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Interviewing Rachel Costello

Welcome to a new Weekly Interviews edition where we interview brilliant women in our industry and share their stories with the world! Anyone is welcome to share their story by simply filling this form, we encourage women from all walks of life in our industry to do so.

Introducing Rachel Costello, Technical SEO Consultant at Builtvisible. Based in London, UK, Rachel is an international conference speaker and trainer – having spoken at events including BrightonSEO and SMX. She is also a regular columnist for Search Engine Journal and has previously managed the production of training courses, white papers and research pieces for DeepCrawl. We asked her everything from how she first got into SEO to what empowers her to be the brilliant woman she is 💪🏽

How did you get into SEO?

I studied English Language & Literature at university and this translated nicely into my first role in digital marketing, which involved producing editorial and on-page content for a company's website and social media profiles. The official job title was 'SEO & Social Executive' though, and that was the first time I'd ever heard of SEO!

Quite quickly I got hooked on the technical side of SEO and trained myself up to become a Technical SEO Executive about 6 months in, and I never looked back.

What is your favourite SEO task?

I do love the in-depth, investigative analysis involved in a full tech SEO audit. I also enjoy building out site speed audits, and more recently, page experience audits which focus on the performance and usability of a site from a user's perspective, ahead of Google's upcoming page experience algorithm update in May 2021.

What is your go-to tool or resource that you can't live without?

Each tab and report in Chrome DevTools holds its own treasure trove of information. I swear I learn something new every single time I use it! I also like to keep an eye on news from the Chrome Developer conferences to see what new features they are working on.

What is something you learned in SEO that made you have an 'AHA' moment?

I remember listening to John Mueller talk about instances where Google doesn't select our specified pages as the main canonical versions of pages during the Google Webmaster Office Hours Hangouts back in the day, and it sparked a level of curiosity within me. I was determined to find out exactly what influenced Google's selection process for determining canonical pages, and how SEOs could have more of a say around what pages should be shown to users - we're the ones who know our websites best, after all.

It turned out that a canonical tag by itself isn't enough; Google takes a number of different signals into account when selecting pages to show in the index. Check your internal links, sitemap links, redirects, parameters and backlinks as well.

What is your proudest industry achievement?

My involvement with BrightonSEO over the years has been very special for me - despite the first time speaking there being TERRIFYING. I had learned so much from that conference from the early days of my career that to be able to speak there, and to be invited to deliver training courses for them, was an absolute honour.

I also couldn't quite believe it when Martin Splitt asked me to be a guest on the Google Webmasters SEO Mythbusting series! If you had told me when I started out in the SEO industry that one day I'd be sitting in a recording studio in Google's New York HQ talking about canonicalisation, I would NOT have believed you. That was an incredible experience.

What advice would you give women who are starting out in SEO?

Build out a network of people you trust to learn with and bounce ideas off of. Adding other women from different companies to this list of people is especially helpful if you are the only woman in your team at work - something I've experienced a few too many times.

Don't be discouraged if you feel like everyone around you knows so much more than you do, I've been there. We all have to start somewhere, and even the most seasoned SEOs still have a lot to learn. Never be discouraged from learning something new or doing what you want to do - this is your career, and you can do whatever you want with it.

Give a shout out to a woman in the industry who inspires you and tell us why

Ruth Everett is an incredible SEO and a good friend who I was lucky enough to work alongside at DeepCrawl. She is always teaching herself new things, innovating and driving this industry forwards, while supporting everyone around her. Her never-ending kindness and drive for self-development definitely inspire me!

Finally, what empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are?

I get a lot out of helping other people. So being able to share what I've learned so far in my career with others and being able to have a positive impact on someone - whether that's teaching them something they didn't already know about SEO or being a representative for women in the industry - that brings me a lot of satisfaction.


Thanks Rachel for a truly insightful interview, you can connect with Rachel on Twitter and LinkedIn.

To view more interviews with brilliant women, check out our Interviews page. If you've enjoyed reading this interview, then we'd love for YOU to share your story with the world! Simply fill this form here, we welcome brilliant SEOs from all walks of life! 🙌🏽