The SEO industry holds opportunities galore to gain leadership skills, work with top companies, and earn a good salary.
By supporting and encouraging women, we can work to increase women’s representation in this industry. But often, the question is, “Where do I start?”
Great question. I asked a variety of female-identifying search marketers – from industry veterans to recent grads – to offer their tips on how we can all better support women in SEO. Here’s what we suggest:
To mentor simply means to advise or train. A common misconception is that mentorship has to be a structured relationship or a huge time commitment. But mentorship can actually be as simple as making yourself available to offer advice.
Receiving personalized guidance can give women the confidence and information they need to achieve their career goals. Whether you can give an hour a week or 30 minutes a quarter, consider becoming a mentor to help women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) grow as marketers.
Offer a flexible work environment
Flexibility in workplaces, hours, and location, helps women create a better work-life balance. This can also allow more women to return to work and remain productive after starting a family, which can keep them on track for salary increases and promotions. At the same time, companies benefit from holding onto their talent and reducing turnover.
Prioritize diversity in speaker line-ups
When we hear the same voices, we miss out on an incredible opportunity to learn. Make diversity in your speaker line-ups and keynotes a top priority. And instead of viewing it as a box to check, invest time into connecting with potential speakers with different experiences and points of view, and not just by title or reputation.
Build up women’s confidence
Imposter syndrome is oh so real, with an estimated percentage of individuals experiencing the phenomenon at least once in their careers. This feeling of inadequacy meets its match when we foster confidence in our peers’ work and abilities.
Work with different communication styles
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to communicating. Taking time to learn each team member’s communication style and preferences can offer the foundation they need to succeed.
Advocate for gender and pay equality when hiring
Don’t accept the outdated adage, “There just aren’t as many women candidates.”
Consider if there are any barriers for women in your hiring process. For instance, say the main promotion method for your job posting is sharing with your network, but your network is composed mostly of men.
There are many barriers that contribute to a candidate pool mostly void of women. By becoming aware of the often unconscious biases that create these roadblocks, we can start to break down that outdated assumption for good.
Make diversity initiatives a regular part of your business
Hiring women and equal pay is a great step, but it certainly shouldn’t stop there. Once women are hired, invest resources in them to help them continue to grow.
In short, don’t let diversity be a one-time conversation. When it’s an ongoing consideration in all business initiatives, from holiday celebrations to leadership positions, you offer real support.
Congratulate Women Publicly
This is important for allies. I’ve experienced this firsthand and when people in your team say to colleagues, clients, and contemporaries that you are smart and capable, it can go a long way to open doors and remove barriers.
Thinking more widely, this can take the form of social shares, inclusion on expert panels, guest speakers, and content contributors.
Speak to the new generation of marketers
It’s so important to introduce female-identifying professionals to this field. If universities don’t cover it in their curriculum, that leaves a gap of women who may not know enough about SEO to consider it as a career.
Pursue thought leadership opportunities like speaking for universities or a local organization that supports students and/or recent graduates. By speaking about the topic and chatting one-on-one with the new generation of marketers, we create a space for them to get interested in the field and seek to learn more.
Publicly support women on social media
The more we see and can relate to those who have success, the more confidence we have to pursue those same roles. By increasing the reach of women across social media, we show the rest of the world our place at the SEO table, so to speak. Some easy ways to do this?
- Like and share posts
- Comment thoughtful remarks
- Follow and connect with women and BIPOC across platforms
- Let women know you like their content offline as well – it’s encouraging when someone brings the compliments off social and says, “Hey, I like your content.”
While we’re on the topic: Please be KIND on social. If you disagree with someone else’s opinion and feel you must speak up, aim to have a respectful and open-minded discussion that leads with questions rather than opinions.
And consider having these conversations privately; it can be intimidating for new creators to see criticism commented on across many posts.
This final tip goes beyond SEO. If you haven’t come up against this firsthand, imagine you experienced injustice at work, and were ignored. That could tarnish your view of your workplace – and the industry as a whole – forever.
If an issue is raised by a woman or person of color, please don’t shrug it off. Listen, and together we can create an industry that honors and respects every person.