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HEROES Spotlight: Barry Schwartz

2021-05-03

Tell us about yourself, Barry. What makes you uniquely you? Can you tell us a bit about your background, your hobbies, your human experience?

So I was born and raised in the Hudson Valley region of New York and 40 years later, I am still here. Both my residence, my family and my business are within a short distance from where I grew up.

My hobby is really covering and writing about search engines, search engine optimization, Google and how things are changing in the space. I started my blog, the Search Engine Roundtable, in 2003 and have kept posting consistently, every day, several times a day, since then. I’ve probably written over 40,000 articles on the topic in the past 17 plus years. It is not a normal hobby, like rock climbing or swimming but it is what I love to do. I enjoy tracking the changes and keeping a log of those changes. What I love most is hearing randomly how it helped others with their careers or their client successes.

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A true New York native, hailing from Baruch College, and clearly blessed with the gift of gab, how did you blend your natural affinity for story telling with your professional path?

The funny thing is I am not a great storyteller. In fact, I kind of dislike listening to storytellers. I am more of a direct and straight-shooter when it comes to information. Specifically, I prefer to read and listen to people who will give me the facts and evidence once, without telling a story around it. I rather hear more facts and less of a story if that means I am given more knowledge in a shorter amount of time.

So when I write or speak, I often leave a lot of the storytelling aspects out and just give the information. It can come off as monotone and bland but everyone has their tastes and I prefer plain vanilla over strawberry with whip cream and sprinkles.

People know they can come to me and get the quick and direct answer without any of the fluff. Not that fluff is bad, it is just not my style.

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You have a very interesting intersection of skills. Your software development and marketing agency RustyBrick, is well known and well traveled. But possibly even more notable is your contributions as Executive Editor and daily contributor to the well respected Search Engine Land, founder of the Search Engine Roundtable and annual host for Search Marketing Expo, better known in the industry as SMX® on the international circuit.

Fueled by passion, and a seemingly endless supply of knowledge and information, what's your secret sauce? How do you stay so relevant, so timely, so neutral and yet, own and operate a business, with a healthy staff?

Consistency is my secret sauce. I am a strong believer of having a set routine every day and trying your best to stick with it. It is easier to get things done, in a more efficient way, if you have a set schedule to stick with. If you are consistent, those who you interact with; i.e. my RustyBrick customers or my Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable readers, know what to consistently expect from my output. It helps build a trusting and loyal relationship with your employees, customers and readers.

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You have a deep perspective and a very long career at RustyBrick, creating solutions that solve business problems and position technology as an opportunity to “decrease costs and increase sales”. Can you tell us about a few projects over the years that you feel, truly meet the mission? Tell us about some that truly impacted the community, the climate, humanity and so forth?

One of my other passions, which you might get from my writing output, is looking for solutions to become more efficient. The one thing we don’t get more of is time. So if we can make more use of the time we are given, and get more output in less time, then that is a huge win both for business life and personal life. That is how my mind works and that is the culture ingrained in every person who works at RustyBrick.

We are all about finding ways to make companies and organizations more efficient through software solutions. It can be a web based application or a mobile application or both. It can be a clever way to use a third-party API to help our customers communicate better with their customers, reducing in-bound calls. It can be a way to drive more leads to those businesses. Or ways to leverage the workflow systems we custom build for our clients to funnel some of that data dynamically into their marketing channels.

I have so many stories I can share with you on this front but I am honestly afraid of singling out one client over another. So let me share more of a personal set of applications.

Like I said, ingrained in us is looking for ways to be more efficient with our time. I am an observant Jew, and the requirements in the Jewish religion are embedded throughout our daily lives. My company has built numerous apps to help Jews live a more productive Jewish life. One example is our Smart Siddur that dynamically customized the prayer book text based on what day and time it is; is it the new month and you need to say a specific prayer, or perhaps it is a Monday or Thursday where you need to read a set of passages from the Torah and so on. The app also tells you when you have to pray during the day, where the nearby synagogues are, who is in need of prayer if they are sick and so on. We have countless apps like this aimed at various areas of Jewish life. We don’t really make much money from these apps but it is good to help the Jewish community in our small way.

In the world of SEO, meets software, meets human experience, if you could boil the ocean of advice, what would you offer to young, fresh eyed and ambitious marketers, SEO's, developers, or thought leaders?

That is a tough question, especially in the SEO world. There is so much good information out there but at the same time, for every one really good piece of advice you will get, there may be two or three pieces of advice that is outright wrong or misinformed.

My best advice is to question everything you read, even what I write, and question it by testing to see if that advice works. There are some great software tools out there that help you test.

Always stay on top of what is changing in SEO and you can do that by following me on Twitter @rustybrick (it is a lot of stuff) or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel which summarizes the more important topics of the week at youtube.com/rustybrick. Then if you find something you like, test it, and then test it again. Even if it works on one client, it might not work for another client. So test, test and test.

Fun Question: The movie Spaceballs came out in 1987. At this time, you’re just a young man trying to figure out his place in the world. “The Schwartz” is definitely with you, Barry, but like all Jedi, there must be a balance between success and failure. Tell us a bit about staying the course and relentlessly pursuing goals, and maybe some speed bumps, road block and New York potholes along the way.

Yep, I was about seven years old and people were telling me, may the Schwartz be with you. In terms of staying the course, I think it goes back to what I wrote above around being consistent. It is rare to have successes overnight. It takes a lot of hard work, over many many years and even then, you might end up failing. Heck, look at all the Google failures over the years. Just keep trying new things, and you will know if something will work or not and if you should keep putting effort into it.

I’ve launched many new products over the years, some took off and performed very well. Some did not but those experiences helped me with future projects. The most important thing is not to let the failures bring you down, in fact, they should bring you up. It is about the mindset.

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Where can people find you or get in touch? How can people get involved in ultimately giving back to things you truly care about? What are some projects, productions and adventures you're really proud of and would like others to learn about?

People can learn more about me at rustybrick.com/barry, follow me on Twitter @rustybrick and of course, on the Search Engine Roundtable or Search Engine Land. If you want to interact with me, the best way is over Twitter and share what you found or learned regarding search marketing with me. Maybe I can amplify that. I love highlighting new discoveries from people within the industry.

So if there is one thing I want to do, it is to help amplify the community and the people within it. The SEO/SEM industry is great and filled with awesome people.