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15 SEO Interview Questions to ask before hiring an AGENCY - [Infographic]

Dec 2, 2016
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So you're ready to implement an SEO strategy. You've seen the move in user behavior and want to start driving traffic to your site or local business using search. The first thing most businesses do in this predicament is... search for agencies on Google. But how can you be sure that you are hiring a real SEO? Knowing the right questions to ask can be the difference between SEO success or complete frustration. 

Sadly I have had many conversions with small businesses who were taken advantage of by so-called "digital marketers." As the search industry has become more standardized, it's now much easier to see who knows their stuff and who doesn't. To help you make an educated decision about which SEO agency to hire, check out the infographic below. We've put together 15 questions you need to ask before hiring an SEO agency.

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Questions inspired by a great post from bruceclay.com

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#1. What is SEO?

The goal of this question is to understand if they have a basic understanding of the industry. Their answer should be something along the lines of; "SEO is the process of marketing a website to the search engines and its users to increase visibility and click-through rate."

#2. How do you define success when it comes to SEO?

This question is a little harder to answer since success will be determined by a number of outside factors like industry, competition, current site status and company goals.

#3. How do you stay updated on industry news and algorithm changes?

SEO is constantly changing. Google makes more than 500 updates to their algorithm each year. When hiring an SEO, make sure they are up-to-date on search engine algorithms.

#4. How do you approach SEO day-to-day when working for a client.

This question will give you insight into how they do what they do. Listen carefully and you can learn clues about their work ethic, follow-through and consistency.

#5. How often do you communicate with clients?

While SEO can be complicated, keeping clients aware of what's going on helps make them feel more secure. Since many have been burned in the past, open communication is essential.

#6. How did you learn SEO?

Not all SEO is created equal. While most of us in the industry are self-taught, this question will help you understand whether they learned their skills from pros or hacks.

#7. What's your approach to keyword research?

While Google is moving more and more towards understanding topics, keywords are still extremely important. This question will help you get an idea of their processes.

#8. What is the relationship between SEO, SEM, and social media marketing?

Successful online marketing is the result of using all of the tools available to help you get results. This question will allow you to understand the scope of their abilities as well as their knowledge of the industry.

#9. What SEO tools do you regularly use?

Today's SEO world is full of tools, tools, and more tools. Some are better than others. If you aren't familiar with a tool they use, ask them to give you more detail.

#10. How do you stay organized when working on an SEO project?

Keeping track of keywords, rankings, strategy, and links can get real messy, real fast. If an agency has an organized system that will tell you a lot about how they work and the results you can expect from them.

#11. What is your strategy for link building?

When it comes to link building, there is a right way and a wrong way. If they outsource overseas, pay-to-play or won't give you a clear answer, be very afraid.

#12. How have you dealt with link penalties?

This is kind of a trick question. If they have been penalized in the past, that's a good indication they have used some black-hat tactics. Conversely, if they've helped a site that's been penalized recover, it shows their skills.

#13. What’s the ideal speed for a site to load a web page?

Simple: "47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less."

#14. What method do you use to redirect a page?

There are two major types of redirects, 302 and 301. Knowing when and how to use them is crucial to passing page rank and indexing your site properly.

#15. What metrics do you use to measure SEO success?

Success is measured in a number of ways. See what they find important and compare that with your idea of success. If your vision and their vision don't match, you probably won't work well together.

While this isn't a complete list of questions you could ask, it will help you get a better understanding of who the agency is and whether or not they know their stuff. Here at SMA Marketing, we pride ourselves in delivering personalized SEO strategies that deliver business results. To learn more about our process, click here. You can also view our pricing and packages here

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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