in SEO could not have ever seen the industry acceptance of SEO until bandwidth went up if we were still running on modems SEO would not be a big topic, right?
It would be who can write the smallest asses website and that’s all it took. I’d say that we’ve all heard the same. Where you are now is because it’s where you’re supposed to be. I think I was supposed to be here for SEO and I have enjoyed it. I have been fortunate. I’ve done well with it.
I don’t need to be the biggest company in the world. I need to get up in the morning and know I have helped a lot of companies. Either directly or indirectly and that and feel good about it and I’m there. So I wouldn’t change that. And I have to assume everything before that just led to that spot.
As we conclude, Bruce, because like we are short on time here, but I would like, to hear from you. How would you like Bruce Clay, the individual, the brand, to be remembered in the SEO world?
What is next on your horizon?
I don’t know that I have so much of a next I’m old enough that I’ve succeeded multiple times.
You have these bucket lists things like, Oh, I want to write a book. I’ve done that. Right behind me here, 700 pages. I’ve written a book, I’ve written, I’ve presented, I’ve keynoted, I have once, I was on my way to India, and I only flew west. So I flew around the world.
I’ve done a lot of things that I wanted to do. I haven’t gone to every country. I haven’t done a lot of things that are, oh, that’d be nice. Where I’m at now I’m pretty happy with what I have done. What do I want to be known for? I want to be known for sharing information and helping, not being Oh, my goodness.
I can’t give you that information because you’re a competitor. I don’t want to be in that business. I want to give away information. I want to help people succeed. And I think that over the years if you look at even my blog posts now, you can read it. I’m giving away information. Everything I talked about here, I could keep secret.
I don’t want to be known as the guy that stabs competitors in the back, As you mentioned at the very beginning, we’re a very open industry. We share, and we help build it.
It’s not a zero-sum game. We are very lucky to be in a collaborative industry. Absolutely.
And I think people that are collaborating, those are the people that are growing. Those are the people that are flourishing.
Yeah, if you think about conferences, that’s what it’s about. Yeah. I’ve spoken at a ton of conferences.
I’m signing up for three more. Now that they’re having them. I sponsor, I’m sponsoring two.
Brighton. And PubCon and I are looking into what’s happening next year. I promote these things. I believe that where I am right now I’m okay. I have zero debt. I have lots in the bank. I am okay. I don’t need to be cut through. All right. It’s too short to operate that way.
Bruce, in the end, I like playing a quick rapid-fire round of three to four questions just for fun. Good luck. Are you ready? Coffee or tea?
Coffee. But in the winter, I’ll have tea at night, believe it or not, but every morning it’s got to be coffee.
If you could teleport to one place in the world right now, where would that be?
I live in a very nice environment in Southern California. And considering the heat waves that are hitting everywhere and the floods and everything else. If it was short term, I think I would, I don’t know, Tahiti kind of thing. I’ve not been in that area. I think it would be nice.
Right. One book, every entrepreneur should read?
Which song whenever it plays makes you want to dance?
Very few songs make me want to dance.
Which one would you pick?
Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. And it would have to be disco. And even though disco is popular right now, I think that those were dance songs.
Absolutely. Bruce, thank you so much for your time. It has been fun having you and thank you for being so candid. Thank you for being so open and sharing all the information.
I enjoyed, my time and I’m sure the viewers will enjoy the show as well. Thank you.
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