Hiring an SEO Specialist

When it comes to recruiting and hiring an SEO Manager, there’s a lot more to look for than what’s written on a job description. But not all hiring managers have a genuine knowledge of SEO to be able perform effective candidate triage. In fact, most don’t. What usually comes to mind are basic questions that probe a candidate’s experience in such areas as keyword research, Google Analytics, image optimization, Twitter Search, Facebook Graph, rank tracking and reporting, and on-page SEO best practices. Those are great questions to ask when you want to know if a particular SEO candidate can do the job. But most employers I know are looking for the best talent possible, a top athlete who’s going to make a real difference in the business.  How do you separate the mediocre from the top achievers when hiring an SEO Manager,?

You can start by adding these interview questions to your short list:

-Have you built and ranked your own websites? The best SEO team leaders I know not only talk the talk, they’ve walked the walk with SEO experiences of their own. You want a manager who has never forgotten what it’s like to work in the trenches.  And size sometimes does matter.  Candidates whose experiences have only been with very small websites can be quickly overwhelmed by the scale and intensity of a big shop.

-Do you keep up with the latest trends in SEO?  What you want to hear are specifics, and for this you need to know something about the publications and blogs that are considered the category leaders in SEO because those are the resources you want them to be following. Ask if they can point to specific articles or blog posts that have given them new ides about how to approach common problems.  The inability to cite examples should be a red flag. Think about it:  Would you hire a personal trainer who hasn’t exercised in years?

-Is their conversation peppered with social media-related buzzwords? Another potential red flag, since social media plays a only a small role in overall SEO strategy.

I would also add to this list other key attributes that I look for when hiring an SEO Manager, including a strong passion for SEO, someone who is motivated by results, a self-starter, an innovative thinker and someone who understands the interplay between SEO and PPC.

If you’re building your digital marketing or ecommerce dream team, remember Bernhart’s First Law: The ROI you receive from your investment in digital marketing and eCommerce will be directly proportional to the caliber of the people you hire. And that begins with the initial interview when hiring an SEO Manager, so make each and every question count!

Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent and veteran executive recruiters in ecommerce, digital and multichannel marketing, and CRM. With 80 published LinkedIn articles, Jerry is the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 28 years. Check out Jerry’s other insights on the Thought Leadership section of the Bernhart Associates website.

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