[Interview] Link Building as a Business in 2014: Julie Joyce

Julie Joyce Interview

I wonder, is it easy to be a link builder today?

After all, the whole SEO industry is undergoing massive changes and shake ups. A lot of that is affecting the very profession of building backlinks.

Wonderig what are the business prospects for link builders I got in touch with some of the brightest minds in the industry to find out.

Below is the first interview in our new series:

“Link Building as a Business in 2014”

Today I am speaking with Julie Joyce.

Before we begin, for those of you who don’t know, Julie is the owner of Link Fish Media, a link building company based in North Carolina. In addition, she writes regular link columns for Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land and is a cofounder of SEO Chicks.

Julie, I am sure you’ll agree that the last few years have thrown link building on its head. But did you notice any change in the way your clients perceive link building today as a result? 

I think they better understand my caution, which is good, but there are a couple of the “more more more!” ones and it’s difficult to really get through to them that we want quality, not quantity. We’re still getting loads of leads which is fantastic, so the demand for it hasn’t lessened for us.

How do clients validate the quality of your work? Also, what are the biggest differences between “then” and “now” in relation to that?

It depends, as some have given us parameters that they want us to use in gauging the quality of a link so we just give them what they want. For others, since they get a monthly report of the links that we build, if they don’t like something they tell me, and that’s how I measure quality. There’s no difference in that actually, as we’ve always done things a certain way. The only major difference in us today and us a few years back is that we’ve tightened up our internal views of what a good link really is.

What qualities do you think clients look for in link builders today? Have their expectations changed in the recent years in any way?

I think that sometimes they want a machine more than a human being and that’s unfortunate. They want the creativity but they also want excessive productivity and those two characteristics don’t always go together. I think that the expectations have mainly changed in terms of how long they expect a link to take to go live and how much they want to pay for the labor to get that link up. With outfits that can give you tons of links for less than $100, we do a lot of explaining why we charge what we charge.

How do you typically report on your work? Again, has this changed in any way after various Google changes?

We report the links that we build as we do actively pursue them, so when we’ve secured a placement we report it to the client with whatever metrics and info they want to see. This has been the same exact reporting method since we started and I have no desire to alter it as it’s 100% transparent. They get what they pay for, they see our work, and I feel confident that they know exactly what’s being done for them.

How do you find clients?

Referrals from other SEOs and the link columns that I write are the usual ways, but we’ve picked up a few from things like local word of mouth or my husband or I being at a conference and meeting someone.

What are the most common sales objections you hear from potential clients?

“Why is your labor this high when I can get it for so much cheaper somewhere else?” is the big one, so we have to do a lot of explaining of our methods for getting links.

What are the most typical conflicts with clients you encounter? (Leaving money and payment issues aside please 😉 What is your system for resolving them?

We’re very lucky to have some amazing clients with serious marketing brainpower, but we do have issues with clients thinking they know best when we think they’re asking for trouble, and they don’t always want to listen. When you do a good job and you show some results through a few good links, they think that amping it up and quadrupling the effort is the only way to go and sometimes we totally disagree. We also deal with the whole concept of exact match anchor text and trying to get them to let us do things more naturally. Usually we just keep stating our opinions on the matter and if it’s something where we feel strongly enough that it’s a really, really bad idea, we just say we can’t keep doing it. If it’s something where we think we can compromise and that in the end they do know what they’re asking for, we’ll do it. We don’t run into a lot of conflict though, as we’re extremely upfront and honest about how we do things and how we plan to do things. If a potential client isn’t happy with the way we work, we usually know it from the beginning and we don’t sign them. We also don’t hold anyone to a contract so if they are unhappy they know they can leave.

Moving away before this gets too serious, do you remember the very first link you built commercially (as in, got paid for doing so)?

I’d really love to say yes and that is a great question but I honestly do not remember. Obviously it wasn’t a great one.

What is the weirdest link you ever built? Do you have an unbelievable link building story?

This is sad to say but we build so many weird links that I can’t keep up, because my office is full of crazy people. We can make the most amazing things relevant and I’m so used to that, I don’t even notice the weirdness anymore. I don’t have an unbelievable link story unless you want to count the large amount of SEOs that we’ve bought links from when I see them publicly denouncing the buying and selling of links.

Is there any “old school” link building technique you wish you could still use today? (Yes, this is a serious question 🙂

Using tons of microsites to quickly rank something! God that was fun.

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