SEO Q&A with Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick & Search Engine Roundtable

Following on from last months SEO Q&A with Kalena Jordan, this month, I got the chance to do a Q&A with Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick and Search Engine Roundtable, heres a little background information about Barry:

“Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and has covered search news for over five years. Barry also maintains the Search Engine Roundtable, his own search blog that tracks discussions at the most active search engine forums.

As the host of Search Marketing Expo Israel and a speaker at many search marketing conferences, Barry is always on top of the most important topics in search. He also was the former News Editor at Search Engine Watch, hosts a weekly video cast named Search Buzz Recap and is a moderator at several popular search marketing forums.

Barry is often quoted in publications such as Forbes, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, News.com, Publish and more. With five years of writing about search marketing tips and how search engines work, Barry has been called the hardest working blogger in search. Barry maintains a personal blog named Cartoon Barry and can be followed on Twitter here.

Barry is the CEO of RustyBrick, a New York Web service firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales. RustyBrick sells custom web software including advanced e-commerce, custom content management systems, social networking sites, CRM applications, custom web-based business software, iPhone applications and much more. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.”

SEO Q&A with Barry Schwartz:

So, tell us a bit about how you got in to search, what you specialise in, your company and how you started Search Engine Roundtable?

I own a web development company named RustyBrick. We had a client back in 1999 or so ask us about getting rankings. I pretty much jumped onto the forums and began researching. I found it incredibly interesting and a few years later, in 2003, I started a blog to keep notes on what I found in the forums. I wanted to keep track of the new tips and discoveries found in the forums for my personal benefit. So I made a blog to keep track of it. It turned out, others liked to read the blog and it became more of a site covering the SEO community through the eyes of the forums.

FYI, RustyBrick doesn’t offer SEO services. We make sites and web software and when we make sites, we build them right, so that means they are search engine friendly. But we do not offer ongoing SEO services, like link building, ranking reports, and so on.

If you were looking to engage with a SEO company, what 3 things would you look for apart from results?

  1. Are they honest and good people, do they care about my company, my goals and my success? The main thing is that no SEO company can 100% guarantee or even achieve 100% success all the time, so it is more important to me to know they will do the right thing if they don’t get the best results for me when I need it. Not sure if that make sense.
  2. I want to speak to their existing clients to verify my feels about number one.
  3. Do their people know their stuff? Are they keeping up with the latest? Are they testing new strategies? Google is constantly changing, I want my SEO to be one step ahead.

Social sites like Twitter and Facebook are an integral part of a SEO campaign, but for late adaptors, what 3 things would you advise from the offset when setting these up?

  1. Be patient and sit back to see what your niche is doing on these social sites even before you participate and share.
  2. Slowly join the conversation by resharing and retweeting other content. Then share other content, not only your stuff (I am a bad example).
  3. When tweeting and sharing your stuff, start off doing it manually before you even attempt to automate it.

A lot is said about link building, but in your opinion, which 3 methods work the best?

Ugh, hate this question. I don’t do link building. I think good quality content that is fresh works well for me, breaking stories, finding new features or tips and even finding crazy bugs first. I also like posting polls because they attract links twice, once to get people to vote and then for them to see the results when they are posted. Finally, trending and news stories tend to rank fast and well, but die off later – but if they catch a wave, oh boy can they send in links.

When creating a new website or updated an existing one, what  should you consider the most to help or aid the SEO process?

When rebuilding a site and taking into consideration, SEO, it is critical to look at the existing analytics and see which are the top pages and keyword phrases.  The last thing you want to do is launch the new site and the client lose all his rankings overnight.  If you can’t keep the existing URL structure, then 301 those URLs.  Any other URL, the pages with zero or low traffic, you can 404, 301 or leave the URL the site.

So the key thing is looking at the history of the site and taking the good into consideration.

Following on from Matt Cutts recent video stating that “Google deems SEO ‘NOT’ to be spam” – why do you think people see it as spam and what would you say to reassure them?

SEO has a black eye in the internet marketing world. It has been seen as a ‘black art’ for a long time because people simply do not understand how it works. Google was very secretive early on and still is. It is hard to know what works and why it works.

Back in the day, people thought meta tags were the answer. They stuffed keywords. They did things to their content that was wrong. Because of the lack of transparency on the search engine side and even on the SEO side, where SEOs don’t always share with others for a competitive advantage, that secretive nature of the business kind of led to the reputation it has now. Of course, now, with more transparency, it is much better than it was. But this video will help SEOs prove to prospective clients that they are legit – on some level  : )

Here is the video in question:


Where do you see search going in the next 5, 10, 15 years?

  1. 5 Years = more mobile, likely more location based searches even without specifying location. Including social layers, friends, etc. We are just touching on this now.
  2. 10 years = large improvements in voice search, Siri, etc. But so much so based on the expression used by the person speaking, maybe that is more 15 years down the road? I am not sure.
  3. 15+ Years = Hoping brain implants  ; )

If SEO was a colour, what would it be and why?

Blackish Gray because of our black eye and perspective of it being a black art still. Grayish because it is improving and transparency is getting better.

If SEO was an animal, what would it be and why?

Now? Panda, do I really need to answer why?

And finally, give me 3 reasons why SEOs and non-SEOs should be reading Search Engine Roundtable on a daily basis?


  1. Do you have time to read these forums daily? If not, we find the best threads and bring them to you.
  2. It is a community and we bring it to you even if you don’t have time to be social.
  3. Because the site is updated several times a day and has been for longer than any other SEO Blog out there. Being one of the first and consistently active SEO blogs should get me something, right?  ; )


  1. Marketing people should if they want to keep up on search marketing, which is incredibly important.
  2. Search engine reps should because well, I am covering them.
  3. If you aren’t online and don’t care about search or marketing, then you shouldn’t read my site.

and finally…

I couldn’t finish this post without saying a massive “thank you” to Barry for taking the time out and answering my questions. Click on the links to find out more about Barry’s web design agency in New York, RustyBrick, and Search Engine Roundtable.

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