How can you hire SEO experts and agencies? By SEO Specialist



Over the past year, I've been getting a lot of questions about finding the best SEO experts. People often ask, "How do I know if they're good or bad?" SEO is still new in many places, so among the good, you'll find some bad SEO folks too. Making a mistake here can waste a lot of time, resources, and money.

I've interviewed over 100 companies and around 22 individuals, and I've learned a lot from these experiences. But don't worry! Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, this guide will help you understand how to hire the right SEO professionals and agencies.

Step 1: Finding the Right SEO Fit: Small Team or Big Agency?

Before you dive in, ask yourself:
Do you want a one-on-one SEO buddy or a whole team of experts?

Going solo:
Pros: Affordable, understands your specific niche.
Cons: Limited skills, might get overloaded with work.

Teaming up with an agency:
Pros: Diverse skills (writing, tech, link building), streamlined processes.
Cons: Can be pricier, less personalized attention.

Here's a breakdown to help you decide:

Choose a solo SEO if:
You have a smaller budget.
You have a clear understanding of your SEO needs.
You value close collaboration and a personal touch.

Consider an agency if:
You need a wider range of SEO expertise.
You have a larger budget and complex SEO goals.
You prefer a more structured and hands-off approach.

Step 2: Networking

Spread the word on LinkedIn, Upwork, and industry forums. Don't forget your network - ask for recommendations!

Step 3: During Interview

Solo SEOs:

  • SEO Savvy: Can they explain complex stuff simply? Ask for past wins to gauge their expertise.
  • Real-World Skills: Ditch theoretical questions! Give them actual SEO scenarios to solve (screen-sharing bonus!).
  • Lifelong Learner: Do they have a hunger for knowledge? Assess their ability to adapt and stay updated.


  • Team Power: Meet the crew! Have they worked with similar businesses? Show me the numbers: what real results have they achieved?
  • Beyond "Magic Ranks": SEO is a slow and steady climb, not a quick fix. Beware of unrealistic promises!
  • Honesty is Key: Ask about past challenges they faced and how they learned from them. Are they truly invested in your success, or just the paycheck?
Remember: The right fit depends on your needs. Look for passion, expertise, and transparency, regardless of whether you go solo or agency!

Red Flags to Watch Out for When Hiring an SEO or Agency:


  • Guaranteed rankings: No ethical SEO professional can guarantee specific rankings, as algorithms and competition are constantly evolving. Run away from anyone making such claims.
  • Quick fixes and black-hat tactics: Be wary of anyone promoting techniques like keyword stuffing, link buying, or hidden text. These can harm your website in the long run.
  • Unrealistic ROI promises: Be skeptical of claims of instant or dramatic traffic increases. Sustainable SEO takes time and effort.


  • Lack of clear pricing and deliverables: Unclear contracts or hidden fees indicate potential trouble. Make sure you understand what you're paying for and what results to expect.
  • Unwillingness to answer questions: A good SEO professional should be happy to answer your questions and explain their strategies in detail. Vagueness or obfuscation is a red flag.
  • Lack of client testimonials or case studies: Be wary of agencies with limited or no achievements. Ask for references and checkout to actual results via third party tools.

Expertise and Experience:

  • Lack of industry knowledge: Ideally, your SEO should have experience in your specific industry or a closely related one. Generic tactics may not be effective.
  • Focus on quantity over quality: Be wary of agencies that boast only about the number of clients they have, not the quality of their work. Look for proven examples that align with your goals.
  • Outdated or irrelevant techniques: Ensure they use up-to-date, ethical SEO practices aligned with current search engine algorithms.

Communication and Culture:

  • Poor communication skills: Clear and consistent communication is crucial. Be wary of someone who is unresponsive or evasive.
  • Lack of cultural fit: If their values and work style don't align with yours, collaboration will be difficult. Assess their communication style and team dynamics during interviews.
  • High turnover rate: A high turnover rate can indicate internal issues or dissatisfaction with the work environment.

Interviewing Beyond the Surface:

Small Level SEO:

  • Analysis: Focus on foundational SEO knowledge, content creation skills, and adaptability.
  • What to Read:
    • Go beyond the resume: Look for evidence of self-learning and initiative. Did they create a personal website or blog and implement SEO strategies? This shows enthusiasm and practical experience.
    • Test their critical thinking: Present a real-world SEO scenario and ask how they would approach it. This reveals their thought process and ability to apply knowledge in practical situations.
    • Gauge their passion: True passion goes beyond just completing tasks. Do their eyes light up when discussing SEO trends or specific tactics? Are they curious and eager to learn more?

Medium Level SEO:

  • Analysis: Evaluate broader SEO strategy, link-building skills, and data analysis capabilities.
  • What to Read:
    • Evaluate their strategic mindset: Ask them to analyze a competitor's website and identify SEO strengths and weaknesses. This reveals their ability to think critically and develop competitive strategies.
    • Assess their data-driven approach: How do they track and analyze SEO results? Can they translate data insights into actionable recommendations? Look for comfort with SEO tools and data visualization skills.
    • Challenge their problem-solving:Present a hypothetical technical SEO issue and ask them to walk you through their troubleshooting process. This reveals their analytical skills and ability to think on their feet.

High Level SEO:

  • Analysis: Deep dive into advanced SEO tactics, team leadership, and industry knowledge.
  • What to Read:
    • Focus on business impact: How do they measure the success of SEO efforts beyond rankings? Can they articulate SEO's impact on revenue, conversions, and overall business goals?
    • Evaluate their communication skills: Can they explain complex SEO concepts to non-technical stakeholders? Look for clear, concise communication and the ability to tailor their message to different audiences.
    • Assess their leadership potential: How would they motivate and mentor a team of SEOs? Can they delegate effectively and foster a collaborative environment? Look for experience managing teams and inspiring others.

Top Level SEO:

  • Analysis: Focus on strategic vision, business acumen, and ability to drive organizational growth.
  • What to Read:
    • Dive into their strategic vision: How would they develop an SEO strategy aligned with your company's long-term growth plans? Look for innovative thinking, a global perspective, and an understanding of industry trends.
    • Evaluate their adaptability: How do they approach change and uncertainty? Can they pivot strategies to adapt to algorithm updates and shifting industry landscapes? Look for a forward-thinking mindset and a willingness to experiment.
    • Assess their cultural fit: Do they align with your company's values and work style? Can they collaborate effectively with diverse teams and build strong relationships? Look for someone who complements your existing team dynamic.
Remember: The interview is a two-way street. Use the opportunity to assess not just their skills, but also if they are a good fit for your company culture and long-term goals. By going deeper than just technical knowledge, you'll identify the perfect SEO talent to elevate your digital presence.

My strategy that changed my recruitment game & helped me find top-notch SEO talent.

  • The Critical Issue: Clearly outline a specific issue they'll encounter. Explain its significance and methods for identification. Support with relevant industry studies.
  • Crafting the Solution: Based on thorough technical and search audits, what improvements do they propose?
  • Effort & Impact: Estimate the time and resource investment required from your engineers for implementation. Quantify the expected positive impact – improved rankings, increased traffic, conversions, or even future adaptability.
  • Adaptability & Refinement: Explain how they'll monitor progress and adjust strategies if outcomes deviate. Discuss their openness to experimentation and rapid learning.
  • Competitive Edge: Leverage their expertise to uncover data-driven insights into competitor successes. Explore how these learnings can fuel your own growth.
  • Prioritization & ROI: Engage them in prioritizing tasks based on short-term wins and long-term gains. Identify impactful, yet readily achievable actions, alongside strategic investments for sustained benefits.
Bonus Tip: Still Unsure About Conducting SEO Interviews? Many leaders lack the in-depth knowledge required. Allow me, as a seasoned SEO professional, to assist you in identifying the ideal candidate to elevate your digital presence. I hope you found these suggestions valuable. Remember, building your SEO knowledge is key to making informed decisions. If you're hungry for more,

join our vibrant Slack community! Connect with like-minded professionals, ask questions, and dive deeper into the world of SEO.

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