An often-cited 2020 study on the State of SEO highlights the gender gap in the field. The study reported men outnumbering women by more than 2 to 1, a statistic that didn’t surprise any women currently working in SEO – specifically, technical SEO. Throughout March, Botify spoke with women in the SEO industry to talk about their experience, the future of SEO, and some exceptional women in the community.
Like any field, there are certain challenges women have faced that their male colleagues may not have. Many of the women we spoke with shared how they’ve been outnumbered or even put down at times, but more importantly, how they overcame the adversity and built successful careers in SEO.
Aleyda Solis, SEO consultant and speaker, shared with us how she decided to start her own business. “One of the reasons why I started my own SEO consultancy was because I could see how if I relied on others to give me chances to grow professionally, I would be certainly restricted by being not only a woman, but a woman of color and a non-native English speaker. So I took the risks and gave myself the opportunities I knew others wouldn’t give me, and made of that my USP: multilingual, remote-based international SEO consultant and founder of my own remote-based SEO consultancy.”
She continued, “I remember when I started going to SEO meetups and events in Spain. I was one of the two or three women, while there were 20 men. Thankfully it is getting better, and now there are far more women in the industry, but still today we can see how there’s a lack of representation in positions of power within companies or visibility at events; which is why it is so important to have and support initiatives and communities like the Women in Tech SEO community or the United Search SEO speaker accelerator to change this. It’s important for women to have references and role models to which they can feel identified.
Sadly, still today from time to time I get some “mansplaining” in social channels, as well as random, inappropriate messages from men I don’t know, but unlike before when I was not confident of myself, I feel strong to call that behavior out.”
Botify’s own Leslie Ramey emphasizes that equality drives growth and strength within the community – among the men and women alike!
Instead of being held back by the lack of women within the industry, Dani Hawley, Director of SEO at LevLane, credits where she is today to the challenges she’s faced during her 10-year tenure in SEO.
“I was introduced into SEO marketing 10 years ago when it was relatively a new field for individuals to get into. At that time, there were many men in the industry and there wasn’t a large presence for women. Over the past 10 years, I have seen women really own the SEO space and the growth I have seen has been remarkable, especially within technical SEO.
The biggest issue I continue to see is miscommunication from sales teams on SEO as it is difficult to comprehend. I took that as a challenge and developed a process for sales reps on how to sell SEO without overpromising. That was the moment I knew I wanted to stay in SEO. Over 10 years later, here I am a Director of SEO running a team! If it wasn’t for the challenges I faced at that job, I wouldn’t have been so interested in continuing on this journey.”
From day one, Botify has been driven by a singular mission — to build the interface that automatically connects search engines and websites, unlocking hidden potential and driving measurable outcomes. We know that as organic search grows, there will be many new challenges (like Core Web Vitals), but there will also be many new opportunities.
Amy Aitman, COO of Venture4th Media, believes “that the days of creating a one-and-done strategy playlist are done. Great websites are not built solely on technical know-how either! Great SEO has a lot of moving parts and nobody can tell you they know EXACTLY how to rank for any keyword or what will work every time. This is part of the fun of SEO for me to be honest. What works for one site, one brand may or may not work for everyone and there are a lot of tough decisions you’ll have to make along the way. In my experience, balancing the value of great content, branding, off-page SEO, technical SEO is as much of an art as it is a science.”
Candice Bouchareine, Growth Marketing Manager at Clinked.com, commented, “I think voice search is definitely the next hot topic in SEO because it will require marketers to think differently about the content they produce and how the readers/listeners interact with it. Voice search is much more dependent on the device and doesn’t leave room for error. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, especially for the B2B industry.”
From more women getting into the world of SEO to taking on more senior leadership roles, the future looks bright for women in SEO!
“It has been amazing to see the evolution of SEO as a much more mature, sophisticated discipline that is now much more well-integrated within companies digital marketing, product and tech efforts, with many more brands with SEO departments and programs, said Aleyda Solis. “I’m so very happy to see more women leading those programs and departments, and I expect to see this growing exponentially in the future!”
Dani Hawley continued, “Women have been instrumental to the success in SEO. From SEO account leads to SEO analysts, women continue to deliver new and insightful findings within the search space. I have found that women tend to have a different understanding of client needs and find ways to communicate that effectively. Men bring another side to the equation and working together brings findings that impact our clients and the needs of their consumers.”
Botify’s own Director of SEO and Content said, “When I started my career, I was very aware that the “role of women in SEO” was on-page focused. When I started digging into technical elements – even something as small as the robot.txt file or backlink profile – I was told “you don’t need to know about that, just focus on writing.” I still keenly recall the number of men who would make snide comments about wanting to learn technical elements early in my career. SEO has grown so dynamically in the last 15 years that “just focusing on writing,” means you have a lopsided SEO that is ignoring the most important thing: if Google can’t find or crawl your site, your content means nothing.”
Thankfully, there are so many inspiring women in the SEO community. Aleyda said she is inspired by “the amazing Areej AbuAli, Judith Lewis, Lisa Paasche, and Michelle Robbins,” while Amy Aitman called out her friend Jennifer Priest from Smart Creative Social. “She is known as a Pinterest expert, but she is a smart, savvy SEO expert too that I’ve learned a lot from. She broke down how she thought about native internal links once on a strategy call with me and I was floored. Of course, I implemented her ideas right away with our own writers and editors!
Also, Lilach Bullock — I still read her emails. What can I say, I am a content marketing junkie as well. When I was running my own agency, she was an inspiration for sure. Plus, Karolina Gawron who is head of marketing at Surfer SEO.”
Finally, Tania noted, “I’m inspired by Areej AbuAli for all that she has done in her career but the larger community. I’m also inspired by every female developer, product manager, tech leader, and the like I have met. My own CMO at Botify, Rachel Meranus, is also an inspiration to me not only as a women leader in tech but for the empathy and respect she coveys every day,” says Tania Dworjan. “It’s indescribable to see females in a position of leadership, something I strive for in my own career.”