Imposter syndrome in SEO with Sarah McDowell

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What's in this episode?

On this week's episode, Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by Sarah McDowell, the SEO Manager at Captivate and the co-host of the SEO Mindset podcast. Jack & Sarah discuss:

  • What is imposter syndrome?
  • Why is it so prevalent in the SEO industry?
  • Techniques to cope with it
  • How to support coworkers & employees with imposter syndrome
  • How you should chop your vegetables for your chili

Show notes and links


Jack: Welcome to episode 23 of season two of the Search with Candour podcast. My name is Jack Chambers-Ward, and this week I am joined by the SEO manager at Captivate and the co-host of the SEO Mindset podcast, the fantastic Sarah McDowell.

Jack: Search with Candour is supported by SISTRIX the SEO's toolbox. Go to if you want to check out some of their fantastic free tools, such as their Instagram hashtag generator, hreflang validator, being able to check out your site's visibility index, and the Google update tracker. We also have the latest Sector Watch from Charlie Williams, one of the fantastic data journalists over at SISTRIX, and in this month's Sector Watch, it's all about the most visible domains for fashion dresses. Charlie does a fantastic article here diving into the details of what is ranking and why it's ranking, which brands are performing, and even some winners and losers in a way, we often touch on with trend watch, we're actually seeing in sect watch here as well. So, I'll dive into Charlie's article here in a little bit, and give you a little taste before you go off and read the full thing.

The leading brands and domains, as you'd expect, a lot of the most popular retail e-commerce, there is no shortage of well-known names in fashion. So, from e-commerce giants all the way through to more high street-based retailers, there are a lot of names you are most likely know if you're UK-based like I am. Things like Boohoo, ASOS, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, Shein, John Lewis, Next, Marks & Spencer, all that stuff. You've also got Amazon, eBay, and Etsy in there as well. In general, in the UK, the top three domains for basically the transactional intent, the commercial intent, which we describe as the due search context for people looking to buy these things. It is pretty clear from what Google is telling us that there is a clear intent here to buy the product, very few articles that are telling you information about dresses, but are not product pages, are ranking.

So, if you really do want to compete in this market, you really need to be creating fantastic product pages, that really match up to the user's search intent. So, the top three domains for this, as I said, commercial intent, include,, and To understand why those brands are performing so well, because sure, they're household names, but there's plenty of other household names around that aren't performing as well as that. For example, Missguided have recently gone into administration, have seen a considerable drop off on their visibility index. What I really love that Charlie does in the article, he dives into very specific details about the formatting, and the structure, the internal linking factors, all this stuff, going into what makes a fantastic product page, what makes a fantastic category page, and landing page for broader terms, such as dresses. Then really driving down and getting into the more specific stuff there, as well. Even talking about mobile responsiveness, and usability, searchability, all that stuff within the site. It's a fantastic analysis of this industry, so if you are working in the fashion and dress industry, and you're looking for a glimpse into what some of the biggest domains and the most successful domains are doing in this sector, I highly recommend you go and check out Charlie's addition of Sector Watch, links for that, of course, will be in the show notes at We also have a fantastic bit of data visualization from the team over at SISTRIX, specifically Mr. Steve Paine, who we had on the show a little while ago, diving into the 11-year history of the top 20 domains in the UK, in the span of 60 seconds. It's a fascinating little shifting graph that will grow and shrink with every domain, as you see new brands arrive, brands disappear into nothingness.

To clarify, this does filter out Wikipedia, because Wikipedia is a bit of a dominating factor in this. So, everything from Amazon, to the BBC, to Facebook, to Twitter, to the Daily Mail, to YouTube, and pretty much everything in between. It's a really interesting little timescale visualization across the last 11 years, and you can really see the biggest movers and shakers over the last decade or so in the UK. You can actually see other country timelines as well, so if you're not UK based, there is a YouTube playlist for that. I will also have that linked in the show notes, at You can find both this article and the Sector Watch I just mentioned at

Jack: Without any further ado, here is my interview with Sarah McDowell. Joining me on the show this week is Sarah McDowell, welcome to the show, Sarah.

Sarah: Hello, thank you very much for having me, I'm very much looking forward to being on this episode with you.

Jack: I'm looking forward to chatting with you and diving into some really interesting topics. I know we've got a lot to talk about, but before we get to all of that, if the listeners don't know who you are, please do give the listeners a lovely little intro about yourself, what you do in SEO, and what you do in podcasting? Because you're a fellow podcaster, which is lovely to see, as well.

Sarah: I am a fellow podcaster, I did catch that podcasting bug, and it's been hard to shake. But I always get a bit nervous when I have to... It's like selling yourself, I suppose, isn't it?

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah: But yeah, so I've been in SEO and digital marketing for just under 10 years. I think I first got into it back in 2012, so I've done a mixture of in-house, agency side. Currently I am the SEO manager at Captivate, which is a podcast hosting platform, and then previous to that, I was at Holland & Barrett. I've done digital marketing, but I would say I specialize and my passion is in the SEO realm, and I am a podcaster, as well. I think I've got four podcasts now under my belt, so really addicted.

Jack: You're a woman after my own heart. A few years ago, I was hosting far too many podcasts, and everyone really took it out of me, and we're just like, "Do you need to host another podcast?" I think it was on four or five, like you were saying, and it's just exhausting.

Sarah: Well, for me, it's when a podcast... This is going to sound really cheesy and really lame, so get the sick bucket at the ready. But when a podcast door closed, another one opened. So I started off with SEO SAS, my very first one with my friend, Hannah Bryce. Did that for a few years, that was amazing, got really good feedback, got some really good guests on there, as well, including Rand Fishkin, that was pretty cool. Then that came to an end, and then Areej AbuAli reached out to me, who is the founder of the Women in Tech SEO community. She reached out and was like, "I saw the SEO SAS is no longer doing new episodes, been toying with the idea of doing one for the Women in Tech SEO community," and then that was born. Then Women in Tech SEO podcast came to an end, and then I got speaking to another lady within the community, Tazmin Suleman. We recently launched the SEO Mindset podcast, so we launched that a few months ago. We've done season one, and we're about to launch season two, so that's really good, so that's a bit of a background of me.

Jack: It's almost we've got opposite careers, so I started off in podcasting. I've been podcasting for 10 years, and then came to SEO in the last four or so years, so kind of parallel but opposite journeys there for the two of us. I think a lot of people go through that, there are so many SEO podcasts around at the moment. I know there's a lot of people who start off in SEO, then think about doing a podcast, but now you are doing SEO for a podcast company, as well. How's that been for you, journeying through that, and starting out as a podcaster then, and obviously, an SEO first, then a podcaster and then SEO for podcasting?

Sarah: Yeah, it's hard to get my head around it, I suppose. But I suppose I'm in a really good position, because I'm doing two of my passions in one. I really love podcasting, I love the podcasting industry, I love being involved in that, and I also love SEO. At the moment, I'm marrying up the two, and it's pretty amazing, I'm loving life, really.

Jack: Awesome, well, if people do want to go and check out Captivate, I know we might bring it up a couple of times in the show, but links will be in the show notes for Captivate, we'll shout out Sarah's Twitter, and all that stuff as well. Of course, we keep mentioning it, Women in Tech SEO, links for that, if you do want to join that community, are in the show notes there as well for you listeners. Sarah, shall we dive into this week's topic?

Sarah: I think that's wise, yes.

Jack: I know, funnily enough, it's something you've covered a couple of times in podcasting yourself, again, more as the host, rather than as the guest, so we're going turn the tables a little bit on you and discuss that. Obviously, I'll bring my experiences into it as well, but I'm fascinated to talk to you about it, because I've heard you talk about it a few times on a podcast before. It's a subject, I think, that comes up a lot, even outside of SEO, but particularly in digital marketing and SEO, and why we talk about it a lot. I see it going around a lot on SEO Twitter, and stuff like that, we're going to talk about imposter syndrome.

Sarah: Yes.

Jack: It's a hot topic, it's a controversial topic for some, there's the whole it doesn't exist crew out there, and whatever. But for listeners who don't know what it is, or are maybe not as educated, what is imposter syndrome, Sarah?

Sarah: Okay, so the best way to explain what imposter syndrome is... Well, it involves feelings of self doubt and personal incompetence that are around, even though you've got education, experience, or your accomplishments around what you are feeling that imposter syndrome in. To often counter these feelings, we end up working harder, and holding ourselves to even higher standards, so I suppose it's that feeling of really doubting yourself in your career, in your abilities.

Jack: Yeah, and I think, again, we've talked about this in the studio here a few times before, and differing opinions coming from different sides, whether that's people who are our developers here at Candour, or in the SEO team, or the directors here, as well, all coming in with different opinions. That kind of what's the difference between just being doubtful of yourself, having imposter syndrome, and actually being bad at your job? Trying to understand the difference there, and I think you really tied on something there that is despite your accomplishments, despite your achievements, despite your qualifications, you might be getting consistently fantastic appraisals. Or if you're working in an agency, the clients absolutely love you, and have nothing but great things, your manager or director has nothing but great things to say about you, you still don't feel that confidence in yourself. I think that's the difference between just self-doubting and then having that imposter syndrome where the external positives don't balance out the internal negatives, I guess, I'm trying to think of that in my brain.

Sarah: Yeah, definitely, and I think as well with imposter syndrome, is it's an obstacle as well, because you can let it stop you from saying yes. Because you are doubting yourself, and because you are scared, and I think it's human, isn't it? That we forget, we seem to remember the negatives rather than the positive. Anytime we get a bit of bad feedback, anytime that something goes wrong, because things do go wrong, human error, like Google algorithm updates all the time, do you know what I mean? It's so hard and I think that's where these feelings can come from.

Jack: Yeah, definitely. I know I've spoken to some YouTuber friends of mine, and they'll say like, "You get this amazing conversation and discussion in the comments, and then that one negative comments just shines out like a beacon of negativity."

Sarah: Exactly.

Jack: It's that focusing on the negativity rather than understanding, like you said, you're going to make mistakes, that is part of life. Especially working in digital marketing, and SEO, and all that stuff, that's going to happen. Sometimes it'll be in your control and it is your fault, sometimes it's totally not. Hello, core updates, and Google updates, and things like that. But I think it's particularly interesting, because, as I hinted at, I've seen it discussed a lot in SEO Twitter, I've seen it talked a lot about it here in the studio at Candour as well. Whether that's the development team, or the SEO team here, as well. Why do you think it's so prevalent in digital marketing and SEO as an industry, really?

Sarah: I think there's a couple of moving parts here and to start off with, so SEO and digital marketing to an extent, it's self-taught, isn't it? So, when I'm having conversations with how people got in into SEO, a lot of the time, people have sort of stumbled across it. For example, when I was at uni, or was at school, or when I was in my... When I was in those sort of spaces, I didn't even know SEO existed. It wasn't until I got into the working environment, in the working world, that I realized. So, I think because it's self-taught, that in itself can cause issues.

Jack: Because in a lot of other things, you can have just a degree in the thing, or a PhD in the thing. There are digital marketing qualifications now, but not to show my age here, they weren't around when I was a lad. As an old man of 31, I'm like, "That wasn't a thing when I was going to university."

Sarah: Exactly, I'm with you a hundred percent. Another element of it is comparing ourselves, so there's a lot of amazing people in the industry, always doing amazing things. It's great, and they're always really supportive, but I think seeing that, you can end up comparing yourself. I've done that so many times like, "I should be doing so much more, I'm not doing this, I'm not doing that," so I think that can be an issue.

Jack: I think that filters through social media as well, because it's the classic social media thing of everyone presents their best self, most of the time. If you go on Instagram, everybody's like, "Look at me, I'm having an amazing time on my holiday," and they're breaking up with their partner in the background, and just not talking about that, or something horrible's happened, but you put on a happy face to be on social media. Like you said, people shout about their achievements on Twitter. Like, "We got a billion clicks this month, and we're absolutely killing the SEO game," or whatever it is, all the stuff you see on LinkedIn, the usual graphs with no Y axis, so you can't actually measure the data. Then you get that... Well, nobody goes like, "Yeah, I really made a mistake on this client's website the other day or on our website the other day." I have seen that more actually, I've seen an increase in that people I really like in SEO actually shouting out that stuff, and saying, "Actually, I did make this mistake, here's how I've learned from it," and all that stuff.

Sarah: Transparency, isn't it?

Jack: Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah: Then there're a couple of other things is things take a while for changes to implement. Even though that you are doing the right thing, you're fixing things for a client, you're making better adjustments on a website, because of how long it can take for any of those to see results. Then again, you could end up doubting yourself, because you sat there waiting. Then obviously, you get your trolls as well, don't you? There's been a couple of times where I'll post something on Twitter, and then you get your troll who will come along and say some negative stuff, so I think those are the main elements, to me, why it's so sort of prevalent in SEO.

Jack: I think tying into the trolls, but more getting into almost the gate keeping side of things, as well. You're a woman in SEO, which is in and of itself, but you're also part of the LGBTQ+ community, so two minorities, two marginalized groups there. Especially in digital marketing, especially in SEO, you're going to get mansplained to, you're going to get people talking down to you, all that stuff, that we see on Twitter so much that just boils my blood. But I think that's a big part of that almost... That's almost the exterior side of impost syndrome, I guess, people questioning your achievements, and then pushing you down in that way, as well.

Sarah: Definitely, and that is hard. But then, for example, the point about being a woman, so when I first got into the SEO industry, and I went to my very first BrightonSEO, and the ratio between men and women was... Not just the speakers, but also the attendees. Obviously, nowadays, it's much, much better, and I mean, you still get events where you have a lineup of eight or 10 people, and they're all white males, do you know what I mean? You still get that.

Jack: Speaking of people we admire in SEO, I love seeing people like Azeem, and Chloe Smith, and all those guys calling these speakers out, and more these lineups of speakers. I mean, so you've got this diversity and inclusivity panel, and it's six middle-aged white guys, it's like, "Brilliant, okay." There's not a trans person to be seen, there's not a non-binary person to be seen, there's not a gay person, a BI person, a person of color, nothing, it's just a bunch of just cisgendered white dudes. You're like, "Okay, great, brilliant."

Sarah: Exactly.

Jack: To be fair, like you said, I think a lot of people are making positive change, shout to our regional alley of Women in Tech SEO. Of course, that community, I think pretty much every woman I've spoken to in SEO has had nothing but incredible things to talk about that community, and how supportive it's been, and how brilliant, and positive. I know Katherine from last week mentioned there's no stupid questions in that community, which I think is so important. As you said, being all self-taught, and all of that thing, that's such an important thing when you are learning.

Sarah: There's sort of these guidelines of the community, and I think one sort of rule that has been stipulated is never caveat a question with, "I know this is stupid, but..." I do it, obviously, in that community, I'm... I used to do it, and I'm like, "Well, no, no question is stupid, every question is valid," but I'm even getting better outside of the SEO realm. For example, if I'm talking to developers, I used to be like, "I know I should know this, I know this is stupid," but it's just getting your yourself out of that way of talking, isn't it?

Jack: Yeah, definitely. Have you developed any techniques to help with that, or learn anything about, like you mentioned, taking that approach to not starting your sentence with sorry, or I don't know, should I know this? That kind of thing and spinning it in a positive way, I think there's a few different ways you can balance that out, and consciously think about it.

Sarah: Yeah, and I suppose it's just about being more aware, isn't it? Obviously it's habit, isn't it? Things have been ingrained in you for a while, and it's going to take a while for that sort of stuff to come out. But it's just being a bit more mindful, and being aware of those times where you say a negative like, "I should know this, this is stupid," and just next time being like, "You know what? I'm going to try and not say that because..."

Jack: I think there can be positives to it, as well. Thinking about this, when I brought this topic up, I always do this when we have a topic to talk about on the show. I turn to the other members of the team, I'm like, "I'm interviewing Sarah McDowell, we're going to talk about imposter syndrome, do you guys have any questions? Any thoughts?" Stuff like that, and one thing that came up was the quote of if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room, which I think is an interesting way of looking at it in that there's always room to grow. It can be a positive thing to drive you to learn more, and you shouldn't have that pressure on you to suddenly be the smartest person in every room you walk into. If you are, you're probably going into the wrong rooms, because you're not engaging with interesting, intellectual, engaging people, and all that stuff.

Sarah: I think I need to get that tattooed on me, I like that.

Jack: That's a good idea.

Sarah: I mean, really committing there.

Jack: Get it across the forearm or something.

Sarah: Think it'd look good.

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah: But I think if you're ever under the impression of I've learned everything, I've peaked, that's a very scary place to be, because things are always changing, things are always evolving. Like you say, you might not be surrounded by the right people, or you're not asking the right questions. I think it's about being curious and asking why, and how, and all of these things, because even the top professor, they can still learn something. Do you know what I mean?

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah: There's always room for growth, there's always room for improvement, and I suppose that's... I've heard one argument about how imposter syndrome can actually be a good thing. That is because if you are getting this feeling of imposter syndrome, then you're out of your comfort zone, you're pushing yourself, you are in a space that's not familiar to you. That is great for growth, and progression, and all... If you stay with what you know, and you stay with what you feel safe in, there's no room for growth, is there? There's no room for development, so sometimes I think it's good to lean into imposter syndrome. Yes, it's a hard feeling and there's ways that you can deal with that, so for example, getting yourself a cheerleader.

Jack: Maybe not literally.

Sarah: Yeah, I mean, literally that would really help, wouldn't it?

Jack: Just there with pompoms, just doing the high kicks, and stuff.

Sarah: But yeah, so I had a chat on the SEO Mindset podcast with Kristie Plantinga, and that was one of the things that she said, that's one of the things that she has that whenever she's doubting herself or she's feeling like she can't do something, she has someone that she can reach out to and message. That could be someone in your team, it could be someone in your personal world, but getting that cheerleader. It might feel silly at first, but as you get used to it, and they're like, "Of course you can do this, you've got this," sometimes that's the push that you need getting involved in groups. Such as me being involved in the Women in Tech SEO community, find other communities, as well. There's loads out there nowadays, remembering your achievements, as well. Earlier, when we were saying that you forget about that, it's always good to keep proof of your achievements, as well.

Jack: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah: When I was working at Holland & Barrett, Hannah, who I did the podcast with, and who was also my boss, was always like, "Whenever you get great feedback, create a folder, pop that in, and that's a great way of always remembering your achievements."

Jack: I learned that from my wife, she does the exact same thing. She will save emails in a separate folder, if you're getting a positive review from your manager, or whatever it is, or any... She was a nurse or still is a nurse, but when she would get a card from relatives saying like, "Thank you so much for the care your team did," and all that stuff. Any little thing you can have to turn to, again, balance out the negativity with some positivity, and bring that kind of I can do my job, I have achieved all these things. I know I try to be a cheerleader in other people's lives, as well, because I know, again, people I've worked with, people live my personal life, and stuff, even working in podcasting. Speaking to other people are like, "Yeah, I'd never get this famous person on my podcast." I'm like, "Just email them, see what happens, just give it a go, just go for it." A lot of friends have had that reinforcement, I think, and that's something I try to actively do for other people. I think that's a thing, like you said, communities, and SEO, and even outside of SEO, have been really good for kind of, again, balancing that negativity out and bringing some positivity.

Sarah: With your point about being too scared to ask someone to be a guest on your show, podcast, or whatever you're doing, what's the worst that person can do? Say no.

Jack: Exactly.

Sarah: Do you know what I mean?

Jack: You're being back to square one, where you were before.

Sarah: Yeah, and I think it's also about being kinder to yourself, as well, and being okay with the fact that you don't have to know everything. When I first got into SEO, and I got my first job title that had SEO in there, and I was a bit higher up, I thought that I had to know how to do everything, do you know what I mean?

Jack: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah: That because you think this is the reason why I've been hired, and I don't want to look weak by saying that I don't know something. But I changed that, because you can't know everything, especially with SEO, you have your different specialities and focuses within SEO, don't you? You have people that are more specialists in the content, link building side, PR, or you get people that are more technical, so they might come from a web development background. You might have someone who's really good at local, and they understand that space, so I think it's okay to admit that you don't know something. If you're ever asked to do something that you don't know, you can always get support, you can always help, and then by doing that, you can also learn from next time, can't you?

Jack: Yeah, I think you're totally right about working in a team, as well. If the management, or whoever's doing the hiring process, or whatever, has done their job from an SEO perspective, you will have specialists, so you will have someone there you can ask a tech SEO question to. You might have a copywriter you can ask this thing, or a link builder, or someone who used to be a journalist who now works in digital PR, and that thing, having those specialists. I always struggle with that myself, coming into working at Candour, and knowing some of the people that were already working here before I even started working here. I was a listener to this podcast before I became a host of the podcast, I was aware of that, and all that thing.

Then thinking I'm not very technical, am I going to be all right? I don't know JavaScript, I'm doomed. Coming into this job, and then worrying about it, and then being like, "No, actually, my strengths are here and that's why I've been hired, that's why I can balance off well, because this person's got the technical side covered, so if a client has an issue with the technical thing, we can ask them to come and join us on a call." I think that's a key thing from an agency specifically, and even if you're lucky enough to have a big, in-house SEO team, this also applies as well, but don't be afraid to ask your colleagues. Again, it's easier said than done, of course. But if you know someone is better at that thing than you, or has a strength where you have a weakness, get them involved. Ask questions, whether that's literally bringing them on the video call, or into a meeting room, or whatever it is, try to give them notice, for the record. I've been guilty of that before it's like, "I need to do this thing in two seconds, can you just join me?" And just grab them by the scruff and drag them into a meeting room, try to give them notice. But yeah, I think that's something I always try to be aware of, and something I really struggle with sometimes is understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and how asking a question on Twitter, asking a question in an SEO community, it shouldn't be something that you're afraid of. Like you said, people we see from Rand Fishkin to John Mueller, to everyone in between, people are still asking questions even though we're working in SEO for 20 years, not even John Mueller knows everything.

Sarah: Exactly. Yeah, and you've just got to stay curious, and you got to carry on asking those questions. The times where I ask a question on Twitter or in the community, the Women in Tech SEO community, it always ends up being a really good conversation, or you end up thinking of it from a different angle, so it's good, it's good to ask these things, isn't it?

Jack: Yeah, definitely. Circling back around to the teams and stuff, what can we do, as colleagues and in some cases as employers, and managers, and things like that, you are in a managerial role yourself, Sarah. How can you support people who are experiencing imposter syndrome, if you can notice it in others, in your colleagues, in your coworkers?

Sarah: Well, I suppose it's about trying to foster a culture where there is openness, and where you can have these honest and frank conversations. If there's ever, I don't know, in your team, you ask someone to do the job, and they say yes, but you can tell with their body language that they're not quite comfortable or something like that. It's about maybe having a conversation with them separately, maybe they don't want to bring up in a call in front of everyone that they don't know how to do something. But then that's when you can say, "I noticed this, just want to make sure that you are okay, or do you want to talk things through?" Also, leading from... What's the saying?

Jack: Lead from the front?

Sarah: Do as you preach.

Jack: Lead by example, that kind of thing?

Sarah: Lead by example, thank you. My brain just went... Share your own experiences, and I think if you lead by example, and then if you're in situations where you are asked to do something, and you're not quite sure, as a manager or a leader, if you sort of show that it's okay to sort of say, "Can we talk about..." Do you know what I mean? I think it's just trying to have that space, and maybe you can have a buddy scheme, can't you? I suppose it's harder because now I know that some people are back to the office, or there's a hybrid situation. But even if you're remote, you can find, I don't know, 15 minutes a week to jump on a Team's call, and do you know what I mean?

Jack: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah: Have a conversation and what are you struggling with this week? How can I help? This is what I'm struggling with this week. It's just about making it not a taboo subject, because I think... Because imposter syndrome, it does have negative connotations, doesn't it?

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah, but it's okay to bring it up, I suppose, and you want to support people, and you want to help people.

Jack: Yeah, I think another thing, I've been a manager outside of SEO, I've been a manager in roles before. Thinking about how, again, turning to your colleagues, and coworkers, and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Something I always struggled with was delegating and understanding, when's the right time? Like, "I might be the manager," or maybe you're not in a senior position, but you are the lead on an account on something. Something I've really grown since I started working here at Candour is, again, understanding, I'm not the most technical SEO. If we're doing a tech audit for this new client, I am the SEO lead on that account, and I'll be leading the calls, and the face of the company kind of thing, talking to them. But let's bring in one of the technical SEO experts to come and actually do that thing, and again, they might join you on the call for that. Do you think that that's an important part of that understanding your team, and being able to delegate, and that kind of thing?

Sarah: Yes, and delegation is hard, isn't it?

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah: Because, in a way, it sometimes... Because you all have your set ways, don't you? Of doing stuff, a really stupid example, got nothing to do with SEO, is going to be cooking. Me and my girlfriend love cooking, but we both make a chilli very differently.

Jack: Interesting, my wife makes a really good chilli, so I'm intrigued. We'll have to share... Let's dive into chilli-

Sarah: Chili recipes.

Jack: We'll spin off into a little chilli recipe segment here.

Sarah: But so this is a vegetable-based chilli, so vegan friendly.

Jack: I'm a lifelong vegetarian, so that sounds good to me!

Sarah: But, for me, when it comes to the chilli, the vegetables that you are using to bulk it up, so you've got yourself like your carrots, your celery, your stuff like that. I chop up small because they're a bulker, they're not the main... Whereas, Tash, my partner, she doesn't really believe in chopping things up small, so it's a really stupid example.

Jack: Me and my wife have the exact same dynamic, and I am the Sarah in our relationship, I chop things.

Sarah: Thank you.

Jack: My wife complains about how long I take to chop stuff, because I am just like….

Sarah: But you have to chop them correct... Exactly.

Jack: To tiny, tiny little things, I'll take an entire mushroom and cut it into 10 different segments.

Sarah: 10 times.

Jack: She just does it in half and then in half again, I'm like, "What are you doing? What is this? That's this giant chunk of mushroom in my chili, that's not allowed."

Sarah: But I'm aware that I've derailed this conversation, and it is dinner time, or near to dinner time.

Jack: Welcome to Search With Chili, with Jack and Sarah.

Sarah: But she was making a batch today, and I saw the chunky bits of carrot, and I went to start chopping them smaller. Then I was like, "No, I'm stepping away," but I suppose that's the same, isn't it? With delegating at work, just because someone doesn't do something the same as you do it, or has the same process that you have, doesn't make it any less... It's not going to be wrong, is it? At the end of the day. Obviously, there's wrong things that you shouldn't do, I can't think off the top of my head.

Jack: Lots of black hat, questionable, buying links, and all that stuff.

Sarah: Yes, keyword stuffing, or buying a load of spammy links or I don't know.

Jack: Exactly, yeah.

Sarah: There are things that you shouldn't do, but it's okay to... I don't know if you're a Frozen fan, but just got to let it go, and that song should... Let it go.

Jack: That is one of my go-to karaoke songs, for better or worse. Spinning off from that and thinking about, again, how we can make it less of a negative experience. Again, trying to balance out that negativity with some positivity, bring the chunky and the finally chopped stuff altogether, I'm keeping the chilly analogy.

Sarah: It's a great analogy.

Jack: I'm feel like I'm going to carry that on now in 50 episodes time, people have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm like, "That was all Sarah, I'm going to blame Sarah."

Sarah: Just a caveat, when I did the SEO SAS podcast, Hannah, my co-host, was the queen of analogies. We'd call them a “Hannalogy”, and we did a whole episode on SEO analogies, and it was great.

Jack: Amazing.

Sarah: It's a great way to learn, but anyway...

Jack: Funnily enough, we were literally talking about that in the studio the other day, as well, publishing a book of SEO analogies. We're like, "Well, it's like a car when a car doesn't…” Or “websites are like a house” when it's like... God yeah, everyone just, so you are so right, us SEOs, and we've just got into the habit of diving into analogies, I think.

Sarah: I love an analogy.

Jack: I think it's partly because we're often explaining SEO stuff to people who don't necessarily know about SEO, whether you are talking to shareholders and directors in your in-house company, or whether agency side, you're talking to a client who's maybe not as experienced, and that's why they're working with you as their SEO specialist.

Sarah: Exactly.

Jack: Yeah, I'm always up for more analogies and “Hannalogies”, for the record.

Sarah: Hannalogies, well, if you ever need someone to partner up with for this book, you know where to find me.

Jack: Well, I'll get you on, for sure, so thinking about how we can make it a less negative experience overall and how... We've touched on it already, to turn it into a positive thing. When you are feeling really down in the dumps about it and feeling like, God, I can't do this, I don't deserve to be here, whatever it is, I don't deserve this promotion, whatever it is, how are there ways we can think about kind of little techniques and methods we can rejig ourselves, and rethink about it?

Sarah: I suppose it's whenever you are having a negative thought, it's about taking some time to pause, and take yourself away, and having to think, okay, why am I feeling this way? What's making me feel this way? You need time to think, actually, no, I am going to go and do this, do you know what I mean? I think, as well, you just got to remember that you're growing, and you'll continue to grow. The more times that you are in an uncomfortable situation, when it comes to personal career development, there are going to be times where things don't feel quite right. But, just remember that in marketing, at the end of the day, we are not doctors, are we? What is the worst thing that could happen? Yes, a website might go down. Yeah, it'll go back up. At the end of the day, we're not here to save lives, obviously, SEO's a really important job.

Jack: I like the way you're just dialling down the entire industry, like, "We don't matter, who cares?"

Sarah: Well, no, I'm just saying-

Jack: It's our entire careers, but it doesn't matter.

Sarah: It is important, but I think it's just about weighing it up, isn't it? Sort of thing.

Jack: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah: Also, being prepared, so if you are stepping into the unknown, or you're trying something new, or I don't know, there's a campaign that you want to get off the ground, but you've never done it before. Plan for things to go wrong, and have a plan for that, and whatever that might be, or talk it through with someone. I always do that, so if there's something new, or any bit of work, or anything important going on, I always get someone's input or someone's opinion on it, but what is the worst thing that's going to happen? What is the worst thing?

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. Again, my wife's a nurse, so I have conversations like this with her all the time, it's just like, "Yeah, how was your Tuesday?" She was like, "Yeah..." She specifically works in old people's medicine, so most of her patients are like 80 plus. It was like, "Yeah, two deaths today, the usual Tuesday." I'm like, "If two people died in my office, we're all retired with PTSD for the rest of our lives, that's that's madness." She was like, "Yeah, normal Tuesday," like you said, it's a whole different perspective. You need to think about what's the worst thing that can happen? Not to quote Dr Pepper or anything, but think about that kind of, sure, you might lose a few clicks or the traffic might drop off, but there's always a way to recover, there's always a way to balance it out.

Sarah: Also, another side of that is it's not always striving for perfection, as well.

Jack: Yeah, that's key.

Sarah: I think that's a key thing, so many things don't get done, rolled out, started, because it's not identically what I had in my mind, or it's not a hundred per cent perfect. Because things can always be improved, things can always be developed, as long as you've got the core sorted, and it works, and things like that. Don't think things have to be a hundred, a hundred per cent perfect. Especially with websites, because that's an ongoing thing, you're always going to improve, you're always going to be seeing how you can make things better for users, and for Google to call, and all that jazz.

Jack: Yeah, it ties me in with two anecdotes, thinking about... I remember a client I worked with a few years ago, it was when I first moved to agency side, and they were like, "When's the site going to get optimized then?" I'm like, "Excellent question, that is not a question I can answer, because there is no answer to that question." You're right, there is never one stop fix for everything. Like, "Right, we'll sort out the meta descriptions, and the site is optimized, and everything is perfect." There's always going to be something. Especially when you're talking about site migrations, which I touched on a lot with Katherine last week, as well.

Sarah: Yes.

Jack: Having preparations for that stuff is great, but know there is something that is going to go wrong, and it's not necessarily going to be your fault. It's going to be something... There's always going to be a link that doesn't work from a site migration, there's always going to be a backlink you're going to lose, that you can try and reclaim and stuff, there's always going to be something.

Sarah: Exactly. Yeah, you can always fix stuff, there's always going to be a solution.

Jack: Yeah, exactly, and to tie it into... I was speaking to some writing friends of mine, filmmakers and stuff like that, they always say a creative project is never finished, you just publish it when it's due to be published. You could sit around and edit your manuscript, or your film, or your podcast, until you are dying day, and just have the perfect little tweaks. Take out every little cough, and um, or every little spelling error, but just send it out into the world. Once you've got a version of it, let other people see it, let other people help with it. Whether that's you are doing a piece of keyword research, you could do keyword research for a website forever, you could come up with all the possible ideas, but focus on a smaller chunk of that. Like I said, hand it over to friends, colleagues, coworkers, whatever it is, and when it's done, it's not truly done, but I guess learning to be comfortable with that is something fairly important.

Sarah: Exactly. Yeah, and errors are always going to crop up, aren't they? We're human at the end of the day, so it's fine.

Jack: Yeah, so listeners, I hope that's helped you understand imposter syndrome a bit more and get to grips with it. If you suffer from it yourself, hopefully you understand it a bit more. If you don't, hopefully you can now understand, maybe you have some coworkers who you didn't realize were experiencing it, so hopefully a very positive experience for all listeners out there. Thank you, Sarah, for coming on and discussing that with me. I think we've already got plans for another episode, so I think we'll have you on in the future, as well. But where can the listeners find you across SEO, social media, podcasts, all that kind of stuff?

Sarah: Well, I'm going to keep it fairly simple and say so I am most active on Twitter. My Twitter handle is at @SarahMcDuk. One of my friends did point out that does spell out Sarah McDuck.

Jack: I assume you swim in piles of gold, and money, and stuff like Scrooge McDuck.

Sarah: All the time, that's what I'm doing after this podcast, actually.

Jack: All that sweet SEO and podcasting money.

Sarah: Exactly, and then, yes, if you wanted to check out the podcast that I do, then if you literally just search the SEO Mindset podcast, we will come up, and you can also follow that on Twitter, as well, that is @seomindsetpod. But we share new episodes, if you want to come on the show to talk about something, and obviously, I do work for Captivate, so go and if you have a podcast, you want to look into podcast hosting platforms, do check us out. The best way of doing that is just to go to and you'll find everything that you need there.

Jack: Fantastic, listeners, the links for that will be in the show notes at Nice and easy, all in one place for you to find, links to all the tweets, and all the websites there for you. Thank you, Sarah, thank you for joining me.

Sarah: Thank you for having me.

Jack: That's all the time we have for this week, so thank you very much, Sarah, for joining me. I think it was a really interesting conversation about imposter syndrome. Something we've not particularly touched on on the podcast before, so I thought it was interesting to get Sarah on and talk about that. Next week, we will be talking mobile SEO with the one and only Cindy Krum. Those of you who know mobile SEO, and know MobileMoxie, you will undoubtedly know who Cindy Krum is. I'm very excited to talk to her next week, and it is going to be a fantastic interview, so please do subscribe for that when it comes out next Monday. Until then, have a lovely week and thank very much for listening.