SEO SEM Training & Certification

January 26, 2007

Bruce Clay talks SEO ToolSet, search engine relationship charts, Lisa Barone and more………

Filed under: SEM SEO Training — David Temple @ 12:05 am

I recently interviewed Bruce Clay and thought an introduction was unnecessary. After further thought I realized perhaps all of my readers may not know him. I’m sure I wouldn’t do him justice so I turned to wikipedia for this excellent intro.

Bruce Clay is a professional search engine optimization consultant. He was interviewed by Wired Magazine in their 2004 feature “The Complete Guide to Googlemania!” and cited by USA Today in their article “Gunning for search engines” from August 20, 2003. His website is referenced to by NARA – ALIC – User’s Guide to the Internet at The National Archives as resource for “Web Site Promotion Tactics and Tools”.

He and his company are active with industry organizations such as: SEMPO, the Search Engine Strategies conference, IMC USA, Web Analytics Association, American Marketing Association, IIMA – International Internet Marketing Association and the California Chamber of Commerce.


Hi to you and your crew at and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. It was nice to see you again in Chicago and I really enjoyed the conference. I also saw you in San Francisco at adtech, and wonder what other shows do you attend or exhibit?

Bruce: We attend SES (San Jose, Chicago, and New York), ad:Tech (San Fran, Chicago, and New York), and we are the first Premier Sponsor of Danny Sullivan’s Search Marketing Expo. I am speaking at ad:Tech Sydney, and other international cities as time permits. In the past I have spoken at WebmasterWorld, and if Brett asks I am willing to speak and exhibit in the future.

Let’s get a little history, who was Bruce Clay before

Bruce: Long (too long) history as an IT executive with a broad background.  Programming, marketing, sales, management, etc., including prior lifetimes as a GM with Acer America, President of a US Operating Division of a multi-national, and Owner of small start-ups. BS in Math/Computer Science and a Pepperdine MBA along the way.  For 11 years (current lifetime) I have tried to help build the SEO industry.

You’ve often been referred to as the guy who coined the term “search engine optimization” but it seems that no one can find anything definitive. Care to comment?

Bruce: One of my previous positions was with Boole and Babbage, at a time where they were seriously into evaluation and optimization of software and systems. I started discussing optimization very early, but it took a while to get it to catch on. Danny Sullivan has actually stated on his show that I was the first to use the word optimization in any email correspondence with him and he gave me credit for coining the term search engine optimization. To me with my history of systems optimization it just made sense to call it search engine optimization. I will say that the phrase belongs to the industry, and if I contributed this phrase it makes sense.

What inspired you to develop the search engine relationship chart and how many iterations have there been?

Bruce: I found myself wanting something visual that describes how to get a page indexed by any major search engine. As a result we developed the search engine relationship chart. I liked it, so we decided to give it away thinking that it would make a useful desktop aid for everyone in the industry.  Well, it worked, with hundreds of thousands of downloads of the pdf before we switched to flash. Now you can see the history of The Chart on our site at

Could you describe SEOToolSet and how that came about?

Bruce: In the beginning, the tools available from all other commercial sources were worse than bad.  Simply put, they were unreliable and not able to answer the questions I was asking. I decided, considering my software background, that it was easier to build my own tools that I could make work the way I wanted.  The rest is history, currently over sixty programs intertwined to synergistically present information in our way. We run the company on them and have several thousand subscribers.

Why did you decide to offer training and certification?

Bruce: I was already operating a formal training program for my new employees, and decided to invite a few clients. I immediately realized that an educated client is a better, happier client and that projects were going smoother and with more client cooperation than ever. I expanded the program significantly, obligating new clients to attend, and opening the class to others wanting to learn SEO. We rank at the top for [search engine optimization training], and with our rave reviews we are filling every class quickly.  We have been operating an advanced class for over a year where (mostly) SEO’s can learn advanced topics and become certified as users of our tools. We hundreds of graduates and classes are going strong. As one of the few competent classes that are face-to-face, we meet a need for education the industry really needs. And, yes, we are contributors to sections of the SEMPO classes.

Could you share a few success stories about your students?

Bruce: Students are reporting significant improvements in rankings, many have changed to better jobs, some companies are hiring past students at high salaries, and several have subsequently signed service contracts in their new positions.  Training has become a great service offering.

My blog is about sem seo certification and training so could you give us your take on the someof the other  sem seo certification and training programs out there?

Bruce: Students have taken other programs prior to taking our class, and comment that we are much more advanced than the others even in our standard course. We simply offer a much more cohesive solution complete with strategy, tactics, and tools. We offer it all, and give students a solution they can use. I do not personally know what other courses cover, nor do I need to. Without a comprehensive inventory of power tools integrated into a single course, I simply cannot imagine that other courses compare.

I understand you’re working on new facilities, what’s the latest news and when can we expect an open house?

Bruce: Everything takes longer than expected. I find that to get what I want will take over a year more, and with expansion causing space issues, I may be forced to move to other space before our building is completed. Growth is good, but not having space is a bummer.

Finally, its no secret that I’m a big fan of Lisa Barone as are many others. What lead to her hiring and how has her popularity affected Bruce Clay, Inc.?

Bruce: I was looking to add to Susan’s team, and Lisa sent in her resume. As it turned out, I did not respond right away, but she really wanted to work here with us so she contacted us again. We interviewed, and I saw an immediate match. She simply belonged here. The rest is history. She has my extreme trust and the freedom to tailor the Blog to our mutual vision, and I am exceptionally happy she is here. As for her popularity, I think she has earned it, and I look forward to having it expand. I hope all of my staff becomes as popular.

Bruce thanks again for your time and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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  1. […] Temple interviews Bruce […]

    Pingback by Friday Search News 012507 » Online Marketing Blog — January 26, 2007 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  2. good info

    Comment by Robbie Broatch — February 16, 2007 @ 7:57 am | Reply

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