As we are coming into a new “school year”, I wanted this site, SEO Jo Blogs to have more information to help those in the industry, whether it is guidance about the next career move or confirmation about a project they are working on, or just motivation if they are in a bad place right now. Therefore part of the blog will feature interviews from inspirational and motivating people. I have found that hope is something that can easily get crushed but it is the one thing that keeps people motivated. I also realised that everyone has a choice in what they do career wise, but each choice can have consequences, which can both be bad and good. Hope can sometimes be crushed when that career choice has negative consequences.
I first met Areej Abuali at BrightonSEO a few years ago and have seen her at a few conferences and meetups since then. I was at BrightonSEO this April when Areej gave a very insightful presentation, which turned out to be her first time speaking at a conference. She could have fooled me, it was a great talk and she had many tips to share. There were so many people listening to her tech talk that they had to close the doors to stop people coming in. Areej also spoke at Mozcon in July and will be moving client-side this month. Areej has a lot of drive and ambition and I wanted to find out more about her motivation, how she overcomes hurdles to always succeed.
How did you first get into SEO?
I did my bachelor degree in Computer Engineering, back home in Egypt. I then moved to the UK to do an MBA in Information Technology, this was back in 2013. My MBA introduced me to the world of digital marketing; something I used to have very little knowledge of. During my studies, I did a few internships and charity-based work around digital marketing and that’s when I randomly stumbled upon SEO. I started off in an agency-side content specialist role and one month in, I was switched to the Technical SEO team.
Why did you set up Women in Tech SEO meetup?
Back in March, I started to offer 30 minute calls to women in the industry who were just starting off and needed some support. During these chats, I found that there was a common theme – how overwhelming it all feels and our constant questioning of whether we’re “good” enough. This made me realise that we need some form of support network to encourage and motivate one another.
I envisioned creating a community that hosted events that purely have female speakers and female attendees. I wanted this to be a safe space where we don’t overthink and over-phrase every question we have before asking it, and one where we don’t worry about being judged that we’re not good enough at our jobs.
I launched the global Facebook group and the London meetup group on May 28th. As of now, we have over 500 members and we’ve hosted 3 events; with monthly events (speakers & venues confirmed) till the end of the year.
What prompted you to start speaking at conferences?
I remember my first BrightonSEO back in September 2014, I absolutely loved it! I learned so much that day and I kept thinking “I wonder when I’ll be good enough to do a talk myself”. Every year, I kept pushing the thought to another year. In October 2018, I attended SearchLove by Distilled and they had their community speaker slots and it got me so inspired, the next day I filled a BrightonSEO speaker pitch for April 2019 and I got it! I literally spent 6 months prepping for my talk (after the event was done, I felt like I had so much free time!). A week prior to my BrightonSEO talk, I came across the MozCon community speaker pitches, I filled in a speaker pitch thinking nothing will come out of it. In May, I got an email inviting me to speak in MozCon in Seattle – I think I cried that night haha.
What would you recommend to a fellow marketer with a couple years experience in regards to speaking at events?
DO IT! There is no such thing as ‘you’re not ready yet’ or ‘everyone already knows your topic’. What you share will add value or help someone in the audience. It will also challenge you in new ways and aid you with lots of confidence. If you’re nervous, start small. There are tons of great meet-ups in our community that are always looking for first-time speakers. Also chat to people about their experiences to learn more from them. I’m also available via DM and more than happy to jump on calls to help with speaker pitches or give general advice.
Where does your drive and motivation come from?
I read something earlier this year that completely changed my way of thinking when it comes to motivation. I used to constantly struggle with self-motivation and then I came across the “Do Something Principle” by Mark Manson. He explained that “Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.” I always thought that action comes from motivation, not the other way round, until I came across this principle which in summary is:
Action → Motivation → Inspiration
I remember struggling to get started with my BrightonSEO talk then I decided okay let me just write down anything, open a powerpoint slide and just start writing. And next thing you know, that action is resulting in motivation which then turns into inspiration. Ever since, I’ve started to apply this principle to my day to day life and it’s really pushed me to do things that I normally wouldn’t have done.
What has been the highlight of your career?
This year has definitely been a good one, I have a lot to be grateful for. I’ve spoken in both BrightonSEO and MozCon. I got shortlisted for the European Search Diversity, Inclusion & Equality Award (thanks to Hannah Butcher for the nomination), I’m moving to a new client-side role this month where I will purely focus on Tech SEO and I launched Women in Tech SEO! I would say launching this community is definitely my highlight so far – I’ve loved every minute of it (I even enjoy the admin side of it), I got to meet lots of amazing women through it and it’s challenged me in ways where I’m learning lots about what I’m capable of.
Thank you Areej for taking the time to be interviewed on SEO Jo Blogs. You can see Areej at BrightonSEO and she will also be at the next Women in Tech SEO meetup which has just launched its brand new website, today.