Every business owner knows the vital importance of SEO and how it can drive conversions and sales revenue in the face of competition. It is also evident that regardless of whether you do your SEO in-house or outsource it to a professional digital marketing agency, you still need to have the function handled by a person who is qualified, experienced, and competent so that your organization can consistently achieve high organic visibility and strong revenue growth.
Since a hire of the wrong person to manage your SEO can easily be a setback that can cost your business dearly, it becomes very important to avoid making hiring mistakes due to the lack of an understanding of what SEO entails and/or inexperience of hiring for such positions. Here are some pro tips on how to prepare for the hiring process, where to look for competent people, and how to vet them.
Preparing for the SEO Talent Hunt
SEO involves several disciplines such as content, technical, analytics, and link building, which makes it very important for businesses to first identify the areas in which the site is lacking so that you can make a better hiring decision. Apart from getting an insight into what factors are holding back your site’s ranking performance, you should also develop awareness on what may be preventing your SEO efforts from being efficient at the management level.
Going into a hiring process without knowing what to address can prevent you from achieving success. While the SEO expert you hire should be an all-rounder, knowing what the priorities are will help you to select someone who is more of an expert in the identified areas. According to Forbes.com, it is important to identify the responsibilities and goals of the position before starting to interview candidates. However, businesses that are trying SEO for the first time may find it difficult to find out what their hiring priorities should be. Even if the budget is very tight, it can help to hire an SEO expert who can then determine the SEO priorities and offer guidance regarding.
Identifying the Right SEO Candidates
After you have established what the SEO priorities are for your organization, you will come to know what skill sets are required in the candidates you require. To attract the best talent to your organization, you should put together an appealing job listing describing the key result areas and the desired skill sets. Write it out as if it were a part of your marketing collateral with a specific target audience in mind, address their needs and aspirations, and profile the advantages of working for the organization.
Remember, because SEO specialists can have very different skills, the hiring process can be dynamic and entail modification of the job description and even of the job title. However, it can help to set a baseline of role expectations for the various positions you may have in mind. You can find out what reputed companies are doing to construct job descriptions, responsibilities, and qualifications to help you compose your job listing. You will do well to keep in mind that apart from specific SEO skills, you should be looking out for candidates who have advanced communication and presentation skills because they need to be able to effectively communicate to the various stakeholders what they are doing and how it will help the organization.
While advertising the job requirements can work well, it can also help to keep a sharp eye out at various conferences, seminars, workshops, and lunches for smart young people who can be a good fit in your organization. Professional networks, as well as social media platforms like LinkedIn, can be of great help. Often instead of asking people to apply, reaching out to the candidates you think that have potential can be very effective.
Screening the SEO Candidates
The real competencies of the SEO professional may not be revealed during the interview process and it can take quite some time to understand if the hire has gone as per plan or if a horrible mistake has been made. Before you get that far, a good knowledge of SEO will prevent you from being fooled by smart talkers who try to get by with the superficial aspects of the subject without actually being proficient in problem-solving, strategy development, client communication, or even interpreting data analytics and being able to focus on the priorities. If adequate interviewing skills are not available in-house, it can be wise to involve an external expert to help you out. It can also help you to assess the competencies of the candidate by asking them to explain case studies from their past experience with a focus on the achievement of the deliverables in addition to domain-knowledge questions. You can spread the interview process over several sessions instead of forcing yourself to make up your mind on a hire at one go.
Getting them to demonstrate their skills with a limited assignment can also be a good idea, however, it is important to make it suitable for the interview environment so that it is not interpreted as a task you are trying to get done for free. Try to especially investigate how good they are in strategic problem solving, and communicating their ideas, including generating reports that are clear and persuasive. The ability to present information well in a tone suitable for the corporate environment is critical because otherwise, the SEO team will remain stifled rather than be in a position where they are respected by the other departments.
In addition to domain-specific skills, interviewers should try and find out if the candidate is passionate about the subject, can think critically and independently, has a problem-solving mind, and has superior communication skills. Traits like innate curiosity, high tolerance for change, a very strong desire to experiment and learn are highly desirable in SEO candidates.