Search (SEO)

SEO Interview Questions: Questions To Ask To Catch The Newbies

SEO Interview Questions
I've always heard some interesting stories regarding companies hiring someone who 'thought they knew SEO' but in reality, they learnt all of their knowledge from a poxy SEO forum that discuss strategies from 2010. Therefore, I have decided to get together some questions you can ask an SEO during an interview to determine their level of SEO wizardy.
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If you’ve been working in the SEO industry for a while (like me, yay), you’ll find that the one thing that really does tickle your nerves is that fact that web developers think they know just as much about SEO as you do. Oh, please, bro you only recently included an IMG SRC tag within an H1 because you couldn’t be bothered to style it properly via CSS. Oh jeez, it really does enrage me. Another funny one is that they think that meta keywords are still a “thing”.

Therefore, in order to filter out those noobs away from the guys that actually know SEO, I’ve decided to get together a couple questions that you can ask an SEO during an interview. These questions were very similar to the one’s I was asked at my most recent interview, they definitely do challenge you + they will only know the answer if they genuinely care about SEO and stay up to date with industry trends. Here we goo.

1) Who do you look up to in the SEO industry?

If you’re an SEO that stays up to date with algorithm changes, follows blogs, forums, and other sites .. they will know (at least) one, even if it’s Matt Cutts which EVERYBODY knows. If they don’t know anyone and they’re stuck on this question .. alarm bells are ringing.

2) What algorithm change(s) challenged you to do your job?

Ha. Ha. This is a good one, this will test them to see if they actually do stay up to date with what’s happening, if they start talking about a recent algorithm change .. good, however, if they bring up an algo change that was released in 2010 then you know their out of date, ‘think they know it all’, or they’re just simply guessing. You need someone who has a passion and if they do, they will stay up to date and they’ll be able to answer this question without flinching. Check out my post on the Top 5 Google Updates in 2017, this will give you some insight into what’s recently been happening in the industry – updates that every SEO should be aware of moving forward.

3) What do you think about Penguin now being real-time?

Good question, do they even know what Penguin is? Are they aware that it’s now real-time? What are their thoughts on it? A very good question to ask, a traditional web developer probably won’t be even aware of the Penguin algorithm.

4) Use of the canonical tag?

I guess it really depends on how ‘technical’ you’d like your SEO superstar to be, however, a canonical tag is a perfect way of demonstrating whether or not the interviewee has experience beyond the basic SEO fundamentals most people know.

5) What SEO tools do you regularly use?

Tools will depend on the responsibilities that the SEO has previously had, if they’re a link builder they may be experienced with tools such as Buzzstream, whereas a technical SEO will have experience with Screaming frog and setting up big site crawls using XPath, CSSPath, and Regex, on the other hand (I could go forever) an analyst will have tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush,¬†Majestic to measure the number of inbound links hitting the site. It really depends on the individual’s experience, but it will give you a rough idea of what they are capable of.

6) Do you consider yourself an SEO Engineer, than a consultant, analyst or specialist?

Very, very good question to ask if you’re recruiting for a technical SEO. As I have some a good understanding of the technical side of things in the realm of SEO and the use of hreflang, canonical tags, noindex, big site crawls using Screaming frog, log analysis and comparing the outputs to a sitemap file to determine the pages that Googlebot isn’t visiting, https migrations and all that good juicy stuff. I’m starting to wonder if I’m even an SEO Analyst, but an SEO Engineer.
I personally believe that the role ‘SEO Engineer’ will soon be established as a job role in the upcoming months, or year as SEO’s are finding themselves participating in much more advanced projects that just on-page stuff, but instead full site migrations and site crawls using XPath, Regex, and CSSPath. But yes, more to cover on this subject, asking this question to a technical SEO will spark an interesting conversation.

7) Do you have knowledge of any programming languages?

Basic HTML and CSS knowledge is a must – these are becoming the fundamentals of any website-related job role, I hear that some students are secondary school are even learning the basics of HTML/CSS. If your SEO doesn’t have knowledge of these two, how are they meant to analyze a site to identify changes that can be made to the core navigation, structure of a page, possible site-wide implementations?

Oh Brett, such an odd number to end it on, darn you! I hope this list of questions to ask an SEO at an interview are helpful, they honestly will help you filter out the less-talented SEOs from the rest of the group. You could even ask them if they have ever been to an SEO conference (just like Brighton SEO). that’s also a good one too.

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About the author



Brett is currently working as a full-time SEO Analyst for a leading, international eCommerce company that recently won a Queens Award For Enterprise. In addition, he's also worked client side for 3 years at a digital agency, managing just over 20 local SEO projects. He's very knowledgeable when it comes to technical SEO and he's well known for his consultancy during https site-wide deployments.

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