How To Get Hired At A Top SEO Agency Part 2: What most applicants are lacking

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See Part 1: How to Get Hired at a Top SEO Angency.

Next in our series of finding what top SEO agencies are looking for when hiring, we ask our panel of experts “What skills are most people you interview lacking?” Here is what they had to say.

 Ash Buckles        Google + | Twitter

Technical programming/scripting experience. Having a clear understanding of how web servers operate, open source coding experience, and the technical side of SEO is probably the most difficult to teach.

It makes sense though. In school, most people choose to be a technically-minded (computer science) major or a business/marketing major. These are two extremes in theory, training, process, experience, communication, etc. I’ve always had a fascination with both so I’ve worked hard to excel in both areas.

Wil Reynold     Google + | Twitter

Good question, the skill I see people missing the most is the ability to think like a marketer.  Even at SEER Interactive, I often work on getting our account teams to think more like CEO’s and less like SEO’s.

Once you make that mind shift you actually start thinking more about revenues than rankings, which is the true way to most marketers hearts 🙂

 Ian Lurie     Google + | Twitter

Ability to really think a problem through. We ask some fairly tough questions. Some are those annoying giraffe-in-a-fridge variety ones, some are SEO-focused. I’m not looking for a ‘right’ answer.

I just want to see the thought process. Too often folks just shrug and say “I don’t know” or, even worse, they give a completely incorrect answer and then babble for 3 minutes.

I need someone who’ll say “I don’t know right now, but here’s how I’d figure it out.”

Tom Critchlow Google + | Twitter

Most people that I interview lack either technical aptitude or communication skills. It’s hard to find people with both these skills.





Cyrus Shepard Google + | Twitter

Link building skills. And I mean creative, white-hat, scalable link building that doesn’t rely on paid directories and low value press releases.


Your Thoughts?

What skills do you think most SEO’s are missing? What would you add to what was already said?

Stay Tuned- Next week we find out what questions the experts actually ask when interviewing SEO applicants.

Benjamin Beck
Benjamin Beck is an online marketing consultant with an emphasis in SEO & Local Search. Benjamin is currently writing a book on Link Harvesting. You... Read Full Bio
Benjamin Beck
Benjamin Beck
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  • In my experience it is a hybrid between Ash and Wil; I find most people I interview are either all marketing or all technical. The technical people don’t tie back campaign tasks and goals to revenue and the marketing variety ask for things that are technical nightmares, or way to expensive to implement correctly.

    This is precisely why the new industry rock stars are the ‘SEO Engineers,’ usually having experience within both open-source code frameworks and the ability to write a thought-provoking blog post.

  • In my experience a solid technical background as well as a good understanding of how the marketing strategies may apply to a specific context are what I need.

    However, I appreciate that most recruiters and managers are looking for the answer to their problem and quite often do make questions without providing a real brief with the insight.
    In such a way, answers provided may be utterly wrong and candidates quite often are refused without a real reason.

    So this post is quite interesting, but I bet that recruiters and manager should put an hand on their soul and really ask “did I provide all the candidate need to let him show his/her potentiality”?

  • It kind of ties into what Wil said, but I’d have to say smart time management. Good SEO’s are conscious of how much time they can really afford to spend with a given client. Since there are only so many hours in a work week and you can only allocate so many of them to a client and still be profitable, it’s critical that SEOs stay on top of what’s good for the company they work for.

  • I agree with Mr. Hill. Probably the most difficult skill to acquire, and not just for SEO / internet marketing work but for any type of complex high skill level work, is 1) being able to identify for a particular client the 20% of all possible marketing activities that bring 80% of the resutls and 2) effectively managing the work to prioritize that 20%. It’s all to easy to just jump into whatever SEO task is closest at hand, or seems the easist to do, and feel we’ve been “productive.” The truth is being productive means first spending probably more time than you’re comfortable with on planning with some clear long-range goals in mind. The answers about what’s best to do, specifically, are never obvious, but the habit of working this way will reveal the answers, but you have to know how to step back, think, and then plan and excute. It’s not an easy job by any streatch of the imagination.

    This is more of a work habit and focus than a particular SEO skill. The nuts and bolts of SEO are pretty simple. Figuring out to use those nuts and bolts to really build someting and get results is the challenge

  • I’m a recent graduate of a web design/development program. I returned to school after already completing a PR post-grad because I wanted the technical knowledge behind social media marketing. Having just entered into an SEO career, I’m thankful I have both backgrounds. It actually surprises me how many consultants out there have virtually no technical knowledge. I imagine it must prevent them from really taking control of their web presence.

  • Cyrus, find that rare breed and you have made a good investment indeed. Being able to create engaging content that gets buzz online is very difficult. There are so many time sucking activities that bleed people’s spare time that getting them to respond has to be driven by the desire for gain.

    By gain, I don’t mean financially, as there are so many triggers to pull in this shooting gallery. We all love to win, and I don’t mean prizes, win in a way that is uplifting. Many times by contributing it costs, but the benefits of seeing your efforts help another, often prove the only requirement to ignite an engagement storm.