How to Interview SEO Candidates: 62 Questions

Interviewing search engine optimization (SEO) specialists can often feel like navigating through a maze of technical jargon and digital marketing strategies. Knowing what SEO interview questions and answers to ask and expect is crucial. Whether you’re a hiring manager or part of a panel, understanding how to effectively assess a candidate’s skills, experience, and fit for your company is key.

The process varies from one-on-one interviews to panel discussions, but the goal remains to find the best match for your business. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to conduct insightful interviews that delve into the important Google ranking factors candidates must know. This will ensure you recruit the top talent for your team and pave the way for your site’s SEO success.

Understanding On-Page SEO

 

 

Delve into on-page SEO by discussing keyword research, meta descriptions, and the role of internal links. The questions below assess their ability to optimize web content for search engines and users, a crucial part of enhancing your site’s SEO performance.

  1. How does keyword selection and optimisation make your website search engine friendly?
  2. Can you describe your process for conducting keyword research for a new content project? What tools do you use, and how do you determine which relevant keywords to target?
  3. How do you balance using primary and secondary keywords within the content? Can you give an example of how you’ve optimized a piece of content with both search queries?
  4. Explain the importance of meta tags. Also, what are the best practices for writing meta descriptions to improve click-through rates?
  5. What is the optimal length for a meta description, and how do you ensure that it is compelling and relevant to the content of the page?
  6. Discuss the role of internal links in on-page SEO. How do they affect the user experience and search engine rankings of your web pages?
  7. How do you decide which pages to link together with internal links? Can you provide an example of an effective internal linking strategy you’ve implemented?
  8. What’s your strategy for writing effective meta descriptions?

Off-Page SEO Fundamentals

For off-page SEO, the conversation should shift towards link building, domain authority, and analyzing external links. These questions help gauge an applicant’s skills in enhancing a website’s authority and its ability to rank higher in search engine results.

  1. What strategies do you employ for link building, and how do you prioritize which websites to target for backlinks?
  2. Can you explain the concept of domain authority and how it impacts SEO? How do you increase a website’s domain authority?
  3. Describe your approach to analyzing a website’s backlink profile. What tools do you use, and what metrics do you consider most important?
  4. How do you assess the quality of a potential backlink, and what characteristics make a backlink valuable to SEO?
  5. What methods do you use to acquire new backlinks, and how do you ensure they are relevant and beneficial to your SEO goals?
  6. Discuss the importance of anchor text in link building. How do you decide on the appropriate anchor text for your backlinks?
  7. How do you handle a situation where your website receives a potentially harmful backlink? What steps would you take to mitigate any negative impact?

Technical SEO Expertise

 

When hiring an SEO specialist, it’s crucial to dive deep into their technical SEO knowledge, which is about making a website much easier for search spiders to crawl and index. Below are some key technical SEO interview questions to ask candidates to gauge their expertise effectively.

  1. How do you approach a technical SEO audit? What are the key elements you look for when assessing a website?
  2. Can you explain the importance of website speed in SEO and how you would optimize a site’s load time?
  3. What is a robots.txt file, and how does it affect search engine crawling and indexing?
  4. How do you ensure a website is mobile-friendly, and why is mobile optimization important for SEO?
  5. Can you describe the process of creating and optimizing an XML sitemap? How does it benefit SEO concerning search engine crawlers?
  6. What are structured data and schema markup, and how do they contribute to SEO?
  7. How do you identify and fix crawl errors affecting a website’s SEO performance?
  8. Discuss the significance of HTTPS and how it impacts SEO and website security.
  9. How do you handle website migrations to ensure minimal impact on SEO rankings?
  10. What steps do you take to optimize a website for local search, and why is local SEO important?

Content Optimisation

The questions below about content optimisation are designed to assess a candidate’s expertise in creating and refining web content that appeals to search engines and users, focusing on maintaining high-quality, relevant, and strategically optimized content for better SEO performance.

  1. How do you determine the most effective content length for a topic or keyword, and what factors influence your decision?
  2. Describe the process you follow to ensure content on a web page is user-friendly and optimized for organic search results.
  3. How does keyword density affect your content optimization strategy, and how do you avoid keyword stuffing?
  4. How do you optimize a landing page for featured snippets and other SERP features?
  5. Can you explain the importance of content freshness and how you approach updating existing content?
  6. Discuss how you would use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords in your content optimization strategy.
  7. What tools and metrics do you use to analyze the performance of your content, and how do you iterate based on data?
  8. How do you ensure that your content aligns with the search intent for the targeted keywords?
  9. Explain the significance of content hierarchy and how you structure headings and subheadings for SEO.

SEO Tools and Analytics

Professionals must use various tools to expedite the SEO process and extract data and information they wouldn’t have otherwise unearthed. However, they must know how to use software properly to achieve their goals. Below are questions you should ask candidates regarding their proficiency in using these tools:

  1. What SEO tools do you regularly use for keyword research, site audits, and competitor analysis?
  2. How do you use Google Analytics to inform your SEO strategy?
  3. Can you walk me through setting up and monitoring goals in Google Analytics?
  4. Describe your experience with Google Search Console. How do you use it to improve SEO performance?
  5. How do you use SEO tools to identify and rectify technical SEO issues on a website?
  6. Explain how you track and measure the success of your link-building efforts.
  7. Can you discuss a time when you significantly used analytics data to improve a website’s SEO?
  8. What tools do you use to conduct A/B testing for SEO purposes, and what variables do you typically test?

Problem-Solving and Adaptability

A true mark of great SEO specialists is their ability to solve SEO issues on the fly by drawing from their deep knowledge of SEO tactics and principles. They can achieve this by having critical thinking skills, enabling them to think on their feet and seamlessly change their SEO strategies for the better. Below are questions concerning this:

  1. Tell me about a time when you faced a significant SEO challenge. What was the issue, and how did you resolve it?
  2. Describe a situation where you had to adapt your SEO strategy due to algorithm changes or industry updates. How did you approach this, and what was the outcome?
  3. How do you prioritize SEO tasks with limited resources or tight deadlines?
  4. Can you give an example of a time when your recommended SEO tactics did not perform as expected? What did you learn, and how did you adjust your strategy?
  5. Discuss a scenario where you had to explain complex SEO concepts to a non-technical audience. How did you ensure they understood your strategies and the value behind them?
  6. How do you stay informed about the latest SEO trends and algorithm updates, and how quickly do you implement changes based on new information?
  7. Share an experience where you had to collaborate with other departments (like IT or content creation teams) to overcome an SEO problem. How did you ensure effective communication and project success?
  8. What is your approach to testing and experimenting with new SEO tactics? Can you provide an example of a test you ran and what you learned?
  9. Explain how you evaluate the risk vs. reward of implementing a particular SEO strategy that could have both strong benefits and drawbacks.
  10. How do you handle situations where stakeholders have SEO expectations that are not aligned with best practices or realistic outcomes?

Communication and Reporting

 

The candidates’ communication skills are as important as other SEO factors. Their ability to share their SEO knowledge in layman’s terms helps make the search engine marketing process more palatable to everyone. This also bleeds into how they present the reports and which metrics to show to managers and stakeholders. 

  1. How do you communicate SEO performance metrics to stakeholders who may not be familiar with SEO terminology?
  2. Can you describe the process you use to create an SEO report? What key metrics do you include, and why?
  3. What tools do you use to visualize SEO data, and how do you ensure the audience easily understands your reports?
  4. Explain how you set realistic SEO expectations with clients or stakeholders at the beginning of a project.
  5. Give an example of when you had to defend your SEO strategy. How did you handle objections or scepticism?
  6. How do you keep your team or clients informed about the progress of ongoing SEO efforts?
  7. Describe a situation where you had to communicate a significant change in SEO strategy or pivot in tactics. How did you approach this, and what was the reaction?
  8. Explain how you would handle a situation where the SEO results did not meet your client’s or manager’s expectations.
  9. How do you ensure your SEO recommendations are actionable and clear to those implementing them, such as web developers or content creators?
  10. Can you walk me through a time when you identified a new SEO opportunity through data analysis? How did you communicate this opportunity, and what was the outcome?

Conclusion

Asking the right questions about their experience with SEO and understanding Google ranking factors will help you better understand whether they fit your organisation.

If you need help to conduct interviews and ask these questions to SEO candidates, SEO.Careers is here for you. We follow a tried and tested methodology of filtering the best SEO talent based on your specifications and needs. We also thoroughly screen them by asking the questions above to ensure that they can contribute to your organisation right off the bat.

Schedule a call with us so we can discuss what you’re looking for in an SEO talent and get the ball rolling from there.

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