season 1, episode 5: on adapting with Areej Abuali

Amanda speaks with Areej on all things enterprise, including:

  • Differences between different in-house roles
  • Her experience as a woman working in tech
  • How she shifted her mindset to work at a different pace
  • …and how her community, Women In Tech SEO, is evolving

Listen today for the full episode.


AMANDA: This is Amanda, your host for this podcast called Engage on Enterprise SEO, where we go where nobody has gone before and dive deep into the world of enterprise SEO from as many different angles and viewpoints as we can tackle. With me today, we have Areej Abuali, who is the SEO consultant at her agency, Crawlina, founder of the community Women in Tech SEO and all around spectacular human being.

Some time has passed since Areej and I recorded this podcast. So we focus on her in-house experience and prior agency experience. Areej, if you’d ever like to come on again in a later season and share with us how consulting life is going, you know I’d be happy to have you. Now tell us how you made that switch, Areej, from in-house, well from agency to in-house, how did that go?

AREEJ: Yeah, so I started off when I was agency side. So I did that for like the first five years in my SEO career. And I always kind of advise people in general who are starting out in SEO. And I say, yes, do go agency side, because I think there’s a lot you can learn from there. Like there’s tons of variety when it comes to clients and processes and different industries that you get to work on. And then, yeah, I kind of did the switch to in-house initially purely because I just wanted to learn what it was like on that side.

And it…I just found it so much more interesting, but also I ended up discovering a lot of new skills, particularly around stakeholder management and working with different teams. It just felt really good to be able to go in depth and in the detail of things as well, whereas agency felt like you only really got to scratch the surface. For the last four years or so, I’ve mainly been in-house ever since.

And I’m…plan to stick to that. I don’t see myself going back agency side for a while.

AMANDA: No, fair enough. What would you say the biggest challenge that you had was making that leap?

AREEJ: I think when you’re agency side, there’s a lot of focus on the recommendation side, where it’s like, OK, I’ve done my part. I’ve given my recommendations and I’ve handed them over.

And there was also a lot of juggling between one website to the other, which I think maybe the advantage of that is you get to learn. And you get to see patterns where you can learn across different websites. You can see, oh, yeah, this happened here. So maybe that will happen there. When you’re in-house, you’re focused primarily on that one browser, that one website. And so you spend a lot of your time just really focused on that and getting into the data and the nitty gritty of it.

And a lot of the focus then starts becoming: Well, how do I get sign off? And how do I have folks prioritize these recommendations? And which team do I need to talk to about this? And so it just comes with its own set of challenges, but then at the same time, there’s lots of learning there as well.

AMANDA: Absolutely. And you mentioned this kind of a couple of times already, and we’re only a few minutes into it, that in-house was very good for kind of learning new skills and things for you. What would you say? Aside from stakeholder management, which we can talk about separately because that’s its whole own kind of thing. What would you say kind of the most interesting or the most compelling or the most surprising thing that you’ve learned or kind of token interest in coming into in-house was?

AREEJ: Well, with my first in-house role, I sat in the marketing team. And that for me made sense because I always thought of SEO as like part of the marketing channel. And I was within performance marketing. So I worked really closely with, like it was SEO and PPC is like the two different channels, but then we worked very closely with like different marketing departments, like the content team and the PR team and so forth. But then I found that I was trying, I was probably spending like 70% of my time attempting to liaise with the tech team.

And, you know, tech and engineering kind of sat all the way over there. And this was like before COVID as well. So we were physically on different floors. And I was a bit like, you know, this is getting a little bit ridiculous because I’m, you know, I sit in marketing, but I don’t really need that much for marketing. I need a lot from tech and I sit so far away from them. And so what ended up happening was a whole bunch of different meetings and, um, you know, me, me not being involved in like.

I remember thinking all the time, oh, it would be so easy if I was just in their sprint planning or it would have been so easy if I was in this or that. And so for the next role that I had afterwards, I purely joined because they’re all sat in tech. And I was like, oh, finally, this is going to solve all my problems. And it’s interesting, right?

Because I think it kind of depends on the website needs and what the focus is where that can kind of define what makes sense in terms of where you sit. But I did learn a lot from sitting within tech, which is, I don’t think that’s something you get to experience a lot on your agency side. There’s usually a person who’s a messenger in between who kind of passes stuff through. So that made me learn a lot about their ways of working and their processes and how maybe us, even us as SEOs, we can kind of take some of these ways of working and apply them to our teams as well.

AMANDA: Absolutely. And stakeholder management. How did that go for your brain? Because I know for some people who make that switch from agency to in-house, particularly if they were an individual contributor agency side and weren’t really client facing at all, that switch is a bit of a, a bit of a, like screws with your head a bit. How did you find that when you’re like, oh, I have to, I have to talk to people now?

AREEJ: Yeah, I think the first learning that I realized was, oh, now I understand why our person of contact was so busy. When I was agency side, you know, and you’d send through like recommendations and stuff, and then you’d send follow-ups and then you’d be like, Whoa, you know, like we’re working together. How come I’m not getting much responses and so on. When I moved in house and I found myself like, I have all my own work to do, and then I have all my own meetings to attend.

And then I also need to like manage an agency relationship. That was like, okay, no, that’s a lot to take on. And of course, I’m not going to be able to just simply take those recommendations and just get them across. So there was, it’s a little bit of a, you know, you had that person always in between who kind of made your life a lot easier. They sometimes and sometimes not might be more familiar with SEO than others.

But then when you, it’s kind of then fully becomes on you when you move in house where, you know, you kind of realize, whoa, okay, well, I…I need results, right? And I need to prove the value of this channel. And so the only way I’m going to get results is to actually get stuff done and get stuff implemented. And so then the question became, okay, well, how do I convince all these different teams who have their own priorities and who have their own goals and how do I convince them to kind of like add some of these tickets of mine within?

And so, yeah, it’s definitely a challenge at the start. I think…A lot of what you need to do when you move in house initially is just like meet a lot of different folks from a lot of different teams, understand their ways of working, understand their goals, understand what’s coming up in the next quarter for them. Over time, what I began to do was instead of giving them like brand new recommendations, I would kind of understand, oh, you’re working on a project that’s specific to this template. Okay, great. Here’s a few tickets that are specific to this template.

So it’s almost like drip feeding things that are related to work that’s already ongoing, as opposed to giving them brand new work to do. Yeah, no, absolutely. If there was one piece of advice you could give yourself before you were in-house and you were at agency side, what do you think it would be?

I think I went in in-house with the usual mentality of, okay, I’m going to sit down now and like do an audit of the site and come up with everything that’s, but I don’t, that’s probably, I mean, it’s good, right? Cause you get to understand the website, but I would rather have spent that initial first month, for example, which I didn’t do in my first role, but I did in my second in-house role. Um, just really meeting people, understanding their goals, understanding how they’re being measured, understanding their KPIs.

And then taking all that valuable information and basically on, okay, well, if our goals in SEO are gonna be one, two, three, these are the teams that each goal ties into, these are the folks that we need to be speaking to and so forth. This is far more valuable than sitting down and just doing like your typical type of website audit, which, you know, there will definitely be the time for that to come, but that’s the easy part, right? Because we know that stuff inside out, but it’s that first part that we really need to figure out first.

AMANDA: Interesting, I won’t say interesting, but you’ve had a trajectory where you went from like big in-house to a kind of smaller, more lean and more nimble team. What kind of difference have you seen between those two kind of organizations and ways of working, whether it’s in terms of scale or how things are managed? What has that difference been for you?

AREEJ: Yeah, I mean things definitely get done much, much, much more quicker, like on a smaller type of setup. They’ve only been around for like five or six years, right? So they’re, they’re fairly new. There’s no legacy tech issues. There’s no legacy code. Like everything is super straightforward. It’s the same CTO who was there from the very beginning till now. And like, so everything is, whereas, you know, with the company I was with prior, like it was around for, I don’t know, 10, 15 years and there was so much legacy in there and a lot of change in the tech team, change in the marketing team, change in strategies.

And so what ends up happening is, you know, a lot of people might not have answers to some of the questions that you have and things are not, sometimes we give our recommendation that we think is so simple, like, could we just remove that one line from robots.txt? But actually it is not as easy as that. Like that specific line could actually be living on like, I don’t know, five different code bases that all need to be kind of touched and they cannot simply be touched. There is a lot of stuff that is done around it first. Um, so yeah, it was definitely a big change, but, but I think it’s a little bit unfair comparing them purely because of how I sat in marketing the first time around, I sat in tech the second time around, so it was a little bit different there, but usually, you know, with a smaller type of startup, things do get done much, much quicker.

I think there’s a lot of learning that you can have from sitting in both for sure.

AMANDA: Just to kind of switch gears a bit, because this isn’t really something that we’ve acknowledged up until the moment, and I think it’s important. As a female presenting human, how has your experience been agency versus in-house? How have you felt in terms of your recommendations being listened to and acknowledged. And, um, but if it’s, if it’s not something you feel comfortable answering, please don’t feel like you have to, but I do think it is an interesting and important angle to take given that generally there are fewer women in tech and particularly with the dev teams and the engineering teams, sometimes there’s some friction there. So I’d be interested in hearing your experience.

AREEJ: Yeah, I definitely struggled more with it when I was agency side than when I was in house. I think when you’re in house, there’s this idea of, okay, this person has been hired in to be the in-house SEO expert. And so we kind of, you know, trust them and we, we, we trust what they’re saying and we trust what needs to be done. When you’re agency side, it’s a little bit different because it kind of depends on the relationship you have with the client where some clients might simply see it as we’ve hired this agency on a specific retainer to get this done and we need results and we need them passed. And.

Oh, are we, you know, there’s this, there might be this nagging thought of, oh no, are they just trying to upsell us? Oh no, do we actually need to get this done type of thing? Which is unfortunate, right? But sometimes you do reach a point where there’s this like us versus them. The other thing with agency side that makes it a little bit tricky as well is, you can, your main point of contact can change while you’re working with them. Right? So you can have someone who bought you in and who really trusted you. And then this person changed and that new person wants to do things differently.

Whereas when you’re in-house, we’re all working across the same mission and the same goal. Agency-side was also where I started, so I was probably not as confident going in, presenting findings and so forth. That took some time. But in general, yeah, unfortunately, you do get some clients here and there who kind of question some of their recommendations or would respond back to you with, I don’t know, some article that is 10 years old that said…Google actually claims, la la la, are you sure that we need to do this?

And you notice it with some clients where, you know, if you’re in a meeting providing recommendations alongside like a male colleague, and you, this is where you can kind of do the comparison where it’s like, Whoa, like how come it kind of feels like the male colleague, like they’re, you know, their insights and their recommendations are taken better than mine when we’re essentially saying the same thing.

So yeah, that definitely did happen a few times when I was agency side. And I think that’s, that’s another reason as well, why I struggle with this, with the agency side a little bit is because you’re not in full control of who you get to work with, right? You’re kind of assigned clients and it is what it is. Whereas, you know, when you’re in house, you’re, you end up working for a company that you buy into their culture and you buy into their brand and you’re proud to be a part of them, so it does make it very, very different. So.

Thankfully, when I was in-house, my experience has been good in general, where, yes, things can be very, very slow, but there is this trust that I am the expert, that I’m coming in, and I know what I’m saying. And I’m sure it did help that my confidence had increased by then. When I was agency-side, I think it is unfortunate that you don’t get a say of who your clients are. And so some might be much more problematic and much more challenging than others.

AMANDA: No, absolutely. That’s similar to what I found as well. And my last in-house role at the telco here in Australia, I found probably some of the most excited devs that I’ve ever met to learn about SEO. And I’m like, yes, this is amazing. But tell us a bit more about what it’s been like sitting in the tech team, because I feel like…Like you said, it’s not really the most common configuration yet from kind of an SEO perspective. A lot of people say, yeah, that’s kind of the ideal setup, but not many people actually implement it and live it and do it. So I’d love to hear a bit more about that.

AREEJ: Yeah, I mean, personally, like I’ve loved sitting in the tech team. I think it’s great. I do think you get, and just being part of their ways of working, being part of sprint planning and retro and refinement and being part of things like Three Amigos and, and just really getting a say off, okay, here are the tickets that are going to sprint that are related to SEO type of thing and not really being questioned. Like that was, and just being part of all like the product planning side of things as well. Lots of advantages there for sure. The one challenge is around, and this highly depends on the kind of work you do and the priorities you have.

But for example, if you have a lot of focus on the content side, then the challenge is then seen where, well, they’re on the other side, how can I get some of my recommendations across? And so it becomes a little bit similar where, you know, it’s a little bit different if myself and content were kind of sitting together within one team. But what tends to happen at that point is SEO is in tech and then content is in marketing, and so you need to kind of liaise with them alongside your request then becomes one of many, many teams requests where SEO is briefing us to do this, but then PR is briefing us, brand is briefing us, all these different teams are briefing us.

Well, again, then it becomes like a question around what should they prioritize? So that can be a little bit of a challenge. And I think the other thing is around as well, you see certain SEO teams that have content writers within their teams, that hierarchy or that structure doesn’t make too much sense if you’re sat in tech because content writers typically would not, it just doesn’t make sense for them. They would have fit within tech, they’d want to sit in marketing. Yeah.

And so what happens is we’ve hired, so myself and the content team, for example, have hired content writers before who, who sit in content marketing, but then kind of have like a dotted line across to me. So it does, it does become a little bit challenging there and then it becomes. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, you know, you’re going to see the grass isn’t always greener, right? You’re, there’s always going to be a problem, whether it’s here or there and certain challenges, but. I think everyone just needs to kind of sit back and think about where am I spending the majority of time? Where am I spending my 70% or 80%? Is it on tech or is it more on the marketing side? And then based on that, like a change can be made.

AMANDA: Now from, because I’m a nerd, from the nuts and bolts perspective, what kind of sprint planning is in terms of like how long are your sprints? Because I remember there are some of my clients when I was agency side were like, we have one year sprints. So they only did releases like every year. So everyone is different. Like my most recent in-house role was, fortnightly — was two weeks, which I feel like is one of the more common ones. But yeah, what was your kind of cadence like and what kind of scripts are you using? Like, I’m just a nerd. I’m curious.

AREEJ: Ah, no, that’s all good. So am I. Uh, yeah, so we have typical two-week sprints as well at the moment. And we do, uh, we have sprint planning on the Monday. And then at the end of the two weeks, we have like a Friday retro to kind of reflect on how it went. Um, we make sure, or especially like from my side, from the SEO side, right before a new sprint starts, I kind of like put in all the tickets required. So then they are reviewed on the Monday to see whether they’re going to go ahead within that sprint, or they’re going to be in another one. Um.

We do specifically on certain product projects that we’re going to take, depending on the roadmap we have. We can have kickoffs, and then we can have discovery in the middle. And we have three amigos sessions where, for example, if SEO is involved within that project, it might be someone from product, and then a dev, and a UX designer usually, and then the SEO person is there as well. So yeah, it’s really interesting, and it kind of gets you thinking about how even as SEOs, depending on how big the team is, it might make sense to have similar type of processes within our work as well.

In the company I worked for prior, it was much longer than two-week sprints. I think they had different cycles depending on, and at one point it was like, okay, this quarter, this is the project that we’re gonna, this is what we need to ship by the end of it. And so there were almost monthly check-ins or reviews within that as we went. So…Yeah, it’s probably different on the PNP.

AMANDA: Yeah, absolutely. And then is the team, are you React? Are you Angular? What library are you using?

AREEJ: Yes, we use a bit old fashioned, Ruby on Rails, actually, is what we’re built on. OK. Super, super custom CMS built from scratch since they started. And you get access to.

It’s like the admin side of things is amazing because there is a lot that I can go in and just do myself on the spot, which is fantastic. So actually a lot of the tickets are, can you give us functionality on the admin side for us to just do this without us having to go through to you? Which is like, it’s amazing. There’s very, very little. Unless it’s like a big site wide change, there is very little that you kind of need to go and ask developers to do.

A lot of it is actually, OK, let’s sit back and think about, how can we set this up in a way where you can do it yourself via admin? So it’s more like the back end side of things, as opposed to, OK, fine, I’ll do that change for you front end. Yeah.

AMANDA: Have you ever had those moments where you’re just like, oh, god, I’m going to press this button. Will I break the website?

AREEJ: No. When I first started at Papier, I was just in shock. I remember the first week they walked me through the admin interface and how everything is set up. And I couldn’t believe it. I was, are you really? I could, and they were like, yeah, you know, just change this word. And then you change the word, you press enter and then it’s changed live. And I’m like, what? That is ridiculous. But of course, like everyone has like different permissions and things like that. There’s stuff in place to kind of, yeah, like roll back with a click of a button and things like that, but it was still shocking for me because the smallest I’m talking like I worked in places before where, I don’t know, a single title tag, oh, my dear, it could take months and months and months for that to actually get changed.

So it was like a whole new world. And I probably have taken it for granted because I’ve been with them for a while now. And I don’t think I will ever see this again in any other place I work, which will be a little bit of a struggle. But the fact that it is there in one place makes me feel like I’m sure that’s the case in other places as well. Yeah.

AMANDA: What do you feel like you enjoy or appreciate the most about being in-house? Is it that kind of ability to kind of go in-depth or what is it for you that makes you not want to kind of go back to anything else, basically?

AREEJ: I think it’s this idea that we’re all working for one goal. And it never, for me, maybe I’m just really lucky where I’ve worked so far, but it always feels like there is very little like finger pointing or like blaming where, you know, we’re all working for the same goal. If this didn’t work out, let’s sit down and reflect about how come this didn’t work out and what can we do to improve it? And everyone’s trying to achieve the same thing. So, for example, when I, in my previous role, it took me quite some time to be able to get sign off on like digital PR agency.

But then the thinking around this was always like, this is our company’s digital PR agency, this isn’t the SEO teams. So how can we make sure that this agency that comes in kind of helps and ticks different KPIs across different departments? And so, yeah, that type of thinking, I think for me is just very, very unique and you kind of do get that in-house. Whereas agency side can be a little bit difficult where, oh, you know, we need to make sure this client renews, we need to win this client, we need to do this.

And It can be really stressful and for a number of reasons, like the client at the end of the day might decide to not renew, might decide to not. And then you sit down and you go, well, where did this go wrong? Was it from the recommendations or was it? And that’s not, yeah, that’s not a vibe I wanna be a part of.

AMANDA:No, fair enough. What do you think is the kind of the most surprising thing that you experienced coming in house aside from being able to and being able to change anything kind of out of whim you’re like oh I can do this now what do you feel like is the kind of what surprised you the most?

AREEJ: How little most teams know about SEO. And that was, I think, again, that’s something that I didn’t realize right away. So it took me some time to get my head around it, but I became much better at it when I moved roles, where it was like, okay, actually, what I need to do is I need to be advocating for SEO and SEO education really needs to be like a core part of my mission. It’s not just about going in and saying, oh, this is how much organic revenue comes in, but it’s also about, well, how do we…How do we get different teams on board to understand the importance of it and the need for it and for the business in general? And so this kind of led me, for example, to work very closely with the PPC team where it became like, OK, you know what, we can actually balance each other out, where it’s in the interest of business for us to spend less money on paid. So the better we do on organic, the less we need to spend on paid. So how can we kind of like work together as a balancing act?

And yeah, I think that’s something that’s like a priority of mine now. Like how, when I go in to a new company, how do I get everyone on board? And how do I get everyone feeling excited about SEO? Yeah, definitely something. Whereas, you know, when your agency side, it’s a bit like they know they need it. That’s why they’re investing in it and they’re hiring it already. When you’re in-house, it’s a bit like, how do I, how am I just not seen as, oh, just this SEO person who’s kind of getting stuff done where instead, because you’re not.

You’re going to struggle then to get sign-off and get much of it and get resources, right? So you need to make everyone realize like the importance of it. Yeah.

AMANDA: So how do you get people excited about SEO? How, how do you want to be able to approach it or how are you approaching it now?

AREEJ: Yeah. So, I mean, a few things that I tend to do always, like I like to do with new folks who start in the company, for example, like intro to SEO kind of sessions where I introduced them to what it is that I do. And then I specifically talk to them about how we will potentially work together based on what department they’re in. Um, something I have is like an SEO channel where like every two weeks or so I kind of share a new update. That update can be anything from, by the way, we have a new Google algorithm update and it means XYZ. Or it could be, guess what? You know, we rank this for this now.

And, or maybe like this new amazing piece that the content team created actually got this amount of traffic. So it’s things like that where like that Slack channel, for example, has people from all around the company, like different teams, like a physical design team, for example, who have nothing to do with SEO, but then it’s stuff like that, that can kind of get them depending on like how you approach it and how you give the update and get everyone feeling really, really excited about it.

I feel we get that a lot with things like, you know, you tend to have Slack channels around PR updates or, oh, look at us, we got featured on, I don’t know, this publication. Everyone gets excited, right? So how do we do similar to the SEO side of things? And then I think with reporting, like, I’m not a massive fan of reporting, but I think it’s about, you don’t need to be doing it a lot, but even if you do it like once a month, how do you do it in a way that is very, very accessible and open to everyone and just shares like pure business data that people care about?

No one’s going to look at a spreadsheet that has like the 2000 keywords that you’re tracking. Instead, you know, people care about how you’re performing for that very small core list or how much revenue came in and what that means as a total percentage of the entire revenue or how are we doing like on a year on year basis. So, yeah, it’s things like that. I think that just kind of speak to everyone in their own language that gets them excited about SEO.

AMANDA: Absolutely. And how have you found working with the data, which I realize is very specific but have you found that the organizations that you’ve worked with have actually had that proper revenue or customer lifetime value tracking? Or is it something where you’ve been like, oh, why don’t we have this? How has that been for you from a data perspective?

AREEJ: Yeah, I mean, every time it’s a new challenge, right?

AMANDA: Mm-hmm.

AREEJ: So when I was agency side, it was very, very difficult. Most of the time you, I don’t know. Yeah, sure. You get access to Google analytics, but sometimes you are fighting to even know actual revenue like type of data. Um, and you do a lot of assumptions based on a lot of things at that point. When you’re in house, that’s actually one of the first things you need to spend a lot of time on. So Zoopla, my prior role, it was a big, big, big struggle because I had to learn SQL from scratch. They use BigQuery for everything. And it was really, really, really scary. And you get your head around it, and you get your head around it quickly. But then when you’re initially just popped into it, you’re like, oh, no. I need my reports, and I need to know what I’m benchmarking against. And so we had to set a whole bunch of stuff up on Data Studio, and we had to query a whole bunch of stuff via BigQuery. And there was just a lot of learning curve there.

But once you have it and once you have that baseline, it feels amazing. And then it becomes much, much easier for continuity based on. And my roll up up here, I was one of the first SEOs to be hired. So we had no data. Well, we had data, but we had no data that any SEOs were reporting. So it was there, but like muddled up in like the raw jargon of things. And we do not use Google Analytics, which was terrifying for me because I was used to Google Analytics. Instead we use Looker.

And we had like direct, like, you know, raw data feed into it. And I’d never used Looker before. And again, it was this idea of having to build brand new dashboards on it from scratch while learning how to even build views on it. So that was really scary. But again, I think I spent like a good solid, I don’t know, my first two months or three months even just like building out everything, and now it’s there, right? And it’s there and it’s easily there and it’s easy to replicate and duplicate across and it’s easy to build on top. So yeah, like I think my advice is definitely spend a lot of time on the data side of things when you first get started because you need that benchmark as well. But at the same time, like different companies are gonna use different toolings and different technology. So don’t feel overwhelmed.

You’re gonna get your head around it eventually and just ask a lot of questions and…you know, ask questions from the folks who have already, for example, someone I became very close to was the person who heads up like the CRO team conversion rate optimization, because that person was already using Looker a lot for their reporting. So they were like my go-to while I was still like figuring stuff out initially. So yeah. Hey, friend, help me out, please.

AMANDA: Now, I think one thing that I’m hearing you talk about and that I’ve I’ve seen myself quite a bit when in-house versus agency is that a lot of times in-house you are kind of thrown the need and given the responsibility to learn a lot of new potentially like hard skills, not even necessarily soft skills, but hard skills like SQL, like new analytics platforms, like new CMS platforms. What kind of mindset did you have when approaching that so that you didn’t completely lose your mind? How did you just figure it out and get it done? What was your headspace?

AREEJ: Yeah, it’s scary and it’s terrifying. I think maybe just to start with, what I would say is most of this stuff is usually mentioned in the job description. It’s very, very easy for us to read that one line in the job description and be like, oh, I don’t know how to do that one line, so I’m not going to apply at all.

Thankfully, I am now over that where it’s like, it’s okay, even if I don’t know how to do that one line, I know how to do everything else. So don’t let that one line discourage you from applying in the first place is what I… And even in the interview process, just be honest and open. I was asked, oh, do you know SQL? No, not yet, but I’ll learn it. Oh, have you used Looker? No, I haven’t, but I’ve used this other stuff and I’m sure it’s similar. So that’s all fine and okay.

And then I think, yeah, when you get started, of course, it can be really scary because also you want to get stuff done quickly, right? You want to be able to have reporting. You want to be able to know what your data is. So just kind of give it the dedicated time needed initially and kind of manage expectations where just say, it’s going to take me, you know, between one to three months to put this stuff together. And that’s fine, right?

Because I need to do that while speaking to all the different teams and while figuring stuff out and, and, and, and. But. You know, after three months, I’ll be sharing with you, like, great things, and I’ll give you updates and progress within. And yeah, just talk to people who, you know, there’s, I’m sure a lot of people had started before you, not necessarily in the SEO team, but in other teams who also didn’t know how to use these toolings and kind of figured it out. So just kind of approach people who have done that, ask them to give you intros. And a lot of the times, like the looker itself, for example, the documentation, there’s tons of stuff on there that you can kind of even taking that time to kind of learn how to use a tool and using it.

And, and never start with a blank canvas is like my biggest advice always. I think what I did at one point is I replicated a bunch of views that I don’t know another team was using. And then I went in and I like changed the data source for them to be organic channel instead. And that makes it, it’s the same with data studio, right? Where I would never start with a blank template on Data Studio. I usually use an existing template and then change a whole bunch of stuff in it to make it. There’s something way less overwhelming about starting with something that’s already there and just like manipulating what the data is as opposed to, yeah, just start completely fresh scratch that can be so scary.

AMANDA: If you had to kind of give yourself one piece of advice before coming in-house that you know now that you didn’t then, what do you think that would be?

AREEJ: Yeah, I think, you know, just don’t be, probably just be kind to yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I feel like when you’re in a lot of in-house roles, you tend to be the main SEO. Maybe sometimes there’s a team of you and someone else or so on, but…The teams don’t generally feel that big. And so what tends to happen is if you wake up one morning and visibility has done this, like has like a slight drop, then you’re like, Oh no, this is on my shoulder. What have I done? How am I going to just man up? Like my advice to that is just manage expectations. Like go in, contact the right people, let them know this happened. We’re looking into it. This is what we potentially think might have happened. This is what we’re investigating. We’ll give you an update within. I don’t know.

So just manage the expectations, right? And make sure you communicate, communicate, communicate. But don’t, you know, I always say this, like we are not saving lives. Yeah. Don’t take it personally. This stuff happens. Algorithm updates are all over the place. Competition is hard and fierce. And, you know, at the end of the day, like someone goes up, someone goes down.

Yeah, that’s I think don’t take anything personally and kind of be kind to yourself and just make sure you manage expectations, right? You communicate what you’re finding. Yeah, just like stay calm about it.

AMANDA: No, that’s amazing. Thank you so much for your time. And before we wrap up for the day, I’d love to hear a bit more about the conference, what it’s all about.

AREEJ: Yes, yes, yes. Yeah, so Women in Tech SEO Festival is back, which is exciting. This is the fourth one, and I’m still as nervous as ever. Doesn’t matter how many I organize. But yeah, this is the fourth one we’re doing, which is amazing. And we have an awesome lineup of women, as always, who are gonna be speaking. We always have four tracks that come one after the other. They are not in parallel, which is awesome. So we have analyze, advance, innovate, and empower.

10 speakers all together, a full day conference in London, and fingers crossed I am planning my first US version very very soon. But yeah, you can check out all the details on forward slash conference.

AMANDA:Amazing, thank you very much again for coming on board and it’s been great to chat to you about all of this.

AREEJ: Yeah, thank you for having me.

AMANDA: I want to offer a massive thank you again to Areej for joining me on Engage on Enterprise SEO and sharing her experiences and learnings. The WTS Fest is also coming to Philly in September, though it’s already sold out, so you can pick up tickets to London in 2024 or hopefully back in the States again in 2024 as well. If you want to continue the conversation, find me by my company, Floq. That’s F-L-O-Q.

On LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter at Amanda EC King or reach out to me directly if you’re interested in talking about my own strategic consulting services. Have a lovely day and enjoy listening to the rest of season one.