When hiring an SEO specialist, you should make a good job description, review resumes and interview candidates. But do you know what can be valuable in this selection process? The SEO test, which assesses the knowledge and skills of candidates in optimizing a website.
Imagine you’ve interviewed some professionals for a SEO specialist job. They have shown that they understand the subject, are aligned with their company culture and are excited about the opportunity! And now, how to choose the right candidate?
In SEO, some knowledge and skills - such as auditing a website and researching keywords - are essential for an seo specialist to do a good job.
So you can use an interesting tool in the selection process, which we’ll talk about in this article: the SEO test.
It is in practice that candidates will show that they are really good at it and know how to get a site to the top of the rankings! And this is also how you will identify who was only blah blah blah in the interview.
Now then, let’s show how you can create an efficient SEO Assessment Test and what candidate skills you can test. Keep up!
Here are the steps to hiring an SEO expert:
How is the process of selecting an SEO specialist?
Those who already work with SEO know the daily life of the area and already know what are the required skills. Website auditing, keyword research , monitoring competition and analyzing success indicators are just a few common activities.
However, a challenge arises when seo specialist becomes a manager or area manager and needs to hire a person for his team. Then, it is not enough to know SEO - you need to know how to hire . So, let’s look now at some basic tips for the selection process.
The hiring of the best professional begins at the job description, which should explain what the company expects from those who occupy that position.
In the case of the SEO specialist , he must know how to identify opportunities and take actions to improve the ranking of a site , always keeping an eye on the user experience.
With a good job description, you will already attract seo specialist more in line with what you expect. But the process is still long.
Then, with resumes in hand, you can now filter based on job requirements (fluent English, for example), qualifications and experience.
Then you have two options:
- Take the SEO Assessment Test before the interviews;
- Interview the candidates and apply the test only to the selected ones.
In the first option, you may find technically over-prepared candidates who are not aligned with the company’s culture or who have other impediments.
Second option, you might enjoy talking to a candidate a lot, but then find out that he doesn’t have the expected skills. In either case, there is a risk that must be taken into account when planning the selection process .
Also, in interviews, it is important to ask candidates about their experiences. What projects have you worked on? Have you achieved any results? What challenges did they face and how were they overcome? It is worth exploring real situations that escape the ready answers.
What are the ranking pillars for planning an SEO test?
Instead of starting to randomly list expected skills, pay attention to the pillars of SEO, which can be summarized as follows:
- technology (crawl and indexing);
- content (creation of valuable content);
- authority (internal and external link network);
- experience (user expectations).
The test should cover all of these areas. For example, it is not enough to evaluate a candidate’s ability to index a page if they are not concerned about the experience their actions generate for the site visitor.
SEO should be understood as a set of strategies that connect , where one action impacts the other. Then evaluate this perception of the whole in the candidate.
It is also important to fit your business priorities into these pillars. For example, if you already have a good job of generating content but need to improve link building , focus on authoring skills.
What SEO test formats can you adopt?
In test planning, you also need to choose which line you will follow. You can use different types of questions and approaches, which should be chosen according to your goals. See some ideas!
Each type of question has its advantages and limitations, depending on the approach it offers. Therefore, it is good to think of a test that merges questions, to have a more complete perception of the candidate and to extract more information from him.
See some of the most commonly used question types.
Multiple Choice Questions
This question model, as we use in our SEO Quiz , presents some answer alternatives, but only one correct one.
It is very practical and reduces work for the respondent; so it may be interesting not to take too much time from the candidate.
On the other hand, as it is objective, you cannot evaluate one’s creative or writing ability. It basically serves to gauge knowledge on a given subject.
A checkboxed question has several answer options and more than one may be correct. It can also be used to expedite SEO testing, but has the same problem of being very objective and not allowing other insights into the candidate’s skills.
Instead of presenting ready answers, how about having the candidate develop them on their own? This gives you a richer answer to assessing the candidate and their ability to interpret, argue and write.
On the other hand, the answer is subjective and may even go astray to other topics that do not interest the test. One idea is to delimit the answer by saying which tools to use, for example.
Here you can work with open questions to address a situation that could happen in your company and ask how the candidate would solve it. For example, “How would you make this site have more organic traffic from Google?””
Thus, you can assess the ability to formulate strategies and solve problems . However, it also has the possibility of getting a distorted answer.
Time to finish
You also need to think about the time the candidate will need to answer the SEO test. Will he take the test within the company? In 1h or 3h? Or will you email it to him for home delivery and return in 3 days? Remember to tailor the time to the number of questions and the complexity of the questions.
Also consider what tools candidates may or should use to answer the SEO test. If you already use specific software, you may want to create an access for them to use. If not, it is also worth asking them to tell you which tools they used.
Should you pay for the candidate who will take the SEO test? There are different opinions on this, but it is important to think that if the test is going to take a lot of time for the candidate or if you are going to use their answers in your business, payment is an ethical issue.
What questions can you ask in the SEO test?
Now you might be in the mood to see some questions you might ask on your SEO test, right? So, let’s go to some examples.
It is interesting to ask the questions within the SEO pillars we mentioned earlier to understand if the candidate has a thorough knowledge of the area.
But don’t forget that it is important to set up the test according to your goals and focus on the skills needed for the job .
Here we refer to technology as all the knowledge used to make a site crawl and indexable by Google , as well as functional for the user.
The intent is to assess whether the candidate knows how the search engine works , how to diagnose and correct problems that are preventing indexing, and how to improve Google’s understanding of pages.
You could ask, for example:
- What is the role of heading tags in SEO?
In response, the candidate should say that they serve to guide Google’s tracking of the hierarchy of topics covered within a page.
A further answer would also be that they are HTML code tags that identify page titles and intertitles, with h1 being the most important in the hierarchy, followed by h2, and so on.
Here are some other questions that may come under your assessment within this pillar:
- Why isn’t the site appearing in the Google ranking? How would you fix this problem?
- How does the site use structured data? Why is it important?
- What practices does Google consider to be a black hat?
- Which of these URL structures would be the best choice according to good SEO practice?
Now you should investigate whether the candidate understands the importance of content for an SEO strategy and knows how to apply best practices.
This involves knowing how Google works, which always seeks to eliminate poor quality content from search results and prioritize who delivers relevance and value to users .
In terms of content, then, this is a question you could ask in the SEO test:
- This site has been punished by Google for containing low quality content. What identifies this practice on the page? Why does Google give these punishments?
In this case, the applicant should indicate practices such as excessive keyword repetition, titles that do not match the content, content copied from other sites, and use of links that lead to malicious sites.
Google lowers the positioning of such sites or even excludes them from the ranking because they hurt the user experience.
Basically, Google means that you should create content that focuses on people , not the search engine robot. Today, he is smart enough to identify practices that try to deceive him.
See also other questions that can enter here:
- How would you do keyword research for a blog? Why is this procedure important?
- How to improve the scanability of this blog article?
- What is latent semantic indexing (LSI)?
- What are the correct guidelines for creating a meta description?
- How can personas help with content production?
Authority building is essential for website optimization. This depends on your technical part and the quality of the content, as we have seen above, but is more closely related to relationships with other sites.
Google evaluates the network of links between web pages to understand what are the top references for users.
The more quality and reputable sites that drive to your pages, the more points you earn with the search engine.
With the question below, you can identify if the candidate understands the subject:
- What strategies would you use to get more backlinks to a site?
The answer here can be quite broad, but it helps to understand the candidate’s ability to create an efficient and good Google link building strategy.
He can mention actions such as guest posts, co-marketing, press relations, creating infographics, analyzing backlinks from competitors , among others.
Other questions about authoring a site are:
- Is this site suitable for a link building strategy of our company?
- Why is it important to diversify backlink anchor texts for a website?
- What is the function of the nofollow attribute on backlinks?
We put the user experience as one of the pillars, but it should permeate everyone else. Every SEO specialist should understand that the top priority of Google and an SEO strategy is the quality of the search experience , from the search engine results page to the completion of an ecommerce purchase , for example.
See now what you might ask:
- What indicators can be used to measure user experience on a site?
It is important to know the user signals that the site experience is being positive .
Google Analytics metrics such as length of stay, bounce rate, and number of pages visited help with this insight, and the candidate should know how to make this assessment.
In an e-commerce, the cart abandonment rate is also an important indicator.
These are other questions you can ask in the user experience SEO test:
- Does this site offer a good mobile experience?
- Why does Google consider loading speed as a ranking factor?
- What steps would you take to improve the visitor experience of this site?
Other Factors to Evaluate in SEO Specialist Testing
You now have the information to evaluate if the candidate has the skills you expect from an SEO specialist. But that’s not all that counts in the test.
In addition to the answers, you can also keep an eye out if the person followed the assessment guidelines and was timely in delivering the activity.
These questions reveal the level of commitment and responsibility, behaviors that will be essential in everyday work.
Is SEO testing the only selection tool for SEO specialist?
Another interesting question to think about is this: If the candidate does not do well on the SEO test, should you soon dismiss it? If you do, you might have to fire a great professional.
Imagine that you did the interview before the test, really liked the candidate, think he has everything to be a great professional, but he missed the question of “what is a guest post”.
On the other hand, a candidate who scored 10 on the test does not seem to have as many social skills as the other who would be indispensable for the job. So who would you choose?
Testing is a great tool for selection, but you don’t have to rely on it blindly.
It’s interesting to work with SEO testing as one of your selection tools , along with resume analysis, interviews, group dynamics, or other tools you can use.
Depending on what you need, perhaps social experiences and skills, for example, weigh more on the job than technical knowledge. And this assessment can only be done by analyzing different instruments.
It is also interesting to note that the learning curve of a concept, tool or strategy is much faster than a change in behavior or personality trait.
The company itself can teach or afford a course for the contractor to learn how to use Google Analytics, but can hardly make an introvert become extrovert, for example.
Therefore, the selection process of an SEO specialist should involve various recruitment and selection tools. The SEO test is an excellent ally in this process, as it validates the knowledge candidates have that they need for the job - and that would not be possible with resumes and interviews.
But to be successful in your application, it is important to align it with your goals so that it covers the job requirements and helps you hire the right professional.