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  • Writer's pictureLidia Infante

The Gender Gap in SEO Publishing 2024

Updated: Mar 1

In the last 3 years I’ve been publishing a yearly study showing the gender gap in SEO publishing. But why does it matter?

Well, featuring in SEO publications can be a catalyst for your career and position you as a thought leader. It puts you in front of the right people, gives you credibility and can help you build a strong network. This, in turn, gives you even more opportunities.

But this is not about individual advancement, it’s about collective advancement. Addressing our biases of what an SEO expert looks like is the right thing to do to fight discrimination, but it’s also the smart thing to do to build a stronger industry. Welcoming wider perspectives has been proven to drive innovation and raise everyone’s standards.

And we need this now more than ever.

I want to acknowledge however that the landscape of how SEOs consume information is changing, and the underrepresentation of minorities in SEO publications is less relevant today. But I’ll dive deeper into that further in the article. For now, let’s look at the numbers.

TL;DR

  • In 2023, 64% of articles in SEO publications were written by men and 36% were written by women.

  • There are more female writers every year. We’ve grown from 31% in 2021 to 46% in 2023.

  • Moz is the most female-friendly publication, with 68% articles written by women. Ahrefs is the least inclusive publication, at only 10%.

  • 76% of articles about technical SEO are written by men, while women write 48% of all articles around content SEO.

  • 53% of published authors in 2023 are new, and almost half of them are women.

  • To close the gap: diversify your author pool by reaching out to women communities, connecting with women on social media and make your pitching process transparent.

64% of articles about SEO are written by men

64% of articles written in the last year on SEO publications were authored by men, as opposed to 36% written by women. I’m happy to see improvements over last year, where men wrote 70% of articles in the industry.



Also, the pool of female writers has grown. Last year 43% of all SEO writers were female, while this year it's 46%. That's a jump from 31% when we first started looking at these numbers!

It might seem obvious, but having a wider pool of female writers correlates with more equitable output. Publications that had at least 50% of articles written by women had a pool of writers with an average of 56% women. Publications at the bottom half of the dataset had 34% of women in their author pool.


The data continues to point at widening your pool of female writers is the key to closing the gender gap in SEO publishing.

The gender gap by publication

The best publication for representation in 2023 was Moz, with 68% articles written by women. The closest publication to a 50/50 split is Semrush, with 47% of articles written by men.

For the third year in a row Ahrefs is the worst offender, with only 10% of articles produced by women. That's 2% less than last year.


It’s worth acknowledging that Ahrefs’ content is now more often than not generated in-house, so it might no longer be fair to compare them to other more guest-driven publications. Ahrefs has the least number of authors out of any other publication evaluated, with only 27 this year, while the industry average is 74.

Some publications have extremely prolific authors and this might skew the data. Barry Schwartz (SEL), Danny Goodwin (SEL) and Si Quan Ong (Ahrefs) have written 253 articles,15% of all the articles written by the industry in 2023.

Last year, the top 3 authors of the year created 23% of the total content, which is a lot more than this year. This number points at a diversification of the author pool.

Here’s what the Moz team had to say:

"On the Moz content team, diversity is at the heart of our work. We strive for gender-diversity on our blog and seek to elevate under-represented voices in the industry. The truth is — it's not hard work. With careful planning and a drive to make the SEO and marketing industry a more inclusive space, you'll find that the pieces fall easily into place. Collaborations with the Women in Tech SEO community have been fundamental in making this possible." - Emilie Martin, Learning & Development Specialist, Moz

Is there a gender gap in the content’s performance?

Last year, women's articles had 27% less organic traffic than their male counterparts on average. In 2023, women stepped up their game, outperforming men by 7%.

On the other hand, content written by men gets 67% more social shares on average, and twice the amount of links. Take this with a pinch of salt until you’ve read the methodology, but ouch.

The gender divide in writing topics

There's a common trope that women write about content and men write about technical SEO. I set out to disprove this, but according to the data, it's true.

76% of articles about technical SEO are written by men, while women write 48% of all articles around content SEO and content marketing.


The topics most heavily dominated by women are Local SEO (63%) and Social Media (60%). The topics mostly dominated by men are AI (76%), Technical SEO (74%) and SEO strategy (66%). The topic with the closest 50/50 split is Career Growth.

Regardless of gender, our favourite topics as an industry in 2023 were Content SEO (24%), Technical SEO (20%), and AI (17%).

Another interesting nugget in the data was looking at how specialised each topic is, by looking at how rare it is to find an author in the space. The most specialised topics turned out to be AI and Local SEO. The topics with the most author diversity are Data Analysis and Social Media.

I thought it would be fun to mention that in a previous version of the topics classification I found that 82% of articles about Affiliate Marketing are written by men. Make of this what you will.

We’re welcoming new authors

52% of the authors who wrote for the analysed publications this year had not featured in the 2023 study at all. This is so exciting, because it means the industry is becoming more welcoming to new authors. I am delighted about this.

The publication that welcomed the most new authors is Semrush, with a pool of authors made up of 66% new authors. The publication that welcomed the fewest new authors is Ahrefs, with only 22% being new. On average, publications had 45% of new authors in their writing pool.

49% of all new authors are female. Which brings us closer to bridging the gender gap in SEO publishing.

Let’s close the gap

This is an issue we can solve together. By publishing more female writers, by sharing more female content, and by removing the barriers that make women feel like their content isn’t worth writing, we can make the industry a more equal place.

If you’re a woman in SEO looking to grow your brand, you can:

  • Join the Women In Tech SEO Community - their mentorship cohorts will change your life.

  • Look at the templates, how-tos, dashboards and strategies you’ve built over the last year and pitch them to your favourite publications.

  • No, I’m serious, pitch it right now. I don’t care that you think it’s not good enough yet.

  • Share other women’s content on social media.

The future of the Gender Gap in SEO Publishing Report

Working on this report this year I had some hesitations. I had mainly two questions:

1. Is this report having any effect at all in the industry?

Since looking at the data in 2021 we've seen Moz, SEJ and SEL become more gender inclusive. Semrush were doing just fine and they've continued to be a great example of female representation in the industry. Wix came into the game in 2022 with an inclusive mindset from the get go.

"We're pleased and honored that, in the second year of the Wix SEO Learning Hub, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to equitable publishing. Our industry is full of incredibly talented professionals with a wide range of lived experience, we are happy to do our part to showcase that." - George Nguyen, Director of SEO Editorial, Wix

2. Is this still representative of how people consume content in the SEO industry?

I don't think so.

This year's selection of publications has narrowed significantly to represent the set that's still most referenced, respected and engaged with by the industry. But the way we consume content has evolved.

  • We're now finding content through newsletters and social media more than we did before. Incredible creators like Jess Joyce and Michael Ginley share their content mainly as social media posts or on their private blogs.

  • There are more publications from agencies and tools creating excellent content that are less focused on guest posting, so measuring them based on gender inclusion would not be exactly fair.

So will there be a Gender gap report next year?

I don’t know. I want to continue to support those who elevate women's work and contribute to a more equal industry, but this might no longer be the right way.

I am considering working on a Gender Gap Report in SEO Speaking next, or analysing the inclusion of women's content in the key SEO newsletters.

Acknowledgements

Crawling and extracting author and publishing dates from some of the largest publications is HARD. Fortunately, this year I had help from an incredibly inspiring woman: MJ Cachón.

She is an absolute queen of everything ScreamingFrog, and she crawled SEJ and SEL with ease, while cleaning up the data with Xpath functions. And she had the idea to analyse the gender split by topic! An icon, an inspiration, just follow her everywhere already.

I sent the data to Brie E Anderson, known for making GA4 easier for SEOs across the world, and together we worked on finding out how rare each area of expertise is.

Methodology

I’ve selected the publication list by how often these were cited as trusted sources of knowledge in the SEO industry. This year’s list is smaller, to reflect the changes in how our industry consumes content.

With MJ’s help, we’ve crawled all their sites using ScreamingFrog and extracted the publish date and author name from every article.

In the case of SEJ and SEL, we’ve crawled the SEO category and extracted every single article linked in their pagination, then validated that they included the category of “SEO”. This was to cut down other marketing related themes that usually pop up in those publications. Everything included from SEL and SEJ has an SEO angle according to their own categorisation.

I've analysed every article published in 2023. I've removed product announcements, articles without an author and sponsored posts.

I’ve exported traffic and backlink data using the Ahrefs API through ScreamingFrog. Social shares data was gifted to me by the incredible team at BuzzSumo.

I’ve used ChatGPT to classify the articles into topics based on their headline. I’ve iterated on this process several times until I found a set of data with the right amount of granularity to showcase gender differences, but remain relevant.

Limitations

There are some limitations in the process that might yield inaccurate data.

  • Gender data: I have assigned each author a gender based on the pronouns they use for themselves, their photos and their names. This might have missed a good amount of non-binary people. I am sorry about this and I have not figured out a good way to address this issue yet.

  • Backlink data: Using Ahrefs’ API with ScreamingFrog I’ve found that not all the links it pulls are live. Also, this is the total number of links that a piece of content has, not the amount it got during 2023. This could be inaccurate if the content has been refreshed in 2023 but kept the same URL.

  • Social shares data: This data shows the total amount of shares a piece of content has received in its lifetime and it can’t be limited to 2023. This is again relevant for refreshed pieces of content. The BuzzSumo data includes only shares from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit. This is worth noting, considering how LinkedIn has grown for the SEO community in 2023 (thanks, Elon).

 

If you’re feeling curious, you can take a look at the reports for the Gender Gap in SEO Publishing from 2022 and 2023.

If you’re passionate about this topic, join the conversation. You can follow me or slide into my DMs on Twitter or Linkedin.



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