An interview with Aiala Icaza González

Aiala Icaza González

SEO Director at Reflect Digital | A LAB Group Agency

I haven’t always known what I wanted to do as a career. At first, I wanted to be a lawyer and save the world from injustice, then I wanted to be an event planner and then a flight attendant, as well as many other things! 

I was drawn to SEO by pure chance and coincidence. It was in the middle of the recession that had been going on for far too long, from 2009 until who-knows-when. I couldn’t find any relevant or decent jobs in Spain, however, I had a friend who lived in Berlin that knew someone working for a startup SEO company, so I went for the interview and got my first internship in SEO. It didn’t stop there – I got another one at Rocket Internet too. I then discovered that I could be a consultant as an SEO so I did everything I could to enter an agency, which is how I ended up in Malaysia as an SEO team lead.

It may sound cliché, but helping clients reach their targets, doing a technical audit and having no issues, seeing rankings improve, training others and sharing my information on SEO are all aspects of my job that I love… and not forgetting the people, SEO has an amazing community that always has my back!

Some of the challenges of the industry include educating clients that are old school and stuck in their way of thinking or doing things. Usually, they would either ask to be ranked as number one for a specific keyword – missing the point of SEO entirely – or wouldn’t want to listen to technical recommendations from a woman. So overcoming this, which in reality is pure ego, has been one of the trickiest things.

My advice for women in the industry is to not be scared to move on, if a place doesn’t feel good or if you aren’t allowed to be yourself and the environment feels suppressing. Leave at the soonest opportunity. Don’t stay just because the current place is comfortable or a good brand, if it doesn’t feel like you, I strongly recommend following your instincts and moving forward somewhere else.  

I’m very thankful for the Women in Tech SEO community, from individuals that I’ve never met in person yet they’ve always been helpful when I’ve needed a hand to the WTS & founder of the community Areej who is always there to support. I would say it’s an amazing community overall, helpful and supportive. 

Many people in my life are inspirational to me. I couldn’t just say one person, as there’s many; from my parents, friends such as Estrella Jaramillo and Alanna Turpin, the first who conquered the sex tech industry in the US and the second who is trying to save the world and the animals with her hard CSR work, some of my SEO peers such as Jeena George ( one of the best managers I’ve ever had, showed me SEO and kindness in the workplace), of course, Becky Simms that founded Reflect Digital and has made it not just a successful company, but one which holds strong family values that show how much they care on a daily basis. I could continue with a long list of inspirational women that I’ve been extremely lucky to meet in my lifetime!

The New Normal

I decided to move back to Spain from Dubai since the onset of COVID, so I could be closer to my family. I turned my life from office work to working from home, which I never thought I’d be able to do as I’m an extremely sociable person!

I’ve also seen a massive positive difference since being back in Europe when it comes to gender inequality in the industry. It could be due to having amazing clients or the changing attitude towards women in tech, however, back in the Middle East and Asia, I did encounter different situations where I did feel I had to prove myself, fight harder to be heard and of course, be judged for how I dressed.

Since moving back to Europe, I have mainly been going out to eat, socialising and exercising in my downtime in order to take a break from my screen. Soon I’ll get back into skiing – which I love! I have seen a switch ever since the pandemic started, in the way that burnout is being discussed. It’s a popular topic in the workplace now, with new generations coming in with strong opinions and openness when it comes to discussing mental health. This in turn is forcing everyone else to become more open on their struggles as well as encouraging people to be more supportive and respectful. 

Photo by Amy Louise Kolsteren

The Future of SEO

These are really exciting times for SEO, with so many businesses realising how important it is to have their SEO on point, although there’s still a lot of knowledge missing around what SEO is exactly. However, I do believe that this year, we will focus even less on the dreaded algorithm updates and more on humanising our strategies, with more focus on the end-user, answering their questions, solving their problems and giving them unique experiences.

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