Today we’re pleased to sit down with well-known female SEO guru Christine Finkbeiner-Test. Christine is not only an SEO expert, she’s also a woman! So, naturally, we asked Christine about how gender has impacted her career.
Christine, we’re honored to have you here. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us about SEO.
Thanks for having me. Always a pleasure to talk about search marketing and industry trends.
Great, let’s dive right in. So, being a top female SEO, you must get asked this question a lot: What does your husband do for a living?
He’s also an SEO – but how is this relevant to our conversation? I thought this interview was about my work in SEO.
It is. But behind every great woman is a great man, am I right? Wow — it’s incredible he’s an SEO, too! You must have some amazing conversations at the dinner table! So, how long did it take him to teach you about SEO?
What? No, actually he works for my company. I hired him during one of our growth phases. He’s a quick learner and he’s been a huge help. But why are we talking about my husband? And – hold on a second – did I even tell you I was married?
Oh, we just assumed any woman in your position couldn’t have gotten where she is today without the love and financial support of a dedicated male spouse.
Yes, I’m very lucky to have such a supportive husband. You’re right about that.
Hey – we couldn’t help but notice you have a hyphen in your name, Ms. Finkbeiner-Test. You are a Ms., right? Why did you purposely choose to make your name longer than it has to be when you could have just taken your husband’s name?
I worked incredibly hard to establish myself as Finkbeiner. My entire identity and sense of self for 30+ years was as Finkbeiner. I understand it’s a personal choice and certainly don’t judge women who choose to take their husbands’ names. However, for me, taking my spouse’s name would have been the equivalent changing my entire identity. Who is Christine Test? I don’t know. It simply wasn’t an option for me.
Ah, okay. For a second there, we thought we’d goofed and were talking to one of those feminazis from Hillary’s camp! So what other outlandish feminist ideals do you espouse?
I hardly think retaining the name I was given at birth constitutes an outlandish ideal.
We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one, Ms. Finkbeiner-Test. Moving on: It must be difficult for a go-getter like yourself to earn so much less than your husband! Any tips for our female readers on how you cope with that?
Actually, I’m the top wage earner in my household. And gender pay equity is a cause near and dear to my heart, so I’ve made sure we conduct regular salary audits to proactively monitor for any gender-based pay differences. I certainly don’t want my daughters to have to wait 118 years for the gender pay gap to close.
Ha…right. As if that’s ever going to happen if you all keep taking time off to have babies! Hey – speaking of which: Who watches your children while you’re off being a top female SEO?
Well…like 31 million working mothers in the US, I have to make childcare arrangements while I am at work. But, again, I fail to see what this has to do with SEO.
Uh-oh…you’re not getting emotional on us, are you? Should we reschedule for – ahem – a different time of the month?
Next question, please.
Alright, speaking of motherhood, how has being a mom impacted your relationship with your employees? You must be so much more nurturing now, right?
Well, I think there are many attributes required to excel as both a CEO and a mother – you have to be a good role model, lead by example, encourage, roll with the punches and be very, very patient. But can I get a question about SEO next, please?
Okay, sure – how about this: We know how catty women can be! Were you taken aback by the competitiveness of women in your field? How do you deal with that?
I think that might be an overgeneralization that, at best, borders on ignorance and insensitivity.
There you go talking about feelings again! So – how about this — we’ll let you chart the course here: How does it feel to be a role model for other women in SEO?
Well…I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of many, many people – my husband included, as you’ve noted – but also my parents, teachers and colleagues. So I know firsthand how vital mentorship is to success and have tried very hard to make myself available to my employees. We all have a vested interested in the success of this enterprise and I very much want to foster an environment where men and women alike feel they can grow and succeed and where they genuinely have a future. So, to me, “mentor,” is a better goal than simply “role model.” But, of course, I don’t want to discourage any positive connections and understand what is right for me and my organization may not be right for everyone.
Wow – that was a mouthful. Do you drone on like that at company meetings? Hey – speaking of which: Did you know you’re the first woman to be named CEO of an SEO company? What’s that like?
Well…it was certainly a proud moment and reflected many years of hard work and sacrifice. I had my fair share of roadblocks and stumbles along the way, but my generation has certainly enjoyed advantages my mother’s did not and I hope the same is true for my daughters. That being said, I love my job and I love this industry and I look forward to leading this enterprise as organic search management evolves in 2016 and beyond.
Okay – one final softball. We ask all of our interviewees this – we swear: We may have spilled some red wine on a favorite dress shirt last night. How would a top SEO recommend getting it out?
Well…there’s Google. Or club soda.
Wow – beauty and brains! Ms. Finkbeiner-Test really is the whole package, readers. Stay tuned next week when we’ll be talking to another top lady SEO, Diane Bechdel-Wallace.