How Big Is the Gender Gap Between Men and Women in SEO?

Posted by NicoleDeLeon

To anyone working in SEO, it’s somewhat discernible that this is a male-dominated industry. While there were powerful women SEOs in the field( like Moz CEO Sarah Bird, for example ), if you glance at a convention loudspeaker lineup or peruse the bylines on search-related blogs, you’ll see that those who identify as female are few and far between. A recent list of the 140 more influential SEOs featured 104 men and simply 36 women.

So how big is the gender gap? And how does it translate to tangible things like money and racket entitlements? To catch out, we mined the data from our State of SEO 2020 examination, which peculiarity 652 SEOs in 51 countries. Here are part and parcel of the things we learned.

But first, a mea culpa. If SEOs who relate as ladies have an uphill climb in this industry, there’s no doubt that female-identifying SEOs of colour have a hill that is steeper still. I seriously regret not expecting demographic questions on race and ethnicity which would have allowed us to analyze the disparate affects that bias frisks on BIPOC girls SEOs. It was a missed opportunity. That said, we are currently running a investigation on BIPOC in SEO that aims to cover those issues and more as we continue to take an introspective scene of our industry.

Follower outnumber dames by more than 2 to 1 in SEO

Of the 652 SEOs who participated in the study, 191 identified as females( 29.3%) and 446 identified as gentlemen( 68.4% ). Additionally, one identified as non-binary and 14 preferred not to say. Data was collected on a SurveyMonkey form. We reached out to our own database, purchased listings of SEOs around the world, and promoted the survey on social canals for respondents. We offered no award of compensation or reward for having participated. Non-binary, persons who chose not to identify a gender by choosing “preferred not to say”, and SEOs from the African continent were underrepresented largely due to the outreach database itself. Eventually, respondents selecting non-binary and “preferred not to say” were not calculated in the men/ ladies percentages.

A voluntary investigation is no longer an technical sampling, but those percentages mesh with previous studies by Moz that acquisition those who identified as brides made up 22.7% of SEOs in 2012, 28.2% in 2013, and 30.1% in 2015. In all four studies, workers outnumbered women by more than 2 to 1.

Importantly, the brand-new causes indicate the spread hasn’t constricted over the past five years.

This was not a surprise to countless female-identifying SEOs who participated in the study.

“I started out in the SEO industry about 10 years ago. Compared to that, I do look more women working in powwows, on online stages, and in the day-to-day work with patrons, ” one said. However, she added that she hasn’t seen much progress in the last 5 years. “It’s like we are kind of affix. I suppose it’s at least partly a visibility controversy: Males have been there forever, building their reputation and expertise. It is hard to keep up with that if you had a late start.”

We interviewed more than a dozen female-identifying SEOs, the majority of members of whom asked not to be specified. Although a few had caring superiors, consumers, collaborators, and mentors along the way, countless shared know-hows of being passed over for promotions, having to fight to be heard in engagements and, in some cases, be payable less than mortals for the same work.

“I think you can sum up the SEO industry by looking at speaker panels of all the major discussions. There is no equality. Are you a white-hot male and 50+? You must be an expert! Are you the status of women, 40, who’s been doing this since 2004? Oh, honey, go sit down. We have an expert already, ” said one woman. She said she spent 13 years at a website development company being “constantly overlooked” before moving to a digital marketing organization where she is respected and valued.

The gender divergence is widest in Latin America

Global internet usage has boomed over the past two decades, with more than 59% of the world’s population now online. Although internet penetration is highest in Europe and North America, more than three-quarters of global users live elsewhere. These thriving marketplaces are served by robust communities of SEO professionals on every continent.

Our study reached SEOs in 51 countries, which we grouped into 11 huge fields. Participation was highest in the U.S. with 269 SEOs answering, but we too cross-examine 113 SEOs in Western european countries, 85 in the U.K ., 43 in the Eastern Europe/ Balkans neighborhood, 39 in Australia and New Zealand, 30 in Asia, 21 in Canada, 18 in Scandinavia, 16 in the Middle East, 12 in Central and South America, and 6 in Africa.

We found that the gender spread is most pronounced in Latin America ( 83.3% who identified as men to 16.7% who identified as dames) and Australia/ New Zealand (8 2.1% who identified as men to 17.9% who identified as ladies ).

The gender gap is least substantial in Africa( although with an admittedly very small sample size due to the small number of African SEOs in our database) and Canada( 52.6% who identified as men to 47.4% who identified as maidens ). Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-professed feminist who equipped a gender-balanced cabinet, Canada has offset gender equality national priorities, but progress has been uneven at times.

When it comes to gender diversity in SEO, the U.S ., Asia, and the U.K. all trail behind Europe, Scandinavia, and the Middle East.

Female-identifying SEOs were most likely to freelance and specialize in content

Generally, the three most common career environments for SEOs are serving as an in-house expert at a single busines, are present in an authority determining, or operating independently as a consultant or freelancer. Each course has its own pros and cons. We concluded some interesting gender differences in where SEOs are working.

Male-identifying and female-identifying SEOs are equally likely to work in-house, with about 40% of both genders working inside a single business. And as we discuss below, both genders reported being satisfied with the working conditions and stage of support they received in their roles.

Among those who practice their craft externally, adults are slightly more likely to work in agencies than wives( 49.7% vs. 42.5% ).

The biggest chink was among freelancers. Female-identifying SEOs are almost twice as likely to be contractors or freelances as those who identify as subjects( 17.7% vs. 10.6% ). However, it’s unclear if female-identifying SEOs are heading out on their own because they don’t feel they can get a fair shake working for others, or if they’re drawn to the freedom and flexibility of freelance work.

Full-time freelancing has grown steadily across the economic scenery in recent years. It too tends to draw more brides than beings. Place of the plead may be flexibility around childcare, but insure over income was likewise a factor for some of the SEOs we interviewed.

“I think a lot of women choose to do freelance because they want to be paid what they deserve, frankly, ” said one 25 -year-old female SEO in East Anglia, U.K.

However, another woman who works as an in-house SEO said, “When I got my start in marketing, most of the jobs offered to me were contractor roles, and it wasn’t clear how to become full occasion. It wasn’t by choice; it was what was available to me.”

Many female-identifying SEOs said it was hard for them to do hired or promoted, even with stellar track records.

“I’ve seen loudmouth , no-record , no-proof men be hired. It’s utterly worsening. At my aged company, I was skipped by two men who had half the insight for supervisor importances. Each guy left within months to different companies to the next deed, ” said a 41 -year-old female SEO in Minnesota. She subsequently modified companies and procured a much more receive environment.

In addition to career paths, there are noteworthy differences in the areas of the industry that male-identifying and female-identifying SEOs are more apt to specialise in. Most SEOs consider themselves generalists, but among those who profess a specialty, females are twice as likely to be content experts( 17.6% to 7.7% ). On the other hand, male-identifying SEOs are nearly twice as likely to be technical experts( 21.5% to 12.6% ). It’s unclear if this is a result of alternative, fallout from the gender gap in STEM pursuits generally, or if those who identify as brides feel unpleasant among tech SEOs.

Among the female-identifying SEOs we interviewed, various said they think early gender stereotyping played a role, from the dolls little boys and girls are given to what each gender is encouraged to pursue as a career.

“It’s same to why brides are not often involved in engineering positions. Technical capacities are historically associated with developer training, and women are more likely to transition from the marketing side than the programming side, ” one said.

Several dames just said technological SEO, in particular, is a “boys club.”

“I participate in online forums for general Tech SEO and Women in Tech SEO, and the vibes are much different, ” one female said. “The male-dominated general meetings are competitive. The female groups are more encouraging, but again, we are trying to bring along and encourage women in the field.”

Another tech SEO who worked at an authority and in-house before going out on her own as a contractor said the culture can be intimidating: “I find that people are quicker to hop on and attempt people about technical knowledge than women.”

Female-identifying SEOs generally accuse less than people for their services

To find out more about the dollars and pennies of SEO, we asked the agency and contract SEOs who participated in our study about their pricing representations. In all, 261 SEOs were willing to share how they price their services and how much they charge.

The three most common pricing mannequins are monthly retainers, per-project pricing, and hourly paces. Although there was a wide range of charges among male-identifyng and female-identifying SEOs, the medians were consistently lower for those who identified as maidens.

Among agency and contract SEOs, adults are more likely to price their services with monthly retainers( 59.1% of men vs. 39.4% of the status of women ). Women were most likely to bill per assignment( 31.8% of the status of women vs. 18.2% of men ). About a fourth of both groups use hourly pricing.

But before we talk about prices …

Before we get into the details of how much male- and female-identifying SEOs give, it’s important be emphasised that we didn’t ask who actually set the prices. Depending on the dimensions of the an enterprise, SEOs who work there may have very little sovereignty over the pricing arrangement.

The agency’s charges might be standard, or they might vary depending on who does the direct. One can assume that freelances choose their own rates, although they might be responding to signals about what the market will bear and what clients are willing to pay.

Some studies have suggested that a variety of psychosocial factors head female-identifying freelancers to charge less than their male counterparts. For instance, a Hewlett-Packard study determined a confidence gap in which wives inclined not to apply for a advertisement unless they met all the qualifications, but husbands would go for it if they met 60 percentage of the job requirements.

Conventional wisdom holds that wives are more cooperative and men are more competitive. Whether or not that’s true-life, followers initiate negotiations more readily than women and tend to ask for higher compensation.

In a future study, we will certainly ask who measured the service pricing. For now, we can only report what male-identifying and female-identifying SEOs told us they charge.

Retainers for those who identify as male are 28.6% higher than for those identifying as female

Our respondents included 138 bureau and contract SEOs who implementation monthly fees as their primary pricing pattern. These fees arrayed from less than $250 a month to more than $ 25,000 a month, but overall they were higher for men. At the midpoint of the series on our cross-examine, those linking as male accusation a median retainer of $2,250 a month while those identifying as female indict a median of $1,750.

When we looked at agency SEOs and freelances separately, the median for freelancers was much lower, but it was the same for both genders: $750 a month. However, the sample size was quite small. There was simply 19 freelances in the study who chiefly use fees. Among the 119 busines SEOs who use retainer pricing, the median retainer was $2,250 for those identifying as male and $1,750 for those identifying as female.

Project premiums for men are 66.7% higher than for women

Our respondents included 54 busines and contract SEOs who frequently charge on a per-project basis. The scope and cost of projects motley vastly, from less than $250 to more than $ 100,000. But the data showed that overall, males blame more per assignment — a median of $5,000 vs. $3,000 for female-identifying SEOs.

We decided to dig deeper and concluded an interesting exclusion when we looked at agency SEOs and freelances separately.

The price gap was more than three times as wide among those who work in business. Our sample included 36 enterprise SEOs who call per-project pricing. Male-identifying SEOs reported that their agencies charge a median of $8,750 per programme while those who identify as gals said their agencies accuse a median project fee of $2,250.

The reverse was true among independent SEOs. The sample size was small, so we’re not sure what the hell is reach of it, but amongst the 18 freelance or contract SEOs we polled who bill by the project, brides had the leading edge. Female-identifying freelances charge a median reward of $3,750 per project to $ 1,750 for male freelances.

One contractor in her 50 s hypothesized: “I judge females may be more detail-oriented and spend more time with their assignment. Maybe humanities may blame little because they have more consumers? ”

Median hourly rates for male-identifying SEOs are 16.8% higher than for female-identifying SEOs

Our respondents included 57 authority and contract SEOs who frequently legislation by the hour. Among this group, the median rate is $125 for male-identifying SEOs vs. $107 for female-identifying SEOs. In such cases, the difference is largely attributable to more girls working as freelances. The median charge for men and women SEOs at business was $125 an hour, and the median rate for both who were responsible as contract or freelance SEOs was $88 an hour.

Many of the female-identifying SEOs we interviewed said maids tend to undervalue themselves and need to be more assertive in negotiating prices.

“I think confidence and not being scared to charge what you’re worth comes into play for the higher proportions, ” said digital marketing and material specialist Kristine Strange.

Both men and women feel equally corroborated as in-house SEOs

Some good bulletin for in-house SEOs: When asked about working conditions, resentments, and grief items, both men and women had very similar responses. Both reported strong levels of interdepartmental cooperation and support for SEO priorities.

Female-identifying SEOs are slightly more satisfied than male-identifying SEOs with in-house SEO aids

The resources for in-house SEOs are largely dependent on the size and fiscal state of the company that fills them.

Among in-house SEOs, maids are as likely as workers to work for enterprise-level firms. We found that 27.1% of male-identifying in-house SEOs and 24.8% of female-identifying in-house SEOs work for fellowships with more than 250 employees. And 72.9% of male-identifying and 75.2% of female-identifying SEOs work for firms with 250 or fewer works.

In-house SEOs across the board rated engineering subscribe as their great challenge. Female-identifying SEOs were generally more satisfied than their male peers with the expertise of their crews and their staffing levels. They were equally satisfied with other elements of their SEO programs.


Although there are some very prominent and talented female-identifying SEOs, they are always underrepresented. And when they do enter the field, they are often overcompensated at lower rates than adults. There is no single solution to broadening the talent pool, but we have a few thoughts.

Welcoming industry: The staggering number of women who spoke to us about these knows wished to remain anonymous. We can only assume that wants female-identifying SEOs do not feel safe frankly discussing issues of gender within an SEO workplace. Silence only serves to bolster the status quo. We must promote an manufacture culture that does not reward the whistleblower but instead seeks to listen, understand, change, and improve opportunities for all its members.Training and mentoring: More than in many other industries, there isn’t one clear path to becoming an SEO. The STEM realms are one training ground, but many other SEOs learn the aircraft from mentors. To achieve more diversity, which is good for the industry and outcomes, it’s important for girls and those who identify as girls to be supported and welcomed into STEM categorizes during their student times.

As an manufacture, we need to take the job of mentorship seriously. Experienced SEOs can do more to mentor youth geniu, particularly those who identify as ladies. Business can do more to recruit and hire beings with different backgrounds.

Several women whom we interviewed mentioned the importance of mentors and allies 😛 TAGEND

“I sit in countless announces where I say something and until my CTO repeats what I say, some consumers don’t hear me. My CTO is so supportive and wonderful, and he will literally say, ‘She’s right when she says,’ Blah.’ She’s went 20 years under her region …. ‘ Then their light-footed turns on.”

“I’m good at learning complex software and doing complex technological assignments but wasn’t encouraged in this until my recent job — and even then, it wasn’t until I got a female manager that I was recognized for this ability and ascribed this form of undertakings on a regular basis.”

“I spent the first two years double- and triple-checking all my work, backing everything with connects from male professionals in the industry. One day the CTO told me I didn’t it is necessary do that. He relied me. I knew myself in the lavatory in tears. It made me a long time to stop mailing connects.( Sometimes I still cast tie-ups, but only if I think he needs to read them has continued to be me !) “

Transparency about spend and pricing: The inhibition about discussing fees and compensation restrains prejudices hidden. It’s time to shatter that criterion. Independent SEOs should extend their pricing programmes by instructors of all genders for perspective. Organizations should be sure that ability and event , not gender, is the driving factor in pay and pricing.

Don’t undersell yourself: If negotiation doesn’t come naturally to you, waste extra era cooking projects. Research your opponents and talk with mentors. Focus on the appraise you’re adding. Be sure to factor in your job skills and know as it flourishes. Don’t fall into the confidence gap trap. Even if you don’t tick all of the boxes, if you have most of the qualifications, forge ahead to apply or submit a proposal.

I want to acknowledge the important role that various female-identifying SEOs played in the making of such articles. First, I have the privilege of working with some amazing gals every day in my SEO agency. Thanks to Cindy Glover, without whom I could not have caused this study. I also want to thank Areej AbuAli whose work in creating the Women in Tech SEO parish has been an invaluable reserve to the SEO industry and in particular, SEOs who determine as gals. Brides in Tech SEO not only helps to enlarge the expressions of those relating as women within the community, but too cures connect them to each other.

If you wish to explore your own possible implicit bias around issues of gender and occupation, check out Harvard’s Gender-Career implicit slants test.

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