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In this wonderful digital age we are living in, business owners and sales people rely more and more on their company’s website to attract website traffic and convert that traffic into sales. Unfortunately most of us know very little about how to actually accomplish this. SEO (search engine optimization) is a term you hear a lot these days. However if you are a non-techie like me just the mention of SEO causes an instant dazed and confused look.

The problem is that SEO is really important in driving sales to your business. It’s great to have a slick website but if no one visits it then it really has no productive value. It is important to do some research to understand the power of SEO so that you have an appreciation for what it can bring to your business.

That said, even with some research under our belts it is still a complex specialty. A lot of the time we rely on the so-called IT experts to do the SEO Optimization for us. So how do we know if our newly hired IT professional is an SEO expert if we don’t actually have a clue what they need to bring to the table to fully optimize our websites?

Enter Mike Shaw.

My friend Mike Shaw is an SEO Specialist from Tower Marketing. He truly knows his stuff and wanted to share some of his wisdom. As a guest Blogger for all you 5i faithful, Mike has identified 5 key interview questions (with answers!) you must ask in order to hire SEO experts. Follow these questions and even the most technologically confused will be able to hire SEO experts for your business.

Take it away Mike!

Black-hat versus White-hat SEO – Interview techniques to find the right SEO Talent

Any digital marketing agency knows that hiring the right employee is important, but how do you know if the interviewee is able to execute the right search engine marketing strategy?

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) field is well known for the battle between black-hat SEO, which involves going against Google’s guidelines, and the white-hat SEO, which takes the ethical approach to developing the quality, trust and authority of a website Google is searching for.

What’s the problem with finding the right SEO?

Many digital marketing companies are aware of the importance of SEO and have a basic understanding of how it works but that is not enough. If you have an SEO employee practicing black-hat principles, your site will eventually be penalized by Google and your website losing its ranking. The penalties can last from 48 hours, up to months; or in some cases until the actual domain expires.

Do the research and ask the hard questions

By using the refined interview process below, it will be easy to identify what SEO candidate is worth hiring, and investing in.

By asking these five questions, you are one step closer to hiring a great SEO employee and gaining a legitimate marketing strategy:

* For all of you who have purchased The Right Hire simply insert these 5 questions into Professional Level Interview Template in the technical skills section and your template will be ready for you to interview SEO applicants!

1.  What steps would you include when building a strategic SEO plan for a client?

The potential employee should be responding as a consultant, referring to questions they would ask the client to better understand the goals and objective of their website.

2.  How do you measure the SEO success of a website?

Any interviewee that mentions keyword rankings as a way to measure SEO performance should be crossed off the list. Reporting by keyword rankings has change due to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm change.  This question will prove how up-to-date they are with industry knowledge.

3.  What SEO tools do you use and most prefer?

The interviewee should talk about other tools besides Google Analytics. Tools they mention should cover link analysis, keyword research, page performance, competitive analysis, etc.

4.  What link building strategies do you prefer?

There are many link acquisition methods and not all of them are approved by Google. The interviewee should offer examples and methods of acquiring links through outreach, social media, content creation, etc. If they mention paying for links, then cross them off your list.

5.  What technical program skills do you have?

SEO may be considered an art, but you really want someone who has some understanding of CSS, HTML and any other widely-used web code. It is a great advantage having an SEO professional that understands what clean code looks like!


It is not easy finding the right SEO candidate for your business, so it is imperative to interview them thoroughly. By using these SEO interview questions combined with the ebook The Right Hire and its Interview Template system you stand a better chance of finding an SEO employee who is ethical and will enhance your website.

Clark Glassford
Founder of Five Interviews

PS if you liked this article, please share this blog with any of your co-workers, friends or family that could benefit from these recruitment tips to help them make exceptional hires.



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About the author: Mike Shaw is the SEO Specialist at Tower Marketing. His focus is on developing the clients website authority, trust and positioning in the SERPs. Mike has worked with companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Travelzoo, Car Hire Market and Selective Asia.