how to become an SEO Specialist (2023 Guide)
SEO Specialist Interview Questions
BrainStation’s SEO Specialist career guide can help start a lucrative career in search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing. Read on for an overview of top SEO Specialist job interview questions, as well as strategies for answering them.
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After securing a job interview for a Search Engine Optimization Specialist position, you will need to impress your potential employer with your SEO experience, technical and soft skills, and passion for working with the company.
The format of an SEO interview can vary depending on the role and the company. You may have one interview with the Hiring Manager or several interviews with a panel of interviewers. Overall, they are assessing the same thing: are you the best candidate for the job, and for their business? To test your suitability, the interviewer will likely ask a range of questions that test your SEO knowledge and skills, as well as how well you would fit in with the company.
The best way to prepare for any job interview is by practicing—try answering common interview questions on your own or ask a peer to conduct a mock interview with you. To help you perfect best practices and get ready for your SEO Specialist interview, we have compiled a list of frequently asked SEO interview questions.
Common Skills-Based SEO Specialist Interview Questions
SEO Specialists are expected to know the ins and out of search engine optimization in a far more thorough way than other digital marketing experts.
Employers will be testing each candidate on everything SEO, including keyword research, link building, content marketing, and inbound links. Not only do SEO experts need to prove they have the right knowledge, but you also need to answer these SEO questions in a clear and straightforward way to an interviewer who might not have a background in SEO or even digital marketing.
Here are two examples of skills-based SEO interview questions and how to answer them:
Question: How do you measure SEO success?
Answer: This question is an opportunity to show not only that you’re a strong candidate on the technical SEO side, but that you understand business goals as well. Before explaining how you measure success, talk about how properly managed SEO strategies have the potential to create positive outcomes in many different areas, and that you, therefore, have to determine the best key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success or failure of your SEO efforts. You could touch on SEO goals including increasing traffic, link building, boosting conversions, emphasizing certain keywords, or establishing more referral traffic.
Question: Which SEO factors are not in your control?
Answer: The top SEO factor that isn’t in your control? The search engines themselves, led of course by Google. Google’s algorithms are ever-changing and secret, so there is some degree of guesswork necessary from even the most seasoned SEO experts. Further, there’s not much you can do to change how long your domain has been around, another factor in search engine rankings. Depending on the specific job role or company, an SEO Specialist might also have to work in an environment where they have little to no input on much of the content or design of a website. In an SEO interview, however, it would probably be best not to spend too much emphasizing what you can’t do and instead shift this interview question into a discussion of how you overcome these obstacles
Additional Skills-Based SEO Interview Questions
- What is SEO? What are the important types of SEO methods?
- What makes a website search engine friendly?
- What is a keyword and why is it important?
- What is link building and why does it matter?
- What are backlinks?
- What search engines are you familiar with? Which search engine are you most familiar with?
- What is page speed and why does it matter?
- Which meta tags matter?
- Explain domain authority.
- What is the difference between a do-follow and no-follow? How are they used?
- What is on-page vs. off-page SEO?
- What are some black hat SEO practices to avoid?
- What is the relationship between SEO and SEM?
- What is keyword stemming and why does it matter?
- What is the most important thing to look for when doing keyword research?
- What is Google’s preferred method of configuring a mobile site?
- What are rich snippets?
- Why do you need to know about backlinks to competitors’ websites?
- What is an SEO audit?
- What is a link audit and why should you do one?
- Explain spiders, robots, and crawlers.
- What is your familiarity with Screaming Frog?
- What is keyword density and what is the formula for knowing keyword density?
- How often should you perform a link audit?
- What are some of the more recent Google algorithm changes and what are the implications?
- What is the importance of meta descriptions?
- Have you used Google Search Console?
Common Technical SEO Specialist Interview Questions
Although SEO Specialist isn’t necessarily a highly technical role, employers will still need to know if you have the right technical skills to perform the job.
During the interview, they will use technical SEO interview questions to test your proficiency in various SEO strategies and tools. You should be able to display an understanding of core SEO and digital marketing concepts including website optimization, search engine marketing, and analytics. Since you’ll also be collaborating with web developers and design experts, you will also be expected to have some level of understanding of their job roles and how potential changes to websites and other web products would be carried out.
Here is an example of a common technical SEO Specialist interview question and how you can answer it:
Question: Which SEO tools do you regularly use?
Answer: An SEO Specialist will use a number of different tools for conducting analysis, increasing productivity, researching keywords, and improving the ranking of websites in search results overall. When answering this interview question, it’s worth mentioning platforms and tools such as Microsoft Advertising, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and everything Google, including Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, Google PageSpeed Insights, and Google Search Console. Other SEO tools worth mentioning include Moz, Cyfe, and SpyFu. Beyond just reeling off a list of software, it’s worth pointing out all the different tasks you use these tools for in your day-to-day life as an SEO Specialist.
Additional Technical SEO Interview Questions
- How do you approach keyword research?
- What are the steps you take to optimize a website?
- How does data inform your strategy?
- What method do you use to redirect a page?
- How can you do SEO for a video?
- What is your approach to developing an SEO strategy?
- How do you evaluate web analytics to measure SEO performance?
- Which Webmaster tool do you use and why?
- How will you measure success as an SEO Specialist at our organization?
- How will you cross-check whether your SEO campaign is working or not?
- What will be your next steps if your SEO methods or techniques do not work?
- What would you do if the company website you are working for decides to move all their content to a new domain?
- How can you optimize a website which has millions of web pages?
- What do you understand by Frames in HTML?
- What data can you get from using [Ahrefs / Semrush / Google Analytics]?
- What is your process for developing an SEO growth strategy?
- How do you go about link building for a client?
Common Personal SEO Specialist Interview Questions
Employers are seeking SEO Specialist candidates who are passionate about SEO and enthusiastic to join their business. Personal interview questions help employers get a better feel for your interests, personality, and work habits.
Given that SEO is a relatively new field, your interviewer will likely be interested to know how you arrived at this career path, so you should be prepared to explain clearly why search engine optimization became a passion for you.
Here are a few examples of personal SEO interview questions and how to answer them:
Question: How did you learn SEO?
Answer: These interview questions are “personal” for a reason, and obviously, each candidate will have followed a different path to SEO. After you detail your educational and professional path to become an SEO expert, talk about how you stay on top of SEO best practices and trends now. A good SEO Specialist is one who is committed to continual learning, given the ever-changing nature of the job and the way search results are produced, so an employer hiring for this job will want to hear how you use online courses, blogs, webinars, tutorials, social media, and other continuing education programs to keep your SEO skills sharp.
Question: How did you see SEO changing in the near future?
Answer: Here’s an opportunity to show that you’re on the cutting edge of SEO strategy and knowledge. Your answer could cover how Google AI will lead to more personalized search results, which will see SEO shifting from focusing on keywords to being more about delivering quality content to a specific audience, or how the rise of voice search and smart speakers could completely change the way we think about good SEO. Include in your answer an overview of how you try to stay ahead of these changes, and the sources you use to determine upcoming shifts in the industry.
Additional Personal SEO Interview Questions
- Tell us about yourself.
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- In your opinion, what qualities are required in order to be effective in an SEO role?
- How do you stay up-to-date on the near-constant search algorithm changes?
- What is your proudest achievement in SEO?
- What part of SEO do you like the most?
- How do you feel about black hat SEO?
- Why do you want to join our team?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What is it that interested you in applying for this position?
- How long have you been studying and performing SEO?
- Tell me about your personal projects, websites, blog, side hustle, conferences, etc.
Common Situational SEO Specialist Interview Questions
SEO Specialists need to have strong written and verbal communication skills to excel at their job. Since you will often be working in team environments — and may be the resident SEO strategy specialist— employers will also be looking for your leadership ability.
Here is an example of a personal SEO interview question and how you can answer it:
Question: How would you go about simplifying a complex issue in order to explain it to a client or colleague?
Answer: This interview question is a great way to simultaneously flex your communication skills and your knowledge of SEO principles. Choose an SEO concept to explain – perhaps 301 redirect, title tags, or the importance of avoiding duplicate content – and give your interviewer a comprehensive overview of how it works, with examples of how you personally have improved these elements on a website in the past to great SEO effect.
Additional Situational SEO Interview Questions
- How do you work with Developers to implement SEO recommendations and strategies?
- How often do you communicate with clients and/or management regarding your progress?
- What would you do if you misunderstood an important communication on the job?
- Talk about a time when you made a point that you knew your colleagues would be resistant to.
- Rate your communication skills on a scale of one to 10. Give examples of experiences that demonstrate the rating is accurate.
- In what specific ways do you motivate your team?
- Tell me about a time you took the lead in a team project. What was the outcome of the project?
- How would you go about explaining a complex problem to a client who was already frustrated?
- How do you make sure your recommendations are implemented?
Common Behavioral SEO Specialist Interview Questions
You can expect a few behavioral questions in most SEO Specialist interviews. These questions reveal how you handled past situations, which indicates to employers how you might deal with future issues and situations. When answering behavioral interview questions, use specific examples and include what you did in the situation and the outcome of your actions.
Here is an example of a behavioral question that SEO Specialists may be asked:
Question: Tell me about your biggest SEO screw-up. What were the results and what did you do about it?
Answer: Here’s another interview question where your answer will largely depend on your career experience. But once you’ve laid out the situation and conditions that led to your SEO mistake, owned up to the problem, and – crucially – explained how you fixed it, it’s worth shifting the discussion to other SEO mistakes you see other companies and websites making. For example, lagging behind Google changes, failing to optimize for mobile, or focusing on the wrong analytics measures.
Additional Behavioral SEO Interview Questions
- Describe an SEO marketing campaign you worked on. What was your role and what were the results?
- Have you ever been responsible for a site getting penalized by Google? What did you learn from that?
- What is your most significant success in SEO?
- Have you ever worked with a Developer on optimization?
- Please provide an example of when you analyzed a competitor’s backlink profile and you used that information to successfully acquire a quality link for a website.
- Describe a time when you recommended a new strategy/approach that improved a company’s online content.
Advanced SEO Specialist Interview Questions
Here are a few common questions that some of the top tech companies (including Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, among others) ask when they interview SEO job candidates.
- What are your three biggest weaknesses, and how did you turn them into advantages in your most recent position?
- Can you tell me about a time when you were more than halfway through a project and had to pivot quickly due to an unexpected change? How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time you faced a crisis at work. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when you were handling a project that went outside of your scope of work. How did you handle it?
- Tell us about an incident where you took a risk and failed.
- What else do you want me to know about you that I haven’t discovered yet?
- Describe a time when it was especially important to make a good impression on a client. How did you go about doing so?
- Tell me about your best collaboration experience.
- What do you do to stay motivated?
- What is the biggest compliment you have received in your current role?
- Tell me about a time you had a difficult relationship with a colleague. What steps did you take to ensure any challenges were resolved or, at a minimum, did not interfere with your ability to perform?
- Name something unique that you bring to the table.
- Name a product or service that you believe was marketed well. What about the campaign stands out to you?
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