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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?
The year was 2006 and I was a college student in Romania in need of pocket money. A friend said there's an American company that pays well for Romanians with decent English to spend their times on blogs and forums and chat to people. Link building wasn't yet a thing in most countries and I suddenly felt I was part of an exclusive club. I would spend most of my free time just surfing the web and reading all sort of websites on all sort of topics. I've learned so many random things, from how to fix boats and get the cheapest cruises to medicine and technology. And all I had to do was take part in the discussion and add a link. So that's what I did for the next three years, created about 50K (manual) backlinks, read about what feels like 10% of the internet at the time and recruited all my friends, colleagues and even some family.
But the internet was moving fast and manually building links wasn't as fun anymore and became more of a chore so that's when I decided it was time for me to get a proper job so I landed the only open SEO role that existed in my town at that time and started doing more than just link building.
What is your favourite SEO task?
Reporting - I know this is usually deemed as the most tedious task but hear me out. When I was a junior, most of my time was spent putting reports together and I used to see it as something that I needed to brave through until I have enough experience to pass it on to the next junior. That never happened as I learned that working with all that data has helped me better understand what's going with a website. It helped me know the numbers so well that I could quickly distinguish between a normal variance and a possible change in algorithms that has affected traffic. The numbers helped me decide what my next action should be, how to prioritise efforts and to convince stakeholders that something is worth doing.
I learned that numbers always tell a story, all you have to do is be willing to see it. Consistent reporting helps you see that story faster and that's why reporting is my favourite SEO task.
What is your go-to tool or resource that you can't live without?
I've been using the SEOTools for Excel add-in for ten years now. It allows you to easily connect all sort of tools and services and pull data directly into Excel. It also crawls a website and pulls all the info a crawler would, including HTTP status codes and redirect destinations. It connects to all the Google APIs, including the translation one. It works with all the major SEO tools and some obscure ones too. There are so many features packed in this, it virtually does anything you'd ever need to do in SEO and it continuously gets updated. I believe it's one of the most underrated and super-useful tools any SEO should have at their disposal.
What is something you learned in SEO that made you have an 'AHA' moment?
My AHA moment was realising that the same change won't help two websites in the same way and the only way to see the real effect of an SEO change is to run it on the website that is meant to receive it.
What is your proudest industry achievement?
I've had my fair share of traffic increases, better indexing and spotting impossible technical issues but there's one achievement that I feel proudest of and that's lifting a first-wave link scheme penalty before all the articles appeared on how to do it and all the tools became available to make the process faster.
It took four people going through 23M backlinks for three months straight to get it lifted and I would do it again in a heartbeat considering how much I learned in that process.
What advice would you give women who are starting out in SEO?
Take any expert's advice with a pinch of salt. No one knows everything and what worked for one person might not work for the other.
Listen to others but filter the information through your own critical thinking process and experimenting.
Give a shout out to a woman in the industry who inspires you and tell us why
In order of when I met them: I've always respected Caty Popescu for taking our contradictory SEO chats as opportunities to learn and prove me wrong; I will always hold a special place in my heart for Jamie Alberico for being the first conference speaker that made feel represented as a woman in Technical SEO; I will always be thankful to Areej AbuAli for her immense support and for teaching me that all I have to do to achieve what I want is to simply go for it.
Finally, what empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are?
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
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