What SEO Interview Questions Should I Ask?
Have you been struggling to get your website pages to rank well and aren’t getting any decent traffic? If you don’t get good page rankings visitors can’t find your site to even know you exist. Has it become obvious to you now that you don’t have the expertise or the time to continue on the path that you are on? You have come to the decision to hire an SEO expert, but you are asking yourself ‘what SEO interview questions should I ask?’.
If by chance you got to this article before you had a chance to read my previous article, Top Reasons to Hire an SEO Freelancer, I suggest that you take a few minutes to read it first. This article will make more sense to you if you do.
I am going to share with you some of the questions I suggest that you include in your interview of any potential SEO technician hire. Even if you don’t know all the answers to these questions, ask them anyway, but research the answers before you interview.
Although you aren’t expected to know SEO if you ask the right questions the potential hire will think twice about trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
Vital Questions to Ask a Potential SEO Hire
- Do you follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines? – You don’t want to hire any SEO technician that uses any SEO strategies other than “white hat”. Ask the interviewee if they use Google Webmaster “best practices”. Find out if they are aware of the strategies (which are considered black hat) that Google has explicitly forbidden.
If you are not aware of what practices are forbidden by Google, review Google’s Webmaster Guideline’s. Have it handy when you conduct the interviews.
2. Can you guarantee that my website will get the first position on the first page of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page)?— If the interviewee says that they can, this person is probably not going to work in your best interest. At best, they are not being honest. If they can’t be honest about the little things, they won’t be honest about the big things either. Think about it. It’s really impossible for someone to guarantee you will reach the first position on the first page. Although that is what we all strive for, no one can actually guarantee that it will happen. What they can say is that their aim is to get you somewhere on the first page. No SEO technician has that kind of clout with the search engines to make that assertion.
3. Are you willing to share the information about all changes you make on my website? – It is your website and it is your right to be aware of everything that is done to your site. Would you let an accountant make changes to your financial accounts while keeping you in the dark about it? Why would you allow it with your website that you rely on to generate your income? Run quickly if the interviewee is not willing to provide you reports of what they intend to do and what they have actually completed. Remember, you are paying them to work for you.
4. Ask what methods of communication are they able to use? — This is very important. It is a must that you are able to communicate easily with the SEO technician. I personally like to use methods that will create a communication trail should I need to refer back to a conversation. I very seldom actually use the telephone unless it is something that is really not a big issue like just to say I won’t be available for a period of time. Generally, anything that pertains to the work of the SEO technician is done by Skype, email, word documentation or even a text.
A communication trail is also good in the case for some reason, your first hire quits or gets fired. In this case, you to provide all the communication documentation to assist the new person to understand what has already been done and also what your concerns and wishes have been.
Communication also includes providing regular reports about the SEO actions. Some think that the SEO technician should let you know when they will do status reports. It has been my experience that you should determine the timetable for when reports are due and when milestones should be completed.
5. Are you willing to provide me with a list of some of your current clients and clients you have done work for in the past?—If the SEO technician is confident in his/her work abilities they shouldn’t have any problem with putting you in contact with current and past clients.
Getting references can assist you in making a determination whether the interviewee will be effective in helping you and it will provide confirmation that the individual has definitely completed successful SEO strategies for others who were satisfied with the improvement made to their websites.
6. What and how can you improve my SERP rankings?—SEO technicians should be more than willing to discuss the action strategies they plan to utilize to improve your rankings. They should also be willing to provide you with an estimated time frame for how long it will take to realize the results of the SEO strategies implement.
One of the first things they should share with you is their intent to perform an audit of your website to determine if there are already any problems lurking that is causing your poor rankings. Your on-page search engine optimization should also be reviewed. This would include things like your internal links, the website URL, keywords, page titles and tags and headings.
I suggest that you remove any candidate from your list of potential hires that will not be willing to talk about the strategies they would use to get the right SEO results for you.
7. How do you determine that your SEO actions have been successful? – The interviewee should be experienced with using Google Analytics to follow the improvement of your website rankings, backlinks, and traffic to name a few.
I recommend that you become familiar with understanding how to use your Google Analytics as well. That way you can see for yourself if there has been any improvement in your search engine rankings.
Google Analytics Academy provides free online courses for you to learn how to use this valuable website tool.
8. What kind of SEO tools do you use?—SEO technicians use a variety of tools to assist them in completing their SEO campaigns. Many of the tools they use can assist them SEO professional to abide by Google’s best practices for “white hat” SEO strategies.
Some of the tools used are reporting tools, research tools, link building tools and technical SEO tools. Don’t just let them run off a list of tool names. Find out why they use them, which tools are their most favorite and which tools they dislike the most.
Run for the hills if an interviewee says they use tools such as SE Nuke, Xrumer, and Bookmarking Demon. Also, pure link building tools are used to make comments on up to thousands of websites, forums, and blogs, but they are very low-quality links that could very well cause your site to be penalized.
If you come across the tool Scrapebox, use caution. This tool can be used for good or bad. This tool is a genuine tool that SEO technicians use to perform research and reports. However, it can also be used for spamming blog comments. If the interviewee mentions this tool, make sure they can explain how they use it. Better yet, question if there is a more legitimate tool they can use.
If an SEO tech tells you they don’t use any SEO tools that is a definite red flag. If they don’t use any tools at all it is a signal that they are working inefficiently or possibly haven’t done much in the way of SEO strategies. To perform serious SEO campaigns the person has to set up some automation. To do that there must be tools used.
9. Have you ever worked with websites that have been penalized?—When a website has been penalized it can be very hard to recover from it, if ever. An experienced SEO tech can many times successfully overcome the penalties. If they answer yes to this question, follow up with asking them how they were able to fix the penalties and how would they prevent your site from those penalties?
10. Ask what they do to keep up with SEO changes? – We all know that SEO rules are ever changing and sometimes very quickly. Keeping up with the industry changes and all the Google changes is an extremely important aspect of SEO. Find out if they take any traditional SEO classes or even classes offered online. Ask what SEO blog they like to read? What is an interesting article they have recently read and why did they find it interesting?
11. Ask about the payment terms and any potential fees?—As we all know, payment information is a “must know” item! Find out whether you will have to pay per project or per hour. Is there a deposit required? How often are payments required? Do they charge interest or late fees?
Many of the companies and SEO firms normally charge a lot more than freelancers do. They also will require a contract. In a survey done by Moz in 2011, it was found that the majority of the projects under contract ranged from $1,000 to $7,500 by more than 600 Seo firms that were surveyed. The hourly rates ranged from $76 to $200 with SEO technicians that served mostly small businesses.
From my personal experience, I find that I had more control by paying a fixed project rate than paying a specific hourly rate because I had no way of knowing what a reasonable amount of hours were for the tasks that were being done.
Therefore, I felt that a freelancer could be charging me for hours they were eating breakfast or taking a smoke break or wasn’t working on my behalf at all. I would have no way of monitoring their time.
However, by using the fixed project rate, I could determine if I was willing to pay a certain amount based on the amount of work that would be done. It also allowed a little leeway to negotiate the total price.
My First Experience with SEO Freelancer Negotiations
Using a freelancer instead of a firm or company allowed me to negotiate the frequency of my payments. For instance, I agreed on a price of $400 for the SEO technician to work SEO strategies for three months. Understanding the extremely high costs of using SEO companies or firms, I felt that this was a very reasonable price for three months of SEO work.
Of course, I attempted to negotiate the asking amount down, but the technician was pretty firm on the asking price. Since I really did think the asking price was fair, I didn’t really push on the negotiation because I wanted to pay a fair price.
Now, that I had agreed upon the fixed project price, I had to think about how I was going to pay that $400 all at one time. It would be easier for my budget if I could pay smaller payments over the course of the three SEO work months. So, I negotiated with the technician for me to make three payments, one at the end of each month.
Based on the tasks strategies that were explained to me by the technician, I developed three separate tasks milestones (one milestone for each month). At the end of each milestone, I agreed to pay one-third of the negotiated price, which was $133.33 for each month. Each task specified in the milestone had to be completed before I would release payment.
Additionally, I required that the SEO technician would provide me with an official report of the actions taken for each week. I included what dates of work would be included in each report and the dates the reports would be due to me.
I used 30 day work months and 7 day work weeks. Therefore, I would receive 4 reports each month. The last report week would include a couple extra days because I needed time to review the report and get clarifications before I would release the payment for the month.
I required detailed official reports from the SEO technician. I needed to know exactly what was being done and the reason it was being done. Here is what I wanted to know:
- Changes to keywords, Meta tags or any changes done to my written articles.
- What type of submissions were being done such as:
- Directory Submissions
- Search Engine Submissions
- Bookmarking Submissions
- Classified Submissions
- Image Sharing Submissions
- Web 2.0 Profile Creation
- Social Media
- Forum Posts
- Blog Commenting
- Business Listing
- Local Submission
- Competitor Backlink
- Keyword Ranking
Any website that the SEO technician linked my site had to be shown in the report. This allowed me the privilege of checking out those sites to make sure they were high-quality sites, not low-quality link sites.
Finding a good SEO technician that has that certain mindset and skills in an environment where the rules are always changing is not necessarily an easy task. I am of the opinion that unless you are well trained in the area of SEO it is not an area that you will do well with on your website. As an affiliate marketer, we must be able to recognize our limitations and outsource those tasks that we do not have a command of in our own wheelhouse.
Any SEO person that works with it day in and day out will know the basic terminology, but it is more important to know how that potential hire will meet the challenges and what their actual skills are. You need to find out what area of SEO does that technician feel is their strongest SEO skill. It’s also a good idea to find out if they have any extra skills like email marketing, branding or public relations or possibly web development.
As a new affiliate marketer, you will probably not be able to afford a top-notch SEO expert, but it is possible to find one that can get the job done (and especially better than you can!). However, you should remember that you aren’t just hiring someone to build your links, research keywords, or analyze your analytics.
As you are interviewing be aware if the conversation is only one-sided. A good SEO technician will carry on a conversation with you and will ask you questions about what you are looking for or what do you want for your website.
Take the interview process seriously because you are hiring a person who can make or break your business. Therefore, you will have to be able to trust them. If you have any doubt, don’t hire the individual because it is better to be safe than sorry. Trust your own instinct.
You are hiring someone that you can build a rapport with and someone that you will be able to depend on. You want to hire someone that you know will do the job right even when you don’t have eyes on them.
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I would love to hear about your personal experience with regarding your struggles with SEO, or how things worked out if you decided to hire an SEO tech. If you decided not to use an SEO tech I would also be interested in why you made that decision.
Just make a comment below or you can always get in touch with me through wealthyaffiliate.com (here is a link to my profile).
Please feel free to contact me if you need help with anything.
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