Apr 3, 2019

10 Advanced SEO Questions Employers Should Ask at Interviews

by Digital Marketing Institute

As a brand, you're aware of the importance of SEO in e-commerce, from the way it helps shape a brand to the subtle changes in rank on Google.

According to HubSpot, search engine users commonly select one of the top 3 results, and 75% won’t bother looking at results past page one. With the high expectations of clients, it only makes sense that marketing companies want to be thorough when hiring new employees.

During an SEO interview, asking the right questions is crucial. Here are 10 key questions every marketing firm should ask a potential new hire.

1. What Data Are You Looking at When You Choose an Optimization Strategy?

Strategies aren’t formed on a whim, but they're designed and mapped based on analytics. An SEO candidate is likely to have a preferred method for collecting and reading data and applying it to a campaign.

This question provides a sneak peek into your interviewee’s strategy building process. If he or she isn’t confident where to look for this information, it could be a sign of inexperience.

2. What Are Your Top 5 SEO Tools?

Top SEO Tools

SEO tools are the bread and butter of any successful campaign. Even the most experienced marketer has a plethora of helpful tools up their sleeve. The point of this question isn’t to see if the tools are up to snuff or compare them to your own, but it’s to learn whether or not the candidate has a set they’re comfortable using.

By requesting a description, you find out more about why the tools were chosen and how they fit a marketing strategy. These apps and programs will vary based on the type of project being undertaken. From Searchmetrics to BuzzStream, there’s an endless supply, so this should be a simple one to answer.

3. What Does an Average Day in Your Office Look Like?

This is your chance to see how independently an employee would function during a regular day. In an 8-hour shift, what steps are taken to ensure client satisfaction and project success? What tools or programs are used, and in what order is everything done?

The answer to that question won’t be the same for everyone, especially between departments. A marketer focusing on social media content will answer differently than one managing email and newsletter distribution.

The point is to determine whether or not this employee will require a lot of management and training or work well on their own.

4. Can You Tell Me About the Latest Algorithm Changes and What They Mean for Potential Clients?

Google algorthims

Not every SEO campaign succeeds on the first try. The way a marketer reacts to failure is very telling. You can expand on this question by asking the following:

  • Were attempts made to rectify the situation by reading analytics and determining a new plan of action?
  • Was it viewed as a learning experience rather than a loss, and if so, what did you learn?
  • In the next campaign you took on, what did you do differently to avoid this issue?

5. Have You Ever Seen an SEO Effort Fail? How Did You React?

In SEO, there’s nothing more important than keeping up with changes to Google’s algorithm. That is because Google is such a driving force in the success of digital marketing.

From January 2018 to January 2019, Google dominated the search engine market with 74% of internet searches. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if your business has great content, visual aids, or customer interaction. If it doesn’t align with the latest algorithm, it won’t be successful in improving engine rank.

From Panda and Possum to Penguin and the Mobile-First Index Roll Out, potential SEO marketers should be in the know.

6. What’s the Value of a Backlink & How Could it Help a Client?

Of course, a backlink is exactly what it sounds like, an outside source that links back to a client’s website. Your interviewee should be knowledgeable enough to explain the importance of these links and how to use them. Knowing how many a site should have and where they come from will also dictate success.

For example, according to a study published by Backlinko.com, domain diversity has a large impact on rank. Backlinks are most useful when coming from various sources, rather than one or two. This means it isn’t all about bulk where links are concerned but location.

7. Where Do You Rank Social Media Presence in the Importance of a Successful Marketing Campaign?

The role of social media within digital marketing has changed drastically in the past decade. For some marketers, it’s the second point of contact after a company’s landing page. For others, it's just one more place to cross-post a blog. Some are so serious about social media that they have specific days and times to post.

For example, the optimum Facebook posting times are 1:00 to 4:00 pm on Thursday and Friday or 1:00 to 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. That is when consumers are most active and likely to engage and share your content. If your marketing company is social media forward, having an employee with this kind of knowledge could be beneficial.

8. How Often Do You Research Keywords? What Tools Do You Use?

Keyword research

Research is a big part of what makes an SEO expert successful. Candidates should be able to describe their standard search habits and a few tools they prefer. It doesn’t matter if they use SEMrush or Google’s keyword tool, so long as they use something. As a follow-up question, you could inquire about any recent popular words or search terms they keep on file.

Since most marketers have a spreadsheet or some other document squirreled away with useful keywords, this should be an easy question.

9. A Career in SEO Requires You to Stay Updated on SEO News, What Are Some Blogs You Follow?

SEO news doesn't just appear in a marketer's inbox; it’s sought out. SEO blogs help spread useful information and predictions that could vastly improve a campaign.

For example, last year Cisco predicted that 2019 would see videos encompass 85% of total U.S. internet traffic. That helped many marketers restructure client campaigns to include more visual content and keep up with trends.

If your potential hire wants a career in SEO and doesn’t follow any blogs yet, it might be a good time to start. This one isn't exactly a deal-breaking question, but it’s good to know the reply. If you share an interest in some of the same blogs, it could be a sign that they’re a good fit.

10. Have You Ever Worked with a Developer on Optimization?

Coding a website

Some marketers can do it all, including coding a website. For those who can’t, however, there are developers to ensure SEO suggestions are heard and implemented properly. If your candidate hasn’t worked with a developer before, ask why or if they’re open to the idea.

SEO is a fine-tuned machine with plenty of cogs and wheels. If the cogs and wheels don’t turn together, the machine stops. Your employees need to confer with other experts, including writers, videographers, social media managers, and site developers. The more openly they communicate, the more likely they are to be successful.

The Final Say

Whatever questions you choose to ask, be sure the candidate is a good fit for your firm. Just as businesses hire marketing firms that align with their brand image, your next hire should mesh with your standards.

The less you need to teach and lead an employee, the more time everyone spends on the client. Time is money after all.

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