Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts help prepare a web site to take advantage of organic search results and drive traffic to the site. SEO professionals use a variety of techniques to optimize a site in order to appear high in search results for certain targeted terms. SEO professionals understand the algorithms used by search engines and change tactics dynamically as search engines change.
If you are hiring an SEO expert, or if you are looking for a job as an SEO expert, this list of sample job interview questions are for you. An SEO expert needs to understand a variety of things, but overall, how to drive traffic to your site which converts into sales for your business. The interview is designed to give you a sense as to the level of expertise of the person you are interviewing and whether or not they truly understand search engine optimization.
SEO Job Interview Sample Questions
General SEO Job Interview Questions
There are general topics an SEO expert should understand. In this part of the interview, you’re measuring their general knowledge to see how deep you need to go into more specific questions.
- Describe your experience with SEO in general terms.
- Do you have your own website? What is it? What terms are you targeting to be ranked for?
- What areas of SEO do you enjoy the most?
- In your opinion, what would be the hardest word or phrase to optimize any site for?
- What areas of SEO are your strongest?
- What areas of SEO are your weakest?
- In general terms, what would it take to rank for the word “Google” in the first ten results on Google.com?
- What types of projects excite you the most?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What is your biggest success on an SEO project?
- What is your biggest failure on an SEO project?
- How do you handle a client who refuses to follow your advice?
- How long do you see yourself in the SEO industry?
- Would you rather work as an SEO consultant or for a company as an SEO expert employee?
- What analytics software tools do you have experience with?
- Have you ever had a page or site reach the front page of Digg? What would you do to get there?
- What content management systems have you used? What were their strengths/weaknesses when it came to SEO? Which CMS would you recommend to a firm?
- If you had your choice, would you rather have a user from an organic search or from a paid search keyword? What are the differences between those types of users?
- How do you evaluate whether or not an SEO campaign is working?
- What industries have you worked in with SEO?
- What is the most competitive sector that you have worked in with SEO?
- If you were consulting with a client and they wanted to use black hat techniques, how would you explain to them the negatives? What if they insisted they are paying you to do a job and you should do a certain black hat technique, would you do it?
- What tools do you use for keyword research?
- Explain the problem with duplicate content on the web.
- How would you describe SEO to a non-technical executive who doesn’t understand the web?
- Have you ever been published on a major SEO blog?
- When is organic search a better fit for a client than paid search?
- When is paid search a better fit for a client then organic search?
- If you were performing a competitive analysis on a site, what things would you look for? What tools would you use?
- Do you rank number 1 for your own name? If not, why not? How could you rank #1 for your name?
- Have you ever used any black hat techniques? If so, did you find them successful? If you weren’t getting the results you wanted from white hat SEO techniques, would you do a black hat technique?
- What are 5 ways to build links to a site? What is the valuable techniques for link building?
- What kind of split testing have you performed for SEO purposes?
- What key performance indicators have you used in the past for campaigns?
- What are the metrics you use to highlight success or failure for an SEO campaign?
- Have you ever written content for a website for SEO purposes? How are your copywriting skills? Can you provide a sample URL to content you have written?
- What is keyword density on a content page? How many times should you use a certain phrase on a page in an attempt to rank for it?
Technical SEO Job Interview Questions
In this area of the job interview, we explore the candidate’s technical knowledge of SEO concepts. The depth of the answer should indicate the level of knowledge from the candidate.
- In your opinion, what are the top 5 factors for page level optimization?
- Are you able to write HTML code using a text editor?
- Explain what PageRank is.
- How does Bing work? Does it rely on PageRank?
- What are your thoughts on PageRank?
- What search engine provides the most accurate results?
- How could you exclude a page from search results?
- How would you exclude a site from being indexed by search engines?
- Does Google crawl a site with a noindex meta tag on each page?
- Do meta description and keywords still affect search engines?
- Why would we continue to use those two meta tags in today’s world?
- How does social media affect search rankings?
- I’m launching a new websites. What are the steps you take to optimize the site?
- If I move my site to a new domain name, what do you do to keep my search rankings?
- What is the most effective off-site SEO technique?
- Is link buying an effective strategy? Should we do it?
- What are the differences between SEO and SEM?
- What are techniques you would not do to boost search engine rankings because the risk is too high?
- Why would you use “nofollow” on an internal link?
- What is the ‘longtail’?
- Explain what an XML sitemap is. How do you structure the file?
- What are some strategies you use for attaining back links?
- Provide an example of linkbait.
- Do alt tags on images make a different for search engine rankings?
- What percentage of clicks do the first two results get on the first page of a Google search?
- If Google decided to punish a white hat technique, which one would harm your SEO techniques the most if it were penalized?
- How has Google Instant affected your SEO techniques?
- Is a backlink from a high PageRank site worth anything for SEO if it has a nofollow on it?
- What SEO techniques would you use on a site which uses a lot of video content?
- What is a canonical url?
- Where could you get the highest valued links?
- What is a 301 redirect?
- If a page ranks #30 in Google search results and you have 90 days to rank in the top ten, what items would you focus on? Can you get it ranked into the top ten?
- What would a table of contents look like for an SEO campaign plan?
- If you were setting a goal in an analytics tool for an SEO campaign, what would it be?
- Does CSS affect SEO on a page?
SEO Industry Questions
Search engine optimization techniques change frequently and any SEO expert worth hiring pays attention to industry trends. These questions will help identify if the candidate pays attention to the SEO industry and has interest in making this a career and not just a job.
- If you could guess, what would you say the percentage of our search engine referral traffic is Google? Bing? Yahoo?
- How quickly does content get indexed by Google?
- What is the most important social news site?
- What are your favorite SEO blogs?
- Where do you go when you don’t know something about an SEO topic?
- Where do you go for web development help?
- Who do you respect in the SEO industry?
- Who do you least respect in the SEO industry?
- How often does Google change its search algorithms? Where’s the best place to discover changes in the algorithm?
- What do you find on SEOMoz?
- If you were Google, are there any white hat techniques you would consider banning and punishing people for using?
- What are some challenges for the SEO industry?
- Do the most well known SEOs only stick with white hat tactics?
- Do you think that SEO certification is valuable?
A candidate for employment in an SEO position should have taken some time and reviewed your current website. See how well they’re paying attention.
- Approximately how much traffic does our site get each month. If you didn’t research it and don’t have a guess, how would you estimate it without access to our analytics?
- What are three things you would suggest right now to improve SEO on our site?
- Based on your research of our site, what level would you rate our current SEO expertise?
- If we hire you, what would your first week look like? Your first month? Your first year?
- What percentage of traffic should we expect to come from organic search?
- Describe how our typical visitor who comes from an organic search source is different from someone who bookmarked our site.
- Is there anything missing on our current site?
- What links do you recommend we place on our homepage?
- What are the positives and negatives for us to do link exchanges with other sites?
- How would you discover what search engine keywords are used to find our site?
- What key performance indicators would you recommend we use?
- What should be the ultimate goal for us for our SEO efforts?
- Should we use Flash on our site?
Add Your SEO Job Interview Question
What SEO job interview questions would you add? Post it in the comments below.