How to Hire a Great SEO Specialist (Interview Questions and Answers)
Hiring top quality SEO candidates, agencies, or freelancers can be tough, especially when that self proclaimed expert works within the 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.
SEO Expert Interview Questions and Answers
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 make sure you rank above the rest.
The good news is that you don't need to be an SEO expert yourself, you just need 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 within 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 smart decisions for your website resulting in ranking increases and expanded visibility.
How to Hire an SEO Specialist (Expert Interview Questions and Answers)
Understand the Basics of SEO
Making a great 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 themselves. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the answers they are seeking, 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 who are searching online for the solutions you offer.” Source - Moz
There are three primary types of SEO strategies that 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.
This generally involves optimizing the back end of your website to help it run properly and improve your site’s ranking. An example of this 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
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:
Previous job titles like SEO Specialists, 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 also denotes a candidate that has worked with SEO.
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.
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).
SEO specialists need to be organized and develop good time management skills to ensure they are focusing 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.
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. There are plenty of qualified candidates that might not have a degree or certification to back up their experience, but don’t discount them. Passionate SEO’s will possess the knowledge needed to keep up with this ever changing industry.
“90.63% of all pages in our index get zero traffic from Google, and 5.29% of them get ten visits per month or less.” - Ahrefs
How Many Web Pages Generate Google Organic Traffic (%)
Basic SEO Interview Questions (With Answers)
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 out with these simple, yet essential questions to gauge an interviewee’s knowledge before digging into the more difficult and technical SEO questions:
What Does SEO Stand For?
Answer: A pretty simple and straight forward 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 go about tracking and reporting 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 KPI’s) 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 their sites performance. 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 specialists 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 right away 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 a newer web page. 302 redirects are more temporary redirects but should generally not be used over the 301 redirect.
If they can’t provide some kind of response 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 Interview Questions
Overall, any good SEO expert candidate will be well-versed in everything that is digital marketing, so that your company has the best chance of being found online.
If they had what sounded like good 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!
SEO Interview Hiring Guide
We will be releasing a new SEO Interview Hiring Guide with a full list of the best questions and answers to help take the risk out of hiring your next SEO specialist.
Created by SEO experts, this DIY Template will help organizations who don’t fully understand the SEO space, confidently hire the right candidate, agency, or freelancer through a simple question, best answer format.
If you are interested, we are providing early access and a 50% discount to the first 100 users that sign up. Submit your email below and we will update you when it’s ready!
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