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NOVOS Collaborates with Women in Tech SEO and Chats with its Founder Areej

Sam Hurley from NovosSam Hurley in SEO, Team

30th July, 2021

NOVOS in Conversation with The Women in Tech SEO Community

As a ‘culture first’ agency, we have always stood up for what we believe in and we believe that values of equality, diversity and inclusion are instrumental in the advancement of not only an organization but also of our society at large. This is why we are a gender-balanced company with 50% of women making up our leadership team, and a variety of programmes to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. Recently, we took up an opportunity to further demonstrate our commitment to gender equality by sponsoring a full season of the Women in Tech SEO podcast. Our SEO Manager, Laura Brady, also featured in one of the episodes talking about all things eCommerce you can catch it here

During our collaboration with this wonderful community that supports women in tech SEO roles across sectors, we also got a chance to explore the initiative with its inspiring founder and a popular figure in the SEO field, Areej AbuAli. Here’s what we discussed.                                             

Why did you feel a need to launch the ‘Women in Tech SEO’ community? Tell us about your mission

Women in Tech SEO is a global support community aimed for women in the Technical SEO field, to discuss, share and learn from one another. The aim is to empower each other in a positive, inspiring and beneficial way, and to help build our network and accelerate our careers.

The honest answer to why I launched the community is for purely selfish reasons. A few months before I started Women in Tech SEO, I was feeling demotivated. I didn’t know if I wanted to continue being an SEO, I always felt judged for asking questions, I didn’t think I was good enough in what I do. I couldn’t find a safe group or community that I could be a part of. There were lots of “exclusive” groups that I was told I couldn’t be a part of because I haven’t been in the industry for x number of years or because I haven’t spoken in specific events. So I decided to start my own safe group, one that has values that revolve around kindness and is a judgment-free zone, one where all women are welcome, even if they’ve just heard about the word SEO the other day.

How has the community grown?

I never expected it to grow so much organically. I put a tweet out saying “Women in Tech SEO, rejoice, we now have a safe group…” and on the first day, over 100 members joined the group. I also didn’t expect it to grab the attention of such a global audience. In the first year, I was very focused on London-based events yet we still kept having lots of members from all around the world join us. I guess I never realized how much it was needed until I started it. We hosted our first full day conference, WTSFest, in honour of International Women’s Day in London right before lockdown. Post-lockdown, I focused on our global community and I launched a number of community initiatives including WTSMentorship, WTSWorkshop, WTSPodcast, WTSNewsletter, and more. I made the most out of the time that was no longer lost in commuting to the office and I’m proud of how much the community grew during that period. There’s now over 4K of us and we keep growing.

What is your definition of gender equality in the industry?

I’ll consider Women in Tech SEO to be a successful project when the day comes that we no longer need it. There are lots of challenges that women in the industry currently face which require communities like WTS to be around. I hope that the day comes where there’s equality in representation and pay, as well as kindness and respect all around, for us to no longer need communities like Women in Tech SEO

You founded the community over two years ago and have been very vocal about the importance of gender balance in the industry. How do you think companies can work towards creating this balance and diversify recruitment?

When it comes to recruitment, evaluate your hiring committee. Often, candidates get interviewed by a non-diverse interviewing panel. Right away, as a candidate, that makes us feel really out of place. It makes us question whether it’s an environment we want to work in, because no one in there looks like us, we don’t feel represented.

While some companies might focus on hiring for diversity, they don’t also focus on making sure the people doing the interviews represent your diverse workforce, and that could drive great candidates away. If you’re trying to foster a culture where you hire for diversity, then you need to put specific plans in place for this.

Aside from recruitment, companies who want to prioritise diversity should consider starting a diversity and inclusion committee. This doesn’t necessarily need to be an initiative solely for large companies. Even if the company is small or at startup-size, it’s still important to prioritise initiatives like these. 

Current and potential employees would much prefer reading on a company’s perks page that they have a D&I committee over free breakfast. This tells you so much about a company, who they are, what the culture is like and what they consider foundational.

What would be your advice to women who are planning to start their career in Tech SEO? 

Do it! Don’t be deterred by the word “Tech”. The wonderful thing about Tech SEO is you learn so much of it on the job. It’s challenging and exciting at the same time, every day feels different – new things come out all the time. I’ve been in this industry for over 8 years and I still learn new things about Tech SEO on a daily basis. Find mentors and people you look up to and connect with them. Ask them to share their story with you, ask them what their favourite learning resources are, ask them what they would do differently if they were starting their SEO career all over again. Believe in the brilliant powerful self you are! 

We absolutely loved the experience of supporting this glorious community and encourage you to get involved. Head to their website to see how you can help. 


This article has been previously published on Digital Agency Network’s blog here

Sam Hurley from Novos
Article by Sam Hurley
Sam is the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of NOVOS. With nearly a decade-long experience in organic search, Sam has helped many eCom brands grow. His area of expertise includes SEO strategy, Magento, international SEO, and headless CMS with Javascript.

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