SEO Specialist Hiring Guide for 2023 (SEO Questions To Ask In An Interview)

hire seo specialist

Questions to Ask an SEO Candidate

Hiring top-quality SEO candidates, agencies, or freelancers can be challenging, especially when that self-proclaimed expert works within a search engine field you don’t know much about.

It can be easy to be fooled by someone claiming to be an “SEO Expert”, but with the right interview questions and knowledge to back yourself up, separating the professionals from the frauds is achievable.

Questions Answered:

  • Why Hire an SEO Specialist?
  • Understanding SEO Basics
  • Filtering Out Candidates
  • SEO Interview Questions
  • SEO Interview Guide

Today, SEO is one of the primary digital marketing methods for helping your content stick out and be seen on the internet. But with so much competition and noise online, it often takes an SEO expert to ensure you rank above the rest.

The good news is that you don’t need to be an SEO expert to find the right person for the job.

With the right interview questions and some general SEO knowledge to back yourself up, hiring an excellent SEO specialist is achievable. Keep the following tips in mind during an SEO interview to find the trustworthy and knowledgeable specialist your business has been looking for. 

Why Hire An SEO Specialist?

There are many benefits to hiring an SEO Specialist (Search Engine Optimization) over trying to do it yourself. Some of which include:

  • Better improvement, performance, and ranking on your website
  • Driving more organic search leads and sales
  • Giving you time to focus on other areas of the business
  • Staying up to date on Google regulations and algorithm changes

It takes a deep understanding and technical know-how to properly operate in this fast-evolving industry. An SEO specialist has the knowledge and experience necessary to make intelligent decisions for your website resulting in ranking increases and expanded visibility.

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How to Hire an SEO Specialist (SEO Specialist Interview Questions)

1. Understand The Basics Of SEO

Making an excellent SEO hire starts with understanding it yourself. Outside of the various beginner guides and SEO articles you can read online, here are a few basics to follow. 

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” which is well explained by Moz, an SEO Tool and Software leader in the space:

“It’s the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as “organic”) search engine results. Despite the acronym, SEO is as much about people as it is about search engines. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the answers they seek, the words they’re using, and the type of content they wish to consume. Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to connect to the people searching online for the solutions you offer.” Source – Moz

Three primary types of SEO strategies make up a majority of what an SEO specialist would likely focus on:

  • On-Page SEO
    • This generally involves making optimizations within your website that positively impacts the performance within the SERP. This is the most common SEO strategy organizations focus on. An example of this would be keyword optimization within the copy.  
  • Off-Page SEO
    • This generally involves making optimizations off of your website (external) that still influence and improve your site’s rankings. Examples of this include social media sharing or building backlinks. 
  • Technical SEO
    • This generally involves optimizing the back end of your website to help it run properly and improve your site’s ranking. An example would be optimizing for Page Speed (Google ranking factor).

“60% of marketers say that inbound (SEO, blog content, etc) is their highest quality source of leads.”

— Hubspot

2. Filter Through Suitable Candidates

Anyone can add SEO to their resume, but which professionals are truly trustworthy experts? Before even thinking about setting up an interview, you should screen applicants for basic SEO knowledge.

Look For These Skills In A Quality Candidate:

  • SEO Focused
    • Previous job titles like SEO Specialist, SEO Analyst, or SEO Manager point to having the basic skillsets of a qualified SEO. But other titles such as Content Manager and Digital Marketer likely denote a candidate who has worked with SEO.
  • Technical
    • SEO Specialists need to know how to research keywords, build online content worthy of ranking, and tackle in-depth technical issues along with understanding everything there is to know about our ever-changing friend, Google.
  • Analytical
    • A substantial amount of time is used to analyze rankings within the SERP. Therefore, SEO specialists need to be analytically and mathematically minded folks. They need to be able to handle numbers, statistics, and data to correct any issues when they occur (which will happen).
  • Organized
    • SEO specialists must be organized and develop good time management skills to ensure they focus on projects that will move the organic ranking needle. Many specialists create custom tracking lists and have a specific system in place to review traffic trends.
  • Passionate
    • Great SEO specialists love what they do! If you are discussing anything Google rank-related or a project they worked on in the past, you should be able to pick up on this passion. Many qualified candidates might not have a degree or certification to back up their experience but don’t discount them. Passionate SEOs will possess the knowledge to keep up with this ever-changing industry.

google organic traffic

3. Ask the Right Questions

Now that we have educated ourselves in SEO and filtered out any unqualified applicants, we are ready to start speaking with potential hires. Like any job interview, asking the right questions in an SEO interview is the key to finding the best match. 

While every interview should be personalized to your specific organization and the applicant, here are a few basic SEO questions you can use to ensure your company makes the best choice.  

Start with these simple yet essential questions to gauge an interviewee’s knowledge before digging into the more complex and technical SEO questions:

  • What Does SEO Stand For?
    • Answer: This a pretty simple and straightforward question, but you’d be surprised at the number of self-proclaimed “experts” who don’t know that SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”.
  • How Do You Go About Tracking Progress And Reporting?
    • Answer: Reports are a reliable way to maintain communication between the marketing team and the SEO specialist. There are plenty of ways an SEO specialist can track and report metrics. A good answer for how often they will update you with a report is monthly or quarterly because change can take time (which is why weekly isn’t necessary). They can track progress (around primary KPIs) and generate these reports through tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Screaming Frog, etc.
  • What Is Google Search Console?
    • Answer: Google Search Console is a collection of tools and reports that Google offers for free to help website owners monitor the performance of their sites. You can view ranking progress, index new pages, submit your sitemap, and keep up to date on any issues that might come up on your website. Search Console should play a large part in any successful SEO specialist’s arsenal of tools.
  • How Long Does It Take To See Rankings Improve?
    • Answer: Improving your rankings within the SERP takes time and is an ongoing process. Each business has a different pace of performance based on its current structure, resources, and overall time invested into SEO. You can’t expect an SEO effort to garner results immediately, but it shouldn’t take years to generate positive ROI, either. If a candidate promises results within a short period of time or mentions, “I can get you in position 1”, they are likely lying or performing “black hat” SEO tactics. While general timeline estimates and projections can be made, promising someone a specific result in this ever-changing industry like this isn’t a smart move.
  • What Is A 301 Redirect?
    • Answer: 301 redirects are permanent redirects of a domain or specific URL within the domain. They are used to redirect old or unused pages to newer web pages. 302 redirects are more temporary redirects but should generally not be used over the 301 redirects.

If they can’t respond to these beginner SEO questions, it might be time to look for another candidate. Ideally, an applicant should be able to break down each of these questions and elaborate on how they have utilized them in previous campaigns. 

An even better response would be explaining how they could implement certain SEO strategies specific to your company or industry.

Final Thoughts | SEO Questions and Answers

Overall, any good SEO expert candidate will be well-versed in everything digital marketing, so your company has the best chance of being found online. 

If they had what sounded like reasonable answers to your initial list of questions above, a second follow-up interview with more in-depth SEO questions is likely your next step! 

Hopefully, with the help of this article, you will be on the right path to finding your next SEO expert and building your online presence.

Best of luck in your SEO specialist search! 

Title: How to Hire a Great SEO Specialist (Interview Questions & Answers)

Category: Employer Resources

Tags: seo interview sheet, seo interview questions, seo test for interview, top seo questions for interview, seo questions to ask in an interview, seo expert interview questions and answers guide

Author: Reid is a contributor for theJub. He’s an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author. | Author Profile

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