If you are applying for a Search Engine Optimization job at beginner or senior level, you need to prepare for your job interview in advance. SEO is an ever-evolving field and you need to make sure that you are able to answer relevant industry-related questions to ensure your role within a company.
In this article we will take a look at 12 SEO interview questions for beginners and 13 SEO interview questions for those seeking senior roles within a digital agency. Preparation is key and as a company dedicated to innovating the SEO space, we are glad to provide you with insight into the SEO hiring process.
SEO Interview Questions for Juniors / Mid-Weight
Q1: What makes a site search engine friendly?
A: There are a variety of factors that make a website search engine friendly including high quality content, metadata, title tags, backlinks, UX and keyword optimisation. A website needs these elements to ensure it ranks in the search engine results and is easily discovered by users actively seeking what is offered on the website.
Q2: How do you measure the success of SEO?
A: This answer should be based on the kind of client you are working for as goals and visions may differ from business to business. In addition to this, there are numerous ways to measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and this means that there are a variety of ways to measure success. Make this clear. During your interview, possible answers may include increasing traffic to a specific landing page or website, increasing conversions such as e-book downloads, signups or online sales, growing inbound links, increasing referral traffic or driving traffic for a specific keyword or key phrase. As an SEO professional, it is important that you are able to measure your results to prove that the strategy and tactics are working for your client. Make it clear that you understand every client is different and deserves different tactics and measurements to reach a particular goal.
Q3: Which SEO tools are you familiar with and which do you regularly use?
A: From Google SEO tools to Moz and YOAST, there are a variety of SEO tools you should be familiar with. Outline which you are familiar with and discuss why you believe them to be helpful. There are a variety of SEO tools available and you need to make it clear that you have an understanding of what is available, your preferences and a willingness to learn new tools.
Q4: How do you approach keyword / key phrase research?
A: This once again comes with variations and you will have to outline what keyword tools you use for your research, and explain how you go about using this tool to find the relevant keywords and key phrases. You need to demonstrate what you do, and how you do it to explain that you don’t simply guess keywords and type them into your chosen tool (such as Google Keyword Planner). You may use buyer personas to consider variables and problems that prospects may face and you may search for keywords around these problems. It is also important that you touch on the importance of key phrases, competitiveness and search volume around this process. This will show the interviewer that you know how to find the right balance in your keyword research process, allowing you to narrow it down and find the most relevant and targeted keywords to ensure greater lead generation.
Q5: What are your thoughts on link building and how do you go about it?
A: Your answer should place emphasis around search engines (particularly Google) and needs to show that you understand the importance of website credibility and the importance of website credibility to Google (and related search engines) specifically. Describe how search engines check to see if other quality websites have linked to yours, which will prove to Google that your content is of a higher quality, and therefore more credible than that of your competitors. This will ultimately help a website rise higher in the search engine result pages.
Q6: Explain backlinks?
Your interviewer will probably touch on subjects similar to this, as these elements play an important role in the SEO process and it is important you understand what they are and why they work. Explain that a backlink describes links into a website that come from an external source - which “links” back to the process of link building and its importance.
Q7: What do you think of “page speed” and is it important to the SEO process?
Q8: How do you redirect a page?
A: This may sound like an obvious question but sometimes the interview process may be long and it is important that you prepare for questions you may believe to be simple. In general terms, a 301 redirect would be the best way to redirect a page as this process ensures you do not lose any SEO value that has been built over time.
Q9: Can you implement SEO for video content?
A: It goes without saying that video content is one of the most popular forms of content on the internet today. Of course, with this in mind, videos have the power to improve SEO as they are shareable (creating backlinks) and gain attention. BUT in order to gain this value, you need to implement SEO tactics to get a video found by users. Essentially, video needs the same kind of treatment as text-based pages in order to rank. Outline the steps you would take to optimize a video for the search engine and to ensure that they are able to crawl your video. From transcript to text, to page title and descriptions - you need to show your interviewer that you understand the importance of SEO for video.
Q10: Are meta tags important and when do they matter?
A: Meta tags are no longer what they were in the beginning of SEO however, there are two critical elements that do remain, these being: page title and, of course, meta description. Make sure to mention these two tactics when faced with this question. Your meta description doesn’t affect your website ranking but it does play a role in the search engine result pages as it attracts the user and will make them want to click on the link if it answers their question.
Q11: Do you have any experience in reporting, analysis or audits?
A: This will help the interviewer learn more about your experience and knowledge. Reporting and audits are usually part of a senior position but explaining that you have experience in this area will show that you are invested in the SEO process and are able to provide value to the team.
Q12: How will you measure your success as an SEO professional within the organization?
A: This question is subjective and will show the interviewer that you have a greater understanding of the bigger picture when it comes to SEO and your role within the department. Make sure to mention your willingness to learn and grow and explain what your goals are within the company. Do you want to advance your position? And make sure that you explain that you are not interested in vanity metrics - rather, increasing a client's business profit and helping them improve their sales.
Above are just a few entry level questions you may be asked when interviewing for SEO Junior or Mid-weight SEO positions. Make sure to show your willingness to learn, knowledge and commitment when answering your questions and you will be well on your way to creating a career in the SEO industry.
If you are applying for an SEO specialist or analyst position, you will of course, receive a different set of questions. The below outlines some of the interview questions you may receive through the interview process.
SEO Interview Questions for Senior SEO Specialists
Q1: What training and experience do you have as an SEO analyst/specialist?
A: This is a question you will already expect and be prepared to answer. Make sure to emphasise your experience as well as your training. Make sure to outline some of the big projects you have worked on and explain how you used your training to create successful campaigns.
Q2: What do you look for in your SEO analytics?
A: As you are applying for a managerial position at this point in your career, you will be asked several questions along these lines. SEO analysts are expected to understand analytics and the importance of certain analytics as opposed to “vanity” analytics that don’t necessarily show the success of a campaign. Discuss the tools you use for your analytics as well, what it is you look for to determine success, and how you use metrics you amend and measure results.
Q3: What SEO analytics do you believe are often overlooked and do you believe they hold greater importance?
A: It is important to answer these questions (and all of the interview questions) based on personal experience. Not only does this show your experience, it shows the interviewer that you are willing to share knowledge and learn from mistakes. You may want to answer this question by touching on an experience when you (or a team) got caught up in details and dismissed looking at the bigger picture - neglecting certain analytics that could have been vital to learning more about what was working and what could be improved. Or speak of a positive experience, one in which you noticed certain analytics helped you improve your SEO performance and reach certain goals.
Q4: Can you define keyword stemming and explain its importance?
A: As an SEO specialist you should be able to outline the importance and your process of keyword stemming right off the bat. Explain the importance of using variations on certain words and discuss how this tactic helps you use more relevant words on a website without stuffing a page with keywords or ending up with a website that is full of low-quality content that reads badly.
Q5: What do you believe is the most vital element of keyword research?
A: This is a question that is based on your experience and is not one that is a cold hard fact. Juniors in SEO usually base their focus on popular keywords and have not yet learned to consider competitiveness. This is something you can bring up and discuss, explaining your experience and growth in this side of the SEO process. It will also show that you are able to help your team and guide them with your experience.
Q6: What is your experience with link penalties and what have you learned from your experiences?
A: Of course, it would be great if you have never had any link penalties from previous work but most SEO specialists have had to deal with this in their career - it is a learning experience. If you have ever gone through this, make it clear what you did wrong and how you fixed the issue - and what you learned from the experience. Be honest and open and show your interviewer that you have grown from this.
Q7: Explain a canonical issue and how you can fix this?
A: This is a problem that occurs when there is duplicate content on your website. This is not only based on content on your site but may also be due to URL pointing to the same webpage. Explain how you would deal with this issue - and ensure it does not occur in your SEO efforts.
Q8: What is your preferred Webmaster tool and why?
There are a variety of tools available via Google and it is important you are able to demonstrate your proficiency and experience with them as well as your knowledge related to the available tools.
Q9: Explain rich snippets in SEO?
This is featured text that appears at the top of the search engine results. Sometimes it appears with an image alongside a text box. This takes you back to the Webmaster question as Webmasters use structured data to create this content so that search engines are able to identify the content and provide rich snippets to the users. You may be wondering why this would be a question as this is not necessarily a part of the SEO process.
Q10: What is the best method for configuring a mobile site?
A: A simple answer: yes. But an important question. When this comes up make sure to discuss the importance of mobile sites in the digital age and express your thoughts on this. Yes, Google prefers that mobile sites are created using responsive web design, but this is a perfect opportunity to discuss the evolution of mobile websites and their importance in the bigger picture of digital marketing.
Q11: Should you know about backlinks to competitor websites?
A: It is important to do research and analysis of a competitor website as this provides insight into how you can create a competitive advantage in regards to your SEO strategy. You don't want to simply be copying what they are doing - you want to do things better.
Q12: What are the important Google updates that have affected SEO?
A: There have been a variety of Google updates throughout the years, from Panda and Penguin. These being two of the most significant changes to the Google algorithm. Explain that you understand that Google is always making changes and amending their tactics and you are always keeping up to date with these changes. Describe what you do to keep abreast of these changes and how you work to add them to your strategies as they arise.
Q13: What is your measure of success for an SEO specialist or analyst within an organization?
A: This is subjective, however, you should always be prepared to answer it and express your understanding of SEO in the greater digital marketing landscape. Always mention that your process will be aligned with goals, objectives and driving results. This is not just about haining more searches - it is about having a strategy in place that drives greater sales for your client.
The Wrap Up
Above are just a few interview questions you may receive in the application process. Regardless of the position you are applying for, make sure to show that you are willing to learn and gain knowledge as SEO shifts and evolves.
The Nexa team wish you luck on your journey and hope that this article was able to get you one step closer to reaching your career goals.