Candour

Episode 75: Women in Tech SEO with Areej AbuAli

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What's in this episode?

In this episode, you will hear Mark Williams-Cook talking to Areej AbuAli, founder of Women in Tech SEO for a conversation about getting starting in the SEO industry, the Women in Tech SEO community, speaking opportunities, mentor programmes and how anyone that identifies as a woman, can become involved.

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Sitebulb sponsored 60 day trial https://www.sitebulb.com/swc

Women in Tech SEO https://www.womenintechseo.com/

Transcription

MC: Welcome to episode 75 of the Search with Candour podcast, recorded on Friday the 21st of August 2020. My name is Mark Williams-Cook and today we're going to be joined by Areej AbuAli, who is the SEO manager for Zoopla and Areej is also the founder and organiser of Women in Tech SEO, so she's going to be joining us to tell us more about that.

I'm happy to say this episode of Search with Candour is supported by Sitebulb. Sitebulb is a desktop-based website auditing tool, available for Windows and Mac. It's something I've talked about before and it's something I use personally within the agency, and if you haven't heard of it, you definitely should check it out. It's one of my favorite SEO tools, they've got a special offer for Search with Candour listeners - you can go to sitebulb.com/swc, so it's SWC for Search with Candour and you can get a 60 day, a two month trial of Sitebulb without putting in any credit card details.

One of the things i particularly love about Sitebulb myself is it really helps with internal link analysis. So any SEO will tell you, sorting out your internal linking is critical, especially on bigger sites. So that means understanding where all the links on your site are pointing to, if you've got links to your competitive pages high up in your hierarchy, if you've got pages that you want to rank, that maybe only have one link in them from some category page deep down in there - this is one thing that Sitebulb does really well. So like any desktop-based crawler, it will crawl your site but they have a whole section where you can explore your internal link equity flow, so it will let you see things like the anchor text you're using on your links, it will give you the importance and how many times different pages are linked to and if they're being linked to from important pages, which is going to be important to actually getting those pages to rank, that's otherwise something that can be quite tricky to do. Normally it requires exports and filling around with pivot tables, so really great and one of many features you can get with Sitebulb. You can get, as I said, a 60 day trial from sitebulb.com/swc.

Today, we're joined by Areej AbuAli, who's currently the SEO Manager at Zoopla, she has seven years, over seven years experience of digital marketing including technical SEO, data analysis, account management, web analytics. She's a Mozcon and Brighton SEO speaker, has a BsC in Computer Engineering and an MBA in Information Technology. Areej, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast and that's quite an intro.

AA: Yeah, thanks Mark. I'm so excited to be here. It's really good to actually virtually speak to you because I know we're Twitter friends!

MC: Yes, that’s a lot of the people I know in SEO still, even though I've been knocking around a while a lot of them still are Twitter SEO friends, I haven't met many of them in real life. So we're going to talk today about Women in Tech SEO, but I'd really like to start - so obviously you're quite well known within the SEO community, but it'd be really great if you could give us - why don't we start with you, what was your entry into SEO like? How did that happen?

AA: Yeah yeah definitely, so I moved to the UK, just over seven years ago now. So as you said, I have a background in computer engineering and I came to the UK to do an MBA in IT and it was at that point that I kind of discovered the world of digital marketing, I didn't even realise that was a thing. So during my MBA, I was kind of thinking about what jobs or what roles do I want to get into and with some research, I kind of stumbled over SEO and was like, this is actually quite interesting because it's this nice bridge between both computing and marketing. I then started looking at internships and roles in it, and the first job I landed right after was Asian Seaside; I started off as a content executive for a month, but then they switched me right away to the tech SEO team, which was kind of my plan all along, so that was great and I’ve mainly specialised in tech SEO ever since.

MC: Brilliant, so personally did you face any challenges as you've kind of got into the SEO community, both professionally and from that community aspect?

AA: Yeah, I mean I guess, maybe initially. The first few years I wasn't even trying very much to get within the community, I mean I remember like attending BrightonSEO and things like that, and feeling really overwhelmed by the speakers and by the attendees and not even knowing like how to start networking, or how to start meeting people - it was kind of just the people I work with who were the main people that I knew. I always used to hear about these exclusive Facebook groups for SEO experts, it's like, oh only people who've been doing this for 10 years are welcome here, and it's these names and it's those people, so I always kind of felt like, hmm I wonder when it might happen that I might actually be able to join some of these groups. So I guess my initial impression was that the community wasn't super friendly or welcoming, that there was a lot of like exclusivity, not everyone is welcome here and things like that.

I would say it was only when I actually started speaking in conferences which is only a year, a year and a half ago now, was when I realised that this is actually much easier, you can just go up to people and speak to them and so forth, but I guess it took me quite some time to decide that now is the right time to put myself out there, or pitch to speak or things like that.

MC: I think a lot of people have had that similar experience and I certainly have. I'm terrible at networking, I'm terribly awkward at trying to network with people - I don't even like calling it networking, and I found out once, like you, I had a couple of speaking slots that you just then have people come up to you, and start talking to you, normally about what you've talked about and then it becomes very easy, like you say, from then on that opens doors for you. How did that happen for you in terms of getting those first speaking slots? Both in terms of how did you prepare and feel you were ready? And how did you then actually go about getting those slots?

AA: Yeah, really good question. I think it was at least two or three years of attending Brighton SEO and Search Love and every single time I was like, I wonder if this is the year for me? Should I now pitch? But I always felt I wasn't ready and then it was finally, it was Search Love London - let me remember the year, 2018, Jamie Alberto, she was doing a talk on advanced tech SEO and I just fell in love with her, and I was like, oh my god this is amazing she's brilliant, I was like these are the kind of talks I want to get up on stage and do. But then the other thing as well, they had community speaker slots that year and it was, I remember Luke Carthy was on there, Andy was there as well, Laura Hogan - she was on there and I remember thinking, wow okay I mean those people, it’s their first talks and they're able to do that. I had attended as a plus one with Hannah Smith, and I was like, you know what? I'm gonna do this, that's it, I'm gonna pitch to Brighton SEO for April 2019, and she was like, yes let's do it, come on, and she helped me so much.

So it was her and Briony Gunson, I overthought my pitch. I really planned it, they gave me a lot of support and help with that first pitch when I sent it through and yeah when I found out that I got the slot, I was so excited, I literally spent six months preparing for that talk - I had like four or five different feedback rounds, I took it so seriously, but yeah massive thanks, I'd say to both Hannah Smith and Briony Gunson, they helped me a lot with pitching for it and kind of being ready for it and with feedback throughout as well.

MC: So how are you finding prep now when you're doing talks? Are you spending - I hope you're spending a little bit less time doing them?

AA: So it's a tiny bit less, but honestly I spend so much time preparing for a talk and it's way more time than I know a lot of people do and they are like, oh yeah you know I've got this talk next week, I'm going to start working on it this weekend and I'm like, how do you do that? I'm incapable of doing that. I would get really stressed as well. If I don't feel like it's a hundred percent complete a month in advance, then I'm not going to be comfortable. When someone sends through and asks, would you like to speak in this and if it's not minimum a three month heads up, I'm always going to say no, I'm just not gonna be able to prepare for it. So I do still find it very stressful, I do find it very overwhelming. I actually feel really worried now because I think last year, the talk I did was so good, and I’m always like, hmm how do I make sure it's just as good or it's just as strong, which is a typical imposter syndrome type of qualities that you tend to get here and there.

MC: And I would say, at least from my experience as well, to anyone that's maybe doing their first talks that stays with most people. So again I've done a fair bit of speaking, not as much recently but I still, when i prepare even basic topics, that I know very well, I'll go through this cycle of, yeah I know this and I'll put together slides, outline what I want to talk about and then probably about 75% of the way through the preparation, I have this crisis of confidence where I think, oh this is not interesting, this is stuff everyone already knows, it's boring and then I almost go back and do it again and like you say, really try and get everything 100% and that I think that's normal. Ithink that makes good speakers that really care and think about what their audience wants to hear, right?

AA: Yeah all the time, I always feel that way and it's one of the things when people always ask for advice in terms of how do we turn around, how do we make sure that everyone already knows this, how do we make this special, and for me it's always the story element. So when you share your story, or when you share your perspective about something, that's always going to be unique to you because no one else has experienced that except you, so that, for me, are the talks that always stick the most - the ones where we are open, where we are honest, where we share the story behind why we are even doing that talk. But yeah, I really struggle as well, in terms of just making sure. I always have a confidence crisis happen, most of the way through as well.

MC: I think it was actually, I saw Martin Split make a really interesting comment about maybe people that are quite new to SEO doing talks and talking about concepts which was, although yes, someone else might understand that topic slightly better, everyone has a different way of explaining the same thing. So even though you're maybe doing a talk that someone else has done, like you say, when you speak about it from your perspective, of your experience, it might click for some other people, who saw someone else talk about it and they were just like, I don't get that, or that just doesn't align with the way I think. So I think, even when you are fairly new just getting that experience talking, and talking about things you do understand but in a different way and you don't necessarily have to be intimidated by other people that have done the same talk.

AA: Yeah, 100% and I think we always forget that our audience is going to be people from all backgrounds, all levels of SEO, all levels of knowledge and experience. So we're always thinking, oh I’ve got seven years or eight years, so my audience also has seven or eight years, but there are tons of people out there who are in their first or in their second year and they need a lot of that foundation as well. So it's perfectly fine to not have the most advanced talk in the world, as long as you're being elaborate, you have your spin on it, you're sharing your own story, your own experience, and at the end of the day, it's all about knowledge sharing, that's the main thing that we need to focus on.

MC: Yeah definitely, and that badge of x years of experience for me although it can be useful in some kind of context, I find now it's a lot less helpful than it used to be, especially as the industry gets older. I've seen people that have been doing SEO half the amount of time or even less than I have, that have come up with things that have blown my socks off, and I've been like, oh wow like I've never delved into this cloud file log analysis, how they're doing this way, and I just think again, from the outside, don't be intimidated by this years of experience thing, SEO is such a huge area, even technical SEO is a huge area, so years of experience, certainly to me, doesn't necessarily correlate to skill or even experience sometimes.

So before we move on, have you had any kind of role models yourself that you've particularly looked up to or mentors within SEO or even outside the digital space that have helped you drive forward?

AA: Yeah, I mean the one thing I would and I will probably lean on this again when we talk about Women in Tech SEO more is, I've always been super motivated by women-only spaces, they've always really really helped me. When the Sheryl Sandberg book came out the Lean In one, there was tons of circles that came out of that and I joined one in London, it was like a Lean In leadership circle, and it was like the first like women-only space that I joined and we used to have like monthly meet-ups and so on and I would come out of each one of those feeling so inspired, feeling so pumped up, feeling like - oh my god, I've got all of these goals, I'm gonna manage to accomplish everything and so on. So for me, that was so helpful and also the fact that it wasn't really within SEO, I think made it a little bit more helpful because it was like this outside circle. But, yeah other than that, i've already mentioned her, but Hannah Smith definitely comes to mind as one. We worked together for a long time, we were never actually in the same team but she always just gave me tons of advice, tons of support and to this day, super helpful, just extremely motivating and an inspiring person to be around really.

MC: So it's probably a good time now to talk about Women in Tech SEO. So from the outside, as I understand, Women in Tech SEO is a support network, it's aimed at women in the technical SEO field and it's really about you getting together, discussing, sharing and learning from one another and it's grown from tha. Tell us a bit about how it started because it was originally just meetups, is that right?

AA: Yeah,so a bit over a year now, we started in May 2019, so yeah literally kicked off a month after my BrightonSEO talk and I think last year, like towards the start of the year, I was getting into this place, when you go through that phase where you're a bit like, do I really want to be doing SEO for the rest of my life?

MC: Never, never. (laughter)

AA: It was just a bit like, is this what i want to keep doing, I mean should I consider switching roles, switching industries, doing something else - that was where my head was at, and I really used to struggle with the idea of, I'm stuck on this, who do I ask. I never wanted to ask anything on Twitter because I was convinced that people were going to be like, whoa she's meant to be an SEO manager or Head of SEO and she doesn't know these basics. I really really, really struggled with that and then also back to the point of that most groups, most communities always felt like really exclusive, so it was really around that time where I was like, okay we kind of need to start something. I wasn't able to find anything where I felt like I kind of fit in or I felt comfortable enough, so I opened it, it was initially a Facebook group and I just put a tweet out and I was like, women in tech SEO, rejoice we now have this group and I think like a hundred people joined on the first week. Then I was thought that it would actually be nice if we also meet each other, and that's how I then opened up the meetup group and the intention was okay, let's meet up in London, once a month, we'll have different speakers, we'll talk about different things and we'll have the facebook group for like the whole global community happening in parallel as well.

MC: So I think May 28th, it was your one year anniversary and your Facebook group has now got over 1200 members.

AA: Yeah, I think it's like 1600 now, yep.

MC: Oh wow, okay. So about 1600, and you've got a Slack group as well?

AA: Yeah, we've got about another 15 or 1600 on that as well. I've heard about like a few months after Facebook group, people were like oh we hate facebook i was like yeah i don't blame you actually i'm not such a huge fan either. So then we started the slack community as well, and with that one we really wanted to focus more on having more virtual meetups, and virtual social chats, and the slack group made it so much easier to have these different channels, so we have both running in parallel right now. They're both quite active; I would say with the Slack one, it's more helpful with continuous chat and super quick answers. With the Facebook one, it's a bigger type of question or a question here and there, and mainly announcements.

MC: I mean, having that amount of people on a Slack channel itself is a big achievement. So I mean I'm a member of a couple of the free Slack SEO channels like technical SEO, and I think that's only got around 800 people, so that you've managed to get that much momentum behind it, it is amazing. and you actually ended up organising a full-on conference, didn't you?

AA: Yeah.

MC: So tell us about that.

AA: Yeah so we did the first Women in Tech SEO festival and it was for international women's day. So just like my BrightonSEO talk, I spent 10 months planning it. We had reached a point where I was a bit like, okay we're doing those monthly meet-ups, and they're evening ones, they're two hours, we get a few speakers but I really wanted to do something big for international women's day, where we have like a full day conference, it was also a good reason for a lot of people who are more like based in Europe and based on other places to be able to come in for it. And I was really adamant on making sure that the price was really accessible, all tickets were under 100 pounds for the full day like including food and including everything, because I didn't want people to feel like they had to ask their employers, for example, or so on. We also got a lot of people in the industry actually buying tickets for women to go and attend, which was amazing. So yeah that went great, and I would love to have one next year, I'm still waiting out to see what happens with everything in the world right now, before I start planning.

MC: So the Women in Tech SEO fest, that was a women only, not a women's centric conference?

AA: Yeah, so as with our group, with our meetups, with our events with everything, it's always anyone who identifies as a woman is welcome to join.

MC: So how would you, maybe for women that haven't been to a complete women-only conference or meet-up like that, how would you describe that in terms of how it feels different to a regular conference?

AA: It was super positive, in my eyes, I thought the vibe was great. I felt with our speakers as well and this is feedback that I got from them; they were able to be really honest, and open, and transparent in a lot of their talks. We had several different tracks, so some were advanced, and analysis, advanced reporting, and the last session was more around like empowerment and inspiration as well, which had like Kirsty Hulls and Stacy McNaught, so it had more talks that were unrelated to tech SEO as well there. I would say, the day as a whole, the vibe was really positive, everyone was just coming up to everyone and talking to each other. It wasn't that big as well, there were 250 of us, so it wasn't the massive scale of huge conferences, but it was really easy to talk to each other. Speakers were so approachable, you could just go up to anyone and ask them questions, so I personally loved it, and the feedback that we got was so good, so I'm definitely hoping that we can plan another one soon

MC: That's amazing. I think it's a good size as well because I've seen a lot of the local SEO meetups, over the last two or three years, that have really gained traction as well. We've got the flagship, like Search Love and BrightonSEO and smx type events, which are huge, but they can be a little bit less accessible, when you have a speaker and then they get swamped by 60 people going to ask some questions after a talk, so I've seen a lot more traction in these smaller events, that might be a bit more personal.

So, on the website for Women in Tech SEO, you've got your core values which are to be kind, to be helpful, to be respectful, to be a safe, and a judgment-free community, which are lovely, brilliant, admirable, core values. So I'm asking this, I guess maybe for people that aren't involved in SEO Twitter. Do you think the SEO community, in general, can lack these values?

AA: Yes.

MC: Shock, this will be a shock I'm sure to everyone listening, but i think it's important to talk about this.

AA: Yeah, it was funny because I had someone ask me before it's like, how did you come up with these values, were they voted by the community, did it take you some time to think through them, and honestly no. As I was writing that page on the website, I literally thought of them as I wrote them, it was not difficult to come up with them because this is what I was looking for and this is what I think we currently lack. There are definitely tons of amazing, kind, generous people but what I was really on the lookout for was that safe. judgment free area. So you don't want to feel like you're being judged at all, by any question that you ask or by anything that you're having a challenge with or by anything you need help with, and you know, in a way it feels so simple reading them out like that, those are such simple, human, basic foundational things but unfortunately, they do lack a lot and I would say especially with SEO Twitter, that's probably where they lack even more; a lot of people are really nice when you actually meet them face to face, I'm not really sure what happens behind screens for some of that to be going on.

MC: So personally, and I know a lot of people have - when you learn to navigate those places - have got a lot from the community in large, is there any kind of advice you can give outside of Women in Tech SEO, for someone that's new in SEO, how they should approach engaging with the SEO community, in terms of, what channels do you think are best? Should they find a Slack group? Should they find these private groups you talked about, like on Facebook? Should they just dive straight in on Twitter? How do you feel? What advice would you give someone that's fresh out of the box - hey i'm learning SEO, I'm going to dive right in and talk to all these people.

AA: Yeah, I mean I think definitely connecting one to one with a few people as well like comes a long way. I remember, at the very start, I saw Alexis Sanders in a talk and I was just amazed by what she delivered and I just connected with her on LinkedIn and I sent her this massive note about how inspiring I found her talk to be. So I think it's totally fine to reach out to people that you find inspiring, and that you'd like to seek mentorship from, or support from and so on. They will also help you by introducing you to other people, by sharing resources with you, it's just feeling a little bit comfortable with reaching out to people on a one-to-one basis, that means so much to someone as well than some of that stuff you find on Twitter, all the time where it's like - oh, here's a list of six inspiring people, let's tag some more and then next thing you know there are 100 people in a chain - that doesn't mean as much as actually reaching out to someone one to one, telling them what you found helpful, and asking them for some support. Most people will be more than happy to help out.

Then I would say, the second thing is just sharing your knowledge. So even if you start your own website, or you write an article on medium, or whatever, it is something that you've learned. Once you start sharing your own knowledge, and then seeking feedback on what it is that you've written, or a talk that you've done or so on, the more people will start being more aware of the work that you're doing, they'll give you feedback, they'll reach out with questions, so I think that’s another really good way to do it.

Right now, there are tons of virtual events that are happening and a lot of them have all these live chat boxes that are going on, this is a much easier way to connect with different people, reach out to them later on Twitter or LinkedIn or so on; it's much less overwhelming than when you have to do it face to face, but really make the most out of it, rather than just attend some of these events and try to soak in the information. It does mean a lot to reach out to the speaker afterwards, giving them your feedback, asking them follow up questions, so yeah tons of ways, definitely.

MC: I think that's really good advice, especially like you say, about reaching out to individuals because there's just going to be almost no scenario where someone is not going to like that someone's personally contacted them, and said they've enjoyed whatever it is they've shared or their talk and yeah, those personal connections I think do go a long way as well.

So, a side question here then - have you, because you mentioned these exclusive Facebook groups and obviously, now with your experience, your education, where you are in the industry, you're more than qualified to join these groups, I'm pleased to tell you - I got the memo. Have you ever done that? Have you ever looked at any of these groups? Are they any good?

AA: I haven't joined, I honestly don't know how to find those Facebook ones, so if you know, let me know. I have joined a few Slack groups and I was really underwhelmed, I felt there are so many dudes in them, and then it's like talking to dudes, and I don't know whether it's because all the women have come to Women in Tech SEO and so have kind of ditched the other communities. But I have struggled with some of the Slack communities that are more technical focused as well, I don't know what it is, maybe the vibe or something doesn't it doesn't feel super welcoming. But I don't know yet how to find these really exclusive Facebook ones, no one's really added me to them, so if you know, definitely let me know, I'd be curious to see what's going on in there.

MC: No, I'm afraid to tell you, I'm not part of these exclusive groups either. I got one invite once to a some expert only, mega SEO group, which I accepted and then it was just bombarded with the most basic questions, just that you'd find anywhere, so I left that. I know there are paid slack groups you can join and I've heard they’re charging, I think around 150 pounds a month.

AA: Oh wow.

MC: I'm pretty stubborn, I refuse to pay just for if you've got a bunch of people that want to talk to each other, I think they should just arrange that and I think, like you said earlier, I was really impressed when you're talking about the Women in Tech SEO fest, and making it accessible price-wise.

So I had a little bit of an issue, I guess, with some things like that, not everyone can afford 150 pounds a month to join a Slack group. To go along with what you've said, so the biggest tech SEO slack group I’m in, most of my communication I have with that is actually people directly messaging me on that, which is interesting just because it goes along with what you say about how a lot of these communications happen and they tend to be dominated by a handful of personalities, so that's really interesting feedback from your point of view.

I do often see you talking about this, so I want to ask about it, what would you give as advice to other meetup organisers, other conference organisers - what can they do to improve engagement from women? Because I commonly see this - oh well, we emailed some women and they said no, so this is the speaker lineup you have.

AA: Yeah definitely, so much needs to be done in diversifying a lot of our conference, event and meetup lineups. We've made it so easy by creating the community speaker hub on the website, I think we've got like over 220, 230 women from all around the world now who have submitted their speaker cards, anyone who identifies as a woman can submit their speaker card on there, which means that they want to speak in conferences.

So, reach out to them. We've made it really, really easy. But I would say, just the other thing before you draw out your lineup, are you accepting pitches for your conferences? Now, so many conferences out there, and they pride themselves for some reason, I see it in the FAQs, and they're like - no, we actually don't have a pitching process because we pick the best of the best. What does that mean? How do you define the best of the best? Because if the best of the best are basically the same people over and over again, then I'm so sorry but that is not the best. Everything should be about the talk, should be about content, should be about giving a fair chance for everyone, so if you introduce a pitch process, especially some of the bigger talks or even with the meet ups, you can easily have a Google form for anyone to fill it at any time, and pitch what talk they want to do and then if the talk is good, if it works for your meetup and your audience, you can give them a time slot. But there is no reason to not allow people to pitch, because that right away is a very unfair advantage to other people just getting the same over and over again.

And then I would say the second thing is your audience is reflective as well on your speakers, what you tend to find is that when there's a diversified speaker lineup, you do tend to find a diversified audience. You find that a lot with BrightonSEO - super diverse audience, a lot of women attending there, people from a lot of different countries come, but then when you have conferences where it's your typical lineup 80% male, almost everyone is white; at that point, you're like yeah the audience looks similar to the lineup.

So it's a question of, how do you really reach the balance with both? But there's so much that needs to be done and it is not an excuse to simply say you've reached out. What tends to happen as well is over time, these speakers, you've invited them several times, it's not bad to go up to them and ask them if they have any recommendations from their network, and that's also on speakers. Over time, speakers; if you've already done 10 talks this year, do you really need to do talk number 11? Maybe instead, you need to give up your seat to someone else within the network, who can instead have their chance, or put them in the spotlight a little bit.

So I would say, it's a two-way thing; both event organisers need to work better to diversify their lineup, but also speakers need to put their name out there, and need to be giving each other like other shots, and giving their seats every now and then as well.

MC: So if you are an event or conference organiser, if you look at womenintechseo.com/speakers - there is a huge list of these cards, where you can search by name, city, or country, you can filter by specialisation. So there's just a huge range of people here that you can contact, to get to speak at your event or conference.

The other thing I saw recently that you've been organising with Women in Tech - I see there are so many strands to this, I don't know how you've really grown this, you've started like a mentor program - is that right? Do you want to tell us a little bit more about that? How has that come to be and I think you've matched everyone up now but are there still opportunities for people to get involved in that?

AA: Yeah definitely, so I wanted to kick off a mentorship program for the longest time ever, it was on my massive list of ideas that I wanted to do for Women in Tech SEO, so I'm really happy that we finally kicked off the first cohort.

So, the awesome Naomi Sanderson, who's part of the community has been helping me with that, and we have kicked off the first cohort, we matched 210 mentors with mentees and the reason we kicked it off really is all along the program and the community is always around the lines of, women are mentoring women, women are supporting each other and helping each other - this gives it a little bit more structure, makes it a little bit more concise, there's actually a program around it, we also wanted to help empower women to feel confident to be mentors. It was interesting because that was the biggest challenge really. I had like all of these brilliant women saying, I don't know if I'm strong enough to apply as a mentor, and I'm like of course you need to apply as a mentor. So we're giving them tons of support, Hannah Butcher has given the mentor training as well, we want to make sure in the next cohort we give even more different forms of training for them. But for now, it's a two-month program, they're dedicating 30 minutes a week to have a call between the mentors and mentees, we're giving mentor training, we're just getting tons of feedback along the way, so that we can see how to make this more of a recurring program as we go. So I envision it down the line being potentially once a quarter, or twice a year - longer type of cohorts where we match them based on - it was based on both SEO and soft skills, and everyone was welcome to apply, all women from all around the world.

MC: So do you know when you will have the next intake of the next cohort?

AA: So I'm hoping something by October, November, but I don't want to promise anything at this point, this current one is going to wrap up at the end of September, and we're going to get lots of feedback so that we can improve the next time around.

MC: So for any women listening that are looking to get into tech SEO, or maybe are already in tech SEO and aren't involved in the community, what do they need to do? What's the best route for them to start getting involved in this community?

AA: If you visit our website womenintechseo.com, all of our different groups are linked up right there. So you can join us on Facebook, you can join us on Slack, you can follow us on LinkedIn, on Twitter and just my advice is really join the groups, and introduce yourself and start answering questions that you know the answers to. Start asking questions that you don't know the answers to, and just get to know people. We have hosted tons of virtual meetups when lockdown initially started, we plan on doing even more. You can join the community speakers hub, if you'd like to. We do weekly interviews as well, again, anyone is welcome to fill a form and they'll have an interview with us. That's the thing with the community, we never go out and ask specific women to do any of these, everything is open if you want to do a talk, you're welcome to. If you want to do an interview with us, again, you're welcome to. If you want to be a community speaker, you're welcome to, and anyone who identifies as a woman, from anywhere around the world, who has any form of interest in tech SEO, doesn't need to be an expert - they can literally be in uni, it can be someone who's just interested in it, they are more than welcome to join us on Facebook or Slack.

MC: Wow, thank you so much for your time Areej. I think it's a really good time to wrap it up, you'll be able to find all of the links to everything we've spoken about in the show notes, which will be available at search.withcandour.co.uk and Areej, again, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it and I really respect everything you're doing for the SEO community as a whole.

AA: Thanks Mark. Thank you so much for having me, I’ve really really enjoyed my time with you today.

MC: No problem, thank you. So we'll be back on Monday the 31st of August with episode 76. Until then, if you are enjoying the podcast, please do subscribe or tell a friend, and hopefully you'll tune in then. Have a great week.

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