Use this guide to create an SEO skills test and hire the most qualified SEO Manager for your team! There was really no guidance available on what makes a good SEO manager. The ambiguous audit: This might involve handing someone a website and saying “see what you can find.” These can be highly subjective: your candidate might focus on the “wrong” things (things you don’t care about your new hire knowing), and the candidate could just end up relying on tools to do a lot of the work for them. You’re not just handing your prospect a website and saying “see what you find,” but you’re not just having them color-by-number either. If it’s a website you control, try not to choose an immaculate website — give them something to find. Again, without giving too much away, I would instruct them to: Find any inbound links that might be harming example.com’s performance. Technical: Does your candidate know what makes a strong website foundation? “Technical” is broad and not everyone agrees where the lines are drawn between technical and non-technical activities, but here, I’m using “technical” to refer to uncovering your prospective SEO Manager’s competence at diagnosing and fixing any barriers to crawling, issues with the indexing of a site’s content, areas for improving how a search engine understands the website, and areas for improving the user experience. Are there any crawl inefficiencies/problems with this website? If you’ve ever been tasked with finding, assessing, hiring, and training a new SEO manager, we’d love to hear from you!
Use this guide to create an SEO skills test and hire the most qualified SEO Manager for your team!
I was a new team lead. I knew the ins and outs of being a good SEO and a good content creator, but within my first month as a manager I faced a challenge I had never had to tackle before…
Someone left and I had to find a backfill.
I started desperately Googling things like “interview questions” and “what to look for in a new employee” but quickly realized that was too generic for what I needed. There was really no guidance available on what makes a good SEO manager. I had to wing it.
What I wish I would have thought of back then was creating an SEO assessment. My organization had test projects for content developers based on writing prompts, but there was really nothing comparable to gauge a prospective SEO’s skillset.
An assessment like this might be good for a second stage interview after your candidate has passed a basic round one interview. If you already know you like this person, the next step is to make sure they can walk the talk.
What to cover in an SEO skills test
There are so many things you could cover in an SEO quiz for your prospective new hire.
Generally though, there are three main pillars that I think represent SEO well on the whole: technical (the foundation), content (the house), and links (authority — yeah, yeah… I couldn’t keep up with the house analogy).
A good test of your prospective SEO manager’s skills should hit somewhere in the middle.
Just keep in mind that, while I think this is a good representation of SEO on the whole, it’s not comprehensive. For example, local SEO isn’t addressed here, so if you run a local SEO agency then you could choose to focus on GMB optimization, NAP, etc. Cater your assessment to your unique needs.
How to structure your SEO skills test
There are three main types of SEO assessments that I’ve seen:
- The multiple choice test: These are the types of tests that ask things like “what’s a robots.txt file”? These tests gauge someone’s head knowledge (or their Googling prowess), but don’t gauge their practical, rubber-meets-the-road skills.
- The checklist: These types of tests give someone a list of tasks to see how well they’re able to perform them. For example, “change this title tag.” These tests stop short of gauging someone’s problem-solving abilities.
- The ambiguous audit: This might involve handing someone a website and saying “see what you can find.” These can be highly subjective: your candidate might focus on the “wrong” things (things you don’t care about your new hire knowing), and the candidate could just end up relying on tools to do a lot of the work for them.
While all have their merits, none of them felt 100% appropriate for gauging a potential new hire’s SEO chops. That’s why I landed on a hybrid.
You’re not just handing your prospect a website and saying “see what you find,” but you’re not just having them color-by-number either. What you’re doing is asking them guiding questions about a specific website, such as “what’s wrong with this?” “Why?” and “How would you fix it?”
Setting them up for the test
There are a few considerations you need to make before handing them the test and wishing them good luck. For example:
- How much time do they have? Decide whether you want to bring your candidate in for a 3-hour window (good if you’re watching out for the Costanzas of the bunch) or whether they can take the assessment home and email it back by a certain date.
- What website will they be evaluating? You’ll have to decide whether you’ll be giving them a website you control or picking a random website. If it’s a…