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by Oliver Ewbank on 24th April 2013
Anyone who works in the marketing industry knows that recruiting a top SEO professional is no easy task. So today I’m going to talk you through some tips on how to find a really good SEO professional.
The first thing I’m going to look at today is the job description, which is really important for filtering out any candidates that you might not think are appropriate for the role. In the job description, you can put what kind of SEO professional you are looking for. Do you want someone who is a really good at SEO? Do you want someone who is really good at PPC? Do you want someone who is really good with Google Analytics? Or do you just want someone who is really going to concentrate on link building? Or maybe you just want a blogger or someone who can focus on content marketing?
So it’s really important to pick out the exact skill that you want to focus on. Again, in the job description, the next thing I am going to look at is putting down the actual required skills. It’s really important to say what you want the candidate to have. A required skill could be that they need to know HTML or they need to be able to write really quickly. Or they need to have some really good link building techniques. It could be that you want them to work on a particular CMS. So they might need to know about Joomla. Or they might need to be really good at Dreamweaver, or they might need to know about Drupal. So it’s really important that you put down exactly the type of skills you want them to have.
The next thing that’s really important in the job description is to give the benefits of the job and show why people should want to work for your company. Benefits could be that they’d receive training, or there’s going to be some career progression path, or they’re going to be able to work with a really exciting company that has some really good clients to work with. Or it just might be a really, really happy environment for them to progress into. As much as you want to be picky with your candidates, you’ve also got to sell yourself and your company to get the best people coming in through the door.
Next thing, once you’ve got the job description, obviously you have to choose whether you’re going to recruit yourself, or you might want to go through a recruitment agency. Now in the past, SEO recruitment has always been a difficult topic because so many people are looking for so many different things. But as the industry has progressed, more and more recruitment agencies are getting good at finding the right candidate. If you are going to go down the recruitment agency route, I think it’s really important to just give them a few questions to ask their candidates first before they send you in some CVs. Maybe something really simple, like do they know what a 301 redirect is? Or do they know any good link building techniques? Or are they familiar with the latest algorithm update? So just little questions like this.
If you work with your recruitment agency, you can get them to filter out any irrelevant candidates and just send you the ones that really know exactly what they’re talking about. If you do go down the recruitment agency route, it’s really important to work with them.
If you’re not going to use a recruitment agency and you’ve got time to do it yourself, the next step is to advertise. Now, when you’re advertising, you’ve just got to think where do SEO professionals hang out. They might hang out in forums. They might blog on certain blogs, or they might be on social profiles. For example, Google+ has lots of SEO professionals on that network. So you might be able to put the word out there. Or you could advertise on another network, like LinkedIn is a really good way to source professionals that you know are going to be looking for the next best thing in the industry.
Another thing you could do is you could advertise at a conference. If you’re speaking at a conference, you could advertise that way. If you’re doing it more locally, you could use a local job board. For example, Gumtree is a good place where you could advertise locally.
But if you’re looking for a real, seasoned SEO professional, sometimes word of mouth is the way to go. You could incentivise your employees and ask them to see is anyone they’ve worked with in the past that they could bring on board. You could then incentivise them for referring them as an actual prospect.
So advertising, it’s really important to be specific. You either want to go down a really good SEO job board or forum, or you really want to get personal on social media or through people you already know.
Once you’ve done your advertising or you’ve spoken to your recruitment agency, the next thing to do is start going through the CVs that come in. Now CVs can obviously be hard to go through. There’s obvious ones like spelling and grammar that are always important. Start to look to see if they have tailored their CV for your role? Have they bothered to make it specific to the role that you’re getting them to apply for? If they have, it shows they really want the job. Then just start looking. Do they have the required skills? Do they have the HTML skills? Do they have a Google AdWords qualification? Have they used Google Analytics before? Do they know about link building?
Then you can start being more specific. Have they worked in a similar industry before? Or have they worked in a similar environment before? So you can start weeding out those that could really be a good person to come on board.
Again, you can look at education, degrees, and you can start to see what kind of skills that they have. Have they used CMS before? Have they got a track record of winning awards or working in similar industries or on similar clients? The CV is obviously a key place to start picking this out, do they have the things you want them to bring?
Obviously, through their CVs, you can have a look on their social media. It’s important to have a look on their LinkedIn profile. Is it optimised like it would be for an SEO professional? Do they use anchor text in the right place? You could also look on their Twitter profile and just see are they active in their community? Do they have an opinion on SEO updates? Do they have lots of contacts in the SEO industry that they could bring on board and utilise all those contacts, all that knowledge that they have? Or maybe they might have contacts for content marketing purposes. So, it’s really important to look at these social profiles, as well as just looking at their CV because it gives you a good idea of (a) their personality, (b) their contacts, and (c) if they have an opinion or are active in the SEO community.
Once you have looked at their CVs and their social profiles, I would get a short list together and then start maybe doing a few phone interviews. Again, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time by getting them in for a proper interview. So a phone interview is a good chance for you to just see what skill level they’re at. Maybe just 10 minutes on the phone. You can ask a few questions like: Do they know what the Panda update was? Do they know what the Penguin update was? Do they have HTML skills? Have they used Google AdWords before? So just a few, maybe five questions. Or even something simple: What do they think a search engine does to find out how to rank websites?
Just a few simple questions on the phone will start to get you going, and you will start to be able to think of a short list of people that could be ready to come in for a proper interview. Obviously, after the phone interview, the next stage is the face to face interview. Now, this is also an interview, but it’s more a conversation, because if someone knows SEO and they’re good at SEO, they will know that they are valuable in this industry.
It’s what you can sell them as well as what they can sell you. It’s a two-way conversation, and you can start to really dig deep into what they know about SEO. You can ask them about their link building strategies, clients they’ve worked on in the past, what their opinion is on SEO, where do they see it going in the next few years. You can really start to find out their skills and where their strengths are and where their weaknesses are.
You can also ask questions about CMS experience or analytics experience, but you can also get to know them as well. So find out why they like SEO, why they’re passionate about SEO. Also find out how they got into the industry. Did they fall into it? Were they self-taught? You can start to really draw up a picture of why they want the job and why you think they could be a good person to come on board.
So obviously, once you’ve done the phone interview, you’ve spoken to them face to face, SEO is obviously sometimes about opinion, but there are things you can test if you want to. Don’t be afraid to do a written test. You can ask them about SEO terminology. You can ask them questions on the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Little questions about Metadata or even a technical side like: What is a broken link? Just little questions like this will help you see what they know, what they don’t know. You will start to see where you need to train them or where they could hit the ground running.
So don’t be afraid to do a written test. It could be on anything to do with analytics or whatever role you’re advertising for. It’s a really good way to find out if the candidate knows the right stuff to come on board.
You’ve had the phone interview, a face to face conversation, got to know the person, they’ve done well on their written test, and they’ve shown that they know the fundamentals. Next thing is just to see if they can put the fundamentals into practice. Again, don’t be afraid to bring up maybe a dummy website or maybe your own website and ask them what areas they would improve. Maybe just ask them to do a quick audit and point out things that they think aren’t working well. They might be able to point out that you don’t have a sitemap. They might be able to review your robots.txt file. So, if you do have a dummy website or maybe a new website and you just want their opinion on that website, a site analysis will allow them to show off their skills, rather than just do a written test and give you straightforward answers. It’s a really good way for you to get maybe feedback on a new website, on your own website, or maybe just a dummy affiliate website that you want someone to work on.
I definitely recommend doing a site analysis as well as a written test, because it just gives them an opportunity to show off their skills, and it gives you the opportunity to see how they would work and what things they would start to focus on first.
So as you can see there are some tips here for you to take away, right from having a really detailed job description to show who you’re looking for. Then obviously you move down to advertising or recruitment agencies. Then you can start getting into the nitty-gritty of looking at the candidate’s CV, looking at their social profiles. Then again, just simple questions on the phone to gauge their skill sets. When you meet them face to face, you can start to see how they work. Obviously, you’ve got the written test and the site analysis for them to really show you what they can do.
So I hope that’s been of use to you. If you do need any more tips on SEO, you can visit our blog at Koozai.com or follow any of the social profiles below. Thank you.