The annual Women in Tech SEO Festival took place on Friday 3rd March 2023, just ahead of International Women’s Day.
Held at The Barbican Centre in London, the conference is an opportunity for women from across the globe to come together to learn, network, and have fun. Split into four sections, Analyse, Advance, Innovate, and Empower, the event hosts talks across a variety of topics – from image optimisation to confidence.
This year, three Frogs attended, and they’ve shared their experiences below.
What can SEO Managers Take Away?
Steph Hugman, SEO Manager
I attended WTSFest for the first time in 2022, so this year’s event was my second experience of the WTS Community coming together for an in-person meet-up. Aside from the event expanding in size, the general feeling throughout the day hadn’t changed; it hosts a group of welcoming and intelligent women, all there to learn and build relationships.
Having been promoted to SEO Manager 6 months ago, I’ve since taken on more responsibility, which has led to my increased awareness of factors outside of simply getting work done. Whilst every talk of the day was interesting and insightful, I found some of the “softer” topics to be particularly applicable as I’ve moved forward in my career.
Bethan Vincent’s talk on “Getting Executive Buy-in Throughout your Career” gave a real insight into how we as consultants can adapt our approach to our audience in order to get buy-in from senior leadership.
She shared the most common reasons why senior execs turn down ideas, including bad timing (lack of budget/resource), inability to see a return on investment, or simply not understanding how an idea fits into the bigger picture and aligns with the business’ overarching strategy. Consultants therefore need to ensure they share ideas at the right time in the budget/work cycle, and show clear value of the idea in its first stages so as to have the best chance of sign-off.
Helen Pollitt’s talk on “Levelling up your SEO Career” shared invaluable advice on how to shape your current role into the best fit for you, but could also be applied to those looking for a new role.
The main point was to consider different aspects of a role like levels of responsibility (from management to being solely responsible for a client’s strategy, and therefore results) and specialisms (whether that’s a branch of SEO like technical, a particular sector like motoring, or a particular business size like SMEs). Work out what your dream job would look like, and then start to adapt your role into that by taking on appropriate tasks and training to ensure you end up where you want to be.
As a manager, it’s important to be aware of your direct reports’ aspirations so that you can help them reach those goals.
Not only did she share her knowledge, but Helen’s slides were a masterclass in how to get your audience to really reflect on your words, as she conveyed simple points without overcomplicating the topic. Her comic timing was incredible too.
Finally, a special mention to Chima Mmeje’s talk on “The Six Keywords to Prioritise when Building a Topic Cluster”. Chima’s talk outlined how to recognise when to create additional assets for your content like downloadable templates or checklists; if asset modifiers like “checklist” appear next to your keyword in the SERPs, that’s a clear indicator that creating an additional asset will probably help you perform well in organic search.
Not only that, but content in the style of tips, how to’s, and guides are the best ways to show authority on a topic. And you can capture users interested in your competitors by writing about them (so you show up for their keywords) but highlighting how you’re better.
What can SEO Consultants Take Away?
Ellie Brett, SEO Consultant
I attended WTSFest last year, when I was only 3 months into SEO, but this time I was able to take away more than just a basic understanding of what SEO is. This year’s WTSFest included more brilliant women doing interesting talks on a range of SEO topics.
“Chat GPT is your friend talking way too much after drinking way too much” – This is my favourite quote from the day by Syphaïwong Bay; whilst Chat GPT can be a great way to get ideas for content, it’s important to pick out elements which are actually important.
In her talk on ‘The Six Keywords to Prioritise when Building a Topic Cluster’ Chima Mmeje gave us some examples of what money pages are important in the SaaS industry including; demo’s, free trials, pricing plans, personalised landing pages, product pages and best tools/ software pages.
Throughout my year at Screaming Frog I’ve had a range of clients across a range of industries and find it difficult to determine which pages will generate leads. If a client doesn’t sell products, how should you determine what pages to focus on? This is especially true on non e-commerce sites, especially in the first couple of months with a client – I’ll be checking these pages next time I get a non e-commerce site.
Chima also spoke about scraping competitor reviews to find product gaps a business could implement. As a consultant I rarely find myself in a position of suggesting new product offers to clients. However, I think this could also be used to find common issues that users are experiencing on a site. If lots of users are complaining about specific pages, it helps point you in the right direction.
Myriam Jessier had a great talk on ‘Going down the image SEO rabbit-hole’, this talk looked into the different formats of images and the correct uses for each one. Whilst I know how to send clients high quality images, I’d never really thought about why or understood why some images take too long to load.
What can PRs Take Away?
Laura Pisanello, PR Consultant
As a PR consultant attending a technical SEO conference, it can feel intimidating to step into the more technical side of search. And while there were some topics I was unfamiliar with, the presentations were interesting and informative. I walked away with some great insights into technical SEO and some ideas about how these can be used in PR.
At the end of the day, PRs and SEOs both have the shared goal of optimising a company’s online presence for search engines and people.
Of course, you can’t go to an SEO conference without hearing about ChatGPT. In Syphaïwong Bay’s talk on creating and automating content in a meaningful way, she made some interesting points about using Chat GPT in your writing. While using Chat GPT is a great way to help you get started and avoid the blank-page syndrome, it cannot replace your expertise and knowledge about your clients.
She also made a great point that to be a great writer, you need to be able to combine good writing, expert knowledge, and a bit of laziness (to encourage you to find good tips and tricks to save time).
Bethan Vincent’s talk on getting executive buy-in was also really insightful. She made some great points about approaching senior execs with ideas that translate really well when working with clients too. It can be easy to get caught up in the potential of a good idea, but she highlighted the importance of making sure that you can justify the time and resources required before pitching the idea.
She also emphasised the importance of a good summary. While this was specific to being able to summarise presentations– this is a great tip to remember for ideations too. If an idea can’t be summarised clearly – it probably needs some more refinement.
Once again the WTSFest was a great experience to meet up with a group of like-minded women and discuss all things SEO. The three frogs who attended came away having learnt a range of new skills, regardless of how far they are into their SEO/PR careers.
See you next year, WTSFest!