Interview Questions and Answers for SEO Analysts and Managers

Google turned 20 years old last fall, but it seems like it’s been around forever. Most of us can’t even begin to imagine a life without the ubiquitous search engine to help us navigate our data-driven world. When we need answers fast, we look at our phones or our laptops and bank on search engines to deliver the information we need. That search engine might be the giant Google or the less used Bing or Yahoo, but our expectations are the same, no matter which one we use.

With an ongoing and increasing investment in SEO projected, a professional in the digital marketing field can feel confident that the job outlook will continue to be strong for those with SEO skills, whether you’re new to the field or you’re an experienced digital marketer. SEO training is a good way to transition into a digital marketing career for sales professionals who want to get out of sales, or recent graduates who have completed their MBA/B.E/B.SC. SEO skills are also valuable for startup entrepreneurs, and even CEOs who need to oversee the marketing team.

If you’re one of those who are seeking a new career or career advancement in the field of SEO, you’ll no doubt be pursuing the necessary training. But, also consider training yourself for that ever-important interview so, when your dream job becomes available, you’re ready to shine as a job candidate.

To set the ball rolling, we’ve compiled some common SEO interview questions for freshers all the way up to SEO executives below. Read on to learn more…

SEO Interview Questions for Freshers

If you’re applying for an SEO job at a beginner level, prepare for your job interview ahead of time with these SEO interview questions for recent graduates, or beginners. Many of these are appropriate SEO interview questions for 1-year experience and are geared toward someone with a solid education in SEO or some actual on-the-job experience.

  1. What makes a website search engine friendly?

    Several factors make a website search engine friendly, including keywords, quality content, titles, metadata, etc. A website needs these factors to be ranked by a search engine and therefore found by a user.

  2. How do you measure SEO success?

    You might want to answer this question based on the type of company you’re interviewing for, as goals might differ. In addition, there are a variety of ways to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and, therefore, success. During an SEO interview, possible answers might include increasing traffic to a website or particular landing page, increasing conversions such as newsletter signups or sales, growing the number of inbound links, driving traffic for a particular keyword phrase, or increasing referral traffic. It’s critical that an SEO professional measures result to know if the tactics and strategy need to change to succeed.

  3. How did you learn SEO?

    Obviously, this answer will depend on your individual situation, but it matters because a potential employer wants to ensure that you are well-versed in SEO best practices. If you learned SEO by the seat of your pants at your last job because someone had to do it, an employer might doubt the quality of the skillset you offer. And, if that’s the case, you can always get certified before applying for that job to ensure you are well trained!

  4. Which SEO tools do you regularly use?

    You will likely have tools you’re familiar with, and you’ll want to talk about those. If you don’t yet have much of a toolbox because you’re new to SEO, check out the multiple webmaster tools Google offers, as well as the tools offered by Moz.

  5. How do you approach keyword research?

    As with the question above, your answer might vary. You’ll want to explain which keyword tools you use for research, as well as how you go about it. For example, if you use Google Keyword Planner to do your keyword research, then that’s your answer for the tool used. But you must also explain how you go about it. You must demonstrate you do more than simply guess at a keyword and type that into the tool before checking the results. For example, perhaps you use personas to consider potential problems a prospect faces, and you look for keywords around that. You should also explain that you consider longer keyword phrases, search volume, and the competitiveness of a keyword. Demonstrate that you know how to find the sweet spot in keyword research, where the keyword narrower so it’s targeted and has good search volume, but is not highly competitive.

  6. What is link building and why does it matter?

    Google exists to serve the searcher. That means Google is constantly trying to determine which results are most relevant to any given searcher and any given time. In addition to relevance, Google considers credibility too. So the search engine looks to see if other websites have linked to yours. If so, that means your content is worth linking to and is, therefore, more credible when compared to a website not linked to externally. In a nutshell, link building is what SEO professionals do to try and get links to their websites in order to improve search results.

  7. What are backlinks?

    A backlink is what we call the links into a website from an external source, as mentioned in link building.

  8. What is page speed and why does it matter?

    Page speed refers to how fast your site loads for a user, something Google takes into account while ranking websites since a faster loading page directly translate to better user experience. If the interviewer asks what you would do to increase page speed, describe how you’ve achieved this in the past with examples such as reducing image sizes, enabling compression, reducing redirects, removing render-blocking JavaScript, leveraging browser caching, improve server response time, using a content distribution network to compress files, optimizing the code, etc.

  9. What method do you use to redirect a page?

    In general, a 301 redirect is the best way to redirect a page so you don’t lose any SEO value that has been accumulated.

  10. How can you do SEO for a video?

    Videos are growing increasingly popular on the web, which can improve SEO if the videos produced get attention and therefore shares and backlinks. But to get the video seen can require SEO to get it found, and Google can’t watch a video. It needs the same types of information required for text-based pages to rank a video. Including the transcript as a text is an easy way to do SEO for a video because search engines can crawl the text. In addition, the same attention should be paid to keywords, page titles, and descriptions.

  11. Which meta tags matter?

    Meta tags have changed since SEO became a common practice, but two remain critical: the page title and the meta description. Stick to these when answering your interview question. The page title (sometimes called SEO title) plays an important role in ranking but it is also important because it is the title that shows on the Search Results Page (SERP). It must use a keyword to rank well with Google but it must also be compelling so a user will want to click on it. The meta description does not affect ranking, but it also plays a role in the SERP because it also must make the user want to click on the search result. You should also mention that Google recently increased the character length limit of meta descriptions to around 280 to 320 (no one is sure of the actual limit yet).

  12. What is the difference between a do-follow and nofollow and how are they used?

    Nofollow links exist because we don’t want every single webpage or link to be something a search engine crawls and ranks. Therefore, nofollow link attributes tell search engine bots not to follow a certain link. The link is still clickable for a user, but not followed by a bot. On the other hand, all other links could be considered do-follow links, even though they don’t have to have special attributes to tell the search engines bots to follow them—the bots will by default.

  13. Which SEO factors are not in your control?

    The biggest SEO factor not in your control is Google! How exactly Google ranks websites is unknown. The company does not make public the search algorithms it uses, although SEO professionals have determined the best practices we adhere to in order to achieve results. However, Google doesn’t like young domains that aren’t yet tried-and-true, and you can’t control that if you’re launching a new site. Nor can you force people to link to your site, share your content, spend more time on your site, or come back to your site for another visit. Google looks favorably on all of these factors and ideally a marketing department is working hard to create content and user experiences that will make these happen, but these factors are beyond the control of the SEO person.

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