A company that wants to gain greater visibility in Google’s organic search results has several options to achieve this goal: may start cooperation with an SEO agency, which will handle all the activities related to it, hire an SEO specialist and at the same time work with an agency or rely exclusively on in-house SEO. How to recruit an SEO expert when nobody in your company has experience and knowledge in that field? Who would be able to assess the competence of a candidate?
Before You Start Recruiting
Hiring an SEO specialist can be profitable in many cases but you can’t definitely assume in advance that it will always be a good solution. First of all, you must be aware of the fact that the costs of in-house SEO are not limited just to the salary of your employee.
This is just one of the necessary expenses – you also have to take into account the cost of SEO tools needed to conduct SEO activities. Although it is sometimes possible to take advantage of free solutions, however, their features are limited. If you will take a look at the job offers for SEO specialists, you will note that it is required that they know how to use the following tools:
- SEMrush – SEO tool useful for keyword and competition analysis, the monitoring website traffic, and visibility in the search results. The price for this tool starts from $99 for the basic version (Pro) for freelancers up to $399 (Business) for agencies and large e-commerce projects.
- Ahrefs – a popular website analysis tool, offers a wide range of various features: backlink analysis, site audit, keyword research, competition analysis and so much more. This widely used tool is relatively expensive – the cheapest version costs $990 per year.
- SEOprofiler – another great tool that offers numerous features useful in the daily work of an SEO specialist. This tool is a bit cheaper than SEMrush and Ahrefs – the standard plan costs $69.95 per month, the professional version – $249.95.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider – a highly popular program, absolutely necessary for many, it crawls websites’ links, images, title and meta description tags, and many other elements. In the free version, there is a crawl limit of 500 URLs within a given website, while in the paid version, which costs £149 a year, there are no such limits.
Is this the end of expenses? Unfortunately, no. Other necessary costs that are related to running an effective SEO should also be considered:
- Copywriting – copywriters will create content for blog posts, product or category descriptions, and sponsored articles. This is not an expense you can opt-out of unless the specialist will additionally create content in-house, however, it is a really time-consuming activity so it would be hard to expect one person to be able to handle all the tasks.
- Cost of backlinks – sponsored articles may be quite expensive, their cost ranges from several dozen to even several hundred dollars. You also have to pay for obtaining backlinks from other channels, such as forums, comments, blogs, and more.
- Cost of preselling pages – if the company has them. The costs relate to domain subscription, hosting service, content, site management, and more.
All these expenses must be covered by the company itself, so the salary of an SEO specialist is just a part of costs related to running activities aimed at increasing visibility in the Google search engine.
A specialist will rarely work independently, more often he/she will have to cooperate with agencies or freelancers who will support his/her work at least partially. If you want a specialist to work without the support of outsourcing companies or freelancers, you will probably need to hire more than one person. If you run a large online store, you may even need several experts, each of whom will be responsible for different tasks.
In-house SEO Recruitment – How To Do It?
Does your marketing team have no experience in search engine optimization? So you already know that you need an SEO specialist for your company. You need to know what to pay attention to when hiring a specialist as you will entrust this person with your company website. Unprofessional activities can cost you a lot and, above all, they will not bring any desired results.
Will recruitment be an easy task for you? Unfortunately, it won’t. It is best to hire an SEO expert from a partner company for the recruitment process, as this person will be able to assess the skills of candidates. But you will not always have this possibility.
First of all, you need to know what should be included in the job offer. This way you won’t get hundreds of CVs that don’t meet the requirements for the job. Remember to:
- Don’t look for a specialist of everything – in job offers for in-house SEO, you may often find requirements that only very few specialists are able to meet. A candidate for an SEO specialist is supposed to know graphics programs, PHP, be good with words, have knowledge of UX design and social media. Reducing costs is understandable, but it is impossible to be an expert in so many areas. Even if you find someone who claims to have all these skills, this person will probably have enormous financial expectations. Expect from an SEO specialist what skills he/she should have to do this job, and if necessary, you will outsource the rest of the work.
- Expect documented experience – if a given candidate has worked in an agency for, let’s say, 2 years as an SEO specialist, then this person must have solid knowledge. What should he/she be able to do? Knowledge of HTML and CSS, or at least their basics, is definitely useful for an employee to be able to handle simple code modifications independently. Another key requirement is to know the SEO tools that are necessary for this job. The most important of them are: Google Search Console, Google Analytics, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Screaming Frog. Knowledge of link building and site optimization is also essential. An SEO specialist should know how to work with popular CMS but keep in mind that a candidate in your company will be working with your solutions, so the fact that he/she is not familiar with Drupal or Joomla! doesn’t really matter if you don’t use them. A candidate should demonstrate some of his/her successes, i.e. the projects and the results of his/her work.
- Set a reasonable salary – if you offer insufficient pay, don’t expect that excellent specialists will be interested in your job offer. You may have many candidates, but those maybe people who don’t seem to have enough knowledge, which means that the resources you will spend on this job position and SEO activities will simply be wasted.
- Prepare for the interview – online you will find plenty of tips on what topics you can discuss during a meeting with an SEO specialist to verify this person’s knowledge. What questions to ask? First of all, a candidate must be familiar with technical SEO, know how to optimize, make experiments, understand the relationship between optimization and positions in the search results as well as keep up with the latest trends. Ask, for example, what factors have the greatest impact on the website’s visibility on Google.Find out if a candidate knows how to get high-quality links from sponsored articles and compare his/her answer with the information you may find in our article: Sponsored articles and SEO. If you want to verify the skills of an SEO specialist, check our SEO checklist 2020 – there you will find all the most important on-site and off-site elements that have an impact on SEO. Is it possible that a candidate for the SEO specialist position will not be able to show the required knowledge? Yes, it is very likely. A substantive interview is a relatively easy way to test candidates in the first stage of the recruiting process.
The most important is that an SEO specialist learns quickly and is open to new solutions. Google updates its algorithms several times a year and to stay up to date, our candidate for a successful specialist should constantly strive to improve his/her skills, participate in workshops, test many elements. Analytical thinking is also helpful so that an SEO specialist can develop successful traffic building strategies. In fact, a good SEO specialist is a person focused on performance marketing, who has the skills of a web developer, analyst, content writer, and is passionate about the development of online marketing.
How to Check Knowledge of an SEO Expert?
You already know what the most important competences an SEO specialist should have, as well as what kind of questions it is worth asking when recruiting, but how can you be sure that apart from the theory, this person is able to implement certain solutions and knows what needs to be optimized?
One of the possible ways is to ask the candidate to conduct an SEO audit of your website – find out which SEO strategies he/she would follow. Let the candidate comment on introducing all the necessary optimizations (including title tag, meta description, headings, keywords, redirects), prepare a link building strategy (how and from which sources to obtain high-quality backlinks as well as what budget will be needed to achieve the desired goals). Another significant task should be to conduct a keyword analysis. You can also specify how much money you can spend on links and content so that a candidate can set possible goals on this basis.
Analysis of the Effects of In-House SEO
You have signed a contract, you have an SEO specialist who will increase the visibility of your websites mainly in the Google search engine. Unfortunately, you can never be sure that you will find an SEO expert whose work will meet your expectations – no one can guarantee you that your employee will reach all the expected goals. SEO requires ongoing analysis, keeping knowledge up to date, and verifying the activities of competitors. Remember that specialists can’t rest on their laurels, because SEO knowledge can get out of date very quickly.
What should you know when analyzing the work of an SEO specialist? Remember that:
- Building site visibility in Google is a long-term process. It is possible that you will notice progress even after a month of work, however, it depends on many factors. One site may require small optimizations and the start of the link building process, while another will need even months of work to improve its visibility.
- A link to the site may bring the desired effect after a week, but sometimes even after a month. Spending several hundred dollars on a single link doesn’t always lead to improving position in the search results. Outranking a competitor may require many links.
- A sudden drop in the visibility of the website doesn’t always mean that the SEO specialist did something wrong. Google algorithms are constantly changing, some of the ranking factors are becoming more or less important, and no one can predict what exactly will affect the search results in some time. It is important that an SEO expert is able to react quickly to these changes.
- To control your in-house SEO, you should get at least basic SEO knowledge, e.g. learn to use Google Search Console or tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. Obviously, most often you hire an SEO expert to increase web traffic and boost your sales, which is why statistics from Google Analytics will be crucial for you, and even more so – data on sales of products or services.
- An SEO specialist will not build visibility of the site if he/she doesn’t have the right budget available. Depending on the amount of money received, he/she should specify what effects can be expected at a given time and how the work is going to be planned.
As you can see, hiring an SEO specialist is not so easy. Many employers learn from their mistakes and during the second or third recruitment process can find the right expert. Most often, the cooperation begins with signing a contract for 3 months. After this period, you can often decide whether you are satisfied with your employee, however, you must remember – try to determine your requirements reasonably. Sometimes even in such a short period, a lot can be achieved, but in many cases, it may even take more time to produce tangible effects.
If you have concerns about how to recruit for the position of an SEO specialist, you can use our SEO consulting services. Support in the recruitment process may be the topic of our consultations.