Jess Joyce: My SEO Career Journey

Jess Joyce: My SEO Career Journey

Welcome to the SEO Careers interview series. This week, we’re excited to welcome Jess Joyce, who’s an SEO Consultant with 15 years of experience. Originally planning to become a Flash Multimedia developer, Jess pivoted into SEO around 2007. She now resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, & can can be found on both Twitter & LinkedIn, as well as her personal website: .

If you are interested in being featured in the SEO careers interview series, please submit your name and contact details on our contact page.

Thanks for joining us Jess – let’s jump into this interview!

Hi!  We’re so glad to feature you on Please introduce yourself to our site’s readers. 

Hi! 👋 My name is Jess Joyce and I am located on the internet. Haha. 

Physically though, I’m currently located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and I have been in/around the SEO industry since about 2007 so that’s 15 years as of 2022 – wow happy 15 years!


Please share with us your current SEO role and for what company you work for.

My primary role these days is a full time SEO Consultant. 

I’ve been working as an SEO Consultant for 4 ½ years now! Left a full-time position as a Senior Search Strategist at a healthcare agency and had 3 clients before I quit so figured I was onto something and still work with 1 of them. Another one of them was an employee of that agency who went to a different agency. Make connections wherever you go! 

My days lately are sectioned off between clients who I currently have retainer work with. Meaning each day is pretty much slotted out for a client and we work on deliverables integrated into their companies at various levels. 

Organizationally I’m sitting in their Slack groups, on their Asana boards, have an email address or use whatever system they’re using internally to manage the work and growth plans. 

Currently working on 2 migrations so there’s a lot of talking with dev teams, reviewing mockups/layouts and reviewing words/messaging with content teams in this season of my consulting. 

I also do a bit of teaching. I teach “SEO Fundamentals” for a local organization called Camp Tech on an on-call basis which is fun as most of them are virtual. So I sit talking to myself on Zoom rambling on about SEO. 

I usually get some amazing questions and it helps me work in explaining the very techy world of SEO to humans who have never heard the concepts associated with it.  


Can you share with us how you entered the SEO industry?

I went to college for Multimedia and had plans to be a developer, a Flash developer specifically. Graduated and had my whole plan set out and then Steve Jobs said “No Flash!” in his infamous “thoughts on flash” open letter he posted on the Apple website. 

Changed my trajectory and I doubled down on frontend development and that’s how I got my first job. 

In the interview for my first job, they asked me if I knew what SEO was. I had no clue and this was 2007 and said I’m happy to learn! They hired me on the caveat that I help out on SEO while building websites and I did just that. 

My starting salary was around $35k CAD & I stayed there for 5 years doing web development, SEO and much more. 

It was an amazing education as we were also a hosting company so I learned how to move websites and blow up email along the way (I don’t blow up email anymore, mostly as humans don’t use exchange servers much in this day & age).

My motivation to move on from that company was completely outside of work. 

I was at a point in my life where my life outside work was changing in a big way, and decided to make the jump to an agency in downtown Toronto from the small town I was living in. 

Moved from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a much bigger lake. 


How did you start to learn SEO? What are you currently doing to keep up with the ever changing SEO industry?

After I said yes to learning SEO with my first job, the CEO sent me a website to “learn SEO” and it was a black website that was really long and just 1 page that had all the “algorithm information” on it at the time. 

That was it. 

I read that one page probably 50 times and I’ve tried to find it since, as it must exist in the internet archive but I can’t fully remember it. 

Anyone remember that site? 

I referred to that page for a while until Moz or SEOMoz at the time appeared on my radar and then I followed it for most of the next 5 years. Even had a beta account with Moz for $50/month that I left at that company as it contained so much information at the time (and my Moz points, bummer).

Today I have 3 places where I go to keep up with SEO. 

  1. Twitter/Mastodon
    Not sure which way will be where the voices go, so I scroll through both. 
  2. Women In Tech SEO
    Areej has built a phenomenal community that has some of the smartest people in it. I learn weekly from the threads there and have made amazing connections with other SEOs. 
  3. Traffic Think Tank
    I’ve been a member since its inception and will continue to until they no longer exist or people stop paying me to do SEO. I have been to their conferences, both online and in person, met humans from there and have friends inside that community – including Nick from SEO Jobs so thank you Traffic Think Tank! 


Can you share what factors are most important to you in an SEO career and why? When do you know it’s time for a new job? Do these same factors play a role?

Most important factor to me in any role I’m in is being able to take time to continue learning. 

After many years and many jobs I’ve realized I need time to continue learning. 

In the first week of one job I had, I asked about conferences and they said no one goes to conferences at that job – I didn’t last long there. 

If I was ever to go back in house the next most important thing would be my boss. I would give them an interview as much as they would give me at this point as they can have such an effect on you both good and bad and I’ve had both. 

The 3rd thing I’d add would be remote working. Since I’ve been working freelance and from home for almost 5 years now, I cannot imagine myself doing anything differently. 

There would have to be the ability to work from home in any future role I’d consider at least some of the time. I need to be able to be there for my daughter and be flexible for her. 


What recommendations would you give to someone who is looking to join the SEO industry and get their first full-time SEO position?

  1. The website I send to everyone is Aleyda’s Learning SEO ->
    It’s truly a self-guided journey on SEO and since this niche in marketing can take you down so many different paths, Aleyda’s website accommodates for that. 
  2. Then I would say join an SEO community (doesn’t have to be the 2 I listed!) and get to know the people there.
    Connect with a few of them and set up time to talk to them or one or two of them.
    If once you talk to them you don’t get a good feeling, find someone else – there’s lots of humans out there in SEO who will be happy to talk to you and help out new/learning SEOs – then you can for sure try the 2 communities I listed or reach out to me! 
  3. Build a website.
    I’m working with a human who’s new to SEO and they’re very keen and they’re building out a website for us!
    We meet to talk about roadblocks or tech issues and strategy for it, but it’s their playground for now and it’s low stakes cause it’s a new website and we can always revert it if anything breaks which I hope they do.
    Breaking can help learning so much.

    I truly don’t think that breaking anything should be seen as a bad thing.
    We’re all learning and the internet is duct taped together. One wrong number in an IP address can render a site unreachable so we all need to breathe and understand we’re human. We all will break something eventually, it’s a lot of stress on people to do everything perfectly these days.
    So I hope that giving access to lower stakes sites like the one we’re building together helps build out confidence instead of starting on something real where stakeholders are watching as that can be more stressful.