But all is not lost!
If you think about it, SEO is just like building a great team, which often involves adopting a ‘hire slow, fire fast’ mentality. Just make sure you ask the right questions and get a good feel for your prospective SEO and you’ll have a significantly higher shot at a successful SEO campaign.
Here are some 9 questions to ask before hiring an SEO:
- Tell me about your expertise with SEO. – this is an open ended question that lets the prospect reveal as much(or as little) as they can about their SEO knowledge. It’s a question that requires people to think of a great answer on the spot.
- Tell me about 3 SEO projects that you’re most proud of and why you’re proud of them. – this is a powerful question that can separate the wheat from the chafe because it gets into specifics. I often see people stumble at this question because they start referring to individual keyword victories rather than talking about specific traffic and conversion improvements. SEO is more than about a set of keywords, it’s about making the ocean of content you have on your site more discoverable to search engines.
- What’s your #1 rule with SEO? – another open ended question that will allow you to see just how experienced your prospect might be. Are they the gambling type to push campaigns to the limit? Are they the squeaky clean white hat SEO that treats top SEO blogs as gospel? More importantly, are they the right fit for your needs?
- Tell me about your biggest failure with SEO and what you learned from it. – just how deep does your prospect explore SEO? This question will reveal how complex your prospect’s thought process is. Ask for specifics about the failure and what they would do differently if they could do it again.
- What are your go to SEO tools? – there are quite a few tools in the industry and some are popular in the SEO world (such as SEOmoz, Citation Labs Link Prospector, Majestic SEO, and Raven Tools). When used correctly, tools can significantly increase a skilled SEOs efficiency. This is not to say that tools are required, but it’s nice to see what they know about tools and what they think about them.
- How do you carry out competitive analysis of keywords/SERPs as part of the keyword research process? – keyword research is critical to any SEM campaign so you need to see if your prospect has a good process for this.
- Let’s say you’ve done 6 months of SEO for a site and there haven’t been any improvements, how would you diagnose the problem? – How confident will you feel with a prospect when they are actually in the trenches doing the grunt work? This question will help you answer that question.
- Have you ever outsourced SEO work? Give me one example. – sometimes, an SEO campaign might have many moving parts and you won’t be able to juggle all the balls at once. If you need to outsource frequently, then chances are your prospect will need to as well. So the question is does your potential hire come with management experience?
- What are effective metrics for tracking return on investment from SEO? – the answers you’re looking for here can include, but aren’t limited to: organic revenue, organic traffic, # of organic keywords. Average order value and conversion rate can be included if you group SEO and conversion rate optimization together.
This is by no means a conclusive list of SEO hiring questions. You have your own needs and it’s up to you to figure out what other questions might be important to the hiring process. What these questions can do is help you make a more educated decision. The last thing you want is to spend months of time and money only to find out that you brought the wrong person on board.
What are some other questions you use to hire great SEOs?
Image credit: Shutterstock /karen roach
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