Coming in for an SEO job interview is an opportunity your capability to showcase your understanding and expertise of this field and ability to join a team and contribute.
Whether it is to diagnose problems in a client’s website, face prospects on a sales pitch, develop a long-term SEO roadmap or all of them, it all begins with hurdling a job interview and impressing your interviewer.
So let’s explore some of the possible questions that interviewers throw at applicants and how to approach them. I am not going to give answers to these questions, but instead provide insight how to answer them.
1. How did you learn about SEO?
If you are coming from a current SEO role, this is an easier question to answer. But for those who are making a career shift, interviewers who reviewed your CV would like to know why you’re interested for the position.
It is important to connect your current role and interest in the job. For example, if you are a writer, you believe you can contribute more in the role as you not only create content, but also articulate in other parts of SEO such as crafting Meta content.
If you are a web developer, like I was before I came on board, explain how you not only built websites but also ensured they are highly visible, plus your technical skills can come in handy in implementing SEO recommendations, adding value on a soon-to-launch website.
2. What makes a website search engine friendly?
A search engine-friendly website is one that allows efficient and easy access by search engines through well-structured link system through sitemaps, navigation and content composed mainly of HTML and devoid of unnecessary elements.
You can also cite good examples of such search engine friendly websites. But make no mistake, sites with search engine friendly features don’t automatically translate to good rankings. Why? You can research on that.
3. How do you approach keyword research?
Sounds basic, right? But it’s very critical on how you craft your reply. While it’s a given that most answers will be along the lines of using keyword research tools, and the methodology of picking the right keyword based on how popular it is, how easy is it to rank, how relevant it is, etc., the context of SEO being an evolving discipline comes into play.
In the age where RankBrain algorithm goes beyond the literal sense of a user’s query, keyword research also plays a role in how you craft your content, and your thoughts on how to mine and apply these keywords, as this may interest your interviewer more.
4. How do you measure SEO success?
You need to go beyond the shallow metrics such as rankings and organic traffic. That’s because at the end of the day, clients will pay attention only if your so-called SEO success is aligned with their business objectives.
You can start with “it depends with client objectives and industry it belongs” and then drive towards specific examples on how you define success in SEO means to an online retailer, hotel, local restaurant or a veterinary clinic, and complement it with your corresponding SEO metrics that make business sense — generation of leads, brand equity or foot traffic.
5. How do you stay updated and respond to the ever-changing SEO landscape?
How you answer this question will indicate how resourceful and knowledgeable you are in SEO. Telling the interviewer reading blogs and journals (citing Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal or Google and Bing blogs) on a regular basis is one thing, but applying your understanding is another. A follow up question may be waiting to be raised.
What if a major algorithm change is widely accepted in the middle of a project? Do you change the project contract to revise the terms of service and include new techniques? Be ready with your project management answers.
6. What is your opinion on Google’s Hummingbird algorithm?
Be honest if you don’t know what exactly is this question about. You’d rather say, sorry I don’t know much, than pretend to be knowledgeable and utter contradictory statements.
You can explain that what this update is and how this came to be. By definition, Hummingbird algorithm helps Google understand search query in a deeper level or semantic search rather than finding out what this specific keyword literally means and dig in its index without contextual information.
More than just stemming (adding prefix, suffix or plural version of a word) and synonyms, Hummingbird takes a more intelligent approach to understanding search which cannot be manipulated by old techniques such keyword stuffing and consider multiple dimensions such as answering what, who, where, etc. which helps pages with more comprehensive content.
In short, it’s good news to people who use Google as it’s expected that even more accurate query results. But since the question is about your opinion, you must follow what you think about it.
7. How do you convey your SEO knowledge to clients?
Understanding from the standpoint of client who may not be very well-versed or technically savvy once you introduce terms like canonicalization, redirection or hreflang, you may tell your interviewer that you’ll try to be aware of the tone of messaging, simplifying it so it’s easily understood (301 redirection is like permanently moving shop while 302 redirection is like temporary out for lunch), using analogies to illustrate similar situations.
Or you can take a different route, by identifying the problems and then describing the impact of such problems, what search engines want to see and what’s your approach to resolve the problem. All in the spirit of transparency and generous citation of resources to validate your point.
Of course, you can draft a training module attended by major stakeholders — developers, managers, copywriters, designers to let them understand the importance of their role in the entire SEO project and how they can work seamlessly as a big team.
8. How do you help local business become more visible in search results?
Does the business have its own website? Is it involved in selling products or offering services? Does it maintain social media profile or publish regular blog updates?
Before making an answer, be sure that you have established the business make up and operations so your answer is pinpoint accurate. That’s because sometimes there’s no blanket recommendation that applies to every type of clientele. Each has its own objective, strengths and weaknesses that you consider as challenges and opportunities. Cite examples, such as a pizza outlet, like a wedding gown shop, brings foot traffic but might require online ordering for pickup. Meanwhile, lawyers, financial services or chiropractic doctors may need to be governed by code of ethics and regulatory body before posting content, inevitably impacting how they select keywords or draft their messages.
Mention certain tools and techniques that enhance local signals you can utilize to help businesses achieve their desired visibility online.
9. What is your opinion in optimizing a multilingual site?
You can start explaining that certain businesses operate with one global website that includes multiple regional content and language to target more domain authority and there are those who operate separate regional sites to optimize towards local market.
State your opinion on pros and cons of each and in what situation you’ll use each setup. Don’t forget to mention about the best practices when handling multi-language sites (hreflang, links from which types of websites, and so on) and why they are necessary.
These are not a standard FAQ for SEO interviews, but a guide on how you may approach a question that you were never prepared to answer. Some of these questions are subjective but most are objective that randomly throwing out “in my opinion” replies might not be taken well.