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The One Where We Do A WTSPodcast End Of Year Review 2021
Bonus Episode14th December 2021 • WTSPodcast • Sarah & Areej
00:00:00 00:24:49

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In this bonus episode, Areej and Sarah get together to chat about stand-out episodes, what Google did good and bad this year, and predictions for SEO in 2022.

Thanks to all of our guest speakers, sponsors, and listeners - we wouldn't have the #WTSPodcast without you. Roll on Season 4 in 2022!

Stand out episodes:

Kristie Plantinga

Abby Reimer

Jamie Indigo

Miracle Inameti-Archibong

Michelle Race

Katherine Ong

Beth Nunnington

Laura Brady

Shoutout to 2021 sponsors:




Screaming Frog



Episode transcript

Areej: Hey everyone, welcome to today's bonus episode of the Women in Tech SEO podcast. I am super excited to be here, joined by my awesome co-host Sarah. 

Hey Sarah!

Sarah: Hello, this feels like we've not done this in a long time, isn't it?

Areej: I know. I know. I'm really excited. I love that you bought up this idea a few weeks ago, of us doing an end-of-year bonus episode for everyone.

Sarah: Yes, I thought it would be a cool idea just to do a bit of a recap and also record a podcast with you because yes, I said, it's just good to spend some time with you on the podcast.

Areej: Oh yes, absolutely love that. I can't even believe it's December already, and we launched this podcast in April. I think we started talking about it in January or February, so definitely at the very beginning of the year.

Sarah: Yes, definitely and we've done and dusted season three and we're going into season four and I'm just like, how? Where has that time gone? I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed myself because I don't know about you, but every time I get to speak to an amazing individual in the industry and pick their brains, it's awesome, isn't it?

Areej: Yes, I completely agree. I can't believe the calibre of guests we've had throughout, we've had so some brilliant women come on board and we've just discussed all topics as well.

Sarah: Yes, and I think that's key, isn't it? The number of varied topics that we've covered. I suppose that leads us into my first question, the first topic that I thought we could go into, where we discuss our standout episodes from our last seasons. Now I know this is going to be very hard, and I don't know about you, but I was going through all the episodes and I was, "How do I pick this? I just want to pick them all," but I have managed to whittle down to three. How about you?

Areej: Oh yes, I found it impossible. I thought it was so difficult, to be honest. I went through a lot of them and because also, we've been listeners to some and then we've been hosts to others, which I think might make us a little bit biased as well. I'm happy to try my best and give it a go. Maybe you can start with saying one, you've absolutely loved and I can try to follow.

Sarah: The first one that I picked out, was Kristie Plantinga who discussed imposter syndrome. Now, the reason why I picked this one out was that this topic was so-- it's such a passion area of mine. I think all of us, or most of us feel imposter syndrome, not just in SEO, but in work in general. It was just such a great episode because we were discussing it all and Kristie was giving ways to manage it and think about it and stuff, so that was definitely on my list to include.

Areej: Yes, I loved that episode and I thought, Christie, I loved the way she shared a lot of it as well. The way she approached, a topic that a lot of us can relate to, for sure. I think if we're starting with standout episodes in season three, I'll actually take us a little bit earlier like the very first episode of that season. I loved your conversation with Abby Remer.

I think Abby is just the epitome of everything when it comes to content SEO and content auditing. She's so smart and she manages to break down very, complex topics in a very, very, very simplistic way. I thought that had a lot of valuable information, and she's someone who's done workshops and so forth with us before as well. She just always approaches every topic and shares tons and tons and tons of knowledge.

Sarah: Yes, and she just had so much energy and, she was a delight to talk to. She definitely got me rethinking how I approach content and stuff. Yes, definitely, definitely would, recommend checking that one out if you haven't already. Okay, so my second one is one that we did together, and again going back to our very first episode where we had Jamie Indigo. Where we were talking around, ethics and disinformation, around search engines in Google, because this episode blew my mind, but it really got me thinking and yes, I was just.

I'm in awe of Jamie and what she does because she's really good at highlighting really key, important topics but explaining in a way that really makes sense. I just really thoroughly enjoyed the episode because we just delved into so much. I think it's a great episode for SEO people to really think about, the information, the disinformation, the monopoly of Google, the ethics surrounding it. If you've listened to it once definitely go listening to it again because it's one of those episodes where I think you can keep listening to it because you can keep pulling stuff out of it.

Areej: Yes I agree, I still can't believe that our very first, podcast guest was Jamie because Jamie is so brilliant. She approaches these topics with a lot of grace as well. I know how difficult it's to talk about some of these topics and it could be so easy to just decide to talk about, a normal technical SEO topic, but she's always keen to discuss things along the lines of, ethics and disinformation and how we're all a part of it really.

Yes, couldn't agree more and yes, it was our first episode, which always makes it very, very special. I think thinking back to season one, one to call out for sure. I had a lot of fun recording that with you as well, and it was, I think it was a Saturday or a Sunday morning, with Miracle. We talked all about forecasting SEO and what a complex topic yet she makes it so fun. I've learned so much about forecasting in SEO from Miracle.

Forecasting is one of those things that, you can absolutely hate doing, but a lot of us as SEOs get tasked to do that all the time, whether we're an agency or in house, and Miracle just has a great way of approaching it and how she managed to break that down within, 20 or 25 minutes was extremely insightful. That's definitely one of my standout episodes right there.

Sarah: It's so funny that you included, Miracle because she was actually on my list as well to pick out because I thoroughly enjoyed that one as well. I think one of the things that I picked out, and it stuck with me is, when we were asking her about, how do you get buy-in or how do you make your reporting really understandable? She said, it's about three things, simplicity, clarity, and language, and it's true.

Simplicity is knowing who you're talking to, making sure that it's understandable. Clarity is it really clear, what you are saying, what you're trying to put across to get more buy-in or get the investment that you need for SEO? The language, with again, who are you talking to? What is the language? Are you using the lingo? Yes, it's funny because Miracle was on my list as well, so you beat me to it Areej.

Areej: No, I think that shows how powerful that episode was for sure, and the way that we-- I took it really from the analytical side, while you took it more from that type of learning, which is really interesting to see how different people can listen to the same episode and, have different takeaways from it.

Sarah: I would like to pick out an episode that you did, with Michelle Race. I think that was season two or?

Areej: I think it was the very last episode of season two, yes.

Sarah: It's all of a bit of a blur. XML site maps that can be quite technical, can it and can get quite complex, but I just loved how understandable Michelle made it and she made some really key points, in there. I just thoroughly enjoyed listening to you guys discussing all things, XML site maps, and I guess you enjoyed talking to her about it.

Areej: Yes, so knowledgeable. I remember even seeing that pitch come through and I was so excited, I was like, "Oh my God, we have to have Michelle on," because I couldn't believe that someone wanted to spend a whole podcast episode just talking about XML site maps. I loved that. She had so much to share, but also, when we were talking about the speaker plans and so forth beforehand, she was so well prepared.

She sent me all this information that she wanted to go through. She took such an integral part in, "Oh yes, let's go through that question, but no, maybe not that question." I just love that. I love the fact that she put a lot of effort into preparing for the episode as well. It definitely showed, for me if anyone wants to learn about XML site maps they should definitely, definitely listen to that episode.

Sarah: Definitely. Definitely.

Have we both done three now, is that?

Areej: If I had to pick one more like, from season 2 specifically, I had just had so much love for Katherine Ong. We had an episode together, where we went through large-scale website migrations and it was just so much fun because she had all of these examples to share with all of these massive types of governmental sites and health publications, and so forth.

I loved how much she shares in terms of the amounts of examples, which I'm sure even if someone is working with websites within that niche, or that large scale, a lot of the migration tips that she shared can definitely be applied on smaller-scale sites or in different industries. Katherine is always so generous with the knowledge that she shared and that was definitely a standout episode for me.

Sarah: She definitely made me laugh out loud as well. She is hilarious as well, isn't she? [crosstalk] I thought that was a really good one as well. I suppose what we want to quickly say is thank you to all of our guests, because like we said earlier, it was so hard picking our standout. They were all awesome. Thank you so much, speakers, who have joined us over the last three seasons because yes, you have helped make this podcast awesome. What would be the top things that you've learned from speaking to people, Areej?

Areej: I think that's a really interesting question. I've noticed that once you dive into the actual topic, people find it so easy to just sit and talk and talk and talk about it, but it's the starting point. It's asking someone to introduce themselves to a whole group of audience who will sit down and listen later, or some of the questions we ask upfront around, "Oh, well, what empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are?"

A lot of people struggle a little bit with finding answers to these questions, which I totally understand. I think those are very, very difficult questions to answer. I found that interesting that when it comes to the actual topic, it's very, very easy to talk about it freely, but when it comes to some of those initial questions, it can be a little bit challenging.

Sarah: Yes, definitely. I just enjoyed listening to everyone's different journeys, how they got into SEO because I think, from the conversations that I've had no one plans it really, do they? They find a journey into it and stumble into it, but most of the people that I was talking to is like once they've stumbled across the world of SEO, and they realize how wonderful it is, they just seem to love it and want to do so much.

I think that comes across with people within the industry as well because there are so many people doing awesome things, like giving advice, putting blogs together, doing videos, helping people out. I suppose what I learn is how supportive the SEO community is of other SEOs, and we're all wanting to help each other, aren't we?

Areej: Yes, definitely agree. I think we usually always run up an episode by asking people what resources would you like to share and so and people tend to have so many different-- people talk a lot at that point about Twitter and different slack communities and different groups and so on, which shows that it's definitely an industry where you can get a lot of help, and you can find a lot of help. That's always a good reminder to know.

Sarah: Definitely. As I was going through the episodes and stuff, there was a couple of things that I learned or things that stuck with me. One was on Beth Nunnington's episode, which you did with her. She said about how John Mueller, who is a Google representative, said that the total number of backlinks to a website doesn't matter.

What they focus on is trying to understand what's relevant for that website. We know that Google tracks links, but it uses machine learning to read the content that's around that link and understand the wider context of that article too. I remember hearing that and thinking because I think sometimes one of the metrics is how many links can you get to a website?

Whereas that was like a reminder of, "Okay, what's better is to fit," because that whole episode was about relevancy, wasn't it? It's much better to go after the quality and relevancy of links more than the number of them. That was just a really focused example but there were lots of things like that that I learned as well.

Areej: I think she articulated it very well, as well. It's one of those things where I know within her agency, they're working on different scoring metrics and things like that. She did come in with all of this research that she's done. She articulated a lot of it like relevancy and digital PR is one of those topics that a lot of people can definitely talk about, but it's very, very difficult to try to hone down specific metrics or so forth.

To be honest, I think I can't even try to dig out specific examples here on there about what I learned. A lot of it was very eye-opening. I love the episode with Laura Brady on e-commerce SEO. I work in e-commerce, so do you and I felt like there were tons that I learned from that. It was super, super, super actionable and that's why I get really excited when someone wants to come on and share their knowledge. That's the thing about this industry, I feel like a lot of people are definitely willing to share a lot of their in-depth knowledge. I just find that very beautiful.

Sarah: It is. If you go back through all the podcasts, you could really easily pick out one or two amazing things that you've learned. I think just listen to them. I think we're saying because you'll get so much out of them. Moving on then, this is outside of the podcast, and more like talking about the industry. I thought it'd be good to discuss what Google did good and bad this year. I don't know if you want to kick things off there?

Areej: Yes, I think that's a difficult question. I feel like this year was super busy. We're in another update at the moment, which is crazy. We've just finished one last week and now we have a new one that rolled out at the start of December. It's been a very, very busy year. It was like the ultimate summer of updates where we had I don't know, two or three of them. There was definitely a lot of that happening, which isn't necessarily bad. I think the good that comes out of it is the communication side, for sure.

I do feel like, over the years, Google has improved in terms of how they communicate, and the different types of resources they share. They have a lot of their own podcasts and webinars and things like that now, which makes things feel very, very inclusive to newcomers within the industry as well. Even though there's a lot happening, and things keep changing, as they always do, I feel like the communication has definitely improved over time.

Sarah: Yes, I'd have to agree. I suppose what we've got to remember is that every time that Google does an update, they are just trying to improve the landscape, aren't they? Ultimately, they're making sure that user experience and what people land on are the best content they can be. I suppose even though it can be frustrating, and it was because when I found out that they were rolling out an update before Christmas, I was like, charming. Merry Christmas to us.

I suppose it's just about every time an update comes out, is having a breather, seeing how you've been affected, and making an action plan from there because you always get your biggest winners and losers, out of these things. It's just about being flexible and adapting to what happens, I suppose. I do remember one. I think it happened a few months ago when Google decided to change up what they showed on page titles. I think they were pulling in H Ones instead and that caused quite a few issues for companies.

Areej: Yes, it's still happening to this day and it has been happening for a really long time but I think within that I know quite a few people, including Lily Ray, for example, were super vocal about the impact it had on CTR and so forth. It was very interesting when a few folks like Lily Ray and others just stepped up and were very vocal about it. Google actually went back and said, "Yes, this is going to be relooked into, this is going to be revisited." I think there were some improvements done on the back of this, which again, that's very good to see that type of comeback and it shows how strong the SEO industry can be as a collective.

Sarah: Yes, definitely like working together. Okay. Then last point, predictions or what we'd like to see Google do more of...

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