See more articles

SEO Interview Questions: How To Hire The Right SEO Professional

SEO Interview Questions header
SEO Interview Questions header

If you’re looking to hire an SEO, you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions.

Finding someone with the right mix of skills and experience isn’t easy.

The interview process is key for choosing the right candidate.

However, there are differences between hiring an expert for an agency and hiring an in-house employee for a business. Each role has unique challenges and expectations.

In this guide, we’re going to cover the SEO manager interview questions you should be asking for each approach. We’ve also included some expert tips from leading SEO pros.

At the end, we’ve summarized all of the questions into The Ultimate SEO Interview Question Checklist so you can make sure you take on a winner every time.

We’ll cover:

  • Agency Perspective on Hiring for SEO
  • Interview Questions for SEO Positions in Agencies
  • In-House Perspective on Hiring for SEO
  • Interview Questions for In-House SEO Specialists
  • Why Outsourcing Might Be a Better Option

Agency Perspective on Hiring for SEO

The stakes are high when you’re hiring for an SEO agency.

Your clients rely on you to enhance their online visibility. It’s your team that will carry out your search engine optimization (SEO) plan and deliver results.

That’s why hiring the right candidate is so important.

You want someone who clearly understands SEO and can apply their knowledge in a range of real-world scenarios. The right candidate needs to be familiar with current SEO best practices and be proactive in keeping up with the latest trends and developments.

Interview Questions for SEO Positions in Agencies

There are three key areas you should cover in your SEO interview questions:

  • Strategic
  • Technical
  • Scenario-Based

Asking a mix of these questions will help you narrow in on candidates with the right skills. It will also give you a good idea of whether they can thrive in a fast-paced agency environment.

Strategic Questions

These questions are about judging the candidate’s understanding of SEO and their ability to anticipate and react to Google algorithm changes.

  • Which tactics would you use to deliver quick SEO wins for a client?
  • Can you describe a time when a search engine algorithm update affected a project you worked on? How did you adjust your strategy?
  • Which are the most important Google ranking factors right now? Why?
  • How do you evaluate the success of an SEO strategy? Which metrics do you prioritize?
  • How do you stay updated with the latest SEO trends and techniques?

Technical Questions

These questions should help you get a clear understanding of a candidate’s experience and expertise in the hands-on aspects of SEO.

  • What tools do you use for keyword research? How do you decide which keywords to target?

  • Explain how you would optimize a website’s structure for SEO.
  • How would you conduct a technical SEO audit? What common issues do you look for?

Scenario-Based Questions

Scenario-based questions are a great way to assess how candidates solve problems. You can better understand how they would handle real-world challenges working for your agency.

  • A client’s website has been penalized by Google. How would you identify the reason for the penalty and resolve it?
  • You’ve launched a new content strategy for a client. After three months, there’s no improvement in traffic or rankings. How would you analyze and adjust the strategy?
  • A client’s web page is underperforming. What potential issues would you investigate first?
  • A competitor is consistently outranking our client for several target keywords. How would you analyze the competitor’s strategy and adjust our approach?

  • You’re auditing a client’s website and find the internal linking structure weak and disorganized. What steps would you take to improve the internal linking strategy?

In-House Perspective on Hiring for SEO

Having an in-house SEO on your team can be a significant asset to your company. You can benefit from having a specialist dedicated solely to improving your online presence.

However, there are challenges when hiring in-house.

Your SEO specialist needs to be a team player and be able to collaborate with the rest of your marketing team. They also need to be able to work effectively with other departments to make sure your strategy aligns with your broader business goals.

Interview Questions for In-House SEO Specialists

There are three key areas to focus on with your SEO interview questions when hiring an employee:

  • Alignment with Company Culture
  • Technical and Strategic
  • Collaboration and Education

You’re looking for someone with the skills and experience for the job. But they also need to be a good fit for your team.

Alignment with Company Culture

These questions are all about making sure a candidate is a good fit and engaged with your company’s vision.

  • How do you handle feedback in the workplace? Can you give an example of how you’ve used feedback to improve your work?
  • What motivates you in your work? How do you see yourself being motivated here?
  • Describe a situation where you disagreed with a decision made by your team. How did you handle it?
  • How do you communicate the value of SEO to team members who might be less familiar with it?
  • What aspects of a company’s culture are most important to you, and how do you see yourself fitting into our culture?

Technical and Strategic Questions

These questions are designed to give you insights into how the candidate would approach the unique SEO challenges and opportunities at your company. The goal is to learn how their skills and experience align with your current needs.

  • Looking at our current online presence, what’s one significant SEO opportunity you see for us?

  • How do you measure the success of an SEO campaign? What metrics would you focus on for our business?
  • Our company currently uses Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Which paid SEO tools should we add to our tech stack? Why?
  • We have multiple business locations. Which local SEO strategies will you use to increase visibility for each of our branches?
  • Can you explain the importance of schema markup and how you would implement it on our website?

Collaboration and Education

SEO is only part of a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. These questions will help you see if the candidate can strengthen your team and help you achieve your broader business goals.

  • Can you share an example of how you’ve worked with non-SEO team members to achieve a business objective?

  • How do you stay updated with the latest SEO trends? How would you share that knowledge with the team?
  • What is your approach to explaining complex SEO concepts to stakeholders who may not have a technical background?
  • Can you share an example of how you’ve worked with external partners or agencies on SEO projects?

Why Outsourcing Might Be a Better Option

Even with some great SEO interview questions, narrowing in on the best candidate can be difficult. It’s even more challenging if your current team lacks experience and knowledge about SEO best practices.

That’s why outsourcing SEO is so popular with agencies and businesses.

When you hire a full-time SEO specialist, you have to handle the salary, benefits, equipment, and all the other financial costs of taking on an employee.

Outsourcing allows you to get expert help as and when you need it. That can make it a lot more budget-friendly.

In a recent survey of business owners, reducing expenses was ranked as the number one motivation for outsourcing:

Clutch outsourcing survey

There is also much more flexibility with outsourcing. When you hire a single employee, you only get the skills and experience of one person.

But SEO covers a wide range of skills. From technical optimization to keyword research, there are a lot of tasks involved in a successful SEO strategy.

When you outsource to a specialist SEO company, you can access a team of SEO professionals – each with their own area of expertise. Instead of hiring an SEO all-rounder, you can get an expert to work on specific tasks.

That can be much more achievable and cost-effective than finding and hiring a large team of in-house employees.

Outsourcing also gives you the flexibility to scale up and down your SEO efforts based on demand. If your agency takes on a big new contract, you can quickly access the talent you need to complete the project.

A survey by UpCity found that greater flexibility was the biggest benefit of outsourcing for small businesses.

Upcity outsourcing survey

Outsourcing your SEO allows you to adjust your investment based on your current needs. Whether you’re an agency or company, it frees up your existing team without the commitment of hiring full-time staff.

Building A Winning SEO Team

Hiring an SEO expert can be challenging. But with the right SEO interview questions, you can find the right person for the role to build out your SEO team.

And if you need more flexible access to talent, outsourcing is the way to go. You can focus on strategy and outsource deliverables like content creation and link building to experts.

It can save you a bunch of time and provide you with the expertise you need to grow your clients’ online presence.

The Ultimate SEO Interview Question Checklist

FATJOE The Ultimate SEO Interview Checklist

Joe Davies
Joe Davies

Co-Founder and CEO of FATJOE

View All Posts

Become a Pro at SEO

Join 65,000 others and learn the secrets to SEO success with our weekly blog posts.