EP#12 Gus Pelogia - Moving across continents and working as an SEO

Gus had a desire to leave abroad for a short period of time - and did not plan to never return! He didn't want to stay far from Brazil for too long, because he was just starting to build a professional network. Little did he know that he would not go back. From Argentina, to Amsterdam, to Dublin. Over this experience Gus learned to be vocal about what he wanted.

Every single big move he has done in SEO happened because he told people the direction he wanted it to go. Good things happen when you share your dreams and aspirations!

Who is Gus Pelogia?

Gus Pelogia is a journalist turned SEO, conference speaker, and once-in-a-while blogger. He is currently the SEO Lead at Teamwork, a project management SaaS used by companies like Netflix, PayPal and Disney.

In SEO since 2011, Gus worked both in-house and at digital agencies in Argentina, Netherlands, and Ireland. He spent 5 years as an Account Manager and Team Lead at agencies such as Spark Foundry (Core) and Wolfgang Digital, working with clients from travel, e-commerce, and professional services.

Prior to SEO, he graduated as a journalist at Faculdade Cásper Líbero and worked for some of the biggest entertainment media outlets in Brazil such as MTV, Terra and R7. 

🧡 Many thanks to Gus for sharing his story with us.

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Useful links

Podcast Anchor Page: https://anchor.fm/workinseo

Isaline’s, podcast host, Twitter: https://twitter.com/isaline_margot

WorkinSEO Twitter: https://twitter.com/WorkInSEO

Sign up to “WorkinSEO” newsletter: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/workinseo

Getting in touch with our podcast guest, Gus Pelogia

Follow Gus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pelogia 

Follow Gus on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gpelogia/ 

Gus’s website: https://www.pelogia.it 

#WorkinSEOPodcast full transcript with Ellie Ferrari

Thank you to Ahrefs for sponsoring the Season 2 of the WorkinSEOPodcast!

Isaline: Hey, everyone. Welcome to a new episode of the WorkInSEO podcast. I am Isaline Muelhauser, founder of WorkInSEO job board and podcast. Today's episode is about moving for an SEO job. Our guest today is Gus Pelogia, SEO Lead at Teamwork, a project management SaaS. Hi, Gus. How are you doing today?

Gus: Hi, Isaline. Doing very well. And you?

Isaline: I'm great. I'm excited to finally talk to you after a few exchange on Twitter.

Gus: Yeah, I've been following some of your work or the events that you're doing for a little while, so it's nice to meet you.

Isaline: It's fun to find you and talk. I'm very interested in what you have to say. Maybe, as a start, do you want to tell us what you're doing and where you are today?

Gus: Hi, everyone. I'm Gus. I work as an SEO Lead at a software company called Teamwork. Right now, I live in Ireland. I've been here for five years. I moved through a lot of countries. I'm originally from Brazil. I think we're going to touch some of those things later, so I don't want to just go and tell my whole story at once. Right now, I'm just here in the suburbs of Dublin, working from our home office and getting ready to wrap up the year.

Isaline: As I was preparing the interview, you told me, and I read that you were a journalist before and you worked for entertainment media outlets. What made you pivot to SEO?

Gus: It's always a funny story. I think everyone in SEO has a twist, a story to how they got into it. I worked as a journalist for many years. From teenager, my dream was to be a journalist. I actually wanted to be around bands, but I wasn't a musician, and maybe I didn't want to go through the whole "I need to find a band" or whatever. I want it to be part of the scene without being a fan, so I thought I should have my own website or my own fan scene. I did a bunch of things in this area when I was 16, 17. I used to print my own newspaper, just talk about bands, and want to go into local business and my CDN get 20 quids, 30 quids, to have enough money to cover the cost in print. For me, it was a natural thing to, "I want to do this professionally."

I worked as a journalist for 14 years back in Brazil in Sao Paulo, got a chance to write about all sorts of topics, mostly around entertainment. I did a bit of everything. At some point, I felt my career was going quite well. I was starting to make contacts in big publications, so I knew I could commission enough work to build up a career but I also wanted to live in another country for a while. I had this desire to go somewhere for a few months or for longer periods.

From Brazil, I discovered that it was very simple to move to Argentina. I didn't need any visa. The paperwork was very simple for me to be a legal citizen, living there, and having the right to work. That's how my journey started turning. I worked in a Spanish school there for a while as an intern, doing a bit of writing for their blog, and started doing link-building without knowing that I was doing link-building, contacting blogs to promote the courses the school was offering, and do some promotions to give free courses to students in Brazil, and whatnot. I got closer with the owner and my boss at the time. Both of them helped me to get into SEO because I was doing this internship for a few months, and every opportunity that I had to tell people, "Hey, I'm looking for a long-term job on, maybe, marketing." It could be something that I have the ability now. I'm doing a bit of this, bit of that. Both of them helped me. The owner of the school put me in touch with some people from an online travel agency that, at the time, was the biggest one in South America. He knew some directors in there. It turns out they're looking for an SEO. That's how I end up in this new universe. It went from the level of searching what is SEO before my interview and discovering that the company had been penalized before. I entered into this world, knowing a little bit about the company and a little bit of what's happening there at SEO universe.

For me, SEO was a connection of the two things that I had studied in my life up until that point, because journalists would help me a lot with creating content, looking at trends, and optimizing pages. In the other hand, together with high school, while I did IT studies. I learned a little bit on how to develop websites as well, very basic level. I could read HTML code a little bit. Even though some people might say HTML is not coding but that's all I knew. It was kind of the two things that I studied in one place. For me, it was mind-blowing that there was a profession that combined those two things.

Isaline: That's interesting. I heard that you became SEO from a succession of opportunities. I wonder what happened in the first place, because you had a career and, probably, a good position as a journalist, yet, you completely switched and went away. Was it from a feeling of being uncomfortable with something or just huge curiosity? What was the motivation, really, to say, "I want to go and try and live in another country?"

Gus: I think the desire of living somewhere else was there for a long time. I had visited Argentina before. I stayed a week, studying Spanish and leaving the city. It just felt very exciting. I think there was a combination of other things. Thinking about it now, it was a combination of other things that were happening at the same time. I was dating someone for a while. We broke up around that time. I was living with friends and wanted to buy a house and move out. The other one couldn't live in that area anymore. I think my life was changing a lot in terms of my relationships and the place that I was living. For me, it was, "You know what? This should be a good time."

In fairness, I didn't want to stay far away for too long because the context that I started building at the time were still very fresh. I knew that, okay, I know an editor in this magazine, or I know someone who is always looking for freelancers, and this other one. They also could hire someone else, who wasn't like, "Gus is so specialized in this. I need his writing. I need his competence or something." I didn't want to say far away for too long, but yada, yada, yada, it's been 10 years.

Isaline: Yet, you are not afraid despite all the changes in your life to completely go out of your comfort zone in terms of job and environment. You jumped from Argentina, and then another country, another language.

Gus: Yeah. Well, it's always funny when you think back about things. Before, I used to think that every encounter that you have, not might change your life, but they might open doors and places. For me, first, to work in that Spanish school, I didn't know they were hiring. I just went with a group of students I was studying at the school at the time. Every week, some students were moving out and were studying for a while and then going back to their countries. Towards the end, I was broke, but there were a few people from my group that were still there. They decided to, it's like, "Let's meet up for the last time." I went and had this dinner with someone. He said, "I work in the school. I'm going to ask if they're looking for anybody." This opportunity just showed up in front of me.

Isaline: That's after Argentina. You actually even moved to another country, another outside of your comfort zone, language, and everything.

Gus: Yes. I got the job at the school. The person who was my boss at the Spanish school was a Dutch guy. We became friends after the short period that we worked together. He introduced me to a friend who was visiting Argentina. I helped them. They went to Brazil as well. I gave them some tips. At some point, he was like, "Hey, this guy is looking for an SEO. Do you want to move there? Do you want to work with him?" I was like, "Oh, actually." I wasn't really looking for the opportunity, but because of that dinner, I went to work at the school and I got friends with this guy at the school who introduced me to someone else. He just drove me to other places.

I didn't have any strings attached with me in Argentina. My plan was to stay for a while, and then see what happens next. For me, worst-case scenario, I'll spend a few months living in Amsterdam. If it doesn't work, I'll go back to Brazil, I'll go back to Argentina. I didn't have a family to take care of, or I didn't have a second half or anything that would make those steps a lot more complicated. Right now, I wouldn't make any of these changes on my own anymore. It was relatively easy to just jump on to the next adventure at the time.

Isaline: It was easy. Yet, you're wild, so very, how do you say, adaptable. I'm not sure it's the right word in English, but very able to adapt to a new environment and job and place. Tell me more, how did it go in Amsterdam?

Gus: I think a few things went really well and a few things were a bit difficult. The fact that I moved during summertime definitely helped quite a lot because you are in a new place and every corner that you go, it's something new. It was daylight into [unintelligible] every day. It was a completely new universe. I got friends very close, relatively close with people from work. The person who introduced me to the company was also friends with other people that were working in the company. Everybody knew that I was... "This is the Brazilian guy who was friends with this other guy." People knew who I was already, which made some things very easy. Of course, all the troubles of, you need to find a new house, you need to understand how things work in a country, how do you get paid, and insurance, and all of those things that are different in every country, it's always a bit bumpy, but I think there were so many new things happening that you don't suffer too much.

Isaline: It must have been exciting, all of these new things and this new city. Preparing the interview, you said something very interesting. You said that your career path taught you to be vocal about what you want. What do you mean exactly with this?

Gus: What I mean is that you really need to tell people what you want for your career. If you don't tell people and if you don't remind them, time to time, the direction that you're hoping to take something, they won't do it for you first. Even if they want to help you, they might not know how. But if you're reminding them how they could help you, then things can work. I can bring you back to the Spanish school that I worked in Argentina. Nobody would just look out for me and say, "Are you looking for a new job? I know someone at this place. He has been working there. He has his own business, his family's business to run." He helped me and in turn, it's probably not a big priority, but if I'm knocking his door at some point and say, "Hey, do you have a minute?" He's, "Yeah, of course." "If you hear anything, I know my time here is ending and I'm looking for a full-time job. If you know someone, I'm looking for a job and this, this, and this." Just the fact that I went to speak directly with him, he knew about it, so he had an opportunity to help me. This person, the one that got me my first full-time job in SEO, same thing with my Dutch boss at the same school, we got close to each other and we started talking about SEO and marketing all the time. In this case, I think he saw the opportunity more than me because surely, we have a friend visiting. I don't know he runs a company and that he's looking for people. I didn't ask it, this opportunity. I wasn't really considering moving to another country. This works really well for me just telling people that, "Hey, I'm looking for this. I'm looking for that." They might find an opportunity to connect things for you.

Same thing in my agency life, with a few years of experience in SEO, I worked in an agency called Wolfgang Digital before I joined Teamwork. At Wolfgang Digital, every once in a while, I had almost a few fights with my boss because I started, "Why don't I have a senior title here? Everybody refers me to senior and this account and this account." At some point, it was like, "You know what? There's other teams looking for account managers. Here's your opportunity. Are you interested?" I was like, "Yes, I am interested." I could have just sit there and do my job. If I hadn't mention, maybe, he wouldn't see how eager I was and he wouldn't look for that space as well. I think you need to be very vocal about the things that you want in your career to allow people to help you.

Isaline: Do you think that to be vocal about what you want in your career, one needs to figure out clearly what one wants? Or, it's enough to have an average idea of the direction where you want to go and say that?

Gus: I think the average idea should be enough. I think if you have something really clear, it helps a lot more. I've seen examples of this. When I moved from Holland to Ireland, I really wanted to work for an agency. That was a clear option. In-house options, I was like, "This is a plan B." Even an overall direction, I think it's quite helpful. In this case, with my boss at Wolfgang Digital, I wasn't really looking to become an account vendor. I didn't know that was an option. I wanted a promotion somehow to have the feeling that I'm progressing my career. He saw there's a window here in this direction. "Are you interested?" Then, we opened that one. I didn't tell them I want to be an account manager, but, "Hey, there's an opportunity on this. Will you stop bugging me and will it make you happy?" Can we put all of these things together? He found a solution, or a potential solution, even though I didn't really have fully cleared the direction I wanted to take.

Isaline: What would you say to someone who struggles to be vocal about what they want?

Gus: I think you need to look for the opportunities to try to be vocal. It doesn't mean that you have to bug people all the time or that you had to fight with your boss. You can ask them, "What are the things that you expect me to do if I want to get a promotion in the future?" Or, can you show your abilities by how you talk to your clients, publishing articles, joining podcasts, and looking for ways that are not just give me something, but let me show you that I can do this? Then, you can put it all together and say, "Hey, I've been in all of these places, talking about the company, or look at the answers these clients are getting. You can even look for numbers on the other side, look at how happy my clients are, or how many hours they build with new clients as well." I think a lot of the stories that we tell, let's say, to keep our clients happy, we should use those as well to make our bosses happy as well and get the things that we want.

Isaline: I really like how you seem to have matured from being very curious and open to opportunities and going out of your comfort zone at the beginning. Then, now, you can really say what one should do. There's a little bit of preparation to ask what one should prove our go to podcasts or be visible. I really like this evolution in your career. I can sense that there's still this big curiosity to do things and to move.

Gus: I always have that. I was an account manager for a while for, let's say, the last two years before I joined Teamwork. I had a lot of time just telling people this is the plan, and making sure we were following that plan. Now, I'm back into executing a lot of things. It's an interesting work to be part of, again, because I really need to be hands-on. I can't just talk about things. If that curiosity is not there, you're not going to get a lot of stuff done. You're going to hope that the algorithm will do your work for you, and hope for the best. If you're not going to be really curious, "Can I do this way, can I do that way?" and discover the things that will make you happy.

Isaline: Is this what you like about SEO, the fact that there are so many things to find out? What do you prefer in this industry?

Gus: I think I find everything fascinating, from the ways we have to think about the problems and how to fix them, to the way people search and the arguments we need to find. Every few months, someone creates something new, and there's a new direction to go. Often, I see a lot of ideas that I thought at some point or I had a very rough idea about this. Let's say, topic clusters is something that is being a trend for at least the last six months or the last year. I remember looking at things like this three years ago, and it's like, "Why are we here, just looking after one keyword? There are few more keywords about this. They all should be together." It's like, "You know what? Too many things to do. I'm going to focus on this and just let the ball rolling." Then, a while later, this is a whole new concept, and someone figured out the system to turn this into a cluster and analyze this on a different way. I just find it really amazing to look at the ways SEOs have to find solutions for things, or how Google changes something and we have to adapt to the way we track, the way we think about all of this.

Isaline: It is. It is fascinating. I love the words also "fascinating." I don't know, I wouldn't have used it, but now, I think it's perfect, actually. Thanks for the vocabulary tip. I wonder, now you are in Ireland, what do you see next for yourself? What do you think is going to happen, another opportunity coming?

Gus: I think Ireland is going to be my home now. I'm having my first kid very soon. I think by the time this goes live, I'm going to have a baby crying in my hands and I'm going to be very happy about it. Before, I could just, "Let's just pack up and go to the next country," or, "Let's just live in this place for a little while." Now, it's probably a much more complicated process. We need to find a daycare. We need to make sure that she's happy, she gets the vaccines, and live in a proper place. Those changes will become more complicated to do. Maybe, I think I've done enough. I've jumped into a lot of countries. I think the next move only would happen out of necessity. If my partner needs to be near her family or if I need to be near my family, we would pack up and everyone collectively move to a new place. Certainly, I won't just look at, "Oh, there's a job opportunity in this country. Let's just jump in there."

Isaline: What an exciting new chapter for 2022, or maybe the end of 2021. That sounds great.

Gus: We are so excited. Pandemic did a lot of bad things for everyone, but if there's one thing that improved in my life, was moving out of the city. I never thought I would enjoy living in the suburbs. Right now, I actually don't want to go back to the city. I look out my window and I see a lot of green and just see houses. It's not noisy. We have a home office.

Isaline: I was wondering, first time you packed your bag in Brazil, did you imagine all of that? Did you thought, "I'll pack my bag forever."

Gus: No, not at all. I went with a plan. My plan was I'm going to study Spanish. I'm going to stay there three months. I have enough money to pay the school for three months, which I think, at that time, was $200 a week. It's not a cheap school. Four hours a day, three months, I can come back and I know a new language. It's a pretty good skill to get in three months. Now, I had no idea. I did a research and I knew that I could work in Argentina. I just need to do some paperwork, but I didn't need a visa or I didn't need to have a job in advance or any of those things. It was an easy move. I went prepared with all the paperwork, if I wanted to stay. But my plan was, I'd stay in three months and come back, I'm happy. Maybe, if I want to extend a little, it's like you could get a job in a shop or in a restaurant, something just to keep it going and keep enjoying the experience for a little longer. I did not know I would get a job at an area that I would love so much and you would use the combination of skills that I already had before. It was fascinating.

Isaline: I really liked that about your story. It's really from jumping from one thing to another and staying very curious all the while. What else did we learn? That you have to be vocal and not be afraid to say what you want, because people will help you. I think, also, there is a part of you that really believes in the goodness of others who are quite kind. Actually, I'm really happy with this end of the podcast because it's exactly what I hope this podcast would make to people who just believe that, in the SEO industry, there's just lots of kind people who wants to help.

Gus: I think so. I think because we don't have official answers for a lot of things, we need to live in the community. A lot of things that I know is just because I read a lot of what other people were doing and how much they were willing to share. You do it yourself and see if it works. See if it works for you as well. A lot of things, in theory, they could work, but they might not work for you or for your niche. I think what I read out there or what I learned from others and I applied to see if it works for me or not, it's a bit of a hit and miss, but that's the way it goes. A lot of the things that I know in SEO are because other people help me directly or indirectly. I think you need to do that. Even on the level, if they are not there to help you and you're not too close with your boss or you don't feel that someone is going to grab you by the hand and drive you through your career, even preparing them for the conversation that you're going to have once you have your quarterly review or something like that, will help them to come prepared with answers for those things as well. If every quarter, you're mentioning, "How can I get this promotion? How can I get this project ongoing or a budget for something else?" they will look for answers as well, because there's somehow a bit of pressure coming from your side. I think, at the end, it's good for everybody. If they see the evolution in you and see how eager you are to achieve things and they can push back and say, "Hey, I can give you this if you give me that," then everybody moves up together. I think it's a win-win.

Isaline: I love this. Do you have a last piece of advice before we finish for our audience who's starting in SEO and maybe a little bit unsure of themselves?

Gus: I would look at areas, first, areas in your company that people are giving a lot of value to, and, perhaps, areas that give value but there's no ownership within the company. I've come across situations like I was really excited about local SEO for six months. I will look around me and the agency, and nobody was really interested about it. I was like, "This can be my niche because nobody owns it. If I start showing everybody that I know about this, you will become the reference on the topic. That's going to help you to stand out." I think that's a way to grow in your career. Also, every opportunity that might come towards you, try to grab it. Can you do a talk within your company? Go and do it. It's very scary. First time that I did, I remember just babbling for hours in my living room, just doing all my own. Then, my flatmate is laughing at me, until I realize that I wasn't talking with anybody. Then, I was already feeling very nervous. I'm very glad that I did in the end, because the buzz and the feeling that you feel afterwards, it's very nice. It's like riding a roller coaster. It's like being on a roller coaster, you regret the moment that you sit in, but once you finished, you want to do it again. I think, for me, public speaking really helped me with this fear and going out there and showing myself. It forces you to prepare you well for what you're doing and find directions as well. We can just talk about something on a call with a client, but if you really have to structure it to tell a story to pick 100 people, then you cannot just say, "Yeah, and then you do that field research." You have to explain the step-by-step. It really forces you to put a process in mind, which helps solidify your knowledge. It helps people to understand who you are, your potential, and all that kind of stuff.

Isaline: Thank you much. That's awesome. If people want to keep the conversation with you, because unfortunately, time is flying, but it was a lovely story, where can people find you and follow you?

Gus: I'm at LinkedIn, but where I'm really am is on Twitter. You can find me on @Pelogia, P-E-L-O-G-I-A. Thank you for pronouncing my last name correctly. Some people say Pelodia. I wasn't aware of this, I only realized this year with all the online events that people already know my name. Anyway, that's where I hang out the most. You can find me on Twitter, for sure.

Isaline: That's great. I'll make sure to share the link. In the meantime, I wish you and your partner all the best. I'm looking forward to hearing from you and following you. Thank you for being here.

Gus: Well, thank you for having me. I really like the podcast. I like the idea behind it, to talk about how people live being an SEO but not necessarily talk about SEO itself. I love the episode about the nomad in U.S. It was very interesting to feel some of that. I guess, I did a little bit in some periods, but it wasn't really consistent. As part of my living abroad journey, I spent a month in Thailand, a month in Mexico. Went back to Argentina while I was doing SEO as well. But I wish I had done that for a longer period. Hearing someone that doing that, it's always nice to hear someone else's experience as well.

Isaline: Thank you so much for the compliment. Yes, it's the podcast with Melissa Popp. It was the last of the season one. 

If you're listening to us, you can, of course, follow WorkInSEO in Twitter. It's @WorkInSEO. Please, if you have any feedback or idea for a podcast subject or anything to tell me, just send me a tweet or write me a message. I'm here. I'm interested to know what you are living and what you want. I wish you well, as usual. I'm looking forward to being with you again in another podcast episode. Thank you. Goodbye, everyone.