I have been blogging for more than a year now and feel blessed to have interviewed a few great minds in search industry. It took me a while to find the right people to lend some space and share their charismatic insights with my blog audience. However, I never featured a lady on my blog before but it’s been an immense pleasure to have a chat with witty Julie Joyce.

I don’t deem it necessary to introduce her as search marketers have been hearing that name for a few years now. She owns a Link building company named as Link Fish Media and co-founder of SEO Chicks.

Question: Tell us about yourself in detail as I couldn’t find much on your Linkedin Profile. Start with your past, present and then future plans! :)

Ah Linked In, the place where I can still hide! I have been in SEO for about 13 years now and came into it from computer programming. I worked at a web agency for awhile then left to work for a company based in London so I got to experience in in-house bit, and then my husband started Link Fish and I soon joined up. My degrees are in English lit, anthropology, and social work so I get to use all of them, while not really focusing on any of them, every day. In the future I hope to do more general consulting and less link work as I like the full picture better than just a tiny piece of it.

Question: What would you recommend in order to start an effective yet safe link building campaign for any website?

To be honest, I am not sure there is any effective and safe link building campaign. Effective, yes. Safe? I don’t think I can answer that these days. I’ve seen too many sites penalized by links that should be safe but they aren’t. Were supposed to naturally generate editorial links, but those aren’t 100% safe any more than a paid link where you demand certain anchor text is unsafe. Anything can get you into trouble but without links, its hard to rank well and you wont have the traffic benefit so what can you do? Keep building them and hope for the best but know that at some point, fairly or unfairly, you might get hit.

Question: Share a story where you had to struggle for several days/weeks to get a link? How did you eventually get it?

A few months ago I was dealing with a webmaster who had an amazing site and I wanted a link there for a client. She was fairly clueless about how to insert a link (I have no idea how she got a site up) but her content was fantastic. I sent her my clients site to use as a resource on one of her pages and she did it incorrectly. In fact, she basically just copied parts of my email into her page and it was a mess. When I saw it I immediately tried to explain how to fix it but shed gone on vacation for a week. It ended up taking almost a full month to get that link, and it ended up going up on another site that she had. At first I was annoyed as it wasn’t what Id wanted but it turned out to be a fantastic link, and even better than what Id originally wanted. It took a LOT of emails where I explained how to work with WordPress and defined what an anchor was.

Question: What do you think is the best way to disown nasty backlinks without using disavow tool?

Outside of removing them, I am not sure there is a good way. If you had one page that had loads of crap links pointing to it and you could have that page 404 that could help.

Question: What link building techniques have you shied away from and why?

Social bookmarking, comment links, and forum links. If you can get a link by doing almost nothing, its not a great link in my opinion.

Question: Where do you rate internal links? Are they still helpful and how?

I think they are very helpful in letting a user know where other good content is. They can be used very effectively to keep a user on your site and hopefully show him or her enough good stuff that you’ll now have a repeat visitor.

Question: How many people do you take onboard to carry on a link building campaign for a single project? List down their particular roles and positions if possible!

We used to hire people when we got a new client because I didn’t want to turn down work. Now, we take on only as much work as my link builders can handle. We went through a period of insane growth a few years back and had to have middle management, and I truly hated being so out of touch with the work we were doing. I couldn’t personally oversee the work of 35 link builders and do everything else, so a lot of the time I just felt nervous and uneasy. I like knowing that what we do for clients is something that I have personally signed off on, all the time. We did have and still have a very flat structure though. The link builders do the outreach and negotiations, but I plan the strategy with the clients and do the reporting and analysis. We do a few consulting jobs every month also, and I handle that with my husband, who is our CEO.

Question: Do you think Google can revamp its search model without giving importance to links alike Yandex? If yes, then what other factors will be of significance in your opinion?

I think they would be thrilled if people thought they could, but unless they redo the whole algorithm I cant imagine they are going to stop using links any time soon. If they do, fine with me because links are still necessary for traffic and people still need them. I think links could definitely lessen in importance though. I used to think that social signals would matter more and maybe they will, but they are starting to be just as abused as everything else. The bad thing about marketers is that they are so smart, they can figure out what works and they will abuse it to death, to the point where it might not work as well. I used to think that social signals would be difficult to manipulate but I realize that I was wrong.

Question: Name three least important SEO factors that you no longer give importance to on a web page?

Keyword density is something that I used to worry about more than I do now, but I still look at it, albeit in a different way. I used to want a high density for the main terms but now if its high I get worried about over-optimization. I certainly pay zero attention to Meta keywords but who does? As bad as it is to admit this, I am paying much less attention to alt tags for images but I think that’s due to being scared of the whole exact match anything being a red flag.

Question: What link building KPIs do you include when reporting or proposing your services to clients?

When we propose our services we don’t promise anything other than well tell you exactly what we have done but we never say well rank you for this term or well guarantee that you’ll get this much traffic. After working in an agency years ago, there’s just no way I am going to sell something by saying something that I cannot back up and it really bothers me when people make false claims in order to get business. We usually start everyone with a one month test run and they agree to pay us for what we’ve done, but they’re free to leave if they aren’t happy. We’ve had a few of our current clients for over 4 years so to me, that’s my main performance indicator. If they’re happy and they keep working with us that’s all I care about. A lot of the times our clients have other analysis going on whether they’re doing it or they have an SEO doing it, so unless were doing a consulting job, with straight up link work we just report where the links are. Most of them are in a position where they don’t want or need us to do much more than that.

If you have any further questions to ask, feel free to drop them in comments section below.

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