Intersectionality in SEO with Chloe Smith

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Show notes

On this week's episode, our cis-gendered, heterosexual, white male host Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by the one & only Chloe Smith, SEO Manager at Blue Array.

Jack & Chloe talk about:

  • Chloe's transition from Creative Writing to SEO
  • What is intersectional feminism?
  • How does representation affect conferences?
  • Chloe's talk about menstrual health from BrightonSEO April 2022
  • How can we as marketers better understand and represent our audiences?


SISTRIX's new SERP screenshot feature -



Jack: Welcome to Episode 33 of Season Two of the Search with Candour podcast. I am your host, Jack Chambers-Ward, and this week I am joined by a very special guest. I am joined by Chloe Smith, SEO manager at Blue Array. You may actually know Chloe from their talk about menstrual health at BrightonSEO early this year in April, the regular London SEO meetups that happen arranged by Blue Array, and for being the creator of the fantastic LGBT SEO FREAK apparel range available on Redbubble. We will get into all of that and a lot more, and we'll basically be talking about intersectionality in the SEO industry as our main topic later on in the show.

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 SERP Snippet Generator, the Hreflang Validator, checking out your site's visibility index, and their Google Update tracker, especially relevant since we've had a Google update very recently in the helpful content update, and you'll be able to keep track of that and how it affects your site's visibility using SISTRIX's tools, and speaking of SISTRIX's new tools, they have a brand new feature in the form of the SERP Screenshot feature. It is newly launched earlier this week, and it is a very cool, very interesting feature. Basically, you can see what the SERP looks like from a screenshot, a snapshot of it, of the most recent data from SISTRIX for a particular keyword, and the very interesting thing is you can change the country to see what the SERP does from different locations around the world.

So, if you're working international SEO and you have clients around the world, or you're particularly looking to rank for particular keywords in various different locations and different countries, you can get an idea of how that SERP changes from country to country around the world, using the new SERP Screenshot feature. As I said, if you go into the keywords section of SISTRIX, you have SERP Features, SERP Intense, SERP Layout, and at the bottom there, you'll see SERP Screenshot.

I know Mark has talked a lot about the compare SERPs feature, that actually has historic data so you can compare how the SERP has shifted over time from your location, but the difference between that and the SERP screenshot is that the screenshot is literally a screenshot and you can change the device as well. So, you get a visual representation. Rather than a table of the ranking URLs, you get a literal screenshot of the SERP itself, including all of the features and all of the extra stuff you see on there. So, whether that includes map packs or featured snippets or whatever it is, you get a full idea of what the SERP looks like for that particular keyword in that country.

So, like I said, go to, if you're already logged into SISTRIX, this is in your keywords section, and input a single keyword, and you'll get the option to look at the SERP Screenshot feature, and you'll get an idea of what the SERP looks like for that particular keyword on both mobile and desktop as well. So, you can actually flick between the two and check the time and date of that screenshot so you can see how recent the most up to date data is from SISTRIX, and you get an idea of the differences. There might be some differences in the SERP on mobile compared to desktop, and like I said, you can also change the location to see how the SERP changes around the world as well. So, a really, really cool, extra added feature to SISTRIX, and like I said, that's all under the keywords section once you're logged in to SISTRIX.

So, welcome to the show, Chloe Smith. How are you?

Chloe: I'm good, thank you. How are you?

Jack: All right, thanks. It's nice to be asked back. Not often that happens with a podcast host. I appreciate being asked back. That's very, very nice of you.

Chloe: It's reflex at this point. I feel like plenty of people, I talk about myself too much, so I need to talk to them as well.

Jack: I appreciate that. Thank you. Thank you. So, for those of you who don't know Chloe, could you give us a little intro, Chloe, for the listeners who might not know who you are from your various exploits and adventures throughout the SEO world?

Chloe: Yeah, like the shit posting on Twitter, basically?

Jack: Pretty much, yeah.

Chloe: Yeah. So, I'm Chloe Smith. I'm an SEO manager at Blue Array. I've been with them for the past three and a half years now nearly which sounds terrifying to me when I say it out loud. It doesn't feel like it's been that long. I'm a general all-rounder for SEO, but huge focus for my current clients on content production which is why the incoming content update is getting me quite excited. Outside of SEO, I am a writer, poet, and I read way too many books. I'm on 62 so far this year.

Jack: This is not exactly how you came on my radar, but a little bit where my wife is similar to you in that she reads an insane amount of books, and she reads incredibly quickly, and I'm just constantly jealous of her and constantly amazed by her speed and just ability to recall stuff, and I'm there, I'm on book number three and two of them are audio books, and she's just blazing through these novel.

Chloe: Nah, audiobooks still count. That's valid reading.

Jack: I appreciate that. I appreciate that. But that's such an interesting combination because I believe you studied creative writing originally. So, how is that transition now? Obviously, you're still keeping the writing going with your poetry and your other writing there as well. How do you think that ties into your SEO career and what was that transition like for you coming from creative writing to more kind of content-based stuff for your clients?

Chloe: So, I actually hadn't considered SEO as a job. I'd not really thought about-

Jack: A few of us do, I feel.

Chloe: My first experience of SEO, I was 13 and my granddad who was a maths and chemistry tutor was telling me about how he adds keywords to his website to appear at the top of Google results for tutor in Basildon in Essex.

Jack: Nice.

Chloe: So, that was the first kind of idea I had of it, but then didn't actually think about it again until I applied for the job at Blue Array. It was the classic post-graduation I need a job and no one's giving me one because I don't have any experience, and I accidentally applied for the SEO executive job at Blue Array three times.

Jack: Nice.

Chloe: Yeah, it was like I was going through Indeed, and you know how they don't tell you that you've applied? I think the final time I went through a recruiter, didn't realize that it was through a recruiter, and then our head of SEO at the time reached out to me directly and was like, "I've seen you to a CV a few times now. Do you want to come in?" I was like, "Oh no." But in terms of going from writing to SEO, a lot of it felt like a natural progression because it, obvious thing, a big part of SEO is the content and the keyword side of things. But the steeper learning curve for me was more of the tech stuff. I remember going to my first client audit my second day on the job, and I was writing down notes to look important, but actually I was writing down things like look up what a canonical is.

Jack: Excellent. I know that feeling as well actually because I used to be a kind of like pop culture journalist kind of thing, did a lot of comic book writing and all that kind of stuff back in the day, and that was my transition to SEO, ended up working for an English language school, and then bringing language skills and stuff and then writing for their website and all that kind of stuff. So, I can sort of relate and especially having that moment where you realize, "Oh, there's a whole side of technical SEO I have no idea about," and you're suddenly sat in a room and they're like, "So, what do you think?" I'm like, "Er..." and exactly same as you, I was like, "Look up what canonical tags are. What is an hreflang?"

Chloe: I've got clients that are more tech focused, and because of that, they seem kind of tech SEO, and I'm like, "No, we have specialist tech SEOs who do the work and then I pass it along to you and explain it in a way that I understand it." I think in a way that means that they understand it a bit better as well because I've explained it in a way that makes me understand it.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's totally been a learning curve and a journey for me becoming account leads and stuff in agency. This isn't the topic, by the way.

Chloe: No.

Jack: We will actually get onto the topic. We're just chatting for the first 10 minutes. But yeah, I think that's an interesting thing. Coming from me as a podcaster and then learning about communication skills with clients and stuff like that, I think you're totally right. Being able to take really complicated things and kind of digest them, dissect them, translate them essentially into a way that less technical-minded clients are able to understand, I think that's a huge skill and an important skill for a lot of people, especially if working in agencies or if you're working in house and you're reporting to a director or a manager who doesn't also know about the technical side of things. There's still that huge element of communication, right? That's such a key part of SEO in general, I think.

Chloe: Yeah. And I mean, my written communication, as you may expect, is pretty good if I say so myself. I'd hope at least if it's the main thing that I do that.

Jack: Especially on Twitter.

Chloe: Yes. Well, slightly. Verbally, it took a lot of learning to actually verbally communicate without umming and ahing and apologizing. That's the key one. I had quite a few notes on client calls, it's like, "Please stop apologizing for getting a word wrong."

Jack: I think that's something, again, we all go through, whether that's being inexperienced or trying to, like you said, being in a room with a bunch of people who know what they're talking about and you feel like you get that imposter syndrome kind of moment as we'll talk about representation of people of color, people coming into meetings and being the only person representing a particular marginalized group in a room will become a whole other thing as well.

Chloe: Oh hell yeah.

Jack: That's an absolute huge factor that I, myself, as a cisgendered heterosexual white guy don't experience, but I have seen happen with colleagues, coworkers, all that kind of stuff.

Chloe: Yeah.

Jack: Yeah. Shall we dive into the topic?

Chloe: Yeah, go on.

Jack: Shall we get into some pretty heavy stuff? And a pretty big topic here. So, I put little feelers out on Twitter a couple of weeks ago about topics to talk about on the show, and Chloe and I had little chat. You came up with talking about not only representation in the SEO industry, but specifically thinking about intersectional representation and intersectionality as a concept in general because I think it's a... Thankfully, I feel like we're moving in the right direction in many ways, and we'll get onto some places where we are and some places where we aren't, but I think we're moving in the right direction, but understanding how intersectional representation works as a society and as an industry, I think is a huge part of the growth of the next steps of us moving in the right direction, right? Do you want to give us a little intro to intersectionality in general if in case the listeners aren't aware of that word?

Chloe: Yeah, all right. So, intersectionality, the topic that we're talking about anyway, best way to explain it is when talking about intersectional feminism. So, it's the idea that we're not just addressing equality for one marginalized group, but we're addressing it for all of the overlaps of these marginalized groups as well. So, an example is assuming that including a single Black person in your marketing campaign is enough to include all black people whereas-

Jack: That ticks the box, right? Yeah.

Chloe: Yeah, whereas if it's a Black man, then you're ignoring Black women in your marketing. If it's a straight Black person, then where are the queer Black people.? So, it's trying to address all of those intersections, and it's not necessarily just two. In terms of visible things, you could have a queer disabled person. You could have a Black queer disabled person. So, it's looking at all of the different ways that the underrepresented groups that are protected by the Equality Act can be represented in different ways.

Jack: Awesome. Yeah, I think that's a really interesting thing to talk about because you're totally right, and I think something I listened recently to The SEO Rant with Mordy Oberstein obviously hosting that and had Azeem on as a guest, and Azeem being a man of color, he was talking about representation in the SEO industry and specifically talking about conferences, and they nailed exactly what you said there. You get these kind of conferences where it's like, "Yeah, we've got one person of color, that'll do, or we have one woman, that'll do," and they don't think about also representing, as you said, the queer community, the disabled community, different types of disabilities, different people and groups within groups of the queer community as well. I think it's a fascinating thing that, like I said, I feel like we're moving in the right direction, but we still see so much of that kind of tokenism bollocks essentially that we just kind of like, "Yeah, that'll do, we've ticked one box because we were dragged through the hedge and had to basically, otherwise one of the directors would tell us off, or some marketing team told us that we could get more customers if we include a person of color," or something like that. I think moving in the right direction is at least how I feel about the industry. Do you feel the same way as a queer woman yourself and a member of the disabled community as well? Do you feel that's something that's moving in the right direction in general?

Chloe: I think it is moving. I can admit it's moving, whether it's moving quick enough is the bigger question. I mean, so being in the SEO industry for three and a half years, in that time, I have seen things move in a substantial way, obviously seen the Women in Tech SEO community grow to what it is now with every-

Jack: Shout out to Women in Tech SEO.

Chloe: Yeah, Areej did an amazing job.

Jack: Basically every person I ever have on this show who is a part of that group is like, "It's the best."

Chloe: Yeah.

Jack: It's just, yeah, Areej does an amazing job. Credit to them. As always, links in the show notes. If you don't know about Women in Tech SEO, at those point, listeners, I highly recommend you go and check that community out. I've heard nothing but phenomenal things.

Chloe: Yeah. I mean, and seeing other groups pop up as well that are dedicated to elevating marginalized groups in SEO, Rejoice with B-Digital, Chima with FCDC, and all of that kind of stuff. It is happening, and it's going, but is it going quick enough? And I don't have an answer as to how we can make it go quicker, but it should be.

Jack: Well, if we bin off the old guard, that's how we get rid of all the old white dudes who are keeping us down, right? But that's a lot easier said than done in SEO and in the world in general, unfortunately.

Chloe: Yeah. I think there are always going to be groups who have represented more than others. Proportionately, you're probably going to see in the UK SEO industry, you're going to see more white people than you are people of color. It doesn't mean that's a good thing or that's the way it should be, especially if you look at the idea of SEO influencers and stuff which I guess some people would class both of us as SEO influencers in some degree.

Jack: Maybe you. Not me. I'm definitely not an influencer.

Chloe: Neither am I. I don't have influence. I just post absolute crap on Twitter and some people like it.

Jack: If that's not influence in social media, what is? Posting crap and people liking it, that's the definition.

Chloe: Yeah, I love that I have SEO in my Twitter bio. I don't really tweet about SEO. If I do, I'm taking the myth out of people getting panicked about algorithm updates. That's pretty much all I do.

Jack: Fair. That's a valid use to Twitter, to be fair.

Chloe: Yeah. I think there are obviously these groups who are doing amazing things, but the onus seems to be on them to be doing those things. A key point that we actually... So, we've got a diversity, equity, and inclusion panel at Blue Array internally that was established in 2020, around the same time as the Black Lives Matter protest kicked off here, and it was our way of acknowledging that, yeah, we're not doing as much as we should be even internally ourselves. So, we were looking at things introspectively, and one of the things that's being pointed out is that the majority of the people on that panel are in marginalized groups. So, we're then doing the work to get ourselves heard, as opposed to the people who don't have to work as hard to get heard helping us, and I think that's a really big part of how maybe we make things move quicker in our industry. Obviously, we have amazing people, like Aleyda, like Areej who are elevating people as much as they can. But are there others in the industry that maybe should be doing that that aren't?

Jack: Yeah, we need to harness the power of the white guys basically to get...

Chloe: Yeah, I was avoiding saying because if I say it, they'll come for me.

Jack: I can say what I like. Like I said, I'm a cisgendered heterosexual white guy. Nothing you could say can offend me at this point, essentially. So, I am happy to use my privilege for good. I think more people should be aiming to do that, and that was totally part of the... Not to pat myself on the back here. I'm not doing that. But part of that Twitter post I did was talking about how I wanted to have more voices who people might not know of from different communities. I wanted to represent queer people in the industry, people of color in the industry, disabled people in the industry, as we're saying here, the intersection of all those different marginalized groups as a white guy with a platform, whether I consider myself an influencer or not, this is a platform and people listen to this podcast.

So, I wanted to go out of my way to make sure that it's not just me and Mark, two cisgendered heterosexual white guys, hello, welcome to podcasting, and us just talking about SEO the whole time because there's enough bloody white dudes talking about SEO in podcasts already. So, as you said, we need more people who are in those positions of power, in the positions of privilege, who then want to kind of be that positive influence and bring forward, and I think we're seeing things like scholarships, and you mentioned the FCDC earlier, what Chima has been doing has been incredible for a lot of people in African side of things in tech, trying to break out and being open to a global community and all that kind of stuff as well.

Nationality is another factor of it. Even if you're a non-native English speaker, from my experience in English language, working in the English language industry previously, that's such a huge fact of people, like, "Oh, I didn't hire them because their English wasn't good enough," and factors like that as well. They could essentially, quote, unquote, look British, which is a horrible term, but they could look like me but don't speak English, and then they don't get a particular role or they don't get represented or they don't get a particular-

Chloe: Which is ridiculous.

Jack: It's insane.

Chloe: So, my partner's currently doing a PhD that is really nerdy but looking at the impact of speaking more than one language on your brain function.

Jack: Oh cool.

Chloe: And while I don't understand all of it, what I do understand is the people who speak more than one language are better than all of us.

Jack: As a man who speaks one language, I agree.

Chloe: Yeah.

Jack: I am so envious of multilingual, bilingual, polyglot people. They just constantly blow my mind, and yeah, I think that's a part of it. It's those non-visible signs of marginalized groups as well. Talking about disabilities as well. Not all disabilities are visible. You don't necessarily see people walking around missing a leg or walking around with crutches or whatever. There are certain elements of visible disabilities, but there are so many other ones that both physical and mental don't go represented because people just don't acknowledge them. They don't even get a seat at the table to even have that conversation.

Chloe: Yeah. I mean, so I use a walking stick a lot of time. So, I have an invisible disability called endometriosis. In short, my womb lining is growing on my other organs and makes them fuse together. It's kind of horrific. So, it causes chronic pain, and to get around, I use a sick, but clients don't see that. So, where we're all virtual, obviously they see me from the waist up and that's it, and then we had some come to Brighton in April to come and have lunch with us and stuff, and that was the first time that a client ever saw me using a cane.

Jack: Right, yeah.

Chloe: And that level of anxiety, it was unfounded. They were totally fine with it. They're like, "Oh cool." But it's that kind of extra layer of, "Right, well, this is the physical manifestation of the illness inside of me. Who's going to see that? What are they going to think?" And nearly, almost to make a point, I nearly took it on stage with me at my Brighton talk just because I was like, "Here I am. I am one of these people," because I'm very conscious of the fact that outwardly I look like cis straight white woman. So, my partner is a man. While I'm bisexual, outwardly I look heterosexual. So, I'm very conscious of the fact that I do have a lot of privilege, a pass, and all of those things. So, sometimes it feels a little bit nice for people to be able to acknowledge that I'm not able bodied. I am sick, but it's not the be-all end-all for me, if that makes sense.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. I think passing is a huge term. For listeners who don't know, I'll give my quick little understanding of it. Essentially, at first glance, do you appear to be a part of that marginalized group? Like you said, with your disability there, Chloe, people wouldn't know looking at you on a screen, as we're on this video call right now, I would have no idea you're part of the queer community, you're disabled, anything like that. You're just there in front of me on the screen, and you would have no idea about it. I have friends who have been mixed race, for example, and they pass as Caucasian because one of their parents was white and they're very light skinned, but they are still a part of that community of their other nationality and their other heritage, whether you like it or not. I've seen so much stuff, we're going off a bit of a tangent here, but I've seen so much stuff talking about this in film, especially for actors, and it can often come from a place of good intention for the most part where you're like, "Oh, I want a Black character to be played by a Black actor. I want an Asian character to be played by an Asian actor." And then sometimes like, "Ah, but you are not Asian looking enough." I'm like, "Hold on a minute that. You can't be the judge of that. You don't judge people being enough of anything to represent their groups. That's bullshit."

Chloe: Yeah. Yeah, no, I agree. I think some people, if we're talking about disability representation, would look at me being able to... Obviously no one can se. I'm using a standing desk. I'm standing unaided. Am I still disabled enough to qualify as disabled?

Jack: There you go. Yeah. You need to be at least 70% disabled to qualify. It's like, no, that's not... First of all, how do you measure that stuff? That's nonsense. But I think it's interesting, kind of as I said there, a lot of it can come from good intention, but I think there is a lot of not only ignorance, but certainly from what I've seen, again, being a cis white guy, some nefarious stuff from people wanting to maintain their spot in the industry or in society in general. We're not going to get into politics, but oh boy, we could.

Chloe: Oh yeah.

Jack: But yeah, I think that's a huge thing as well. Have you experienced that yourself, being a woman who has done speaking at conferences and stuff like? As a female-presenting person, have you been rejected for pitches? Do you know if there's been any kind of factor in that? Has anybody, again, as you said, reacted to you walking up with a walking stick or anything like that?

Chloe: Not that I'm aware of. Yeah, it's never been outwardly vocalized to me that that is a reason why I may get rejected for something. But I mean a good example of me conforming to things so that people don't do that is when I was applying for jobs out of uni, my mum was like, "Right. Well, just so you've got the best chance, make your hair a natural color."

Jack: Oh gosh.

Chloe: "And don't tell people that you're disabled. Don't say all of these things just in case because I'm worried that people will not hire you." And it is, it's that kind of thing that obviously it shouldn't happen, but it very clearly does to the point that then people like me and obviously then people who aren't white as well, probably to a much wider margin, feel the need to conform to these kind of things to make sure that it's not quite an even playing field, but it's more even than it would have been.

Jack: You're trying to level out, right? Yeah.

Chloe: Mm-hmm.

Jack: I know a friend of mine who's of Jamaican heritage, his father gave him a, quote, unquote, English sounding name. Born in the UK, he's British, but gave him a British sounding name so he wouldn't run into that kind of issue going forward. He had that conversation with me a few years ago, known the guy for years, and again, me as a white dude, never even thought about that. My name is Jack Chambers. I'm now Jack Chambers-Ward through marriage. It never even occurred to me that my name could be an issue there, but the fact-

Chloe: I mean, if we think about mine, I've got the stock photo of names, Chloe Smith.

Jack: Yeah. We're both pretty bland in the old name category there.

Chloe: Yes.

Jack: But yeah, the fact that it's those kind of, again, talking about unseen things, those unseen battles that so many people go through, the fact that you have to consider how your children will be judged even before they're even born to have to give them a different name, or as you said, as you're applying for a job, you need to... I know people who don't have their natural hair color or have natural hair from being an African American and things like that, like, "Oh, you need to get rid of that Afro or shave that mohawk or whatever it is," having to conform to society standards there, and I think that's such a... Again, me, I just slot in naturally and I feel very privileged because of that, but I find it fascinating there are so many people going through these kind of unseen, untalked about, unmentioned things that nobody really talks about.

That leads me quite nicely into the talk you did at BrightonSEO, talking about menstrual health because that is something basically no one talks about, and I find it fascinating that, let alone again, male presenting people, people who do not menstruate not talking about it, a lot of people who do menstruate are taught not to talk about it. So, there's even that stigma within the people who should definitely know about it and be taught about it and be educated about it. I'm guessing that was quite a big factor in you doing that talk, and I know you've integrated that into the Blue Array onboarding process, right, that you have discussions about inclusivity and diversity and menstruation at work and all that kind of stuff. I'm guessing that was a conscious decision of yours. Was that a conscious decision to be the person to talk about that as a person who can talk about it and be like, "Nobody has talked about this. Let's talk about it. Let's open the door for this conversation"?

Chloe: Yeah. I mean, so I can't take full credit to the idea for my talk. So, one of my former coworkers, Steph Whatley, she approached me. I mean, we had very open and frank conversations about menstruation over Slack while we were working, the usual like, "Oh my god, I'm in so much pain today. It's absolute hell." And she approached me, it was like, "Do you want to do an internal session, and we will run a survey with our coworkers and we'll see what they think, if they feel they can talk to their line manager, if they can talk to anyone at the business about menstrual health?"

So, that's where it all started, and that was December 2020, and then I kind of approached her in October 2021 when I was first pitching for Brighton, I was like, "Would you mind if I did this? I'm going to try and do a massive survey just of SEOs and digital PRs to see what their thoughts are." And she was like, "Hell yeah, go for it."

The main reason that I wanted to do that at Brighton was where I mentioned before that I have endometriosis, that is a menstrual health condition because it is directly linked to my womb and my ovaries. So, having to talk about that all the time and advocate for myself at work, not necessarily at Blue Array, but previously working in retail and stuff before I was diagnosed, that has led me to not shut up about it essentially. I do not stop talking about my pain. I find that as a line manager, it's very good to be quite open about how I'm feeling so that my direct report understands how available I'm going to be every day, and that kind of fed into it because I realized that, yeah, we've got Women in Tech SEO, and we've got all of these things that are focused on women and people who menstruate, but we are not talking about the main thing that is universal for the most part in those groups. So, it was like, hell yeah, let's do it. I got some slightly nasty anonymous responses on the survey.

Jack: I saw those on Twitter. Yeah, they were pretty full-on. Again, it's those people who are trying to push the people who were trying to represent people down and fighting back against like, "Oh no, I need to maintain my position of power and privilege."

Chloe: Yeah, but I steered into the skid though, and made T-shirts out of it because they, one of-

Jack: Hell yeah.

Chloe: Hell yeah. One of them was a big fuck you to all of the LGBT freaks entering the SEO space. So, me and my partner, we're sat there looking at it and I posted it on Twitter and some people were like, "Oh, that would make a really good T-shirt," and then I'm not good at anything visual, hence the writing. So, my partner designed a T-shirt for it, and it went on Redbubble. I think we made around Brighton around 80 quid to donate to Mermaids Gender-

Jack: Nice.

Chloe: ... because I thought, "If we're going to do this, then we might as well do it in a good way." But yeah, and then I just kind of approached it from a completely gender-neutral perspective when doing the talk. And to be honest, that made me a little bit worried because I'm talking about something as someone who doesn't necessarily conform with the gender that I was assigned at birth, and I'm doing it in a way where I'm not saying women and I'm explicitly saying, "Don't use female, don't use women," in this talk in front of potentially hundreds of people.

So, I was quite worried, but the folks at Brighton were really, really nice and actually reached out to me beforehand and said, "We're going to monitor social media just in case anyone is shitty about it." And then on the Friday morning as well, I had someone approach me and was like, "We're going to keep an eye out just to make sure everything's fine." It was all fine, and again, the worry was almost for nothing, but it's still a very valid thing to be concerned about because there are people who get up in arms if we've removed gender and sex from a conversation around menstruation.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. And again, it's like, we're talking about a lot of those people are the people that should be talking about this kind of stuff. You get people who are assigned female at birth to use the, again, I'm doing my best to try and use the correct terms here, but you get those kind of people who are like, "Oh no, you're not part of my group, and just because you menstruate, we are not part of the same group," and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But I think that's a huge credit to BrightonSEO. I know I've talked to other people who have spoken there before from various different groups and have said very positive things. So that is really, really cool. Would you consider BrightonSEO as one of the... Again, coming back to what Mordy and Azeem were talking about and so many conferences doing this really terribly and having horrendous representation or even actively going against it, do you think BrightonSEO feels like kind of a shining beacon almost of having a lot of different people of color and from different communities and different queer communities and all that kind of stuff?

Chloe: Yes, absolutely, and I think a key part of that is once you are confirmed as a speaker and you give them all of your details, you are then given an optional form to fill out that is their D&I survey that is essentially... You don't have to do it if you don't want to. It is all totally anonymous, but if you opt to do it, it's asking you different things about your identity so that they get a better idea of what their split is as a conference, and I think that's a really, really key part of how they're doing what they're doing well, whereas maybe other conferences and other meetups aren't doing it as well.

Jack: Yeah, definitely. I know Lidia Infante did a study of gender gaps in SEO publishing not too long ago and was talking about the kind of difference in... We talk about the publishers very regularly on the show. When we're doing our usual news episode, we'll talk about Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, all the usual kind of places you expect to read SEO and PPC news from, and it was pretty staggering, not surprising unfortunately because, ugh, the world is a terrible place, but still kind of shocking to see some of those stats there, and I think having somewhere BrightonSEO, and hopefully, I've heard of good from a few other conferences as well, credit to Kelvin and the team at BrightonSEO here for what they do, and like you said, monitoring social media can be such a huge thing.

Again, I can basically say whatever I like on social media and I'll get some probably angry Tories or Republicans having a go at me, but who cares, whereas you could say just a normal everyday stuff that has nothing to do with anything, but because of who you are and what you identify as, you will get essentially attacked and assaulted online, and credit to them for having those kind of safety barriers and being able to make sure everyone's comfortable and things like that. And I know that's something I try and do from, again, coming from this platform as a podcaster as well, I make sure to confirm the guests' pronouns before we start, I make sure I understand what they're comfortable talking about, what they don't want to talk about. If we're just talking SEO, they don't want to talk about any personal stuff, that's fine. If you want to get into personal stuff, I'm also happy to do that.

Trying to understand that thing from my perspective has been a big learning curve coming from my other podcast which is three white guys sat in a room talking about movies. It's actually quite nice to be able to interview so many different people and kind of have this discussion from so many different perspectives. I know I keep shouting out Azeem, but shout to Azeem as well. I know that's been a conscious effort from him and his Digital Asks podcast to have underrepresented people and even people who don't have 10,000 followers on Twitter or whatever it is, people who don't necessarily have a voice in SEO. I think that's a huge credit to, again, some people hopefully trying to make some positive changes, people who do have influence in the SEO community, people like Azeem and Kelvin and those guys being able to push things in the right direction. So fingers crossed.

Chloe: Yeah, I think your point on people who don't have thousands of Twitter followers is a huge point to make as well because you often see, and I know that it's something Azeem's spoken about as well, you tend to see the same speakers popping up on different lineups, and I know that it's something that for LondonSEO, which we run at Blue Array, that's something we try to avoid if possible. Yes, it'd be really, really nice if we had people who have a lot of clout, but the main aim is it's a small, really, really friendly meetup, but it's the best place for someone to see their first ever talk because it's a room of maximum 80 people. Everyone's there after work just there to have a good time. I know that, I've been to loads because I live tweet them, and it is just such a great crowd. So, stuff like that as well. I tend to make a point whenever we're talking about lineup, so I was like, "Okay, how many talks have they done?"

Jack: I think that's such a huge factor and huge credit to you guys who do run the LondonSEO side of things because there needs to be those opportunities as well, right? You need people to open the door to people who have less experience, who are underrepresented, who don't have a voice in the industry yet, but they could do. Talking about what Chima has been doing or the FCDC, talk about Women in Tech SEO, those groups give people opportunities to take courses they maybe wouldn't be able to afford or go to talk they wouldn't necessarily be able to travel to, all this kind of stuff, and what you guys are doing, I think, again, it's something Azeem talked about with Mordy on that podcast. I know, I listened to it like two days ago. It's fresh in my brain, and talking about how when you have somebody, if you're looking to apply, now listeners out there, if you haven't spoken a conference, including myself, you have that, "Should I? Am I the right person for this?" The chances are-

Chloe: The answer's always yes.

Jack: Exactly, yeah, the chances are they're not going to throw you on the main stage in front of 2,000 people because if it is your first talk, that seems very unlikely. It's possible if you've somehow really nailed an incredible piece and you're really, I don't know, writing something that nobody's ever been seen before and you're groundbreaking and that kind stuff, it's totally possible, but there are opportunities out there. You don't need to shoot straight for the moon. There are stepping stones. There is progress to be made with places like LondonSEO and those small meetups. I know we used to do SearchNorwich here in Norwich as well. Mark and I have been talking about trying to start that up again soon hopefully, fingers crossed.

Chloe: If you do, I may have to make an appearance.

Jack: You'd be very, very welcome.

Chloe: Oh yeah.

Jack: But yeah, I think those smaller conferences kind of go under the radar a little bit, and like I said, it's credit to people like you at Blue Array running those kind of shows and doing that kind of thing that give people that opportunity to kind of get their foot in the door and start talking, and maybe in two or three years' time, suddenly they are at BrightonSEO, and then year after that, they're on the main stage and they're the headline act and they're the key speaker or whatever.

Chloe: Yeah. I mean, like Brighton in April was my first ever speaking stuff. I'd never done it before, but I have the bonus of I used, well, I still do, I do performance poetry. So, I have that experience in front of people anyway. So, I have less nerves about speaking as opposed to the things I'm actually speaking about which was kind of nice, and I do think even Brighton is a great place to do your first talk because for the most part, it is again a really, really friendly crowd. It's just smaller ones are less daunting for people who maybe don't have that public speaking experience. I mean, our lineups aren't perfect. We know that we've got things to do to diversify a little further.

Jack: Yeah, of course.

Chloe: I think my team are organizing the December edition, I think, still to be confirmed, but I'm kind of like, "All right, well, how can we diversify this to a point that it looks amazing?" But then in my head, I'm like, "That's not the reason I should be doing it. I should do doing this because I want to elevate people not to prove a point." So, it's that side of things as well and something that I think sometimes conference organizers get wrong. It gets to a point it's a tick-box exercise, having things that are diverse as opposed to I'm doing this because I really, really want to make our industry better. It's I'm doing this so it makes us look good.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely, and I think you'll see examples of that, like you said earlier, with the same set of speakers coming back over and over again. You might get one of them who represents a marginalized community, and then suddenly, they're not available that year, and oh look, it's an entirely cisgendered white lineup. What a surprise. As soon as you don't have that kind of the one person who actually has their foot in the door, suddenly it looks very whitewashed and very like, oh, what a surprise, back to kind of... I was going to say the 1970s, but that doesn't really work for the SEO community. You know what I mean.

Chloe: Yes, 2015, right?

Jack: Yeah, 2019, I guess.

Chloe: Oh coincidentally, the year I started in SEO.

Jack: There you go. Funny that, yeah. You heard it here first. Chloe Smith made the SEO industry diverse. You kicked that door down.

Chloe: Yeah, I didn't.

Jack: Walking stick and all. Smashed it down.

Chloe: I did nothing.

Jack: Yeah, yeah. But like I said, I think you are, not to call you an influencer, not to use "the I word" or anything like that, but I think talking about menstrual health at the biggest SEO conference in the world is a pretty big deal. Like you said, thankfully, you had that kind of performance poetry experience, but to get up there and know that thankfully you've got the support of the BrightonSEO team there, but still, you could still get a bad reaction from that crowd, and it took guts, and credit to you for doing it and highlighting something because again, we hear so many talks, and oh yeah, you could talk about this part of this marginalized community and all this kind of stuff. As I kind of led into your talk there, how many talks about menstrual health have you ever heard of in your entire life?

Chloe: I mean, so in SEO, none.

Jack: Yeah, exactly.

Chloe: Obviously aside from that, outside of that, it's my mother which I mean, again, not a very wide circle, but she does a lot of... Because we both have the same condition, so it's a similar thing, so she knows there is something that we both know inside and out, both literally and metaphorically.

Jack: Yeah, yeah, I see what you did there.

Chloe: Yeah. So, it's kind of a topic that it's seen... Well, it feels quite easy to discuss because I mean, for me, it's been 12 years of this happening to me on and off infrequently. But again, I know it, so why wouldn't I talk about it? And I think that's the reason why some people talk about SEO. Well, most people at SEO conferences talk about SEO, right? They talk about it because they know it.

Jack: Yeah. It's the classic write what you know about kind of advice, right?

Chloe: Yeah.

Jack: So many people say that to new writers who are starting out, "Don't try and write your big fantasy epic or whatever. Start with what you know. Build a character you can relate to. Build a story you can understand," all that kind of stuff.

Chloe: Yeah, I need to take that advice.

Jack: Don't we all. So, kind of wrap us off and pivot here a little bit and think about marketing and stuff like that. How can, I guess, we as marketers think about intersectionality and how we can think about that from an audience perspective and how we kind of represent users on our websites or customers for our clients, customers for our brand or how do we integrate that and think about it and integrate it more into our marketing? Again, trying to avoid the tokenism kind of stuff of I want to appeal to people of color because I can make money from people of color. That's not the right approach. But is there a right way to approach that? Do you think that there is a way to boost that representation?

Chloe: I think you're going to have people, whether you're in house or agency at a business who have done research on their consumers, and that should be your first port of call, whether you're doing SEO or PPC to understand the people that they want buying their products versus the people who are actively buying those products because sometimes those intersect, other times they don't.

Jack: Yeah, they are often not the same people.

Chloe: No. So, I think that's key, and then it's thinking about, "Right, well how are we targeting those?" because if you take, god, Mothercare, for example, I don't know why that's the first example I have in my head, but you're targeting parents. How are you then targeting not just mums, but dads? How are you then targeting single mums as opposed to just those in a nuclear family, mums of 1, 2, 3 children? So, all of these different things come into play regardless.

Jack: Even foster parents, adoptive parents, all the non-biologic parents who are caring for relatives and stuff like that. Yeah, there's so many different directions you can go in so many different... Again, that's us just brainstorming something in 30 seconds, let alone actually doing research about it.

Chloe: Thinking about all of these different people that you're going to target no matter what discipline of marketing you're in. It could be above the line. It could be SEO. So, how are you using your expertise to actually focus on not just one client persona, but all of them? I think that's the main thing that a lot of the time, especially in SEO, we don't consider as much because we think about the algorithm as the almighty entity that we need to please, and not the people that are actually searching for stuff like we should be. And how are we focusing our content? How are we producing our content so it's readable? Are we making it overly wordy to a point that you need a specific level of education to understand it? So, that then comes into class and education.

Jack: Yeah, that's something that came up a lot when I was working with the English language school. So, we had a system where if you're writing content for that website or writing something for... We worked with agencies around the world and that kind of stuff, you had to aim it to a particular level of English language understanding. So, you couldn't write just PhD level English, or I can't remember the exact phrases it used, but there were certain gradings of English. So, you had A1 beginner, A2, B was intermediate, C was advanced, all that kind of stuff, and we had to make sure and that so influenced my writing in terms of, like you said, simplifying, clearly communicating stuff. It comes back to what you were saying earlier about clearly communicating tech SEO stuff. I'm not the most technical SEO myself either. I'm far more on the content and general kind of side of things, but the ability to communicate that stuff to a person who doesn't understand it or doesn't have that education and doesn't have that experience is such a key factor again.

Chloe: Yeah. And I mean, so one thing that I learned pretty early on when I was... I briefly freelanced, emphasis on the free, between uni and starting at Blue Array doing some copywriting, and it was very much... All of the research I did was, right, well in the States, the average reading age is eighth grade. So, you need to write in a way that's accessible to high schoolers and that's the way that you need to focus on things, and that then comes into the whole emphasis in SEO now that it needs to be for users, not just adding in buzzwords and jargon because you think that's what search engines want.

Jack: We literally just had the Helpful Content update, right?

Chloe: Oh, I'm so excited.

Jack: Hopefully filtering out that SEO-driven keyword stuffed crap and getting to actual useful stuff that is useful for actual humans using search engines.

Chloe: Yeah. My favorite tool for testing readability is the Hemingway App because you can literally chuck it in and it tells you the grade that your writing is at. Obviously, it's focused on American English and all of that stuff, so it's useful to a degree for us as UK SEOs, but it's still a good indicator of whether your content is good and accessible. I mean, I've got a working class background. That doesn't mean that my family can't understand comprehensive English, but it does mean that there are people who finished school before their A levels and all of those kind of things, and maybe you're making stuff in a way that then potential consumers aren't understanding, especially when you're doing B2B content. A lot of working class people do start their own businesses. Are you creating your B2B content in a way that they can understand it?

Jack: Yeah, that's really interesting. Again, hadn't even thought about class as a part of intersectionality here and you're bringing that up. Especially here in the UK, again, not to try and get into too much politics because we'll be here all day, but that is such a huge factor, right? The levels of education, whether that's current people working, and as you said, starting their own businesses, or people who started their business in the past. I'm from working class background myself. Both my parents don't have degrees. I'm the first, well, me and my sister, who's slightly older than me, were the first people in our family to get degrees and stuff like that, and there's this weird kind of shift back round now I think where hopefully people are getting more opportunities.

There's a whole issue with the education system here in the UK. Again, not to go off on about, again, I keep saying that, not to go off on a massive tangent, but hopefully we're seeing that, again, moving in the right direction, fingers crossed, all that kind of stuff. Hopefully, we're seeing accessibility and legibility, readability, all that kind of stuff, moving in the right direction. I will definitely leave a link for the Hemingway App in the show notes, by the way, listeners, if you do want to go and check that out. I would also leave links for basically everything we've talked about. There's a previous podcast you did talking about diversity and inclusivity that really dives into a bit more detail about it as well and really discusses pronouns and that kind of stuff from various different voices, not just me as a white guy talking to Chloe. So, I will leave a link for that in the show notes as well. Of course, links for the study I talked about, the episode with Mordy and Azeem as well. So, yeah, lot, lots of homework for you, listeners, if you're interested.

Chloe: And that I think is what it's about. I think going back to what I said earlier about the marginalized people doing the work to elevate themselves, the way that we avoid that is by people who do have any level of privilege educating themselves on the things that they don't experience themselves. I mean, I can never ever understand what navigating the SEO industry is as a person of color. So, anything like that, I do what I can. I sit and I listen, and then I'll share things from Chima, from Rejoice, or just anyone, Azeem, all of that kind of stuff because I know that I can never understand it in a way that they do.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, we're about out of time. How can people follow you for your wonderful Twitter shit posting and various other things, and also how can they get their hands on some LGBT SEO FREAK merchandise?

Chloe: Sure. So, I am @chloeivyroseseo on Twitter. The link to the LGBT SEO FREAK is in my Twitter bio, but I assume it'll be in the show notes as well.

Jack: It's in it. All the links from the show notes. You know the score by now.

Chloe: Yeah. I am on LinkedIn, but I'm a lot more interesting on Twitter because I prefer it. Everyone talks about how Twitter is a hell site, but I think LinkedIn's the hell site. So, I avoid it at all costs.

Jack: I agree with you for the record.

Chloe: Yeah.

Jack: I'm way more of a Twitter than I'm a LinkedIn user, but yeah.

Chloe: Yeah.

Jack: Yeah.

Chloe: So, Twitter is the best place to find me. If Instagram's your thing, I just post poetry so it's not the most interesting from an SEO perspective.

Jack: There's no sneaky SEO poems in there, creeping through?

Chloe: No. No, I have tried and it doesn't work.

Jack: We did AI-generated SEO horoscopes not too long ago.

Chloe: Oh my god.

Jack: Maybe mark and I will have to work on some SEO-generated poems and see what we can come up with.

Chloe: Oh please. I'd do a whole Brighton talk that's just doing slam poetry that's written by an AI. That would be so good.

Jack: Okay. I'm pitching this right now. You and me, slam poetry battle, each of us generate AI SEO poems, and the crowd decides in like a weird rap battle, slam poetry, AI-generated thing. There we go.

Chloe: Kelvin, if you're listening, we need to make this happen.

Jack: Well, I don't think we're going to finish on a better note than that.

Chloe: No.

Jack: So, thank you very much for joining me, Chloe. I really appreciate it, and like I said, listeners, go and check out all the links in the show notes to follow Chloe and all of her hilarious stuff on Twitter.

Chloe: Thank you.

Jack: That's all we have time for this week. Thank you again to Chloe Smith for joining me. I've been a big fan of their work for a while now. So, it's very, very cool to finally sit down and actually have a conversation with Chloe, and I think we covered a lot of interesting stuff. Hopefully, you guys are inspired. If you've never talked at a conference before, you're inspired to at least think about and apply for your first talking experience, and if you're a person of a marginalized group or underrepresented group, I hope you feel empowered and emboldened to seek out ways to have your voice heard in the SEO community, whether that's finding communities like Rejoice, or the Women in Tech SEO community, or just chatting with the rest of us on Twitter. I am @JLWChambers on Twitter. I do tweet about SEO sometimes, and of course, as I said previously on the show, I have a whole host of guests lined up over the next few weeks and months, and yeah, there's some fantastic, diverse, hopefully, that's been my plan is to include a whole host of diverse voices on the Search with Candour podcast. I want to hear if you're interested in being a guest and you're listening to this right now, please do let me know. You can message me on Twitter, and yeah, probably easiest way to get a hold of me is to send me a DM or send me a tweet there. Thank you much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the episode. I know I had a fantastic time talking to Chloe, and I will be back next week with some more SEO and PPC news and a lot of very awesome guests talking about a lot of interesting topics in the not too distant future. Have a lovely week.