Making SEO more inclusive w/ Areej AbuAli

In this Tech Bound podcast, I speak with Areej AbuAli about inequality and inclusiveness. Areej is the founder of "Women in Tech SEO" and technical SEO at Zoopla.

This conversation with AreejAbuAli was personally very important to me. The work Areej has done with Women in Tech SEO is significant for our community. As a Jew, I received my share of discrimination. But there are many people or different gender, religion, or color who also face direct and indirect inequality. We cannot tolerate that.

In this podcast, I speak with Areej about inequality, the challenges women and members of minority groups are still facing today, and how we can all work towards a more inclusive community.




  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:36 The story of "Women in Tech SEO"
  • 04:04 How Areej started WTS
  • 06:42 Mentoring women in the SEO space
  • 11:01 The most valuable skill for mentees
  • 11:46 WTS's values
  • 12:58 Judgement-free zones
  • 15:46 The long-term vision for WTS
  • 18:24 The state of women in technical SEO
  • 23:10 Facing conscious and unconscious biases as women and part of a minority group
  • 26:43 Making yourself heard with assertiveness and confidence
  • 29:30 Areej's background and what technical SEO problems she's likes to fix
  • 31:06 Coming from Egypt to the UK
  • 34:00 How Areej sees Black Lives Matter

Show notes


Kevin: [00:00:00] Welcome back friends to another amazing tech Bon interview. And this conversation I speak to a reach of what are the technical SEO from London and founder of the group women in tech SEO. Women in tech, SEO actually has worked 1400 women who support each other along the career and provide a safe space.

[00:00:19] And I couldn't imagine to have this conversation at a better time, as we lean up and fight against inequality and discrimination of any kind, make sure you subscribed to this YouTube channel to wherever you listen to podcasts and to the tech bar newsletter, to not miss out on content like this in the future.

[00:00:35] And now without further ado, please enjoy this conversation with a reachable Ollie.

[00:00:43] Three, two, one.  welcome to the show.

[00:00:50] Areej: [00:00:50] Yeah. Hey, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here and yeah, I got excited when I saw your message come through, really looking forward to talking about something that I'm super passionate

[00:00:59] Kevin: [00:00:59] about. Likewise. Likewise. Yeah. It's been really easy with you and I feel a lot of respect for what you do, especially, of course, in your role as founder of women in tech, SEO.

[00:01:12] I think that's a project that fits. Especially perfectly into the context of the time right now. I'm based in the U S and I've seen, we've all kind of seen in the news, the, the outrageous against inequality. And I think that this group and this project is a perfect push in the right direction.

[00:01:31] So I want to start at the very beginning and just playing, ask you. What is the story behind women in tech, SEO? How did it come to be?

[00:01:39] Areej: [00:01:39] Yeah, definitely. So we kicked things off a bit over a year ago. I think it must've been May, 2019. We just celebrated our one year anniversary quite recently. and it was more around, towards the start of last year.

[00:01:54] I was just starting to feel a little bit de-motivated generally with the work I was doing. I've been doing tech SEO for the past seven years or so. but I wasn't too sure if this was something I wanted to continue doing, I didn't feel like I had a support network, or people that I was comfortable enough to share some of the questions I have.

[00:02:12] I always heard about all of these exclusive SEO groups, that, you not anyone can be invited to them. Some people are there other people are into. so that always made me feel a little bit on the outs and at the same time, I was feeling quite nervous to ask questions on Twitter, because I was always worried that some people might be like, Whoa, you're an SEO manager and you do not know the answer of that.

[00:02:35] How is that possible? so it's kind like all of these different things that I try to search for different groups where I would feel comfortable or so forth, but I couldn't really find one. And that's when I came up with the idea of wouldn't it be really nice. If we have a group that's more around, no judgment, everyone needs to be really kind, we'd have specific values that are set.

[00:02:57] And I myself have been involved in women's committee previously, and I found them a really safe space to be a part of, because I feel that we face a lot of the same challenges. We have a lot of similar stories and there are things that we can help each other and learn from one another. And so that's how it came upon a, I put out a tweet and I was like, yeah, women in tech, SEO, rejoice.

[00:03:19] We now have a group and I just started like a Facebook group and we had a hundred people join, within the first week, which was really exciting. and a lot of it was also about, not only being able to connect with other people who are within London or UK, but also more on a global basis. yeah.

[00:03:38] And then from that, we decided, well, it would also be quite nice if we can start having meetups. and we can start speaking in some of them and sharing our knowledge, and it just starts growing from there.

[00:03:50] Kevin: [00:03:50] And today you have 1400 members on Facebook, 830 members on Slack. You have weekly and monthly meetups. It grew to this. Movement almost. I would say it's a huge and very successful project. So tell me a bit about the very beginnings. How did you

[00:04:07] Areej: [00:04:07] grow

[00:04:08] Kevin: [00:04:08] that project and that group? What were the first couple of steps when you decided that you want to do this?

[00:04:13] Areej: [00:04:13] So one of the very first things I did was, you know, come up with some ground rules or what I'd like to call values.

[00:04:21] so the rules for the group and interacting on the group, and these are more about, um, this is a safe area what's shared here needs to stay here. you know, no spam allowed. Yeah, no bullying of any sort, no discrimination and things along those lines. And then there was also our core values, which are more around to be kinds of, to, to be a safe environment.

[00:04:42] to not pass on any judgment. and a lot of it was really trickling on the fact that we wanted to welcome absolutely any woman who or anyone who identified as a woman who is interested in technical SEO. W we don't simply want to be a hub of people who are super advanced tech, SEO experts.

[00:05:02] It's more about anyone at all, who has even any form of interest in tech. SEO is more than you're welcome to be a part of the group. So we have a lot of people actually, who do content. We do PPC who, so PR who are part of the group, but because they work with Tescos or potentially, they are interested to learn more about tikka seal.

[00:05:21] they're more than welcome. And I would see in terms of like how it grew, it's just, it was about like having one project after the other. So it spun off initially of the Facebook group. And then we were like, let's start to do meetups. And maybe the very first meetup was like 15 people in a coffee shop in London, but then afterwards it was like, Oh, wouldn't it be nice.

[00:05:40] Actually, if we also have do some talks and the whole purpose of the talks was to, have people who don't normally speak, who wants to start their career. So it was like, yeah. this would be a really nice way for you to speak. Cause it's a very friendly group. It's a small setting and, you know, you don't have to be nervous.

[00:05:57] It's not like one of your big conferences. It would be nice for you to kickstart here. And then it just started one thing after the other, after a while I realized a lot of people are in Facebook fans. So I started a Slack community. So we will come to a lot of Facebook haters  on there. we started like a Twitter channel where the main focus was to amplify women and work that they're doing. yeah, that's, that's it was just one thing after the other really,

[00:06:23] Kevin: [00:06:23] or it seems to me as it started as a safe space for women, and then it turned into this space where women can develop their skills and refine their skills.

[00:06:33] And you mentioned public speaking. and so I think that's very wonderful. So you decided to also. At a mentorship program to that. Can you tell me about the mentorship program?

[00:06:44] Areej: [00:06:44] Yeah. So this is brand new. We're very excited about it. we are literally kicking off this August. so this is going to be the first cohort that we run.

[00:06:54] it's going to be a two month cohorts and. The reason being is that I feel within the group, normally a lot of people tend to mentor others simply by answering questions they have. but I wanted a more formal setting for it where, someone can feel like I've got a mentor who I can bounce ideas off of who I can learn more from, who can help me and guide me into what I can do next.

[00:07:16] and I think it's helpful for both sides because when you mentor someone, there's a lot of things that you learn yourself. By doing the mentoring. And also on the other hand, when you are being mentored by someone, this is really the way that we can all develop. Most it wasn't something that we tend to learn in university or so on.

[00:07:33] And usually if we're in our fifties this year, we tend to feel a little bit fused, unsure about what's the next path we want to go to. So having a mentor can really give us some guidance on that. yeah. Um, so we kicked off a mentorship program and we had over 200 mentors and over 200 mentees, fill the form within must've been like five days, which was crazy because we initially planned to have it open for a whole month.

[00:07:58] And then we're like, okay, this is going to get a little bit out to hands. So we had to close it much earlier. but our plan is to do the first cohort for two months, get a lot of feedback. From both mentors and mentees, see how it went. And then based off of that, have it as a more regular, potentially three month program that we can keep running on a regular basis.

[00:08:21] Kevin: [00:08:21] Internship and SEO is just so important. I, myself benefited so much from my career from people who taught me things who elevated me, supported me, helped me. And I think because SEO is such a. Weird intersection between art and science, and there's so much uncertainty in our field, it is even more important for, people to mentor you, help you and teach you.

[00:08:44] And one thing I'm curious about is how do you select your mentors? Can anybody become a mentor? And how do you pair them with the mentees?

[00:08:52] Areej: [00:08:52] Yeah, definitely. So as with every single initiative we do with women in tech, SEO, it's super inclusive. So anyone who wants to apply can put themselves forward. And I think that's something we've always done from day one.

[00:09:04] Anyone who wants to join the group is more than welcome to anyone who wants to submit themselves on the community. Speakers hub is welcome to anyone who wants to do an interview is welcome to, we always have very transparent, open Google forums that absolutely anyone can go in and fill. Because we don't want to go and select specific people based on, some ideas that we have on these people being the good ones or so on.

[00:09:26] Anyone should be able to apply if they're interested. So we had quite an extensive form of Naomi Sanderson. Like she helped me tons with the mentorship program, where we wanted to look at different fields within SEO that someone could potentially be interested in. So we split it into both SEO and software skills.

[00:09:46] So with SEO, we asked the mentor and the mentee, what would you like to mentor on and with the mentee, what would you like to be mentored on? So it was things like technical SEO, local SEO, content, digital PR. So we opened it up quite a lot. And then in terms of the soft skills, it was things on leadership, strategy, negotiation, freelancing, consultancy, and there was also an option of, I, I only want to do soft skills or I only want to do SEO skills.

[00:10:15]And that's how it worked out. So it made it much easier than too much people up based on that. So for example, you can have them in T who is looking primarily for technical SEO and leadership, and you would have a mentor who is supporting them or interested to provide those. But then because it's global, the first thing we had to do was split them up by countries to try to get them in similar time zones.

[00:10:38] cause we have mentors and mentees from all around the world. Like we had us and UK and we have Mexico and we have Brazil and we had, we had India, we had Nigeria, we had Egypt, we, it was all around. And so it was really important for us to at least try to as much as we can match people within similar time zones so that it's not difficult for them to interact with one another.

[00:11:01] And

[00:11:02] Kevin: [00:11:02] just out of curiosity, what is the skill that most people want to be mentored in?

[00:11:08] Areej: [00:11:08] Ah, that's a really, really good question. I think because we are quite drawn towards technical SEO. So from an SEO perspective, that was the one that was definitely the winner. A lot of people pick technical SEO as their main SEO skill, but then from a soft skill, we had a lot of ones around public speaking and also a lot of ones around, strategy, leadership and strategy.

[00:11:30] Kevin: [00:11:30] That makes lot of sense. These are. Not easy skills to develop or let's put it this way. they, they take a while and I all the practice to get there, but you also mentioned values and the, the importance of being an inclusive community. I wondered, how did she select those values? some of them, I think are very easy to get to there.

[00:11:52] They're very clear, like being inclusive, like not excluding anyone, and kindness as well, but, I'm curious, was there some sort of a process, were these values that you, that you clearly observed are lacking in the community? Or was there another process behind getting them?

[00:12:10] Areej: [00:12:10] I don't think I went through such a big process to try to think of the values.

[00:12:13] They came to me as I was introduced. You're seeing what our values were. I remember I wanted to introduce them, like in a blog post, when I first launched the website three months after the community had went lines and it was just really easy for me to, to write  them out. I shared them on the groups.

[00:12:30] And I asked, how do people feel about these being our main values? And a lot of people said that they related to them and they felt that they were very close to what we've been doing so far for the last three months. Maybe, potentially it was something that I felt lacked a bit, actually the judgment free area.

[00:12:44] that might be one where I know that personally, I struggled with a little bit. um, but other than that, they all felt quite natural. Like things that we have been doing over the past three months. And so when I did the values three months down the line, it felt quite easy to know what they were.

[00:12:58] Kevin: [00:12:58] Can you tell me a bit more about the, about your experience with judgment free zones? Maybe. Do you have any anecdotes or examples from your personal experience about that?

[00:13:08] Areej: [00:13:08] Yeah, definitely. I'm, you know, I'm a woman and I am a minority. and, uh, like there, it's something I always send to talk about is the idea of potentially being labeled when you all can to a room, because it's very easy to label you.

[00:13:23] and so, you I felt a lot specifically when I was agency side and we used to have like client pitches or. I used to walk clients through like technical SEO, implementation and recommendations. And it's interesting sometimes how clients perceive this or how they take it. Versus in my mail white dude colleague would, be the one who shares those.

[00:13:46] Recommendations. And there is always a lot of questioning and there is always a lot of, Oh, this might be too technical for you. Oh, I apologize if this is too technical. Oh, what this actually means is, and then they wind up explaining something that, of course I already know. you know, just if your, your typical, biases, like unconscious biases that tend to exist in our every day.

[00:14:09] Yeah, it is. It's very normal in terms of a judgment free, yeah. On Twitter. For example, when someone shares like a recent article they've done or so on, you always do notice that they're, there tends to be more criticism when this is coming from, a younger person, a woman, someone off diversity, someone who's not that well known within the space, they tend to get hit.

[00:14:36] More with criticism or, things along the lines of, Oh, we don't really need to be doing pizza and Oh, why is everyone talking about how you sound right. And that type of stuff. But then on the other hand, you get your, your well known names, your well known characters, your usual, white dude personas.

[00:14:53] And then they share something and everyone's Oh my God, this is amazing. this is exactly what we want to be doing. You definitely know to say it's, it is definitely yeah. Within our industry. I feel what's getting better is that it's being called out more now and, it's, and it's something that people are speaking about more, which means that it is getting better over time, but it is still happening.

[00:15:15] Kevin: [00:15:15] Yeah, absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree with you and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to, you know, see a lot of men's planning, a lot of bias and, uh, criticism. that seems to be driven by. racial or gender stereotypes, or any stereotype that you have and that you face. I actually wanted to speak about the current state of women in technical SEO.

[00:15:39] But before we do that, I would love to close out the questions about the project in general, with the longterm goals. So what is your longterm vision for the group or for the movement? what do you want to take it?

[00:15:53] Areej: [00:15:53] do I have a proper process in place? Probably not so much. I go with what seems to be working more right now and what people seem to be wanting more.

[00:16:02] Yeah. but in an ideal scenario feel because we were such a global community and we have people from all around the world within our Facebook and Slack communities. but a lot of our meetups are, primarily within London, at least the physical ones that were happening before I would love to start having different chapters across the world.

[00:16:21] and this is a conversation I've had with him, people so far, but I need to really properly start working on a post COVID where we can have it New York chapter, and we can have the Singapore chapter and, we can have the Egypt chapter and so on. I think that would be amazing. So to have like different chapter leads who are in charge of the different, physical meetups that tend to happen there.

[00:16:43] And then at the end of the day, our we're a global communities to lives virtually. but we are able to have like mini chapters for more physical kind of interactions.

[00:16:54] What

[00:16:54] Kevin: [00:16:54] is the biggest obstacle to  making that vision a reality?

[00:16:58] Areej: [00:16:58] to let go and to not be so much in control of everything and to not try to manage it, the, every single step of everything, I have trouble asking for help.

[00:17:10] And, and, and I  worry that, I worry that it would lose its meaning over time. so inclusive now it's so safe. It's so you know, it just, it doesn't, there's so much kindness in it and I just worry that if I lose control a little bit, I wouldn't be able to, you know, to know what's happening, here and there.

[00:17:32] So yeah, I think I probably need to work on that a little bit more, but I'm sure that over time, um, yeah, I, hopefully we can start working on something. All right.

[00:17:43] Kevin: [00:17:43] Talking to the right person here. I very much know, like the wanting to be in control and having a hard time that it goes so I can very much relate to that.

[00:17:50] but out of curiosity, where do you have the most members from geographically right now?

[00:17:56] Areej: [00:17:56] So definitely UK.

[00:17:58] Yeah. I wouldn't even have to look at the numbers. I'm pretty sure it's UK and probably a big reason behind that is because we have, I've hosted so many meetups here. We've done about 12. We have the full day conference in March as well for international women's day.

[00:18:11] so UK and possibly followed by U S and then there's, we've got tons of people all around Europe. So we have a lot of people from Spain, a lot of people from Italy. yeah. Well, definitely UK.

[00:18:24] Got it.

[00:18:25] Kevin: [00:18:25] And so let's speak a little bit about the current state of women in technical SEO. Obviously there are lots of protests for equality against inequality right now, inequality of all sorts and kinds, whether that's racial inequality, gender inequality.

[00:18:43] And so I'm curious, what is the current. Situation that we find ourselves in, can maybe any numbers or a general overview of what the current state of women is? I, for my part, definitely know that women are unrepresented in technical SEO and SEO probably in general, even though I'm not as sure the second bond, I can speak for technical SEO. Wouldn't generally say I'm not even as sure, but I'm curious about, your perspective and any facts and stats that you could share about that.

[00:19:11] Areej: [00:19:11] I wouldn't be able to share specific stats off the top of my head, but I, we, there is definitely a lack of representation specifically when it comes to technical SEO.

[00:19:20] This is something that you notice, especially when you look at speaker lineups. So if you have certain conferences and they've got these different tracks, And you wind up going to the technical SEO room and you're like, yeah, I'm so excited about this track. And then it's Nope, it's you just, there is no representation there.

[00:19:35] And it's crazy, right? Because here you go, we've got over 2000 members in who are interested in tech, SEO, who are women. So there's no reason why they earn speaking in these conferences. So a lot of it is around the fact that. We tend to rely on the names that we know. And I think this is on an event organizers.

[00:19:53] They need to step up their game. They need to make sure that they're not inviting the same people over and over again. They need to make sure that they have proper speaker pictures is in place for every single conference. They do to give people a fair chance to apply. and they need to also actively reach out to ensure that there is diversity within their conference.

[00:20:12] It says, it's only, now that you're finally starting to see some conferences with okay. 50, 50 speaker lineup, still. very, very rare. there are a lot of places where, the majority of your conferences, they're short, you have an 80 20 lineup for like male to female, which is crazy.

[00:20:29] And then even then when you try to go to the next layer, which is how diverse are your speakers, you might have. Very normal to have a full white lineup, which is crazy. The other thing in terms of work and in terms of encompanies, what tends to happen is that you might have a lot of women in tech, SEO, or in SEO.

[00:20:49] But if you start looking at leadership or if you start looking at senior stakeholders, You don't find that many. So your heads of physios, your CMOs, your no, the, the more applied, there you go. The less women you find w which is again, very rare, problematic, because what happens? They're like, why, wait, why is it that women tend to be kept in a box?

[00:21:10] And men tend to go up the leather, but women tend to stay within that same area. And of course, a lot of different factors probably come to play, lack of promotion,  things like, women having to go on maternity leaves and coming back, you know, B being unable to, to, to move up a ladder, tends to happen.

[00:21:29] But I think with companies, when you always talk about that diversity and inclusion, I feel it's very important to not just look at stats in terms of, the gender split, but more about what that looks like on different levels across the company.

[00:21:43] Kevin: [00:21:43] And I'm sure it's not because of a lack of talent.

[00:21:46] I know that in technical, so you have lots of talented, women, some of which I was able and lucky to interview on my podcast, but also, many of you who I interact with on Twitter, or just see online or see great content from. So is there an example of a conference that comes to mind that does this really well? That puts a big emphasis on, a diverse speaker lineup.

[00:22:12] Areej: [00:22:12] Yeah. So I, yeah, with that question, I always refer to search love. I think search love by distilled. they nail it and they nail it every time. just last year, their lineup was 50 50. they, they always have community speaker slots, which I think are really important because that means that's and anyone can pitch and apply for those.

[00:22:32] So they encourage, People who are first time speakers to apply for that. And they don't just encourage them to apply, but they also give them coaching and mentoring and they help them with their topic and they help them with their presentation, which is massive, which is really good. I know that most corn as well, the recent one they've had was a 50, 50 lineup as well, which was really good to see.

[00:22:55] so yeah, I  would say that's one of the main conferences I've seen, which was very impressive in terms of the. the way, how diverse the lineup was the fact that it was split up and also because they provided a lot of mentorship and guidance to their community speakers.

[00:23:10] Kevin: [00:23:10] Absolutely. And so I'm also curious about your personal experiences. We touched on this subject a little bit here and there. and you took it from women in tech, SEO to the kind of current state of the industry. And I'd love to also, make your personal experiences a bit more visible than a bit more heard. So how have you. Of course only what you're comfortable sharing with, but how have you personally faced, the conscious and unconscious biases in the community and your career?

[00:23:42] Areej: [00:23:42] I've definitely had. I had a client previously where, I was there, me, I was the main tech SEO manager on that. And I provided recommends stations. it was very, it was something I worked really hard to own. And, and the, there was, we had so much back and forth afterwards where he wasn't quite convinced with some of the stuff I was recommending.

[00:24:04] He. He started sending me search engine journal articles from the year of 2010 on how some of this stuff's contradictive, and so forth. And yeah, until that point, I wasn't thinking bias. I wasn't thinking anything. I was just difficult clients. I go on holiday for, for two weeks to get married.

[00:24:21] I come back and they've put my white male colleague on the accountant's steads that person is sharing exactly my same recommendations, my same work, my same, everything. The client is responding completely different. Yep. This is great. This is great stuff. Yep. yeah. No know exactly what I'm going to do.

[00:24:41] And I was just like, what just happened? it wasn't address. There's clearly bias there. He's he cleared that she wasn't comfortable B being given recommendations by someone like me and, nothing changed in recommendations. It was exactly the same. It was just delivered. By someone else that he was more comfortable to have it delivered by what I would say.

[00:25:05] Just other, yeah. Other than that, within our industry, like right now I work in house and the amount of meetings I'm added to, it's just all white male engineers. There's and there's a level of uncomfort there because here you are, and you're the SEO experts and you're needing to be allowed, then you're needing to be assertive and you're needing to, get your points across and yeah.

[00:25:26] You're usually a blocker because they want to get stuff done, but you're saying, no, you can't do it this way. Cause that's not going to work. And it is really uncomfortable because you don't have that level of backup as well. The lack of representation generally, when it comes to a product teams, engineering teams, senior stakeholders in the business, like you, you just get it all the time.

[00:25:47] and for me, it's then problematic because. who do I look up to? Because if I don't see myself represented in senior positions, if I don't see myself for presented on speaker stages, then I'm not going to feel comfortable to put myself forward.

[00:26:03] Kevin: [00:26:03] And that's such an important point that she touched on because one important.

[00:26:07] Success effect or an SEO is to be heard and to evangelize SEO and even further, you often have to sell a very uncertain, catalog of  recommendations. sure. There is some certainly can provide, but you cannot guarantee anything in SEO. and at the same time, just yet. Influence that evangelization within a company, as an in house person, or even as an agency with our clients is so important.

[00:26:32] and so I can, I can imagine that when you even fight against stereotypes and biases, that this makes it probably double as hard. have you found any tools or any kind of methods or frameworks to, to apply in those situations as a woman or as a part of a minority group?

[00:26:53] Areej: [00:26:53] Yeah, I have. It's such a good question.

[00:26:55] I wouldn't say that I found like specific frameworks or processes maybe because I haven't looked for them, but things I've noticed in my own, like day to day is to ensure I'm assertive in my language. Remove the words where it's just remove, replace. I think with, I know it's so many things that are every time I sent an email before I sent it out, I reread it.

[00:27:18] And I go through all the terminology I've used and I'm like, Nope. Do I really need to say that sentence? Using all of these words? you always start with, I'm really sorry to be bringing this up, but, Nope, you can just discard all of this. It's this idea of how to, how do you make sure that you were more assertive and you're more confident in what you're saying?

[00:27:38] even if deep down inside. Yeah. Like you, your stomach hurts and you're super anxious and you're super worried. You cannot come across that way because you will be eaten up alive. And if you don't display that confidence, Then you're going to have even more trouble in terms of getting stuff done.

[00:27:56]And then, just taking a lot of deep breaths and it, sometimes it gets really difficult and you should just go for a walk. it's, it's so important. There are some meetings that you get out of and you're like, Whoa, like I cannot believe, What was said would just happen, but you just have to collect yourself, right?

[00:28:15] You have to make sure that you're not appearing emotional, but at the same time, you're not being aggressive. but, but, it's all these labels that, that never really resonated with men, with men. It's, This person is so confident they know what they're doing, and they're so passionate about it, right?

[00:28:32] With women in swole, she's being super emotional, she's being really sensitive. you know, that was a little bit aggressive, there's always that. um, so yeah, I would say that's my one thing it's just reading over what you're about to say, reading over what you're about to send, making sure that you're assertive, making sure that you're coming off as confident

[00:28:53] Kevin: [00:28:53] and

[00:28:53] to be very clear about that,  I don't think that's your problem to fix, as a woman or as a, as a part of minority, it's not, you don't, you don't have to responsible for the problem. but I'm sure there are some workarounds that help here. And there is, as we're trying to change, the situation of inequality and biases.

[00:29:15] So I just wanted to point that out and about you personally. you're, you're a technical SEO and, I saw on your  site that, You wrote something about your work that says the bigger messier side is the happier you are. Can you tell me a little bit about, what you enjoy in technical SEO and, why you picked that field to specialize

[00:29:35] Areej: [00:29:35] in for yourself?

[00:29:36] Yeah, definitely. So I studied computer engineering, that was my degree. And. And then I did, I moved to the, that was back when I was in Egypt, I'm from Egypt originally. And then I moved to the UK helix seven years ago and I did a master's degree in it. And so it was SEO was just this, it was this right in between, it was like this mix between, business and marketing and computing. And it was just this perfect in between. And I joined the Navy, see, and I started doing it and I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed what I was doing. I was so curious. There's. Just so much that was happening. There was so much to learn.

[00:30:13] There was so much to pick up and the hang of it quite easily. And I really enjoyed it. It was, for me, it was, especially when I was agency side. I was like, you get all of these different clients with all of these different websites with all of these different issues. And it was just so engaging and interesting.

[00:30:29] Yeah. And yeah, I would say the main thing that I found over time that I enjoy doing is, Properly auditing websites that are massive, that have tons of problems, tons of issues, aggregator sites, marketplace sites, eCommerce sites, those types of websites because there's just so much to do with them.

[00:30:49] And there's so much to fix with them and it never fends. Um, so that's, yeah, that's the bit that I enjoy doing

[00:30:56] Kevin: [00:30:56] the most.

[00:30:57] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Is it is a fascinating field and there's lots of discover. I, I can, so that resonates with me a lot. and I'm also curious about your experience, coming from Egypt to the UK, what was that like?

[00:31:12] Areej: [00:31:12] Yeah, it was, it was interesting. It was, I love the UK now. I definitely, it is my home. that's how I feel about it. And, at the beginning it was, everything felt so new. I didn't really, yeah. I didn't have family or anything here when I moved and I had to learn all these things.

[00:31:32] I think I moved here when I was 21, must have been. and it was just. And the weather was miserable. It was weird. And there was just so much I had to pick up on, I've, you I, it was different when I started it was because I started as a student. So it was okay. Cause we had a lot of international students, so it was, it felt quite diverse initially.

[00:31:54] And then afterwards I moved to London, which is super diverse. So I never really, I wouldn't say I ever felt out of place. it was something that I got used to quite quickly. And I've always enjoyed living in the UK. And you

[00:32:08] Kevin: [00:32:08] also want it to become an astronaut as a kid. I read,

[00:32:11] Areej: [00:32:11] I was curious

[00:32:12] Kevin: [00:32:12] why, what inspired you to become an astronaut?

[00:32:15] Areej: [00:32:15] Where did I write that?

[00:32:17] I'm an SEO.

[00:32:21] Yeah. Yeah. I was, that was definitely my, I had all of these, like picture thingies, every single planet, but back when. Pluto was also a planner cause it was lane clients back then. Yeah. And they were these massive cards of what our planet pictures look like.

[00:32:39] And then they had all of these information behind them. I loved them. I had them like hung up on my room and yeah, that was like my main thing. It's so funny because now I am scared of everything. I'm terrified of roller coasters. I hate landing and takeoff of flights. So I'm not really sure how I ever wanted it to be an astronaut that

[00:32:58] yeah,

[00:32:59] Kevin: [00:32:59] I was going to ask what's what stopped you, but that makes a lot of sense.

[00:33:02] There's probably a lot of, shaking for astronauts, but it's so interesting. I think. I think what people want it to become as a child can say a lot about how they see the world nowadays and how they got to work in the field that they are working in. So do you see any similarities between your wish of becoming an astronaut and technical SEO?

[00:33:22] Areej: [00:33:22] no, not really. yeah, it wasn't my interest in science, I guess maybe potentially cause that got me through like engineering school and so on. But yeah, not really. It didn't quite change quite quickly. I initially wanted to be an astronaut and then I wanted to be a teacher and then I stuck with that for a little bit.

[00:33:42] And then I wanted to be a mathematician when I watched a beautiful mind. And it was, I had all these phases of, yeah, no, never. Knew I was going to wind up doing tech SEO.

[00:33:53] That's

[00:33:53] Kevin: [00:33:53] fair. I can see a little bit of all of these three professions in what you do right now. one last question that I'm very curious about is how do you see the black lives matter movements here in the U S and, the, um, the, the rise against equality.

[00:34:13] Areej: [00:34:13] I think it's sad that we have had to give it a label and we have had to do a movement just for, to get people's attention finally. I think it's really important that there's a lot of awareness about it now. And a lot of people are speaking about it. it's only the first step. there's so much momentum that still needs to be built and there's so much that needs to be done.

[00:34:33] And it needs to be one of those things that are regularly being talked about and regularly being discussed until there's no need for it anymore. Which will probably take a really long time, unfortunately, but the fact that there's a lot of awareness about it now, and it's on the forefront of everyone's mind.

[00:34:50] We just all need to work together to make sure it continues to be on the forefront of everyone's minds. I'm one of the first people who raised their hands up. When the conversation started, I took a look at some of our lineups. And yeah, sure. Women in tech, SEO, how diverse are our own lineups. It comes to, amplifying more voices of women who are, um, who  are from, minority backgrounds.

[00:35:14] I need to do show much more on that as well. So I think it's fun all of us to really start to take this seriously and for it not to just be a seasonal thing, but for it to be a constant conversation and a constant, voice of change, something that we always have in the forefront of our minds.

[00:35:30] Kevin: [00:35:30] We all have a responsibility here. I think you really hit that one of the head, orig, where can people find and follow you and the women in tech SEO project.

[00:35:41] Areej: [00:35:41] Yeah. So women in tech seal, we've got women in tech, and on there you'll have links to our Facebook group or SOC community. our Twitter handle is at tech SEO women.

[00:35:53] we're on Instagram as well. I think that's women in tech, SEO. I'm not so great with Instagram. I try my best. um, and then for myself, I'm mainly on Twitter. So I'm a region underscore a Blondie. So yeah, more than happy. My DMS are open. If anyone has any questions at any time, I'm, I'm always more than happy to connect with new people.

[00:36:11] Kevin: [00:36:11] Reach. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your honest experience and opinion, and thank you so much for everything you do to help women and to help all sorts of people. So I really appreciate you and your time, and I thank you very much.

[00:36:25] Areej: [00:36:25] Yeah, no, thank you for having me. And thanks again for inviting me.

[00:36:28] Really appreciate it.