Any technical industry is bound to be at least somewhat male-dominated. Our society has unfortunately not yet fully embraced the fact that men and women can be equally talented when it comes to technical careers. SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing, a.k.a. pay-per-click advertising on search engines) are certainly no exception. In fact, it seems as if these are some of the more intensely male-dominated sectors of the digital marketing industry to work in.
As a woman who has created a very successful career in the search industry, I find this particularly disappointing. I truly believe that women have every every bit of likelihood to be just as good at, if not better than, any given male counterpart in the same line of work, especially when it comes to SEO and SEM. Some reasons why they may be even better in this line of work include:
- Ability to multitask. Women are very accustomed to juggling several different types of responsibilities. Being able to keep many different types of tasks moving forward concurrently is a huge asset to an SEO team.
- Patience. Many women have raised or are raising children, and we’re all biologically programmed to be able to do so. There is no greater need for patience than that! And many aspects of search, especially organic optimization, require patience. SEO is a long term marketing strategy that does not provide instant results, and making changes to test theories does not yield immediate feedback. Being a patient strategist and being able to foster patience in clients and stakeholders is an absolute necessity in this field.
- Analytical thinking. Many women (especially yours truly) have a tendency to overthink things. The nice way of saying that is that we can be very analytical. Being able to think and rethink (and rethink some more) your way through a challenging data discrepancy or unusual change in traffic patterns is a great problem-solving strength and is crucial to the long term success of search campaigns.
- We like to shop. It’s a fact that women make more purchasing decisions than men in many industries, and that many billions of dollars are spent on female-specific products each year. SEO and SEM are all about marketing and conversion, so truly understanding the buyer is crucial to success. I dare you to find me a guy that can sell a tampon better than a woman.
- People skills. Women are great at the personal side of business. SEO and SEM are quite technical in nature, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need people skills to sell it and make it successful. Being able to show genuine empathy for your potential client’s situation will get you more closed business than the best sales training seminar on earth. That ability comes extremely naturally to many women, as we are biologically programmed to be nurturing. This skill works equally well with getting stakeholder buy-in within large organizations.
- We are socially savvy. The prior two points combine to make women extremely effective at social media and influencer marketing, which has become a core and essential component of SEO. Being able to create effective social media marketing strategies and build relationships with online influencers (many of whom are women themselves) is crucial to SEO success.
- We’re good with money. Last but certainly not least, women have a great track record with increasing ROI. “Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%” (Source PDF). Even if not running their own company, this same propensity to be talented at generating a return will manifest itself in search campaign results.
Some Important Clarifications
Obviously it’s not appropriate to make completely generalized assumptions based on gender alone, as each individual is completely unique. And even though I truly believe that women have a propensity to excel at SEO and SEM, I deeply respect all of my male colleagues in the industry, and I don’t want in any way to infer that we are superior to them just because we are female. That is most certainly not true.
However, it is a statistically sound fact that women operate differently than men in some aspects, and many of those unique characteristics can lend themselves very nicely to being an effective search engine knowledge worker. It’s an extremely rewarding line of work to be in, and is often conducive to working from home, making it easier for women to effectively balance a career and a family.
Therefore, I decided to put these thoughts out there in hopes that I can encourage any women or young girls considering a career in the digital marketing industry to not discount SEO or SEM as a viable career path. Creating a successful and fulfilling career in this line of work can be easier than you think, if you stay true to yourself and authentic at all times. Don’t try to be something that you’re not. Just take what you are and the natural strengths you have and apply them to whatever career you’d like to try. I hope for some of you, that includes SEO or SEM.
See you on page one. 🙂