Saturday, April 4, 2015

Is Your Site Mobile Friendly?

With the launch of my agency we have been busy working on getting clients ready for the April 21st launch to prioritize mobile friendly websites in search results on mobile devices. Luckily, most of my existing clients are good as I have been passionate about responsive design for years now. Even so much so, that I pushed it with the team at usedcars.com while I was there (though not well received).

Since my client's websites are all ok, and we have been taking on more clients with the push, I thought it might be fun to look at some businesses in the Seattle area and see who is and who isn't mobile friendly. I used the list of the top 100 companies to work for in 2014 on Seattle Business Magazine (plus my Father's company), and looked at each site on my Samsung S5 phone. After which, I then ran each one through the Google Mobile Friendly Test. I did grab the first marketing agency that failed the mobile friendly test, but felt it wasn't right to keep going with all the ones I found since they were direct competition. Though, I have to say I am shocked at how many marketing and IT companies don't have mobile friendly websites.

The following is a list of those sites in no particular order:

Kidder Mathews

Yes, let's start with my Father's company. It is a very successful commercial real estate firm that started in Seattle, WA and now has offices spanning down the West Coast (note: My Father has retired). I have worked for them in the past, but only as a receptionist in 1989.  Since then, I have had dinner with the CEO and President(s) and have had many a conversation regarding what I do for a living. Each time those around understood the value of SEO, but in the end it was not considered a route valuable for a Commercial Real Estate firm. The website itself is managed by a single person that has done a great job of designing and developing it throughout the years, but sadly, the site hasn't changed much, and the old school html website could probably use a refresher. Not to mention so much needed analysis on traffic, usability, market research, and now getting it up-to-date as a responsive website.

I figured it would also be kid of fun to see how many people search on Google (and partners) for terms around commercial real estate. So, using Google's Keyword Tool I plugged in the following terms, and set the location to Seattle, WA, Tacoma, WA, Redwood City, CA, Portland, OR, and San Jose, CA - all cities I know that the firm has offices. The terms include: property management, office space, commercial realtor, office space for lease, investment buildings, invest in real estate.

In February of 2015 alone 39.2% of searches around those terms were on mobile devices, with over 50% on October of 2014.
By not optimizing for SEO, or even bidding on these terms in SEM, the company is missing out on ~100k impressions and nearly 50% of those users bailing because the site isn't easy to navigate on a mobile device - and that's just the local searches in the cities I chose. 

Goldberg Jones

One of the next several companies I pulled off of the top 100, the company looks to be a Divorce attorney firm that focuses on Men. I'm not going to perform the keyword analysis I do for my clients that I did for Kidder Mathews (it takes a bit of time). But, I am, however, going to show you the results of the Google Mobile-Friendly test for them.



As you can see, Google is showing the site's text is too small, that links are too close together, and the mobile viewport is not set. There is also an issue with the css not being pulled in to show the nice design and layout. I looked at the website's robots.txt to see what is blocked, and in it lies the /templates/ directory on the server that hosts the include css files for the website. Google has a lot of great information on how to make sure the css and javascript files are being properly accessed, and therefore could be an easy fix for this site by just removing that directory from the robots.txt.

The site is a pretty basic brochureware site that could easily be created in WordPress so that the client could continue to blog, and the pages set up just the same in a responsive theme. It wouldn't cost them much more than a few thousand to have it done, or they could spend some more and get a full analysis for SEO done and really capture the traffic as well as providing their visitors with the proper information and guidance and convert them to a lead quickly.

FHC - Family Home Care

The site here looks like it could be a great resource with a tone of information for it's visitors. However, when entered into the Google Mobile-Friendly test I am once again getting the site's text is too small, that links are too close together, and the mobile viewport is not set.

PeopleFirm

The banner on this website is great for the desktop, but if the site was mobile friendly then eliminating the banner altogether, or perhaps showing a more mobile friendly size to it, would be better for the user. The list of value props on the main content could be resized easily to them fit on the screen with links on each image so that the user could quickly navigate. I am also seeing that the site's text is too small, that links are too close together, and the mobile viewport is not set in the Google Mobile-Friendly test.


Northwest Cadence

This one was an interesting site as it is a tech company. With new technologies providing users with the means to access the internet on their mobile devices and tablets, not to mention that some business professionals walk around with tables heading to meetings and browsing websites from these devices. Once again, another site with the site's text is too small, that links are too close together, and the mobile viewport is not set in the Google Mobile-Friendly test - but this time with the addition of the content being wider than the screen.

I am sure this firm is very capable of updating their website to a mobile friendly one, it's just a matter of prioritizing within the organization, and with Google's push on April 21st, I am sure they will notice a decent drop in traffic as a result.

SGFS

A law firm that has a responsive and mobile friendly website, but I added to this list mainly because the content is too simplified with the way it is presented. The navigation is difficult to find, and the simple phone number is great for being aggressive with capturing leads, however, it is a bit off-putting to users that need a bit more information about the lawyer to feel they can trust them before making that phone call.

A simple analysis of the website and some market research to get a gauge on how users feel and use the website when they are visiting will help take these lawyer's website to the next level and performing as a great lead generation tool.

Chronus

The Chronus website is very professional and has a great means of sending the user through a qualifying funnel. Sadly though, by not being mobile friendly the site is losing all of that great work they had put into it with roughly 30%+ users that could be visiting each day. By looking into their Google Analytics (or whatever they choose for their website analysis) the company could see just how many visitors are coming to the site on various devices. Also, looking at the number of visits that are referred by Google and reducing that number significantly could show just how much they will be losing on the April 21st update.

The rest:

Since the remainder of the sites all have issues when viewed on a mobile device, I thought I would just breeze through them with a screenshot of how they look and leave out the Mobile-Friendly test since they all seem to ended up with the same results. Each and every one of these websites all failed the Mobile-Friendly test in Google, and all have issues when viewing on my Samsung S5. Leaving much room for improvement.

James Alan Salon

The James Alan Salon website is very typical of the smaller businesses. The last thing they want to think about, or worry about, is their website. This brochureware website was designed and developed with a simple design and layout in mind that conveys what the business is, what they do, and information for the brick and mortar location. But with users now looking for locations of brick and mortar shops on their devices, not being mobile-friendly can seriously harm a smaller business like this one.

Atlas Coffee

The dreaded splash page. It's a fact that a website will lose roughly 20% or more of it's users when they click through from one page to the next, so by adding a page that they have to click through to get to the homepage dramatically reduces the number of visitors to a website on a desktop computer, and even more-so on a mobile device. On top of the splash page, the website is poorly coded for the smaller screen causing a real problem for the user.

Exclaim LLC 

Another advertising and design firm that isn't staying up with the latest technologies themselves. While their work is quite impressive (I would definitely hire them) their website isn't reflecting that they are keeping up with industry trends. If they were a traditional firm working mainly with print and video, then I would give them a break, but they have a portfolio of clients who's websites they have created for them. The sites are traditional "old school" table layouts (as I call them) but their work needs to be brought into the 2015's with some web 2,0 and responsive design layouts. I also noticed that their website is very slow to load. The web page test shows the original being more than a second longer to load than an optimized version that works much faster, Add that load time on a cellular network and you've lost your users before they even get to see the first image load.

video

Tangerine Travel

I absolutely love the top banner interactivity, however the site seems to have been updated without any consideration as to being consistent with design. This one stuck close to my heart as they have a Concur login link (I worked for Concur in the past), and was excited to see the logo there. If only they could work on a responsive design layout, or a mobile version then they could 

Level11

My last in my sites and commentary. This one is even worse than the others as the site won't even scale down for the device which causes the user to scroll right and left to try to see where to go next, or just simply find information. My laptop is a Windows 7 computer with a touch screen, which will often trick websites into thinking I am on a tablet. I tried clicking the navigation with my mouse and the links won't work, however, when I touch the screen I jump to a #services type of link. This is called a "Push State" which is great for a seamless user experience on a website. It's also a strategy one of the developers brought up with me while I was working at usedcars.com managing the SEO. If implemented correctly, it can be very powerful for the user, but if not, then the ramifications for SEO are extremely harmful. In this case, they did not implement the push state correctly and the results leave Google only able to crawl one page of the website:


Not only will this site see trouble on April 21st, but the site is already having issues with content being crawled and rankings as a result of poor development.

So there you have it, my list of sites I chose to review before the Google update on April 21st. Full disclosure: I have reached out to a few of the people associated with the websites (including my Father as an FYI, though he has no say in the website now that he is retired and playing golf in Palm Desert). It will be interesting to see if any of these sites take a hit and/or update to a more mobile-friendly design after April 21st.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

SaveTheBreakfastSandwich.com

Little did I know that in 2008 when I created the savethebreakfastsandwich.com website that it would become such a phenomenon. Not only mentioned in Howard Schultz's book "Onward" the website has mentions in major publications. The following is a list of just a few:

The Starbucks Egg Sandwich Double Cross - New York Times
The Starbucks woman also pointed me to a Web site called “Save The Breakfast Sandwich,” claiming that it showed there was a groundswell of customer support for them.  
How Burnt Cheese Almost Undermined the Starbucks Aroma - 250 Words
Schultz resisted hot food at Starbucks from day one. Yes, innovation is good, but not when it cannibalizes a brand. By introducing novel products, Starbucks moved away from Schultz’ original insight, which focused not on selling coffee but creating an ideal atmosphere for coffee drinkers. The smell of burnt cheese undermined that atmosphere. Yet those cheesy sandwiches were profitable. How could Schultz convince the board to stop selling something that made money? In the end, he didn’t. In January 2008 Starbucks removed the sandwiches from the display window only to experience a backlash. When Savethebreakfastsandwich.com emerged the food team returned to the lab. They adjusted the ingredients (higher quality cheese and bread), moved the cheese to the top of the sandwich and reduced the baking temperature. The infamous sandwich returned in June 2008–with Schultz’ blessing.

Creating Lasting Value: How to Lead, Manage and Market Your Stakeholder Value - By Jeroen Geelhoed, Salem Samhoud, Ingrid Smolders

After four inspirational days, Howard Schultz ended the leadership conference by reminding Starbucks' leaders of their responsibility towards employees, customers and the company: 
Please remember what you have experienced here. Remember how you felt. And when you get back, please do not be a bystander. Change and refine behavior when you see it it inconsistent with the standards that we all have observed here this week. We made this investment in you because we believe in you. And all we ask is that you take all this back. Do not allow the pressures of the day to in any way erode the emotion, the feeling, and the power of 10,000 that you have each experience in the last few days. 
Filled with inspiration, the company continued innovating to enrich the Starbucks experience. Succesful innovations added to Starbucks' offering included the Tazo tea line and the return of the infamous breakfast sandwiches. As expected, sales had declines at stores that sold the sandwiches after they had been pulled from the shelves. What the company did not expect though were the impassioned comments posted by customers on MyStarbucksIdea.com and submitted to Starbucks' customer service. A website called Savethebreakfastsandwich.com was even created. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Looking for a Position in SEO? Interview Question Examples and Answers

Whether you are looking to hire someone in SEO or you are an SEO looking for work yourself this post should hopefully help you gain some insight into the most common questions asked during an interview, along with some sample answers I will tend to give based on my experience.

The following questions are a list pulled together from various interviews I have been through throughout the years. My answers are from recent work, and from past, in order to best portray my experience and knowledge for the work I would be performing for my potential employer. I also added some notes to give insight into what the interviewer might be looking for, and why I choose the answer I used.

For SEOs Looking for Work


The point of this blog post is to give you some insight into how a seasoned SEO might answer these questions. Please... please, please... do not use these for your own answers. A lot of what is in here is very specific to my experience, and will not be beneficial for you to use yourself during an interview. These answers might not necessarily be best for all positions with every company either. The idea here is for you to take these questions and formulate how you might answer them, helping you to be more prepared when that time comes.

For Companies Hiring an SEO


The idea behind the questions is to help you start drafting the basics of what an SEO could be asked, and examples of what the answer could be. Please don't base your hiring an SEO on what my answers are. SEO is part art and part science. Every answer from any SEO will be different, as all SEOs have a different approach to how they optimize. The main goal for SEO is that rankings increase, traffic increases, and therefore revenue increases. How you get there is all subjective, just as long as you know the SEO will be able to get there.

  1. Tell me about yourself.

  2. Note: In some cases I get the "How did you get into SEO", but in most cases the usual "tell me about yourself" is what starts off most interviews. In general I usually try to throw them 3 words that describe me and then follow-up with a bit to highlight my experience and skills that will fit the position they are looking for. This answer could change if the job description focuses more on a certain personality or skill trait.

    Answer: Well, I'm Fun, Organized, and Passionate. I generally love the people I work with. I have, in the past, become very close with my team, and cross other teams. I believe in order to get work done for SEO, you must have a good relationship with everyone in the organization. Being a part of the team that helps plan fun activities, or just plan lunches, happy hours, etc myself allows me to really get to know everyone. My organizational skills have allowed me to be able to function well in SEO. To prioritize and organize the tasks and projects needed to get done for SEO. Understanding the impact to level of effort has been important to getting buy in, and championing work through. My "Passion" as I put in quotes comes from a few of my previous bosses. I was called a "bulldog" by my CEO at Classmates.com and my previous boss at ADP braked at our agency to "show the same passion that Jennifer has". I am passionate about SEO, about the company I work for, and want to drive them both to success.

  3. Explain the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

  4. Note: I have found quite often that if you are going through a recruiter, being hired as an SEO where there are no other SEOs within the organization, or the hiring manager (potentially your boss) is not an SEO and does not understand SEO may not know that all of search marketing or what they call "Search Engine Marketing" includes both paid and natural search. In fact, in the past I have been asked paid search questions like "What process do you usually follow to determine how you set your bids?" when interviewing for an SEO position. Quite a lot of companies nowadays will consider SEM or "Search Engine Marketing" to be paid search (Adwords, Bing Advertising, Yahoo! Advertising) and SEO or "Search Engine Optimization" is considered natural search optimization. What I usually do is simply explain what I see as the difference between the two giving a bit of the history to show my years of experience.

    Answer: It used to be that Search Engine Marketing was considered all of paid and natural search. Paid search or PPC eventually became SEM, and now people refer to natural search as SEO which is more on-site work and link building to get the website to show up without having to pay per click.

  5. What is your SEO Super Power?

  6. Note: This question isn't asked often, but can come up in this form or another. What they are looking for are possible strengths or approaches for SEO. Every SEO has a different approach. Some focus heavily on link building, some on database development, some on user generated content, etc. 

    Answer: My approach is highly content and structural based. I highly believe that a well structured site followed by unique content is key to success for SEO. The content can be written by hand, or developed from a database with thousands of pages produced with data driven content unique to each page. What I have become known most for in my years of optimizing is local SEO. At the agency in 2004 our team managed to optimize a lot of local lawyers, Realtors, and various businesses for local terms. I later translated what we did on a larger scale for Classmates.com as we optimized for what they called "affiliations" which where high schools, colleges and universities. There was a page for each one developed from the database and structured by location. So you could search any school in a city and/or state and see the page for that school show up. I carried that to my savethebreakfastsandwich.com site that was started in an attempt to convince Starbucks to keep the breakfast sandwiches. The site had gotten quite a lot of press, and was even mentioned in Howard Schultz's book. I had pulled a database of every city and state from the USPS.com site, and optimized pages for the term "starbucks in.." followed by each of those city and states. Then most recently I optimized the usedcars.com site at ADP to show up for "used cars in..." followed by any city and state. So if you search "used cars san jose" in Google you will see that page showing up in the results. In some instances you will also see a city page show up for the city you are in when you search just "used cars" because Google recognizes your location. I have been able to translate what works for local SEO to other projects such as optimizing for brands of cars for usedcars.com, and into more general terms. The core of what has worked is based on a structure and focus that makes sense for those set of terms.

  7. What does your typical work day look like?

  8. Note: What the interviewer is looking for with this question is how much of your day is spent focusing on SEO and the business. I will usually roll in how I approach all of my positions at any company and then move into my most recent work with reporting since that was a huge focus at ADP and tends to be important to a lot of larger corporations these days. The trick s to look at what appears to be most important to the hiring company in their job description and align your typical work day happenings with that they are looking for.

    Answer: I'm a pretty early riser so I get in around 8 am, sometimes as early as 7 am. I like to use that part of the day in the office before meetings start and everyone gets in to go through all my check points for SEO. I will of course check email and answer any that need immediate attention. Then open up Google Analytics and look at the numbers for the day before. I open up Webmaster Tools and look for any warnings, or any issues that might stand out. If a Moz report has ran, I will look at that and dig into any issues that might come up. If all checks out OK, or the issues are pretty quick to deal with, I will look at the SEO groups I belong to for any updates in the industry, check my Twitter for updates from Google, Matt Cutts, and other SEOs. Then browse through articles and blogs to see if there are any updates or forecasts that I might need to pay attention to. My most recent position at ADP required me to manage all of the reporting and analytics for the usedcars.com website. So, I would update what we called the "daily reports" with traffic numbers, spend, lead volume, and update revenue. Then report on trending numbers, week over week, projected revenue for the month, etc. A report would go out in email every morning with the numbers and any details as to why, if there was a noticeable rise or fall. 

  9. What tools do you use and why?

  10. Note: Believe it or not, this one used to stump me. I've never been a huge fan of automating SEO for any reason, so tools was one of those faux pa questions for me. My answer would be "I don't use tools, I optimize naturally". Well, that was wrong... Because I did, and still do, use tools to help me do my job. In this case now, I mention everything that I use to help me monitor, optimize and evaluate for SEO.

    Answer: Most of the tools I use are to help me gain insight into what is going on with a website. I believe it's important to be able to evaluate how a crawler sees a site before launch preventing any issues, perform keyword and competitive analysis, and to monitor performance regularly. I have a Moz account, and have had one for years. I use that to check for Errors and pinpoint what the source of the error is so that the fix can get prioritized. I use webmaster tools to monitor for messages from Google, to track performance, and to watch for errors that Moz did or did not catch. I use xenu to crawl the site, or a section/project before launch to gain insight into how the bots will crawl and address any issues that might show up. I use Google Analytics, Omniture (or other analytics tool), and internal reporting to monitor performance. I also use the analytics tools to gain insight into what is working and where there might be any room for improvement. I look at Adwords campaigns to identify what terms perform well, ad messaging with a high click through rate for meta tags, and see if there are any highly expensive terms we can target for SEO that we could get for free to maximize revenue. When performing a competitive analysis I have a few tools to check keyword count and densities of ranking pages, I will also often look at spyfu to evaluate how the competition is doing.

  11. What SEO Blogs and authors do you follow?

  12. Note: This question can go one of two ways, either the interviewer is an experienced SEO, or is learning SEO and knows who they pay attention to. So if I were to miss any of the ones they follow then that's a bad sign. The other possible scenario is that they do not know SEO at all and they were instructed to ask this question. If that is the case, then they might have the basic few that should be mentioned written down somewhere. In either case, I always make sure I answer with the important basics to follow for SEO. Another thing to note on this, in the years I have learned that even though a lot of the people I follow are acquaintances, friends, or even very close friends I have in the industry, I leave the name dropping and association out of it. I'm not getting hired because I know people, I'm getting hired because I know how to optimize a website. 

    Answer: I mostly focus on the Google Webmaster Tools and Matt Cutts blogs, and the Search Engine Land, CLickZ, and Moz publications. I will occasionally pay attention to Ian Lurie, Bruce Clay, and Barry Schwartz for insights and updates on algorithms. I also hit up the SEO Group on Facebook that includes a lot of the thought leaders that participate regularly. If I have a complex question I usually go there for help or verification that I'm making the right decision. 

  13. Give an example of how you increased SEO for your recent employer.

  14. Note: I honestly haven't gotten this question a lot. I found it off of a couple of articles that had questions to ask during an interview for hiring an SEO, and it also came up in a recent interview with a pretty large company. If you are hiring someone as an SEO, I would recommend asking this one, and listen for numbers. This way you know they really pay attention to the business and their impact on it. As an SEO, you should be able to answer with key numbers to back up your statements.

    Answer: I would have to say my most recent success was the usedcars.com website for ADP. When I started the site had taken a huge hit from the Panda and Penguin updates by Google in 2011 to 2012. The site had dropped by roughly 80% in traffic from SEO and while an agency and a consultant were both working on it, the traffic was dropping daily and even more with each update. I spent some time digging through the analytics for the past 2 years, and looking at each section (or keyword category) of the website and quickly identified that the local focused pages were the largest driver for SEO traffic and had taken the biggest hit. Since location is my strength, and I noticed the exact same drop around the same time for one of my other sites, I met with the CEO and we quickly developed a plan to fix the pages immediately. In 3 weeks the project was complete, but there were so many other issues with the site that still needed fixing, so the pages took some time to show results. In the 2 years I was there, the location pages jumped to providing over 45% of the traffic from SEO, and overall traffic increased to over 85%. 

  15. How do you measure success?

  16. Note: Most SEOs look at traffic and keyword ranking reports. I add a bit of a different approach that shows growth from SEO. If you are someone interviewing, it's good to come up with your own unique approach that makes sense that will set you apart from the rest. If you are interviewing an SEO to work for you, the basic traffic increase and ranking reports will suffice, but if the position is a more advanced role then look for someone that thinks outside the box and is passionate about the numbers when it comes to reporting.

    Answer: I mostly look at the usual traffic increases as well as revenue increase from SEO, and occasionally look at keyword ranking reports for newly release projects. But what I look at most for myself, not usually reported up, is the growth in the number of keywords driving traffic week over week. I also do this with the number of pages indexed and referring traffic week over week for new projects that are rolling out. This way I know that the work we are doing is grabbing new opportunities and growing the business. With usedcars.com and the hit they took from the updates, I looked at the number of pages with duplicate content, too many on-page links, the number of pages with paramaters, and anything that reflected improvements on the issues we were finding.

  17. What sort of issues have you faced with SEO, and how did you resolve them?

  18. Note: With this I tend to focus on issues I have faced within the company websites I worked with. Sites in which I have full freedom to optimize, and stay within the SEO rules, tend to stick around well when it comes to rankings. So the usedcars.com site getting hit by Panda and Penguin before my hiring really gave me some great experience in addressing issues for SEO. I detail out what the main issues where with the site, and follow-up with some of the technical aspects that went into the corrections to demonstrate my level of knowledge of SEO from the technical side.

    Answer: I was hired on at ADP in 2012 to address the hit that usedcars.com took from the Panda and Penguin updates. A majority of what issues that caused the drop where too many links on a lot of the pages, top level file structure with parameters. no site hierarchy, there were 48 million pages indexed and only roughly 300 thousand really existed on the site causing a webmaster tools warning of "an extremely high number of URLs" every month, a large chunk of duplicate content as a result of the too many URLs and the parameters, and not enough unique content. It took the majority of the first year to get everything cleaned up from redirecting how the bots crawled the site, removing a mega menu, cleaning up the use of parameters, rewriting URLs and setting a validation, and then building out new content after a massive database overhaul and pages developed from syndicated and data driven content.

  19. Give an example of how you developed a strategy for SEO and championed it through.

  20. Note: I happened to have an example of a major project that I worked hard to push through at ADP. This, for me, is my usual answer to this question, and it is a question I get just about every time I interview for an SEO position. I recommend, if you are an SEO looking to ideas on what to do during an interview, to find that one project you conceptualized, planned out, championed through with stake holders and teams, and saw to completion. If you don't have one, come up with one in your current role so that you have that one project you can use as an example. 

    Another note with this answer, I try not to give away any secrets to the business's success, especially to the public in a blog post such as this. So this answer is a bit vague in detail and items changed so that it protects the company I worked for. 

    Answer: One of my favorite projects that I started from concept to near completion is a major project I worked on in my last position. In speaking with a few friends of mine in the business and looking at traffic outside of the location pages, I noticed that searches for a very specific type of terms in exact match and longtail were very prominent. I created a large excel document that listed out every keyword in three hierarchical categories for each term and began completing a keyword analysis report for every one of them. It took me a couple of months to get through all of them in-between my usual daily tasks, but in the end I found that there were millions of searches total for all three categories, and was able to even see which terms within the three categories were the most popular. I used that data to calculate current traffic from those terms against potential by figuring out what percentage of the terms we had rankings for, current click through rate for those terms, and conversion rate from those terms. It allowed me to show the gap of what traffic we were missing out on by not doing the project, and then show incremental growth both in traffic and revenue as rankings improved. I also completed a full competitive analysis for the top 20 terms and documented it all. I developed a plan based on what data, structure, and content we had available and presented it to my boss. After discussing it, he wasn't too thrilled with the idea, so I worked with our current consultant to break down the project into a workflow that was a bit easier to digest. I went back to presenting it to my boss again revised and he was thrilled with the project. I then presented it in our bi-weekly SEO meeting in which my boss, his boss, a few developers, the consultant, and the head of Engineering attended. After some questions were answered the project was given the green light to go ahead. It took months of working through a lot of the database development that was headed up by another team member and overseen by myself, then developing the pages to incorporate the information from the database. The project still wasn't complete upon my leaving, but was about 80% done and gaining some traction when I left. 

  21. You found an issue with the site that can be very detrimental to SEO, how do you come up with a solution and get work prioritized to get completed? 

  22. Note: This is one of the questions I love. It clearly shows my ability to catch issues with SEO hopefully before they become too detrimental, and demonstrate my ability to state my case, champion the work, and show my ability to work with whomever I need to resolve it quickly. This is a key trait that every SEO needs, not just fully grasping the technical side of SEO, but to be able to work with other people to get what needs to get done quickly.

    Answer: Yes, well sadly this has happened often. After spotting an issue, what I like to do is determine who it is I will need to work with on the issue to get resolved in the end. It could be something that was there for usability sake and is hurting the site for SEO, a business decision that caused the issue, or a simple bug or oversight during development that is causing it. Of course, I always go to my boss first for communication purposes and show them what I am seeing. If usability, then I go to the ones responsible for user interface design, if a business decision then I more often than not will just show my boss the issue and the numbers of potential impact to the business, If a development bug or oversight I will take it to the lead developer or possibly the one that worked on the piece that caused the issue and let them help me come up with a solution or perhaps they can determine a quick fix. My approach is different depending on how big, who, and what part of the business the issue affects. Then I either act as the trusted expert that I was hired to be, or a part of the team that works together to come up with a solution. 

  23. If someone within the company doesn't agree with what you recommend how do you deal with them?

  24. Note: Sadly this happens oh so often to an SEO. Whether it is as an in-house SEO as I tend to work in, or even as an agency SEO. Gaining trust in your ability, stating your case, and championing work for SEO has a direct affect on your ability to do your job. You aren't always going to agree with everyone, and not everyone is going agree with you. The finesse in getting buy in from them, or at least working with you somehow is going to make or break SEO.

    Answer: I have found a way throughout the years of approaching each situation and person differently. If I have done my due diligence in stating my case for SEO and someone still doesn't see the benefit, or agree with my recommended approach then I will try my best to work with them as much as possible on a compromise or allow them to help me come up with another solution. I find that involving them in the process and perhaps showing them what I see, how I see it, and then giving them the opportunity to present their solution has always been the best approach. The outcome to the solution may in-fact change as I see their solution might actually be better, but in the end, as long as it works and is best for the business, I am more than happy to work with them. If what they propose just isn't going to work, I will usually let them know why and perhaps show them examples of case studies or where sites have tried that already and failed to help them see what I have been seeing that got me to my conclusion. Either way, my take is that what is best for the business is what we all should be working towards. 

  25. Key stake holders find SEO to be very important, how do you communicate with them in a way they understand what you are working on, and how it will (and did) benefit the business?

    Note: Yes, the stake holders. SO many companies place so much value on SEO, and for good reason. The work the business puts in now can have a huge return long term. Some businesses thrive on traffic from SEO and simply supplement the traffic with some advertising and even paid search. But that all costs money, and traffic that comes for free is nearly 80-100% profit (taking into account the salary and time spent getting the work done to get those rankings). So it shouldn't be any surprise that key stake holders (executives and CEOs) all know the importance of SEO, and want to understand it as much as possible to know that the business is growing, and will continue to grow. If an SEO cannot clearly articulate what work is needed and what the impact is for SEO then they shouldn't be working in SEO. 

    Answer: My approach to working with key stake holders is to use visuals, numbers, and typical business terms. I leave the technical side of SEO, development needs, and so on for the other teams that I need to work. Occasionally I will get an executive that really understands SEO, and in that case I will dig into more detail with them. Though really focusing on the impact to the business and keeping things as visual as possible has worked best. When working on the location page drop and the example I used for concept to completion, I had dug deep into the data and truly understood the business and the competition for my own benefit. When I presented the projects to the stake holders I mainly focused on the total numbers as impact to the business in terms of traffic and revenue. Often times showing where we are today with traffic and revenue for those terms the project is targeting, and potential incremental growth (since SEO doesn't happen overnight). I then leave opportunity for questions and be fully prepared to answer the why, how, what if, and so on always knowing the numbers to back up my statements.

That's It?


I'm sure I am missing a question or two (or three) in here, and of course, every role is completely different from the next, so each potential employer is going to have their own set of questions to gauge whether the SEO they are looking for not only really knows their stuff, but will fit what they are looking for in a role, and the personality of the company and team. I have to admit, there are positions I have interviewed for that I was a perfect fit for as far as ability was concerned, but my quirky personality doesn't always mesh well with very serious environments. Don't get me wrong, I can be serious and am very professional, but I do like to have fun and really get to know people on a personal level. So, during the interview process I look at the personality of the hiring manager, and try to gauge the dynamic of the team I will be working with before making any decision to work there.

If you are an SEO and have experienced other questions you feel should be added to the post, please add them in the comments below, along with your example answers. The more we can help our fellow SEOs the better this world can be.

Other Sources:


The other articles I grabbed some of these questions from:
The SEO Interview: Questions to Prepare for Before Your SEO Job Interview
Competency Based Interview Questions for Hiring SEO Professionals