Are you singing the song yet? If you’re not, you should be! Aretha should be blaring out in your ears as loud as possible. Go on, sing it loudly. Let that woman stare at you.
OK, that’s enough. Don’t get carried away.
Because, difficult as it is to believe, I’m not just writing this blog post as a tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin. Although I probably should be; she deserves it.
But no, on this occasion, I’m writing about the fact that we, the GrowTraffic dream team, are a group of four women, fighting our corner in a very male dominated world. We’re independent women in SEO. And we love it.
A Stranger In The Crazy World of SEO
The world of SEO is an odd place.
I don’t know if I’ve told you of how I came to work for, and then run GrowTraffic, but it all happened by accident. I accidentally got dragged into writing blogs for GT, then sorting out the content marketing element entirely, then taking a crash course in search engine optimisation and learning what that was all about, then running the whole shebang.
I didn’t really intend any of it. The why of it all is a much longer story – and I may tell it to you one day – but I’m not going to bore you with it here today. Instead, suffice it to say that I suddenly found myself in a world that was slightly alien to me, and not at all easy to understand.
Having come to it all via the route of being a freelance copywriter, SEO was something that was only vaguely on my radar. Having been married to GrowTraffic’s founder and SEO guru, Simon Dalley, for several years by that time, you’d have thought I would have had a better knowledge of what SEO was, but, to be brutally honest, I had never paid attention. And so my idea of what SEO involved and what one had to do to achieve it was nebulous to say the least.
And so, I found myself working for an SEO agency with very little notion of what it was all about, and decided that in order to survive – nay, thrive – I’d better find out what I was doing and talking about pretty damn quick.
My First Foray In To SEO Copywriting
Initially, I approached the problem from an angle I understood, by morphing from a copywriter into an SEO copywriter. Again, I’m not going to drone on here with a lengthy explanation of what the difference is between a copywriter and an SEO copywriter. I’ve written about this several times already; it’s subtle, but important.
Instead, I’ll give you the short answer; the difference between a copywriter and an SEO copywriter is that a copywriter writes good copy for any purpose, whereas an SEO copywriter writes excellent copy, mainly to be used online (although not exclusively), which is written with the intention of improving a website’s rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Hence, a copywriter might mainly write on- or offline magazine articles, features for trade publications, advertisements etc., whereas an SEO copywriter will mainly write blog posts, e-books, white papers, email newsletters, AdWords ads etc.
So, you see, a subtle but important difference. Although it must be said that the two roles are becoming blurred now, as the vast majority of content is consumed online, so even those more traditional copywriters must now consider themselves SEO copywriters in some capacity.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. My point here is that I approached SEO as a copywriter to begin with, rather than as a ‘techy’ person, and thus was able to begin to understand it from that point of view.
And that distinction is very important, I believe, because it’s the key point that has shaped the type of company GrowTraffic is today. None of us have come from the traditional IT backgrounds of most people in the SEO trade.
Meet The GrowTraffic Team
Just to back up a little bit, I’d best explain who the rest of the team are, before I go any further.
First up, and rather obviously, there’s me; Rachel Weinhold, current Managing Director and wife of GrowTraffic’s aforementioned founder, Simon Dalley. Simon set the company up way back in 2008 and has been involved in it to a greater of lesser degree for the past decade. During that time, as already mentioned, I have progressed from occasional helper, to part-time worker, to full-time organiser, to Managing Director. And all in about 5 years, which I don’t think is too shabby.
My second-in-command, and very much the driving force behind much of what GT has become over the past year or so, is my sister, Hannah Weinhold. Hannah was about to be made redundant in 2017 when she casually stated, “wouldn’t it be good if I came to work with you at GrowTraffic?!”, to which I thought “well yes it would, but you won’t actually do it, will you!”. The next day, Hannah rang me up and said she was going to come on board, and she has been ever since.
Now starting her second year with the business, Hannah, as our Commercial Director, is the common sense behind the company. Hannah holds the entire thing together and has ensured we have more than tripled in size over the last twelve months, and she has done it all from a distinctly un-SEO background.
In fact, a bit like me, before Hannah started with us, she had absolutely no idea what SEO was. Also like me, she has spent the last year learning and, as SEO is always changing anyway, every day is a learning day.
Elicia McManus, our Head of Content, joined GrowTraffic shortly after Hannah, coming in fact from the same company that Hannah left for us. Having worked as a Marketing Manager in her previous role, and having worked for GT as a freelance SEO copywriter for a few months also, Elicia did actually have a basic knowledge of what SEO was before she came to us. In fact, she is the only one out of the team who did know about it before they came to us.
Nevertheless, as a freelance copywriter, Elicia’s main passion was writing and creating great content, both visually and materially, as opposed to the more technical, trickier side of SEO. Hence, like the rest of us, Elicia began to work for an SEO agency with not a lot of knowledge of what SEO was…but, again like the rest of us, she learned. And she learned quickly too.
The last (but not least!) addition to the GrowTraffic dream team was Elaine Hutchison. Elaine is the newest member of the team, having only joined us fewer than 6 months ago, however she has also been a quick learner. Despite never having written anything professionally before, Elaine had secretly always wanted to be a writer (at her first networking meeting, she gushed “I can finally say I am a writer”, as though all her Christmases had come at one!!), and she joined the team as a copywriter and social media marketer.
Like the rest of us, Elaine had no clue what SEO was all about and had to learn it from scratch, and we really threw her in at the deep end. Luckily, she learned it, and she learned it quickly, and in the last few months she has gone from a total SEO novice to almost an SEO expert. Give her another couple of months, and the girl will have it down pat.
SEO Professionals From An Un-SEO Background
So what’s the point of me telling you all of this, I hear you cry?!
My point is that all four members of the core GrowTraffic team are women and that, what’s more, we’re women who came at this job from totally unexpected directions.
First of all, we’re four women working in a very male dominated world. Secondly, we’re four women working in a very technical, IT focussed industry, from non-technical, non-IT backgrounds.
Now, just before anyone shouts at me, I must just clarify that we’re far from being an all-female company. In fact, there are several males of the species who work for GT; Simon, Alex and Tom being just three of them. However, the core team – the ones who run the business day in, day out, who allocate the work, who do most of the work, in fact, are women. Just before anyone suspects us of sexual discrimination, or worse, accuses us of feminism!
However, I believe it’s the very fact that GrowTraffic is driven predominantly by women that gives the company it’s core strengths, because we bring a slightly different perspective.
Whatever you think of it, SEO was invented as a ‘thing’ back in the 1990s, when search engines were first invented. The first search engines were (as they still are today in fact), incredibly complex things invented by computer nerds. SEO was created by computer nerds who never left their bedrooms. It has been maintained and nurtured by incredibly technical IT bods who have created an entire language to describe it…a technical language, a language of H2 tags, meta descriptions and alt text.
We female SEO professionals who haven’t come from an SEO background don’t inhabit this world, and that enables us to rise above it and cut through it all. Cut through the bullshit, as I like to say (and get told off for).
Translating SEO For Ordinary Folk
And because of this very circumstance, GrowTraffic is different from other SEO agencies. We speak to our clients like they are fellow human beings, and we do what is best for them – what will get them a tangible ROI – rather than just doing what needs to be done or what we think is best.
We don’t talk about H1 and H2 tags to our clients; we talk about headings and sub-headings instead. We don’t discuss keyword density or keyword cannibalisation; we tell them to make it clear what the subject of their content is. We don’t lecture them about HTTPS or SSL certificates; instead, we tell them they need to get a little padlock that shows their site is secure.
In short, we don’t try to baffle our clients with jargon to make ourselves look good, or sound like we’re technically minded. If we have to use jargon, because there is no other word for what we’re talking about, then we explain it, simply and quickly.
What’s more, we won’t just do that same old thing week in, week out, with no accountability. We demystify what we do; we don’t pretend it’s a black art that only clever people in the know can achieve. We’re not precious about it.
Essentially, we work on the basis that ‘if we can do it, anyone can do it’; we’ve learned SEO from scratch in just a few years – OK, not everyone has that time to dedicate to it, or even wants to know it in that level of detail, but if you – as the owner of a small to medium business – want to know how to optimise your website, we’ll show you. We’re accountable for what we do, so we show you what we’re doing and why. Then we give you measurable KPIs, and let you monitor our work for yourself.
As one of clients once said about us, we might not always know the answer, but we will always go away and find out, then report back. If we don’t know something, we say so. If we’ve cocked up, we say so. We speak to our clients as though they’re human beings – our friends even – and it seems to work. Unlike many other SEO agencies, we keep our clients for the long term, and we get results to boot.
And in all honesty, I don’t think we could do any of that if it wasn’t for the backgrounds we’ve come from and from the way we’ve found ourselves working in SEO.
Sisters Will Carry On Doing It For Themselves (And Each Other)
And what’s the moral of this story? I’m not trying to say that, because we’re female we’re better than the men, and I’m not saying that because we’re four women working in a male dominated world, we are naturally superior to our male competitors.
What I am saying, though, is that I think it gives us a different dynamic.
We’re four women working hard to build a company that’s the size and shape we think companies should be in the 21st century.
We work flexibly where and when we want. Most of us are mothers, so we work around our children. We look after each other’s children when we need to go to meetings or do something important. We even take our children to our meetings when it’s necessary; just because I have my child with me, it doesn’t mean I will do my job any less well than the men in the room. In fact, I’m probably working twice as hard, because I’m chairing the meeting and doing the childcare at the same time.
What matters more than all of that, though, is that we’re friends. All four of us are working towards building something that we believe in, and we’re building each other up whilst we’re doing it. We lean in.
GrowTraffic wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for the equally hard work of every one of us, and I for one will be eternally grateful to them all for that.
Whatever the future holds, whether they all stay working for GrowTraffic or go on to do other things, either within or without the crazy world of SEO, I will be forever indebted to them and incredibly proud of them. Yes my sisters – whether biologically or not – are doing for themselves, but they’re also doing it for each other, for GrowTraffic and for our clients. And long may it continue.
Get In Touch
If you’d like to find out more about any of the GrowTraffic team, or if you’d like to find out what our unique approach could do to help you grow your business online, then get in touch with us today and have a chat.