In our first episode of SEO Leadership for 2024, the SEO For Hire team were incredibly excited to start the year strong, with SEO Coach and Podcast Host of ‘The Simple and Smart SEO Show’, Crystal Waddell.

Crystal provided some incredible insight on building, strengthening and enhancing your SEO team through:

  • Identifying A-Players
  • Importance of communication and soft skills
  • Areas for junior SEOs to improve
  • Combating Imposter Syndrome

And so much more.

Crystal works professionally with SEO teams to help coach them, and, given our personal interest in building-up professional SEO teams, Crystal was the perfect guest to bring on the webinar.

Here are a few highlights from our discussion:

  1. How important are soft skills within team structures, and how do you actively ensure it’s practiced? 

    Crystal starts off by stating that soft skills are growing more important. Because so many people have tech skills and can follow a checklist, but skills like empathy, being able to connect with people — especially in leadership, should be considered one of the most important skills.

    Crystal has been a coach for volleyball and SEO, and that aspect of being able to build relationships first, and meet people where they’re at, and then help them grow, is a vitally important step.

    “Soft skills are more and more important. Even something like empathy is emerging as a novel idea-and its nothing new, but making your work environment conducive to someone growing despite their circumstances is something that’s going to be very important in the coming future.”
  2. How do you identify A-players within teams? 

    Crystal adds that they’re very important.

    “You need to look for an energy match because if you’re passionate about something, you want to be around other people who are also passionate about that thing. You want people around you who match that energy.

    For me, a prime example is if you walk into a store and everyone hates their jobs but theres that one person who’s smiling, ready to help and makes the experience better — that’s an A-player to me. Someone who comes to work, is ready to do what needs to be done; because not everyday is going to be perfect.

    When someone has that intrinsic motivation to be the best that they can be — that’s the A-player that I’m looking for.
  3. How does an A-player react to the need for adaption, with prime examples such as lockdown and the developments in AI? 

    Crystal explains that they are the type of people that come to you with what they’ve read.

    “It’s the person who goes outside of the call-of-duty to make themselves better. The person thats going to a conference on their own. Someone that’s done self-study to make themselves standout.”

    Crystal adds that she gets incredibly inspired by some of the people she coaches who will take something she’s said, and gone out and done further research on their own; stating that it’s the self-starting mechanism that stands out to her.
  4. Are there any skills that juniors are lacking in, from your experience? 

    Crystal explains that over the past year or two, she’s found that there’s a bit of a delay in the adaptation of past SEO practices compared to what’s on the horizon right now. She feels somewhat concerned that the practices may not be relevant or helpful in the upcoming years; adding:

    “So, if someones learning where they’re just checking boxes for an SEO project, they’re not going to be as prepared as they need to be for the Tech revolution we’re in right now. Thats one thing that concerns me about some of the practices I’ve seen.”
  5. Do you find Imposter Syndrome quite prevalent in teams? How do you overcome it? 

    “In every stage of my life I’ve experienced imposter syndrome–even with athleticism, coaching volleyball, etc.

    Confidence and reminding yourself of what you’ve done is so important.”

    Crystal adds that she even has notebooks of ideas and thoughts over the years, and when she feels that creep of imposter syndrome, she will go back into those notebooks and remind herself of how far she’s come.

    “A big way to overcome imposter syndrome outside of the mental work, is experience. When you feel prepared for what you’re doing, that’s where you can tap into the confidence even when youre feeling mentally or emotionally insecure.”

If you would like to listen to the full episode of Crystal’s podcast, you can find it on Youtube and Spotify.

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