Renata Gwizdak is a Junior SEO Specialist at Onely. While her main area of interest is on-page SEO, Renata was in the middle of preparing a workshop about Indexing SEO as we met for a quick chat. Among other things, we covered her advice for people who are just starting in SEO and her involvement in the Women in Tech SEO Community.
Renata, how did you first get into SEO?
For me, SEO is the area between marketing and IT – that’s what got me interested.
When I was 23, I was looking for a job and found the opportunity to work as an SEO. I went in for an interview but didn’t get the position straight away – I lacked experience. So, instead, I got an internship and was later offered the position and stayed at the company for a while.
Do you think you need a special degree to be an SEO?
When it comes to my education, I studied English and Russian and did some IT-related courses. I never finished them, though – it just wasn’t for me. That’s when I became interested in SEO. So, I guess I’m a good example that you don’t need a degree to work in this field.
What is your one piece of advice for those who are just starting in SEO?
I would suggest reading Google’s documentation; it’s a great source of information. It covers everything you need to know, from learning how a search engine works to optimizing page speed.
It may be tempting to buy 20 books about SEO or purchase an expensive course. Still, if you’re at the very beginning of your SEO journey, Google’s documentation and YouTube resources should be enough. Once you go through it, you can continue reading blogs, articles, sign up for newsletters, and follow people in the industry on social media.
Where do you go when doing research or when you want to expand your knowledge?
When I need to research, I always start with Google documentation. If I can’t find anything useful there, I look deeper, maybe on Twitter or SEO groups. I also visit the Women in Tech SEO Slack.
I signed up for a few SEO newsletters to stay up-to-date with anything new. I read one at least once a week. It’s not always related to my work, but it’s a great way to gain insight into the industry.
Which SEO blogs or websites do you follow to stay up-to-date with the industry?
The Onely blog, obviously. 😉 Other than that, I follow people from the SEO industry on Twitter – especially incredible women from the WTS Community.
I should also mention people from Google like John Mueller, Martin Splitt, and Rick Viscomi. If you want to keep up with Google’s updates on search, tools, and performance, Twitter is the place.
Which aspects of SEO do you find most interesting?
Well, I would say everything related to on-page SEO. It is an extensive area that affects both real people and Googlebot. I find it interesting to think about ways to improve a website for both users and search engines.
The longer I am at Onely, the more I realize how important it is to understand developers as an SEO. But do you have to code to be an SEO?
I don’t think you need to code exceptionally well, meaning you don’t need to be a programmer to be an SEO. You need to know some basics – it’s a part of the job. You need to know which code elements are related to SEO. Also, you usually work with developers – it’s excellent to know the jargon and some tricks, but it’s not necessary at first. You can be a great SEO without being able to code.
I used to code, but I don’t as much these days. At one point in my life, I considered coding as a career path, it’s an exciting area, but right now, I don’t think I will pursue it. Perhaps one day!
On September 15th, you’re giving a workshop on Indexing SEO to the Women in Tech SEO community. What got you into working with this group?
I’ve been a huge fan and a member of the Community for a while now. Areej managed to create a safe and friendly space for women, where we can ask questions, share knowledge, brainstorm ideas, and discuss everything SEO-related.
When the opportunity to present a workshop came up, I jumped right into it!
In your opinion, does your gender affect your career as an SEO? If yes, in what ways?
That’s a tricky question! For me, at this moment, I don’t think it does. Onely is a very friendly place, open to everyone – it doesn’t matter whether you are a woman, man, or non-binary.
Nonetheless, I know some places are not so forthcoming. While I don’t think I personally deal with discrimination or bias in any way – at least not at work – I know those issues exist in both our world and industry. We should be mindful of these issues, and that’s something I am very involved in.
Let’s move on to your workshop’s topic. Could you briefly describe the concept of Indexing SEO?
It’s a broad topic related to one thing – being indexed in Google. But, when you think about it, it’s the core of the entire SEO process.
First, you need to be included in search somewhere. Only then can you think about better rankings and driving traffic. And if your website isn’t in Google’s index, it doesn’t matter how good your content is or how fast your website works – you won’t get any clients from this search engine.
Why did you choose to talk about Indexing SEO?
It’s sometimes tempting to focus on more creative areas of SEO, like content optimization, link building, or optimizing performance. But those areas won’t benefit you without being in Google’s index. That’s why indexing analysis and diagnosing potential issues there should be one of the main areas we focus on – and I wanted to share some of my experience in that field.
What mistakes do clients make in terms of indexing that you find most striking?
A common mistake is allowing indexing of too many pages, especially for eCommerce websites. They typically have filters that customers can use to narrow down product categories. Sometimes, those filters generate links to new pages – this way, we can get almost an infinite amount of them.
If you don’t block the crawling and indexation of those pages, you can run into trouble. Low-quality, near-duplicate pages are crawled and indexed by Google, and essential pages might be left out as a consequence. This can make indexing new stuff more complex, you may have trouble with the crawl budget, and you may end up with a lot of duplicate content indexed.
Would you say this is the most severe issue to do with indexing?
Not necessarily. The opposite problem – Google barely indexing the site at all – is also quite popular. This sometimes happens due to crawl budget issues or blocking important pages from Googlebot by accident.
There’s also partial indexing – when an essential part of the page doesn’t get indexed. For example, it sometimes happens with product descriptions and has many possible causes.
What are your favorite SEO tools that you use when you work?
I enjoy how Screaming Frog allows you to crawl both the entire domain and a list or a sample of URLs that you choose.
I use it for many different purposes. It also has other useful functions – like custom extraction, which allows me to extract one or many elements of a page and see stuff like the number of reviews of a product or product descriptions in bulk. So I find it very useful – especially for eCommerce projects.
The other tool would be Ahrefs. It has many modules, but I use it primarily for keyword research and visibility analysis. Ahrefs has a huge keyword database and is available for many markets, so I can easily use it for international projects.
Let’s discuss your workflow – how do you typically work with clients? What does communication look like?
Usually, we communicate with clients using email and a project management system, maybe Slack channels. Sometimes it’s every day; sometimes it’s a few times a week. So it depends on our current project and what’s necessary at any given moment.
We usually have one or two big projects going on at any time, no more. This allows us to dig deeper into Tech SEO issues and focus on direct cooperation with one client at a time.
What are the most common issues that you see your clients face?
Probably performance – with each year, Google gets more and more focused on user experience and performance.
Clients usually don’t work much on performance on their own. So it may not be a high priority for them, or rather, they don’t realize it’s such a high priority.
Since the Page Experience Update, Core Web Vitals are a part of Google’s ranking algorithms. However, some clients don’t know that yet. For us, every performance report for a new project includes the analysis of Core Web Vitals at the very beginning.
Who do you typically work with daily that helps you grow?
I work closely with my manager, Wojtek. He is an experienced SEO, and whenever I need to brainstorm or discuss something related to clients, I can always go to him, and we find the solution together.
That kind of support at work is huge, and I appreciate it.
Which qualities do you immediately associate with Onely and our team?
We are data-driven. This is a huge advantage because we don’t just give recommendations – we back them up with data. So we always work with facts, official sources, and data. This is something I appreciate at Onely, and it’s very beneficial for clients as well.