In the current digital age, SEO plays a pivotal role in the growth and online relevance of businesses. There is possibly no industry in which this is more true than e-commerce, with the giants of the retail vying for top spots on the most popular search engines.
However, SEO is an industry in which women are notoriously underrepresented. I sat down with Orit, Head of SEO at SilkFred, to better understand her experience of being a woman in a largely male-dominated field.
Can you give us a brief overview of your job role?
At SilkFred I’m in charge of organic searches – Google, Bing, Yahoo, all search engines that drive traffic to SilkFred. I’m in charge of the non-paid search results, I do my best to make sure we show up in the top ten.
How did you get into SEO?
I started my career as a content writer. I would get given all these SEO requirements and they were interesting, so I found myself researching the subject and got drawn to it. I took several courses on SEO and was lucky to have opportunities inside the big companies where I worked to shift to an SEO role. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last ten years.
What has been your biggest challenge as a woman who works in SEO?
My biggest challenge as a woman in SEO is trying to take part in professional forums without getting ‘mansplained’. It’s really annoying and stopped me from participating as much in those forums. I think you have to work harder to prove yourself, but you can make it work.
What is the biggest misconception about your role?
The biggest misconception about my role is that you need to be a specific person to work in SEO. There’s this idea that you need to be either really technical or marketing oriented – I think you can combine both and make it work. If you connect to the business side of things and you know the technical stuff, you can really make an impact.
Does the SEO industry feel like a ‘boys club’? Is this something that is changing?
It used to feel more like a ‘boys club’, but there are very strong women in SEO that I admire and follow. Aleyda Solis and Dawn Anderson are great women that I admire and follow. I think that the industry has really opened up in recent years because there are strong female experts. I hope to become a well-known one someday.
What skills do you think have helped you succeed in the world of SEO?
I think that being open-minded is a really important quality for being successful in SEO. It’s about stepping into a business and trying to understand it fully, instead of trying to impose your knowledge and opinions on the business. Try and work with it and understand the branding, the heart of the business, the business goals. When you understand that and become part of the marketing of the company, you can bring your SEO insights and then you’ll really get the best insights.
Do you feel that the gender gap in SEO can be closed?
I do, I think that it’s going to take a while, but I’m having a lot of young women ask me about SEO and how to get into it. I think a few years from now, if I manage to do my job right and convince them to get into it, then we’ll have many more expert women in SEO.
What are your favourite aspects of your role and the SEO industry in general?
I really love working in SEO and I love my role in SEO at SilkFred. I love how SEO connects with everything, especially as an online business. When you’re in e-commerce SEO is so important, so everything you know and do connects to the business in a strong way. SEO has a really big impact on the business and helps it continue to grow. Also, because SEO is about fulfilling search intent, I feel that my role is to connect between the business and the people who search for the business, to create an experience where potential customers will enjoy our website and see us as their go-to website for their unique fashion needs.
What would you tell a young woman trying to make their way in the world of SEO?
Understanding the business comes first and SEO comes after. If you understand what the business needs then you can translate that towards what search engines will love most and what people search for. I think it’s best to start from within a business as I did. If you start as a junior in a company, whilst learning about SEO online, then you’ll be perfect to take on an SEO role inside your company. I don’t have experience working with agencies so I don’t know what the experience is there. I favour in-house work because to succeed in SEO you need to connect with the business. Know people, make connections, understand the business, read a lot about SEO and top SEO influencers. You should constantly upgrade yourself and learn more about the industry – it evolves continuously, so don’t get left behind.