IndustrySEW Weekly: How to Sell Yourself as an SEO, with Special Guest Bruce Clay

SEW Weekly: How to Sell Yourself as an SEO, with Special Guest Bruce Clay

SEO industry veteran Bruce Clay stopped by to share his experience in building a successful SEO agency, with tips to help others market themselves more effectively. Learn about the current market, in-demand skills, and more.

SEW Weekly Radio ShowHow can you more effectively sell your SEO services, build your brand, and ultimately make more money?

Many of us come from a technical background and are still developing creative or sales skills. SEOs may have started out in IT or programming, or worked in larger companies and are now going out on their own.

Increasingly, SEO professionals are required to wear a variety of hats, especially in smaller companies or as freelancers. You might not have someone dedicated to PR, or sales, or marketing your company.

When you have to manage these areas yourself, how do you build your brand and more importantly, sell yourself in a way that translates into greater sales and a more profitable business?

Bruce Clay has obviously managed this better than most. Last week on SEW Weekly, we picked his brain to find out just how to more effectively sell your SEO services.

What Is the SEO Market Like Right Now?

bruce-clay-headshotBruce Clay

The opportunity for SEOs is great right now, Clay said.

“In the last 90 days, we’ve seen more inquiries with serious intent. A lot of people were window shopping, but we’re seeing more people with serious intent right now,” he said. “I expect it to get far more aggressive.”

With all of the drama around links, on-page SEO is also becoming more important.

When he started doing SEO in 1996, having a great site for his consultancy wasn’t all that important, Clay told SEW Weekly. Instead, he focused on building his brand.

Today, larger buyers are more likely to seek out a brand, making your online presence that much more important. The smaller businesses, however, are more apt to make a decision based on price.

“I think you have to focus on providing a spectrum of services that are important to your market in your region,” he advised. “Most of the smaller businesses have budgets under $1,000. For a lot of clients, your website has to say, we can do it in your price range.”

That’s a tough problem for a lot of people, though in Southern California, Clay noted, he often sees SEO services advertised at that price point.

What Are SEO Companies Looking for in Employees?

The average person isn’t looking for a specialist, Clay said. “They’re looking for someone who can run a cohesive, multi-faceted program for their budget.”

If all you do is content, you might be able to get in as a specialist, he noted. But you need to know enough about the other facets of SEO to speak the language to your employers and clients.

If you don’t know the answers to questions, you need to know who to call. This means reading, researching, socializing, and staying current, Clay noted.

The average small SEO shop doesn’t have the luxury of having people in the office dedicated to staying on top of everything happening in the industry.

“You can’t be all things to all people in a small business,” Clay said, “but you have to know enough to be able to answer questions and point it in the right direction.”

Which Skills Are Most in Demand?

Clay believes the best skill right now in SEO is writing, commenting that “content is a massive opportunity right now in all areas.” Social is going to morph what the small business thinks of online business, he noted, predicting that it will spill into all areas of business as it continues to evolve.

SEO is more mature than social, yet many buyers still don’t really understand what it is, he said.

“I’m a big believer in follow the money and we all know Google is a big believer in following the money,” Clay said. Where does Google make their money? The front page of search, he said. That opportunity isn’t going anywhere.

As for social though, Clay predicted it will be more powerful than a website ever was. People are using it in the initial stages of the buying process; they’re not stumbling through websites anymore to check out products. Social will continue to grow as a powerful branding tool and a driver of traffic to websites, he said.

Have a listen as Bruce Clay talks SEO rates, what the average company is charging, and how to capitalize on your competitive advantages. You can download this and previous episodes from or iTunes.

Coming Up on SEW Weekly – Why Your SEO Shouldn’t Be the Last to Know

Join us Thursday, November 29, at 1 p.m. ET for “Why Your SEO Shouldn’t Be the Last to Know.” Special guest Carolyn Shelby, SEO Director at the Chicago Tribune, joins hosts Thom Craver and Miranda Miller to discuss a common issue: companies bringing SEOs into play after development.

What are the challenges when companies fail to involve SEOs in the planning and development phase of web projects? Shelby will share her experience and advice on preventing problematic issues by bringing SEOs in sooner and involving them in marketing and development discussions.

Also, get the scoop on news most affecting SEOs this past week.

Stop by the SEW Facebook page with any questions you have for SEW weekly or this week’s guest.


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