Today’s Ask An SEO question comes from Kate. She asks:
I’m a newbie in SEO and am fighting with self-doubt about whether it’s a female-friendly field or not?
I read a lot of brilliant men in SEO, but what about women? I’m into technical SEO but worry that people wouldn’t take into account me as a tech SEO specialist.
How can I avoid this imposter syndrome? Thank you in advance!
Kate is not alone. Imposter syndrome is unfortunately rife.
A KMPG study found that 75% of women have experienced feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt at certain points in their careers.
Here’s another hard truth: SEO is a male-dominated industry.
A 2020 State of SEO survey highlighted the gender gap in SEO, where men outnumber women by 2-to-1.
But how do you go about overcoming the negative voice in your head and gender-related career barriers at the same time?
I reached out to women within the SEJ community and asked them to share their stories and advice for Kate or any woman fighting with self-doubts as she pursues her career in tech SEO.
Here’s what they have to say:
Founder & CEO, AS Marketing
“First off, imposter syndrome is real, so don’t feel guilty about this!
Secondly, there are many women in SEO who are absolutely brilliant. You can find a whole community of them here. Please join us! There are free mentoring cohorts here on a regular basis.
As a woman in tech SEO myself, my best advice is to trust yourself; believe in yourself, and others will, too!
Take every opportunity to learn and improve your skills because your own experience will give you confidence.”
SEO Manager, Digital Darts
“Imposter syndrome is a natural part of the growth process and a sign that you care about what you do.
I’ve been in the industry for some years and still have those moments. The bigger the client, the more so! Give yourself grace and time as you gain experience and confidence in your skills.
There are so many women making waves in SEO – now is a great time to jump in.
I believe being a female in the profession is refreshing for some clients and companies. Ultimately, clients just want results, not a gendered stereotype.”
Founder & Editor, Female Disruptors
“Get credentials with certifications from reputable SEO training sources and talk about technical SEO on LinkedIn.
Do free webinars and FB or IG live streaming to teach and share ideas with other women in technical SEO. Be the host and invite other SEO female experts to interview. You may talk about how technical SEO can be influenced by creativity and the right-brain intuitiveness
Lastly, be the change agent. Don’t let SEO men rent space in your brain!”
Senior Director of Product, SEO & Content Strategy, Cox Automotive Inc.
“Working in a male-dominated field has its challenges, but if it’s your passion, it is so rewarding.
I have worked at companies where there were more challenges than it was worth, but ultimately, I left and found companies that supported and advocated for women in tech, like Cox Automotive. We have an amazing support system here, women in leadership roles, mentorships, etc.
I report directly to the SVP of Product & Engineering, and early on in our conversations, he asked if I would like a female mentor in a leadership position.
He connected me with a woman in a VP role that has mentored me over the last two years, and it has been an absolute game changer for my career. She gives me the opportunity to ask hard and uncomfortable questions and gives me her honest experience and feedback.
I have dealt with imposter syndrome my entire career, and even as a Senior Director, I still do. In the last 12 months, I have managed to grow and put my fears aside and jump in headfirst!
I make sure that I am very intentional in my communications, transparent with what objective I am trying to achieve, always ask questions, and speak up when it’s something I’m willing to push for.
I have learned that not every battle is the hill to die on. You should pick a few things you can’t compromise on and stick to them!
Being a woman in tech is such an amazing opportunity for me personally, and the more I succeed and the more I learn, I get more involved in helping others, as there is room for everyone at the top! I volunteer and participate in diversity and inclusion groups, author articles, and more to help shed light on these areas.”
Senior Content Marketing Specialist, Rio SEO
“It can be daunting for women to break into a predominantly male field – whether that be technical SEO or any other industry.
However, I think it presents an untapped opportunity for women to differentiate themselves and stand out in a historically male-dominated industry.
The more women begin careers in SEO, the sooner it will become common practice for women to pursue this career path and prove women are equally as capable in technical SEO roles as their male counterparts.
As cliche as it sounds, the biggest risks you take in life are often worth the reward.”
Content Marketing Manager, Search Engine Journal
“I find it helps to sort of innoculate myself in a way.
Usually, in these situations, I start thinking about what others have that I don’t. Or someone tries to convince me that I don’t belong.
So, before I go into an intimidating situation, I go over what I bring to the table. I also find comfort in evidence. When I start to doubt myself, I list off all the reasons why I made the decisions I did, why I hold my opinions, or why I’m there.
And I am not afraid to admit that I don’t know. It’s ok not to know things. That’s when the most interesting discussions and the most learning happens in my experience.”
Bestselling Author of “Writing for Humans and Robots” & Founder, The Blogsmith
“Many technical fields are male-dominated, and SEO is no different. That being said, there are so many supportive communities that you can turn to for belonging: Women in Tech SEO (Slack) and Sisters in SEO (a Facebook group).
The founders and members of these groups are committed to increasing diversity and representation in the field by offering mentorship and learning opportunities.
For women to be recognized as the brilliant SEOs we are, it helps to spread the word publicly about the things we’re working on: in blog posts, as speaking topics, and by helping others on #SEO Twitter.”
Owner, Tasty Tie
“I think the best thing you can do is get your voice and expertise out there on reputable SEO websites (SEJ is a great example, which I believe is also woman-owned and run by women!).
With enough of your name out there, you can point people to your expertise because not only do you have a great article that shows you know your stuff, but you’re proving that big players in the industry trust your viewpoint enough to publish it.
It’s a lot of work but worth it in the end. Good luck, you got this!”
SEO Consultant & CEO, SEOSLY.com
“I have also been fighting imposter syndrome, and what has helped me a lot was to join the Women in Tech SEO group and – at first, only there – start to share my knowledge, ideas, and articles.
Receiving a lot of support and kind words from there gave me the courage to go beyond this wonderful community and jump into deeper waters like Twitter or LinkedIn.
If you are into technical SEO, that is all that matters.
Whenever you start doubting yourself, remind yourself that a white male with 25% of your knowledge would never doubt himself. And you shouldn’t, too.”
SEO Consultant, Larkin SEO
“Yes, SEO is a female-friendly field. You are in control of the SEO content you read online and in control of who you work with.
Brilliant women in technical SEO are not unicorns. They exist, and they are active online. Connect with SEJ contributors on Twitter, and interact in Facebook groups: Sisters in SEO and Women in Tech SEO.
Welcome to the community, Kate. We are happy you are here!”
Thank you to each of the women for their participation in this piece.
While many women experience imposter syndrome, the good news is it can be overcome.
And when it comes to bridging the SEO gender gap, we’re making progress.
It’s up to all of us to foster an environment where people of all genders and races are valued, empowered, and can confidently thrive.
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