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Hiring a great SEO Consultant – 15 interview questions to ask

31 Oct 2023

In today's ever-evolving digital landscape, selecting the right SEO consultant is pivotal for your business. An experienced SEO expert can significantly impact your digital marketing strategy, but the process of finding the perfect SEO specialist can be exhausting and expensive.

We understand that the hiring process can be a difficult and time-intensive task. Sometimes, one interview might not give you the full picture you need to make a confident decision. At GrowthBuddy, we've established a thorough 5-stage interview process before shortlisting candidates for a business. This approach ensures we shortlist the very best candidates for you to choose from.

Here are some questions we use to evaluate an SEO consultant's expertise:

Foundational level

How has the role of SEO evolved over the past few years, and how have you adapted to these changes?

Strong Response: The consultant explains that SEO has evolved to focus on providing quality content, user experience, and mobile optimisations. They discuss their adaptability by mentioning they keep up with industry news, attend webinars, and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Weak Response: The candidate gives a vague response, lacking specific details about SEO's evolution or their adaptation to changes. They may mention general terms like "keywords" without depth.

Can you explain the significance of user experience (UX) in SEO, and how do you ensure a positive UX for website visitors?

Strong Response: The consultant emphasises the crucial role of UX in SEO and describes how they optimise for site speed, mobile responsiveness, and user-friendly design. They share their commitment to A/B testing and user feedback to improve UX.

Weak Response: The candidate provides a generic answer about the importance of UX but fails to mention their approach to improving UX.

What are some key SEO ranking factors that have remained consistent over time, and how do you leverage them in your strategies?

Strong Response: The consultant lists timeless ranking factors like quality content, backlinks, and site structure. They explain how they incorporate these factors into their strategies with content marketing, link-building campaigns, and on-page optimisation.

Weak Response: The candidate struggles to identify consistent ranking factors and does not offer a clear strategy for leveraging them effectively.

Intermediate level

How do you approach technical SEO audits for established websites, and what common issues do you usually encounter and address?

Strong Response: The consultant outlines their systematic approach to technical SEO audits, mentioning tools like Google Search Console and Screaming Frog. They detail common issues such as broken links and duplicate content and describe their process for addressing these issues.

Weak Response: The candidate lacks a structured approach to technical SEO audits or cannot identify common technical issues.

Could you describe a successful SEO project where you achieved measurable improvements in organic search traffic and rankings?

Strong Response: The consultant can share a specific case study outlining objectives, challenges, strategies, and measurable results such as increased organic traffic and improved keyword rankings.

Weak Response: The candidate provides a generic overview of a project without specific details or measurable outcomes.

Can you provide an example of a successful SEO campaign you've managed?

Strong Response: The consultant discusses a successful campaign, delving into specific strategies, outcomes, and how they exceeded client expectations.

Weak Response: The candidate cannot provide a detailed example of a successful campaign they've managed.

Advanced level

What technical SEO factors should be considered when optimising a website?

Strong Response: The consultant lists technical factors such as site speed, mobile responsiveness, structured data, and XML sitemaps, explaining their importance and impact on SEO.

Weak Response: The candidate provides a vague list of technical factors without elaborating on their significance or practical application.

How do you approach link-building, and what are your preferred link-building strategies?

Strong Response: The consultant outlines ethical link-building strategies tailored to the specific context. They discuss outreach, content marketing, and guest posting.

Weak Response: The candidate provides a basic link-building response but lacks depth and fails to specify preferred strategies.

What tools do you use for SEO analysis and reporting?

Strong Response: The consultant names industry-standard tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and elaborates on their role in tracking and optimising SEO performance.

Weak Response: The candidate mentions tools but does not explain their usage or may miss essential tools.

How do you handle a Google algorithm update that negatively impacts a client's rankings?

Strong Response: The consultant showcases a structured approach for diagnosing issues, making necessary adjustments, and effectively communicating with clients to recover and enhance their search rankings.

Weak Response: The candidate demonstrates a lack of contingency planning or does not outline a clear strategy for recovery.

Expert level

How do you approach optimising content for featured snippets and voice search?

Strong Response: The consultant discusses UK-specific strategies for optimising content to target featured snippets and voice search, and addressing the growing importance of these trends.

Weak Response: The candidate underestimates the relevance of these emerging trends or provides outdated information.

Can you describe a time when you had to deal with a Google penalty? How did you resolve it?

Strong Response: The consultant narrates a specific instance, providing details about the type of penalty, the corrective actions taken, and the results achieved.

Weak Response: The candidate cannot provide an example or does not offer details about penalty resolution.

What's your approach to local SEO for businesses targeting specific geographic areas?

Strong Response: The consultant outlines their approach to local SEO, especially in the context of the UK market. They discuss Google My Business, local citations, reviews, and content creation tailored for local audiences.

Weak Response: The candidate offers a vague strategy or does not adequately address specific tactics for local SEO.

How do you measure the success of an SEO campaign, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) do you track?

Strong Response: The consultant describes the KPIs they track, including organic traffic, keyword rankings, conversion rates, and ROI, explaining how these metrics relate to the success of SEO campaigns.

Weak Response: The candidate provides no clear KPIs or lacks a comprehensive understanding of measuring campaign success.

What is your strategy for dealing with competitive industries and outperforming established competitors?

Strong Response: The consultant outlines their competitive analysis strategy, discussing methods for differentiation and tactics for eventually surpassing well-established competitors.

Weak Response: The candidate struggles to articulate a competitive strategy or underestimates the challenges of competing in saturated industries.

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