10 Job Interview Questions for an SEO Expert

Hiring an SEO expert is hard because SEO is changing all the time.. Most business owners know nothing about SEO, and even if they do, it’s probably outdated. The candidate who stays up to date is who you need to uncover. SEO experts that know what they’re doing and offer their services for a cheap rate aren’t “rare”, but they’re someone to watch out for.

Here are 10 job interview questions to uncover an SEO expert:

  1. SEO Job Interview What do you know about Google’s algorithm updates? Google is always trying to work on their algorithm so that “more deserving” websites with better content rank higher than others. The three main algorithm updates of the last two years are Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.
  2. What is a Google “Penalty”? Manual actions can be taken within Google webmaster tools if you’ve been penalized.
  3. What is the technical part of SEO?  If they don’t understand simple HTML then they aren’t the person you want to be working with, it’s as simple as that. SEO experts also need to understand server side lingo like 301, 404, robots.txt, etc.
  4. Who provides you with your content? SEO processes usually require a large amount of content to be written, so if they don’t have a team (or at least one) high quality writer to deal with they aren’t ideal. If you’re fortunate enough to have an in-house content writer they should work closely together.
  5. How do you optimize with social media? See if they incorporate social media tools and tricks in their SEO endeavours, you want to get your name out there as much as possible and social media is the way to do it. Social signals to your pages are almost as good as backlinks. “Social shares – retweets, +1s and likes – are the SEO currency of the common internet user,“ says David Smooke, SmartRecruiters Director of Social Media. “Strong social signals are essential to a quick page 1 ranking.“
  6. Do you have a Google Authorship?  Having Google Authorship is a plus and not a necessity. By them attaching their name and face to your content, you’re providing readers with a higher level of trust and confidence in your work. Adding this human element also promotes more personal interactions between your potential SEO expert and your audience.
  7. How do you go about building your links? Learning how the candidate actually implement backlinks will help you rate their service accordingly. If they don’t build links efficiently with quality, then you will probably want to pass. There are many wrong ways to build links that can penalize your site and possible get deindexed from Google.
  8. What SEO tools do you use?  A carpenter can’t build without a hammer. Every SEO needs their set of tools to get the job done. Popular SEO tools I use are BrightEdge, Google Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics.
  9. How do you walk the line behind behind best practices and black hat SEO? Black hat SEO offers short term solutions and can get your site penalized in Google. What was considered white hat SEO years ago may be black hat now. Which brings me to my next question.
  10. Are you a part of the SEO community online? There are many different forums and such out there, being active and up to date is essential to staying on top in the constantly changing world of SEO. A few blogs and forums I recommend are SearchEngineLand, SERoundtable and WebmasterWorld.

Businesses need to have some sort of online presence. You will be searched on Google; it’s up to the SEO expert (or your angriest customer)  to control the message.  When it comes to SEO experts, there tends to be a little vanity when it comes to Googling their own name. For a quick validation, Google your potential SEO employee and see how they were able to own their top results. I hope these questions and quick validation help you find your SEO ninja!

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Paul Andre de Vera Director, SEO, SmartRecruiters
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