How to Hire for and Develop a Successful SEO Department

The writer’s views are completely his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and might not all the time replicate the views of Moz.

It’s a extremely aggressive market for SEO expertise in the meanwhile. However as a hiring supervisor, how do you guarantee that you’re choosing the appropriate match for your workforce, and not simply the accessible candidates? It’s essential for the well-being of your current workforce, your potential hires, in addition to your SEO efficiency, to rent nicely.

Who you rent, when, and in what order can come down to a number of components. Working in-house might imply your finances for hiring SEOs is restricted, so that you may want to discover somebody who ticks a lot of talent packing containers broadly, however much less deeply. With an company, or enterprise workforce, you could have the posh of investing in a broad roster of expertise the place every particular person is highly-focused.

Abilities wanted for a well-rounded workforce

Not each SEO workforce is created equal. You could have to be sure that you’re hiring in a method that fits your group. To do that, think about what talent units exist already in your corporation and the place there are gaps.

SEO expertise

First, let’s have a look at some generally sought-after SEO expertise. I’m loosely categorizing these into sensible expertise (these which are wanted particularly for nice SEO efficiency) and comfortable expertise (these which are wanted for a good workforce dynamic).

Sensible expertise

Sensible expertise are sometimes those targeted on extra within the hiring course of. In spite of everything, we wish to guarantee our new colleagues are proficient SEOs! How you cowl these expertise may be a mixture of employees, freelancers, and company assist.

Smooth expertise

As vital as sensible expertise are the “comfortable” ones. These are the talents which are interpersonal and can assist your workforce be environment friendly and collaborative.

Adjoining expertise

There are different expertise that, while not strictly SEO expertise, can assist your workforce to operate at a increased effectivity. These adjoining expertise are sometimes rolled-up into SEO expertise, though it’s debatable as to whether or not each SEO ought to have an in-depth grasp of them, or merely understand how to work alongside those who do.

These expertise are not at all a complete listing, however they present you the core components that your workforce will want to comprise.

How to assess your workforce’s expertise gaps

Earlier than whether or not you want to rent new workforce members, or how to upskill the present ones, you want to have a look at the place the talent gaps are.

For those who work carefully with the SEOs in your organization, you’ll seemingly have already got an concept of the place their strengths are, or the areas of SEO that they naturally gravitate in the direction of. Maybe you could have that one particular person on the workforce who’s all the time requested the technical questions or is the go-to for assist with E-A-T points.

Figuring out your workforce’s areas of weak point doesn’t have to be a lengthy and sophisticated course of. Listed here are some fast strategies of getting a adequate image of the place their competencies lie.


Your workforce will know their very own strengths and weaknesses nicely. A superb first port of name is to ask them to charge their very own confidence with the listing of expertise talked about above. Ask them to charge their sensible expertise of them out of 10, in addition to their theoretical data out of 10.

By operating this train you not solely see the place there could also be talent gaps in your workforce, you’re additionally serving to your colleagues to take inventory of their very own areas for growth. Via this and a strong growth plan, you might have the ability to fill these expertise gaps internally with out the necessity to rent.

Exterior evaluation

In case your workforce is small, or their supervisor will not be skilled in SEO, you’ll want the assistance of an exterior coach to establish talent gaps.

Bringing somebody in from outdoors your organization will take away any bias in assessing the supply of vital expertise in your workforce. You might think about a profession coach, however given the specialism, you might profit extra from bringing in an SEO guide with administration expertise.

Peer evaluation

A 3rd method to get a good understanding of the place there are talent gaps is to ask your workforce to establish them. They’ll have a good concept of one another’s strengths and weaknesses and the place they want to see further sources targeted.

Figuring out different helpful expertise and expertise

Your workforce might have expertise tangentially associated to the work they’re doing for you that really helps them to be higher SEOs. If you’re contemplating the talents gaps in your organization, don’t neglect to encourage your workforce to have a look at these expertise that weren’t essentially developed by work.

Expertise gained outdoors of labor

Take into account their hobbies and volunteer work. You might be wanting to rent externally for the subsequent individuals supervisor function as a result of nobody in your workforce at the moment manages their colleagues. May a candidate have developed these expertise by their outdoors lives?

Maybe you could have a scout troop chief in your workforce, sports activities coaches, or voluntary trade mentors. These expertise won’t be instantly obvious from a CV or your expertise of them at work, however dig a little deeper and you might discover the lacking skillset or expertise you want for your division.

Don’t low cost the precious expertise and experiences gained outdoors of a office setting, particularly for candidates or workforce members who’re extra junior. It could be that they haven’t had the chance to showcase these expertise of their careers up to now however they excel in them outdoors of labor.

What to do as soon as the talent gaps have been recognized

After you have a higher concept of the place your workforce’s talent gaps lie, you could have to resolve whether or not to rent, prepare, or contract out these expertise.

You might have the ability to develop your current colleagues’ expertise to bridge that hole with formal SEO training or like these from Moz Academy. This can be a wonderful means of holding your workforce engaged, with the added bonus {of professional} certifications.

When contemplating coaching, be delicate to life commitments. SEO is an trade that seemingly rewards “hustle”. Nevertheless, a lot of individuals don’t need to perform extra work outdoors of their contracted hours, even whether it is for themselves. Don’t count on your workforce to all the time be working to enhance their data and expertise outdoors of labor. As an alternative, if you need to construct a world class SEO workforce, give loads of house inside work hours for your workforce to develop their expertise.

If the talent gaps are too vital, you might want to carry that useful resource in. A technique of doing that’s by companies or freelancers, however this isn’t all the time a cost-effective long-term resolution.

Lastly, you might rent somebody new. Right here’s how.

Create a job specification

Use the talents your workforce is missing as a basis for your new function specification. Create a description and listing of capabilities round these core expertise. For instance, when you’ve got recognized a want to carry extra technical experience into your workforce, create a function that focuses on that.

Do not forget that it’s onerous to rent an SEO who’s a phenomenal all-rounder. Most of us have our leanings in the direction of tech, content material, digital PR, and so on. That mentioned…

Watch out of being too slender

Don’t be overly prescriptive in your job specification, both. Take into account whether or not you actually want candidates to have over two years’ of expertise with Python. Does this new particular person have to have the flexibility to code in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, or do they only want to understand how these languages affect SEO? Do you want somebody with copywriting expertise, or can they only be nice at speaking briefs?

For those who create a very inflexible “wishlist” of vital competencies or expertise you might miss out on candidates who’ve the proper talent set for the function.

Advantages of overlapping talent units

There will be advantages of doubling up on competencies inside a workforce. For example, should you’ve famous that you just want a nice on-page SEO however you’re getting candidates who even have a technical background, think about that a plus even when you have already got nice technical SEOs in your workforce. There’s all the time extra that we SEOs can study, and bringing in individuals who have comparable specialisms, however totally different approaches, can assist deepen our competency.

How to interview SEOs

There are lots of, many guides on how to conduct nice interviews. What I would like to concentrate on listed below are the nuances of interviewing SEOs.

In my expertise, interviews for SEO roles have a tendency to are available in two principal flavors:

What mixture of those, the variety of phases concerned, and who sits in on them differs vastly. However is that this the optimum method to assess the competencies of an SEO?

The interview course of

How you construction your interview ought to rely upon a variety of components together with:

For example, an SEO with two years’ expertise might require a totally different set of questions to that of a managerial candidate with 10 years’ expertise.

There are a number of interview strategies and actions you should utilize to higher gauge the suitability of a candidate for a function and assist them to perceive if your organization is the appropriate one for them.

The formal interview

Most of us could have taken half in a formal assembly with a potential employer. It may be a great way of shortly figuring out when you’ve got rapport, and in idea, permit for each the candidate and interviewer to dig into expertise and expertise.

In actuality, nevertheless, it’s fairly a flawed methodology of assessing match. Many individuals merely don’t excel throughout the high-pressure scenario of a one-on-one or panel interview. Relying on the function they’re making use of for, it may very well be the final time they’re anticipated to carry out in that set-up, so why interview them like that? Having a nice set of interview questions can assist, however to perceive a person’s functionality, you might want to dig deeper.

That mentioned, some SEO roles, specifically client-facing account or mission administration, would require conferences which are really fairly comparable in nature to an interview. The formal interview course of may be a good stage of evaluation for these kind of roles.

The casual chat

A much less formal methodology for discovering out details about a candidates’ expertise and expertise is thru a extra informal dialogue. This interview fashion will be far more laid-back, giving as a lot house to the candidate to ask questions because the interviewer.

This may be a great way of assessing how a candidate may carry out in workforce conferences, liaise with outdoors companies, or talk with suppliers. For roles that don’t essentially require gross sales pitching or formal shows, then a casual chat is a higher route to discern a particular person’s match for a job.

Homework job

Typically a second or third stage of the interview course of is the take-home job like auditing a web site and presenting findings, or pitching a marketing project. The thought of the homework is to give candidates a while to assume by a downside and work in the direction of their greatest resolution. It permits an interviewer to acquire perception into how a candidate may really go about a real-life SEO problem.

That is a tough stage to get proper, although.

In apply, the at-home aspect of those duties can usually take a candidate a very long time to put together. On condition that they’re seemingly in a number of different interview processes concurrently yours, they could be working nicely into their evenings and weekends to put together for all of those duties.

As well as, these duties usually require entry to SEO instruments. It’s doable to get free trials for some, however they’re restricted in performance and by trial size, or a candidate might not really feel snug utilizing their current employer’s software licenses to full work for an interview. Will probably be higher if, as a part of this stage, you provide candidates information dumps to work from or give them short-term entry to the instruments they want to use.

There’s additionally the chance on the candidate’s facet that they could nicely come again with some wonderful work and nonetheless not get employed. They’ll have sunk time, vitality and experience into an SEO scenario simply to have the interviewers say no. In some, sadly not atypical instances, the interviewing firm might go on to use the candidate’s work although they haven’t been employed.

On the facet of the interviewing firm, you additionally don’t actually understand how independently the candidate labored on the mission. Take a look at SEO targeted boards and subreddits and they’re awash with individuals asking recommendation on how to greatest full a job or current their findings for interviews.

An additional complication of those phases is that they usually check expertise that aren’t essentially wanted for the function. As well as, the duties often want to be shared again within the type of a presentation and Q&A. As we’ve already mentioned, if presentation expertise aren’t essential to your function, you might not be assessing the appropriate competencies. In spite of everything, a candidate might need discovered a nice resolution to an SEO downside, however is that this the appropriate format for discovering out how they arrived at it if presenting makes them nervous?

Reside job

An interview evaluation methodology that’s frequent within the engineering and growth world, however hasn’t actually made it throughout to SEO, is the reside job. Candidates will be given a downside to remedy, or a web site to audit, and requested to work on it while they’re within the interview. This fashion, they’ll simply be supplied with the instruments they want, the chance of them asking for exterior assistance is mitigated, and they aren’t required to spend further time outdoors of the interview to put together for it.

It will probably, nevertheless, be fairly a daunting prospect for the candidate. To make them extra snug, think about giving them the location or tough define of the type of job they are going to be engaged on earlier than the interview. Additionally be sure to give them the liberty to flip their, and your, cameras and microphones off if on a digital interview, or for you to go away the room whether it is an in-person interview. Nobody likes being stared at as they work!

Peer interviewing

To make sure it’s not simply you getting to know the candidate, however that the candidate will get to know your organization nicely, you might think about together with a peer interviewing possibility.

Right here, a candidate will get to sit with a number of their potential colleagues and talk about what it’s like working at your organization. It’s essential that the assembly doesn’t include managers or anybody concerned within the hiring, so the candidate can really feel inspired to ask the probing questions they need so as to discover out if the corporate is the appropriate match for them.

Interviewing on the proper degree

It may be powerful to ask the appropriate questions of candidates who’re at a totally different stage of their SEO profession than you. For those who’ve been within the trade for a number of years, it may be troublesome to establish what somebody of their expertise ought to know and have the ability to obtain. Equally, should you’re not an SEO your self, however concerned in hiring one, you might not know sufficient concerning the self-discipline to actually gauge the extent of your interviewee’s data. It’s vital to establish the depth of expertise you’d count on somebody on the degree you’re hiring for to have. A technique of doing that is by wanting on the kinds of issues you’d need that particular person to remedy. What expertise would want to be current for them to do this? Then have a look at weighting these expertise. That are completely vital for getting the job finished and which might help to a diploma.

You probably have little expertise in SEO your self you might want to seek the advice of with members of your SEO workforce, or look to an exterior advisor to enable you to.

Be clear concerning the function’s degree

You don’t need to low cost an keen, fast learner from a job that solely requires a primary understanding of SEO as a result of they didn’t interview in addition to your final rent who’s now a supervisor.

Equally, a candidate might actually impress you with their experience and expertise however is the function too primary for them and they’re seemingly to need to advance on from it fairly shortly?

Degree acceptable questions

To be sure you’re giving your candidates one of the best likelihood to shine of their interviews, listed below are some concepts of questions for every of the principle talent units and how they are often tailor-made for junior, middleweight, and senior roles.

On-page optimization


How would you go about optimizing a web page to maximize its publicity within the SERPs?

This kind of query permits for the very fact the candidate won’t have direct expertise of finishing up this exercise themselves, however checks their theoretical data and strategy to problem-solving.


Give me an instance of while you used on-page SEO to enhance rankings of a web page. What did you do, why did you do it and what had been the outcomes?

This type of query permits for the candidate to present their direct expertise with on-page SEO however doesn’t require them to present duty for the technique behind it. They will present their sensible data and additionally trace on the reasoning behind the exercise.


Give me an instance of while you developed and employed a content material pruning technique. What was the technique, why did you develop it and what was the end result?

This kind of questions permits the interviewer to check the candidate’s strategic reasoning in addition to their capacity to establish one of the best methodology for reaching outcomes, and how they analyzed these outcomes.

Technical SEO


What would you look for when finishing up a technical SEO audit?

This kind of query helps to establish whether or not the candidate has a theoretical data of broad technical SEO exercise.


Give me an instance of while you’ve encountered a duplicate web page problem, what brought on it, and the way you resolved it.

This kind of query begins to look at the candidate’s sensible expertise in technical SEO and can assist you to establish if they’ve a working data or merely theoretical data of technical SEO.


Give me an instance of a deindexation problem you encountered, the way you recognized it, and the way you rectified it.

This kind of query will give the candidate house to reveal their end-to-end sensible expertise of great and advanced technical SEO points. It can seemingly permit them to present their expertise of organising alerts and automations in addition to how they assume by technical issues, talk these to different groups and work to discover a decision.

Digital PR


What’s a marketing campaign that you just’ve seen just lately that you just admired, and what would you could have finished otherwise?

This checks the candidate’s capacity to iterate on concepts with out anticipating them to have launched campaigns themselves but.


Give me an instance of a marketing campaign that you just launched that wasn’t initially profitable, and what you probably did to enhance it.

This checks a candidate’s strategic pondering, capacity to adapt to the wants and needs of the media in addition to giving examples of their work.


What could be your technique for launching a marketing campaign to generate hyperlinks in a extremely regulated trade like playing? How have you ever overcome struggles with regulated or hard-to-represent industries prior to now?

This kind of query assesses a candidate’s capacity to create a well-considered technique inside a set of limiting boundaries. It additionally assumes prior expertise of extra sophisticated campaigns.



If the corporate’s core KPI is conversions, what metrics would you have a look at to see if SEO helps in the direction of that objective? What further data may you want?

This query doesn’t assume the candidate has had expertise with onboarding a new analytics account earlier than however checks their theoretical data.


What’s your course of for making certain information integrity in a new analytics account?

This type of query will permit the candidate to present that they’re aware of how information can turn into compromised and their course of for making certain clear information. It can additionally present whether or not they perceive how they’ll compromise information themselves.


Inform me about a time while you deployed a advanced monitoring resolution, your steps, and the reporting you had been ready to produce by it.

This kind of query will discover the depth of expertise a candidate has in additional sophisticated analytics and monitoring options.



What do you’re feeling are the important thing parts to a profitable [SEO/digital PR] technique?

This kind of query will check the candidate’s theoretical data of making methods and will empower them to speak about their data of auditing, measuring, reporting, and iterating.


Give me an instance of a technique you created that yielded nice outcomes, the steps you carried out, and the end result.

This query permits the candidate to present their very own expertise of making methods and provides them the chance to talk about one they’re notably happy with.


Give me an instance of a technique you created that was not profitable and what you probably did as a consequence. What would you do otherwise subsequent time?

Asking this type of query explores the candidate’s capacity to fail nicely, together with how they get better and what they’ve realized from that have.

Challenge/account administration


How would you handle your time should you had been requested to full a number of duties with the identical deadline, however solely had time to full one?

This query permits the interviewer to see how a candidate would deal with a scenario they’re seemingly to encounter a lot early on of their profession. It assesses the candidate’s time administration and communication expertise.


Give me an instance of a time while you had conflicting deadlines and the way you managed the expectations of the stakeholders concerned?

Via this query an interviewer can get an concept of how a candidate has approached scheduling conflicts and stakeholder administration in apply when dealing with that strain, relatively than what they might hope they might do in idea.


Give me an instance of a mission that required vital scope modifications and the way you dealt with the communications, time administration, and exercise allocation contemplating the modifications

This query assesses a extra skilled candidate’s strategy to mission administration when there are a number of components which are impacted by scope change. It permits them to talk about their line administration strategy, useful resource allocation and stakeholder communications.

Eradicating bias in hiring

The SEO trade has sometimes had a downside with selling comparable faces in conferences, committees, and inside jobs. To make sure that your hiring practices encourage variety, it is best to look to take away as a lot bias from the method as doable.

Anonymous CVs and resumes

A technique of eradicating bias is to solely cross on anonymized CVs or resumes to hiring managers. This fashion, there may be much less threat of any implicit bias in the direction of particular naming conventions affecting the hiring course of.

It wants to be talked about, after all, that that is simply papering over a larger problem, and that any staff in command of hiring ought to take implicit bias coaching.

Bias testing

There are quite a few checks accessible that establish whether or not your hiring managers have any unconscious bias in the direction of or towards individuals primarily based on varied traits. One such suite of checks is offered by Project Implicit, a non-profit group staffed by worldwide researchers with the mission to educate the general public about bias. Their tests cowl a vary of potential bias reminiscent of sexuality, incapacity, and pores and skin coloration.

Various interview panels

One other method of limiting bias is making certain a numerous group of individuals are concerned within the decision-making. This implies your interviewers signify a numerous cross-section of the general public, not simply your group.

Take into account foregoing CVs or resumes

To be sure you aren’t hiring individuals primarily based on years of working, relatively than the standard and breadth of the expertise they’ve gained, you might think about casting off the CV altogether. As an alternative, candidates can reply a sequence of questions when making use of that assesses their competency for the function.

This may cease hiring managers from weighing suitability primarily based on former job titles (of which the SEO trade has no customary), size of time at earlier roles, or impressive-sounding manufacturers. As an alternative, candidates will probably be invited to interview primarily based on their aptitude.

Hire individuals with little expertise however nice potential

All of us had to study someplace. At one level in our careers, a supervisor took a likelihood on somebody with comparatively little SEO expertise and allow us to free on a web site. So as to assist the trade develop and adapt, it’s crucial that we proceed to rent in and prepare up entry-level SEOs. Nevertheless, this isn’t one thing that needs to be finished flippantly, and it is best to all the time have a good support system in place.

What to be careful for when hiring

There are a few issues to be conscious of when hiring SEOs within the present local weather.

The explanations behind quick durations of employment

There are a number of explanation why candidates solely labored for a 12 months (or much less) at a function. Historically, quick durations of employment have been handled with suspicion, however ours is a versatile and dynamic trade the place staying for years and years in a function doesn’t all the time make sense. There’s additionally the COVID-19 pandemic to think about, as a number of firms went by extreme hiring and working disruptions.

As well as, it’s vital to encourage staff to discover the very best match for them, which can entail some motion between jobs. Watch out not to dismiss a candidate purely due to quick stints in earlier positions or firms.

Values match

As talked about above, you’ll usually need a “tradition” kind interview spherical for new hires. The thought being that it may well assist to decide whether or not a candidate would slot in nicely with an current workforce or construction.

This isn’t all the time a nice concept, although. If we’re wanting to promote variety in hiring and additionally carry new concepts and approaches into our groups, then we should always rent for values match and not tradition match.

Tradition match is anticipating a candidate to slot in with the present method of doing issues. Values match is ensuring they agree with the core rules on which your corporation relies, however permitting for variations in approaches, character, and behaviors.


It’s a powerful market to rent in in the meanwhile, as a result of SEO expertise are very in-demand. Be sure you aren’t overlooking nice candidates and even current colleagues when attempting to construct your good SEO division.

Be clear about what you want out of your workforce and look each internally and externally for that talent set. Keep in mind to rent for potential and not essentially for their present expertise degree, and don’t rule out candidates unnecessarily or arbitrarily.

There’s a lot of motion out there in the meanwhile permitting for wonderful alternatives. Be sure you’re setting your self and your future workforce up for success.

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