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The changemakers of SEO

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I was sitting in a meeting room with the technology and digital category judges for the 2022 Women of the Future awards – shortlisted for my leadership and neurodiversity advocacy – when judge Peter Brown MBE asked me what winning would mean for both me and the SEO industry.

Slightly taken aback by the gravity of the question, I realised Peter had a point; I hadn’t seen SEO widely represented outside of our own industry awards.

We discussed how the perception of SEO to the rest of the UK population could be formed by what they’ve seen on reality TV, such as Mark Wright founding Climb Online on BBC’s The Apprentice.

Indeed, my own perception of SEO has been formed in the many years I have worked in the industry. I have seen it from many angles, some uglier than others. But at the heart of it, I do believe that there is a beauty waiting to be uncovered.

In the end, I told Peter that winning would shine a light on the often mysterious ways of the tech/marketing hybrid discipline in which we work. It would open the door for more stories to be told, and for individual, community and company contributions to be validated.

I realised that being shortlisted for an award like this could even change the narrative I’ve created in my own mind, if not those of others too.

Once you’ve read one too many SEO Twitter dramas, or set up your 97th inbox rule to send the constant stream of link requests to spam, it takes a while to shed the negativity and instead see the light.

The reason I am writing this post is to showcase some of the more wonderful assets of the industry in the UK, which I’ll dub the ‘changemakers of SEO’. This is a non-exhaustive list, so please do reply to this post and comment with the people that make the biggest difference for you.

Let this be something you return back to when you are seeking the positive, and the ways we can make our industry sustainable and supportive in the long-term.

Areej AbuAli

Founder of Women in Tech SEO & Head of SEO at Papier

Women in Tech SEO Meet & Greet drinks at BrightonSEO

[Areej with the latest Women in Tech SEO meet & greet. She is sitting on the sofa, second to the left]

“Women in Tech SEO is a global community aimed for women in the Technical SEO field, to discuss, share and learn from one another. The aim is to empower each other in a positive, inspiring and beneficial way, and to help build our network and accelerate our careers.”

Why is Areej a changemaker?

Areej does not take a back seat. She saw that there was a need to create a safer place for women to learn and grow together in the industry, and she made it happen. There’s almost no easy way to distill Areej’s accomplishments in a couple of paragraphs, and that’s because she is always doing more!

As someone who is always striving to empower women, Areej is absolutely a changemaker that the SEO industry needs. You can experience her community in action on March 3rd 2023 when she’ll be hosting the next Women in Tech SEO Festival in London.

Tickets are still available for this one-day conference (you’ll spot our own Yagmur Simsek on the line-up!) as of time of writing, but you better be quick because they’re selling like hotcakes.

Connect with them online:

Chloe Smith

Diversity and inclusion advocate & SEO Manager at Blue Array

Chloe Smith's photo from BrightonSEO 2022 with LGBT+ community

[Chloe is on the bottom row, far right of this LGBT+ photo taken at BrightonSEO]

Why is Chloe a changemaker?

They are known for advocating for disability awareness and LGBT+ visibility in the SEO community.

Have you seen anyone in the industry sporting LGBT+ SEO FREAK merch? If you’ve spotted a t-shirt, tote or laptop sticker, it’s all down to Chloe. All of the proceeds from their sales go to Mermaids Gender who have been helping gender-diverse kids, young people and their families since 1995.

You might have also seen Chloe do a talk at BrightonSEO about menstrual health in SEO. If you missed it, their slides are available here: https://www.slideshare.net/ChloeSmith123/menstrual-health-in-seo-brightonseo-spring-2022/1.

Connect with them online:

Chima Mmeje

Founder of the Freelance Coalition For Developing Countries & SEO Content Strategist

Chima Mmeje, Founder of The Freelance Coalition for Developing Countries

Why is Chima a changemaker?

Chima is the founder of the Freelance Coalition for Developing Countries, an non-profit organisation that provides free mentorship and training for BIPOC professionals in developing countries.

The FCDC now has an impressive selection of sponsors including well-known tools Semrush and ahrefs, which is thanks to Chima’s ongoing efforts to help other BIPOC freelancers to thrive.

Here’s a link if you’re able to donate time or money to the coalition.

Connect with them online:

Azeem Ahmad

Diversity and inclusion advocate & podcast host

Azeem speaking at BrightonSEO

[Azeem on stage at BrightonSEO]

Why is Azeem a changemaker?

Azeem has recorded 66 episodes of his podcast ‘Azeem Digital Asks’, which is now rated in the top 10 amongst UK digital marketing podcasts, and has also been rated in the top 20 overall. He says: ”My mission with this podcast is to lift the voices of women, POC, and the underrepresented and marginalised within the industry where possible.”

He has also spoken at industry conferences on the same topic, such as his talk ‘Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing, One Year On – Why Has Nothing Changed?’ at BrightonSEO. Azeem has published a blog post with the slides embedded; you can read it all on his blog: https://iamazeemdigital.com/blog/diversity-in-marketing-2021/

Connect with them online:

Rejoice Oikaju

Co-founder of B-DigitalUK & Content Strategist at Rise at Seven

Rejoice Ojiaku speaking on the D&I panel at Sheffield DM

[Rejoice speaking earlier this year at Sheffield DM]

Why is Rejoice a changemaker?

When Rejoice was interviewed in Clockwork Talent’s Making of a Marketer series, she said: “I want to be remembered for helping people. That’s all. If there is one thing I accomplish in this space is to create and help other Black people into the Digital Marketing world.”

It’s fair to say that Rejoice has already gone some way to this achievement, having reached 21,400 followers on Twitter alone, and recently launching the first in-person meet up for B-Digital in London.

Connect with them online: