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“[P]eople in the industry who’ve been in it a long time… I think a lot of people need to get better at not making [newcomers] feel bad, because I do see people asking questions and they’re probably new, or maybe they just don’t know for whatever reason, and they get humiliated. And I really hate seeing that. I think it makes a lot of people not want to ask questions.”
Link building has gotten a bad rap over the years with Google creating and enforcing strict guidelines against link schemes.
Even so, seasoned link builder Julie Joyce never considered rebranding her agency, Link Fish Media, nor shifting her focus away from links.
The industry has become more crowded and competitive, but from her perspective, a lot hasn’t really changed.
“I’m doing the same thing that I’ve been doing for the last 10 years,” she says. “I just keep on doing what works for me.”
And while it’s still taboo in most SEO circles, Julie isn’t afraid to admit that a lot of what they do is paid links.
She makes sure her clients always know the consequences, though. “I do totally tell them it’s against Google’s guidelines. That’s in the contract. So, everybody knows what’s going on…”
Her candidness about this often controversial topic is refreshing when most SEOs won’t even dare talk about it.
Aside from her broad experience in link building, Julie is also known in the community as a fun and caring person always ready to lend a helping hand.
In today’s edition of The Search Engine Journal Show, I will be talking to Julie Joyce about paid links, top tools, cheap link building ideas, and more.
About Julie Joyce
Julie is the owner of Link Fish Media, a North Carolina-based link building company she founded in 2007 together with her husband Jay.
She has been in the industry for 17 years now. In the past, you may have read her on Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch. She also helped found SEO Chicks back in the day.
Currently, she is a contributor for Search Engine Journal and the host of SEMrush’s Show Me The Links webinar series.
Listen to this episode as Julie talks about link building, growing and then scaling back her agency, her Goth past, and so much more!
- The overall state of link building today from Julie’s perspective. [1:06]
- While she doesn’t want to advocate for paid links, Julie says they do work for some clients. [2:01]
- Julie advises clients upfront that paid links are against Google’s guidelines so everybody knows what’s going on. [3:10]
- Some tactics that don’t work that well anymore: directory type link building and social bookmarking. [3:58]
- On seeing crazy links and link profiles over the years: “I’ve seen a lot of things I wish to God I’d never clicked on them.” [4:38]
- Do people get where link building is at right now? [5:25]
- The skills that people need to have in order to become a good link builder today. [6:22]
- Julie on why she’s never been a huge fan of the disavow process. [7:35]
- Everybody wants links from .edu and .gov sites, but loads of great link profiles don’t actually have anything that’s in the .edu or .gov. [9:12]
- Travel is Julie’s favorite niche to do link building in. [10:38]
- Julie talks about her most memorable (and horrifying) link building experience. [11:11]
- How can smaller businesses and individuals do link building? [13:00]
- Internal linking is an overlooked opportunity that a lot of people just forget about. [16:11]
- Some of Julie’s favorite tools for SEO and link building. [17:04]
- Julie thinks that link builders, people actually talking to the webmasters, should be involved in the content development process. [17:50]
- Before getting into SEO, Julie was actually a social worker. Here’s what led her into the industry. [19:47]
- Her experience working as a programmer has helped her a lot now that she builds links. [21:29]
- On learning SEO: “A lot of it was just trial and error – reading and figuring out what people were doing.” [22:50]
- Link Fish just got started almost by accident. Learn what prompted Julie and Jay Young, her husband, to start their own company. [24:09]
- Where did the name Link Fish come from? [25:41]
- Growing too fast was one of the growing pains the company went through in the early days. [26:19]
- Here’s how Julie decides which clients to work with. [28:15]
- A few leadership tips that can help people who have a team better lead or train their employees. [29:32]
- Despite the bad rap link building has gotten over the last few years, learn why Julie never considered rebranding their agency and doing something else. [30:47]
- Julie’s favorite link building campaign that she’s ever worked on. [32:08]
- She’s had her fair share of clients that didn’t have really great reputations. [33:10]
- Advice for people who may want to get into writing for industry publications. [34:10]
- When writing, a little bit of a drink can unleash the creativity (at least it does for Julie). [36:13]
- Julie is most proud of her SEJ article “20 Awesome Sources of Free Data”. (She initially thought it wouldn’t do well when she submitted it.) [37:17]
- On career highlights and proud moments. [38:46]
- Here’s how Julie stays current with changes to the industry. [40:07]
- If she wasn’t doing anything SEO-related, Julie would probably be working in the film industry, become a full-time writer for technical publications or be the guitarist in a rock band. [42:38]
- Goth band or punk band? Julie takes her pick. [43:20]
- This is what Julie will tell herself if she could go back in time and give her younger self some advice. [44:58]
- Her top SEO advice: check the robots.txt file and make sure your site isn’t blocked. [45:55]
- The worst piece of SEO advice she’s ever heard. [47:06]
- Julie offers some helpful tips for newcomers who want to eventually become successful in the industry. [48:35]
- What’s next for Julie Joyce? [50:32]
Links from the Episode
How to connect with Julie Joyce:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Link Fish Media
- Julie Joyce on Search Engine Journal
- Julie Joyce on Search Engine Land
- Julie Joyce on Search Engine Watch
- SEO Chicks
- Show Me The Links webinar series (SEMrush)
- Screaming Frog
- 20 Awesome Sources of Free Data (Search Engine Journal)
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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita