Kahena Interview XII – Julie Joyce
Julie Joyce just isn’t one of the first ladies of SEO – she’s one of the first people. Witty, intelligent, smart, passionate, her positive outlook on life is infectious and you would struggle to find anyone who has a bad word to say about her – in this industry that is as rare as a PR10. Working in the Linkfish office must be a hoot! It is our pleasure to be able to speak to her.
What qualities do you think a female brings to the SEO table that males struggle to do?
We’re much better at emasculation. I don’t think there’s much difference honestly. I know there are stereotypical traits assigned to each sex but I’ve seen them blown away enough to know that you can’t generalize based on what parts we have.
In your interview with Ruud you said:
I absolutely love paid links………….
We haven’t come across a client where I thought that paying for links could easily ruin the company; if that happens, with my massive guilt complex, I’d turn them down. Risk is fine with me, but carrying the burden of having ruined someone’s livelihood is not.
Post Penguin, is this still the case?
It is still the case that I’m ok with risk if the client is, and many still are. I do think I’ve become much more paranoid over the past year though, and I’ve always made sure that all clients know exactly what we’re doing and what the risks are. We aren’t buying links without a client’s permission and we never have. However, I’d say that I’m less a fan of paid links than I used to be. I think that many clients want them and that won’t change, because the assumption that all paid links are obvious or spammy is simply 100% wrong. For certain industries, it’s the main way of operating and some paid nofollows can be amazing for converting traffic. If I could choose a method and get the funding to secure enough resources to never buy another link though, I’d do it. That isn’t because of the risk though…it’s because I enjoy other methods much more. There’s not a huge challenge in buying links.
What are your indulgences?
Boots! I have an entire closet devoted to them. I also have an addiction to Starbucks iced mochas and Mexican food. I also really like music but I’m trying to talk less about it since someone recently made a snarky comment about how he almost didn’t know I’d written a certain article because there wasn’t a reference to The Clash in it.
Where do you think the industry will be in 2 years time?
I think we’ll be the same really, only we will be fussing about abuse of social media and not just moaning about paid links.
Has anything in the evolution of SEO surprised you?
The rise of people who know absolutely nothing yet have voices in the industry and can get business has truly surprised me. I think this is probably true of many people who write a lot but I receive quite a few “can I get a second opinion?” emails from people who tell me what their SEOs have advised, and many times it’s completely horrible advice. I’m kind of surprised that Google continues to make their SERPs worse with every update. I’m surprised that we haven’t yet seen a truly viable competitor to Google, too.
What has been your biggest mistake to date and what did you learn from it?
I got a site banned for cloaking years ago when I was head of SEO for an agency, and the funny thing is that it didn’t hurt them at all as they had almost zero traffic from Google anyway. They got almost all their visits from referring sites. That taught me that there’s more to life than Google and that you simply cannot rely on them for traffic…you need to make sure you’re covered in case you do get reindexed.
You can invite any 8 people (living, dead, fictional) to a dinner party – who do you invite?
*Paul Madden (who is very much alive) because he could make the dinner and he punches like a girl.
*Paul Auster (I like Pauls) because he’s an absolutely maddeningly brilliant writer.
*Gore Vidal (dead, sadly) because his wit was amazing, his fiction was amazing, and I love how he riled people up.
*Joe Strummer because he remains my musical god.
*Gary Numan because he gets better and better and he’s just cool.
*Joyce Carol Oates because her writing creeps me out and makes my skin crawl and I love it.
*Atticus Finch because god, was there a better fictional man?? I don’t think so.
*Judi Dench because I’d watch her in ANYTHING, even something like Flintstones 7.
Away from work, how do you like to relax?
I like to put on headphones and watch Netflix on my iPad, with a cosmo. I also get on my treadmill and watch music videos with a giant industrial fan blowing on me. On the rare occasions when the house is quiet, I like to read on my Kindle. I don’t think I know how to relax without some form of electronic entertainment.
Given the demands of your position and all the extracurricular stuff you do, how do you achieve the balance between personal and business?
I’m not sure I do it very well. As the owner, I feel like I’m responsible for all the clients and all the employees and that I need to be available whenever anyone needs anything. Some of our link builders work weird hours and may have questions, and many clients are a few time zones away, so I do feel like I need to be checking email nonstop. I’ve tried to stay off the computer after 6 and not check email til 9 but it never works. I work at home a lot but I’ve found that when I’m in the office more, I balance things a lot better. My husband owns the business with me and we work together so it’s a bit different than if I had this consuming job and he didn’t. We’re lucky in that regard.
Who are your favorite heroes in fiction and real life?
In fiction, To Kill A Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch again but also Boo Radley because he was feared and misunderstood but he was a good guy who turns out to be a very heroic character. I think Boo proves that we fear what we can’t easily understand, and I love the scene when he saves the kids. When Scout wakes up and sees him, holy crap…I can barely even write about it without tearing up. It’s just a magical moment, even for a cynic like me. Growing up I always thought of dad like Atticus, because everyone in town looked up to him and he was (and still is) a very decent, good man.
In real life, Jane Goodall, for one. What a truly lovely human being she is, and I’ve always envied her life. She combines primatology, anthropology, and conservation, and she does it with such grace.
Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin are definitely heroes of mine, along with everyone in science who’s ever challenged established ideas, especially when they’re bucking against a religious ideal.
Honestly anyone who does anything other than the bare minimum is my hero.
In what circumstances wouldn’t you work with a client or cease working with one?
I would not work with a client who wanted me to do anything that I was not comfortable with, which could include anything from buying links when I thought it was a bad idea to micromanaging what we do. I have turned down 2 potentials because I didn’t like the industries they were in and didn’t want anything to do with them. I don’t generally take someone on if I feel uncomfortable so other than maybe twice, we’ve never tried to stop working with anyone.
If you were a Superhero, what powers would you have?
I’d like to be able to close my eyes and wish myself into another place so that I could avoid traffic, and I’d like to be invisible for times when someone I want to avoid comes near me.
Any downside to working with your spouse?
The benefits definitely outweigh the downsides…we worked together at an agency before he started Link Fish so we’ve been working together since 2000 so we’re very used to it. The main downside is that we’re both very strong people and we don’t always agree on the right way to handle situations at work. If we have an argument at work, we still have to deal with each other so there’s no chance to cool off.
What are the pluses and minuses of being based in North Carolina?
Sometimes it’s too hot here and I much prefer colder climates. That’s really the only minus I can think of, as I love NC and I love Greensboro. We don’t have to put up with any big-city nightmares like horrible traffic or outrageous rents so that’s pretty good.
Would you be prepared to give One Hundred Years of Solitude another chance? What are your favorite books?
I would not haha! I know I am supposed to like it but I just could not make that happen. My favorite book (you may be unsurprised) is To Kill A Mockingbird but also I’m a huge fan of any Scandinavian mystery (especially anything by Henning Mankell), and anything by Paul Auster/Martin Amis/Joyce Carol Oates/Toni Morrison/Ian McEwan. I loved Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and I think I read John Knowles’ A Separate Peace 50 times growing up.
You pride yourself on your link building – what are some of the most memorable links you’ve built?
Honestly the best links we’ve ever built were ones that my link builders built…they’re amazing. In terms of my own, I’m most proud of the links I get from the sites where I’ve been asked to do regular columns, because those are ones I feel like I earned, and they’re ones that I work my ass off for.
You have done well getting dominating Page 1 results for your name. You didn’t want throw Dr Julie Joyce a few bones?
No she can kiss my ass. I wanted to go to med school and didn’t so I might be a bit overdramatic right now, now that you mentioned her.
In the movie of your life what would be on the soundtrack?
Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, not that I have a lust for life, but I like to imagine running really fast to that
London Calling by The Clash
Computer Love by Kraftwerk
Are Friends Electric? by Gary Numan
Oh Yeah by Roxy Music
Sugarcube by Yo La Tengo
Someday I WIll Treat You Good by Sparklehorse
Destination Unknown by Missing Persons
Song From Under The Floorboards by Magazine
Lucretia My Reflection by Sisters of Mercy
In Scrabble, each of the vowels is only worth 1 point. Doesn’t this prove W is not a vowel?
No it does not. You can’t trust the makers of Scrabble. If w can function as a u, it’s a vowel to me.
You are a member of the all famous all conquering SEO Chicks. No post since June 2012? What’s going on?
The rest of them are total losers. Actually we’ve all kind of admitted that the Chicks site gets the least of our attention, sadly. We all have insane schedules but Lisa and I talked about this when I was in London last week…basically when Lisa cracks the whip and tells us when we have a column due, we do it. When we run out of her schedule, we all revert back to our lazy selves.
Do you share the sentiments of this list?
The only one I like there is Ravenous actually. I like a cannibal movie with a storyline and character development, which is funny because if I see a movie with lots of violence and explosions, I usually want zero character development.
How exactly does the humidity affect your mood?
Well I have very curly hair so if it’s humid I look like Robert Plant and not in his hot younger days, and I’m not in a band so it’s much less awesome. I’m always happy in Las Vegas because I can have straight hair. I think my hair makes me look like I sit around smoking a bong all day, listening to the Grateful Dead. Curly hair isn’t very punk rock you know?
Most fun interview EVER.