When hiring an SEO expert, it’s important to know what you’re paying for and how it will benefit your business. SEO can be a complicated beast, and an expert will know the in’s-and-outs of Google’s algorithms. Ask these simple questions when hiring an SEO professional.

General

  1. What is your favorite blog and why?
    • Determines how engaged they are with the community; is a sort of “who do you know” question.
    • Helps you understand which direction they tend to focus their attention on.
    • Helps you understand if they invest their own time in continual learning.
  1. Tell me about a time when you’ve had to convince strong-willed people to do things your way in the face of tough opposition?
    • Part of SEO is building relationships and selling the need for the investment in the work. Poor examples here, or folding in this regard can bring your program to a halt.
  2. Tell me your worst crisis and how you dealt with it.
    • Can be work or personal. You simply want a glimpse of them under pressure.
  3. Tell me a situation where you had to make a prioritization decision; what criteria did you use, and would you change your mind now?
    • No wrong answers here. You’re looking to watch them walk through a process.
  4. Describe SEO to your grandmother.
    • This suggestion came from a friend. I love this one, as it’s a great way to see if they understand things enough to dumb it down.

Technical

  1. Explain how search engines work and what the workflow of indexing and ranking for a new page looks like.
    • Not looking for secret sauce, but do they understand the basic process of how an engine functions?
  1. Give an example of some SEO work you have done in the past.
    • Ask for specific examples of verticals and for their results achieved — the candidate need not be bashful about sharing their past efforts & successes. Ideally, their past work will align with your own business’s focus.
  1. Define “crawler friendly.”
    • This basically means a search engine’s crawler, or robot, can find all of your content.
  1. When should keyword research be performed in the SEO process?
    • Keyword research is best performed before a concept leaves the drawing board – this research will not only help you understand the taxonomy you should follow for your site’s layout, but it will give you clear guidelines on what content to develop. Well done keyword research will help you at every phase of site development and deployment.
  1. Pick your favorite search optimization tool and describe how you would improve it.
    • Are they aware of the great, useful, SEO-centric tools on the market today? Do they know how to use the data the tools provide? This speaks to their experience, too.
  1. Rank the top 5 most important SEO factors for increasing rank. Put them in order and explain your philosophy for why you consider those top to bottom the most important factors.
    • In reality, many items can fit into this answer — far more than 5 items – so you’re really just looking to see them think through the process and arrive at a workable conclusion.

Sample questions courtesy of Search Engine Land, columnist Duane Forrester (http://searchengineland.com/interviewing-in-house-seo-candidates-13790)

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