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Cut Through Any Bull With These 8 SEO Job Interview Questions

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Cut Through Any Bull With These 8 SEO Job Interview Questions

The SEO job market has been on fire lately!

Companies are investing more in SEO, and agencies of all sizes are scrambling to hire new SEO pros.

I know I’ve spent a ton of time interviewing candidates lately. Separating the good candidates from the bad can seem like a daunting task.

How do you ensure the person you hire will turn into a good SEO?

How do you separate the BS artists from the practitioners?

The secret is in the interview questions you ask!

Here are eight interview questions I love to ask SEO job candidates.

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Doing An SEO Interview

When I do SEO interviews, I don’t ask standard questions that you’d get at your typical interview. Most of the standard interview questions bore me.

That doesn’t mean somebody from my team doesn’t ask them (we still need to make sure you actually know SEO), but once a candidate gets past that phase, I prefer to take a different approach.

While many SEOs will ask very technical interview questions like “what’s a canonical tag,” I’ve found that a slightly different approach works better.

Technical knowledge is great, but SEO trivia is easy to memorize and easy to train.

If a candidate doesn’t know how to use a specific SEO tool I can show them in an hour, so it isn’t worth it to ask questions like that during an interview.

I’ve found that most technical SEO questions are usually the interviewer attempting to show off how smart they are rather than gauge the applicant’s SEO knowledge.

Too many SEO interviews are passed simply by letting the interviewer talk about himself the whole time. I’m not that interviewer. As much as I love to talk about myself, the interview isn’t the time to do it.

Instead, I’d prefer to examine their approach to problem-solving as well as their thought process, client interaction skills, and general outlook on SEO.

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You can’t train critical thinking as well as you can train SEO best practices.

But if I can find somebody who thinks rationally, critically, and logically who knows the basics and has some tech skills, then I can train them up in the other stuff.

Best Interview Questions To Ask SEO Candidates

1. Tell me about yourself. What are you looking for in your next role?

This is the first question I ask. It’s one you’ve heard in every interview.

What am I most paying attention to with this question? What the candidate thinks is important:

  • Do they talk about themselves personally? Professionally?
  • Do they go right into their work history?
  • Do they read me stuff like a checklist?

There’s no real wrong answer here – unless they recite qualifications like a checklist.

Talking about what they’re looking for in their next role immediately lets me know if this will be a role fit for the person, or if they will hate this role and be likely to quit soon.

I want to ensure that we’re not only filling our needs for the open position but also that the candidate will be happy and have room to grow. Doing this has led to much less turnover.

2. Tell me about your biggest accomplishment at your last job.

This simple question is my favorite. This answer will, most likely, instantly make up my mind about the rest of the interview.

You would be shocked at how many people can’t answer this question.

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Take a look at your average resume. Most people list what they were tasked with doing or assigned to do, but they don’t tell you what they actually did in that role.

This is the candidate’s chance to brag – to tell me about their results:

  • What ideas did you come up with?
  • What impact did you make on a client? (If you’re coming from an agency, I’ll rephrase it as “tell me about the biggest impact you’ve made for a client.”)

I will ask a few follow-up questions about whatever the candidate lists, but it’s basically just a conversation about the work to make sure he or she was actually involved in doing it and find out what part the person played.

Some great follow-up questions include: “How did you measure that success?” “What insight sparked the idea for that project?” and “What was the biggest challenge in accomplishing that?”

3. Why SEO?

I’ll only ask this question when hiring for any entry-level positions or if the candidate has less than a couple of years of experience.

I’m curious why they chose this profession. What motivates them?

If you tell me “I need a job” or “it pays well” you aren’t getting the job (or likely paid well.)

4. Tell me about your personal projects, websites, blog, side hustle, conferences, etc.

There are two reasons for this question:

  • I want to make sure there’s no conflict of interest. I’ve interviewed a few people who wanted to keep their full-time consultancy with competing clients in addition to our full-time job.
  • I’m trying to find somebody who doesn’t turn off their SEO thinking at 5 p.m. (That’s the main reason I ask this question.)

I want somebody with a passion for search and marketing and technology.

SEO is a job where you have to keep learning and growing, and I’ve found that people with a passion for it will do that on their own. I’m looking for ambition here too.

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I don’t care how that passion manifests. You don’t need to have a blog or a side hustle or a personal website or speak at conferences.

Just have the passion, and show it to me.

5. Tell me something most SEO professionals think is true that you think is BS (Or, something you think is true that most SEO pros think is BS).

This is my second favorite question to ask and one I usually reserve for near the end. It’s a modified version of a great Peter Thiel (who I’m not personally a big fan of) interview question.

I had to limit this one to SEO or marketing though, as people had a tendency to go really political on this (flat earth, vaccines, the election, etc.).

While these are entertaining answers, they really aren’t relevant to work and I don’t want to discuss them in that setting.

Having said that, if you DO go off on a crazy tangent about something racist/sexist/bigoted, you can bet you aren’t getting the job offer.

This question helps a ton with evaluating a candidate’s critical thinking skills. I’m looking to see how they react when put on the spot. (I guarantee nobody has anticipated this question and it will take time to answer.)

I want to see the candidate uneasy – without a prepared answer – because that’s how many client interactions go.

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I also want to see candidates defend their answers because I’m going to ask a few follow-ups asking them to do just that.

This is a great area to figure out if they’ll “vibe” with your SEO philosophy. You can go into things like subdomains vs. directories, or pet peeves like XML sitemaps.

6. Given a random URL, walk me through how you diagnose it for SEO issues. What’s your first step?

I sometimes also substitute this for “walk me through your approach for doing keyword research” depending on the role and the candidate.

For SEO-specific skillsets, I like to go open-ended.

For this question, I’ll keep asking, “Then what? Then what?”

I want to see how their thought process works.

Not everybody is the same. Some will start with research or do a crawl; others will start by understanding the business goals; others will pull out their checklist. (You can earn bonus points if you mention one of my SEO tools.)

I’m not a fan of checklists.

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Also, I don’t want to hear, “I’d run this tool.” I want you to tell me what you’re using the tool to do.

For senior-level roles, I’ve often asked candidates to do a couple of slides on how they’d improve a random site.

It’s never a client site (we really don’t ask for free work). It’s usually a brand site of whatever brand of clothing I notice the person wearing or interest I see in the background of their Zoom.

Or, if they tell me they play hockey it might be a hockey equipment manufacturer, etc.

If I want to be aberrant about it, I’ll ask them to evaluate wtfseo.com or something. It’s always random.

7. Suppose the client wants to do this thing. You think it’s a terrible idea and recommend something else instead. The meeting is tomorrow to discuss. What’s your game plan for the meeting?

This is my favorite hypothetical question to ask.

There is a right answer to this. I’m looking for a data-driven and actionable plan.

Sadly, many candidates instead give what I call an “ego response” where they say something like “I’ll tell the client I’m the expert and they should trust me,” or something similar.

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That’s not the person I want to hire.

8. Do you have any questions for me?

Sometimes the best interview question is to not ask a question but let the candidate do it instead!

The main goal of this is to give them more info about the job, ease their concerns, and make sure they’re the right fit – but you can learn a lot based on the questions they ask you.

For example, if they immediately ask about raises and promotions, that’s a red flag telling me that they may be a flight risk.

A better way to ask this question if you’re interviewed is: “What does success look like for me in this role?”

Often, candidates will ask a question about whether or not they have to do something they hate doing (like metadata or reporting), and this can help find out how they interact with teams.

(Note: It doesn’t matter what level of SEO you are, you’ll still do some of the “basic” SEO stuff from time to time.)

To Sum Up

The main goal of any interview is to determine a candidate’s skills, how loyal they will be to your company, and how well they will fit with the company culture and their future colleagues.  With the right questions, you can make sure the most qualified candidates move to the next level of your hiring process.

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

The number of online surveys has risen dramatically in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

From short social media polls to lengthy feedback forms, it’s never been easier to survey your target audience and find out what exactly they’re thinking.

When it comes to free survey makers, you have plenty of options to choose from.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is you have to wade through your options to figure out the best survey tool for you.

In this article, I’ve done that dirty work for you.

Below I outline the top six free survey makers, with a simple bulleted list of their pros and cons, so you can quickly select the best one for your needs.

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But first up, the caveats.

What You’re Missing With Free Survey Makers

When something’s free, there’s usually a catch. The same goes for free survey makers.

Free survey tools, or the free plan offered by a paid survey tool, often come with the following limitations:

  • Limited export options. You may not be able to export your survey data for review in Excel or Google Sheets. There may be a PDF-only export option or no export ability at all.
  • Limited analytics. Free survey tools often skimp on the analytics. You may be left to your own pivot tables and Excel expertise if you want to create anything fancy from your survey data.
  • Limited survey functionality. This runs the gamut, from a limit on how many respondents or questions you can have per survey, to only allowing so many question types (e.g., multiple-choice, long-form, etc.).
  • Limited extra perks. By perks, I mean those other features that make software from good to great. With survey makers, that might mean easy-to-access support, the ability to embed surveys in email or webpages, multiple user accounts, or integration with other email marketing or CRM software.
  • No branding. Free survey makers give you their tools for free. In return, you provide them with free brand awareness. Don’t expect to be able to swap out their logo for your own. You’ll probably be stuck with their branding, along with a prominent link to their site throughout the survey or on the thank you page (or both).

If any of the above is a dealbreaker for you, you should plan to drop a little dough on a paid survey tool. That’s why I’ve also included the starting price for all six of the tools featured below.

In case you end up having to upgrade later, it’s easier to do so from a tool you’re already familiar with.

Top 6 Free Survey Tools

Without further ado, I present the best free survey makers you’ll find today. These are listed in no particular order.

1. Google Forms

Screenshot by author, June 2022

Do you live and die by your Google Drive?

Great news: Google also offers free survey software via Google Forms.

Alright, I know I just said these were presented in no particular order, but I’ll openly admit Google Forms is my personal favorite. Just look at all of the features they include in their free plan!

All you need is a free Google account to get started.

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Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Export to Google Sheets.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Ability to embed images and YouTube videos.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website and share to social media.
  • Survey analytics, updated in real-time.
  • Integration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides.
  • Unlimited collaborators.
  • Customizable survey templates.
  • Free branding.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Enhanced security and collaboration options.
  • Integration with your existing Google Workplace account.

Price: Completely free. Google Workplace pricing starts at $6 per user per month.

Best for: Anyone and everyone, for business or casual use.

2. SurveyMonkey

surveymonkeyScreenshot by author, June 2022

SurveyMonkey is the online survey tool. Established in 1999, it’s still the most well-known online survey software.

Despite the limitations of its free plans, SurveyMonkey continues to be popular thanks to its intuitive interface and brand recognition. Notable clients include Allbirds, Tweezerman, and Adobe.

One nice perk is that you can test out any of the paid features with your free plan. (You just won’t be able to actually use it in your live survey until you pay up.)

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions.
  • 15 question types.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Over 250 customizable survey templates.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Mobile app.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions, question types, and responses.
  • Data exports – this is a biggie!
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Advanced security (single sign-on, HIPAA compliance).
  • A/B testing.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $16 per month for individuals, $25 for teams.

Best for: Those who want a tried-and-true survey maker with all the features you could ask for.

3. Typeform

typeformScreenshot by author, June 2022

Many online survey tools are designed for the general public.

Readers of Search Engine Journal will be happy to hear that there’s a survey tool created just for us. Typeform was built specifically with marketers, UX researchers, and business owners like us in mind.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

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  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 10 responses per month.
  • Basic question types.
  • Basic reporting and analytics
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Integrations with MailChimp, HubSpot, Trello, Google Sheets, Zapier, and more.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Custom thank you screen.
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Ability to accept payment.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Integration with Facebook pixel and Google Tag Manager.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users, UX researchers, and marketers hoping to track customer behavior.

4. Zoho Survey

zoho surveyScreenshot by author, June 2022

Zoho Survey is part of the same Zoho suite of apps that caters to sales, HR, IT, finance, and virtually any kind of business user you can think of.

Given their tenure creating SaaS software for business, their survey tool is just as robust as you might expect. Customers include big names like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Change.org.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website, or share to social media.
  • Export to PDF.
  • 250 survey templates.
  • Password protection and HTTPS encryption.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Ability to export to XLS or CSV.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Real-time responses.
  • Multilingual surveys.
  • Integration with Google Sheets, Tableau, Shopify, Zendesk, Eventbrite, and others.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Best for: Zoho users, or anyone who needs an extra level of security for their surveys.

5. Alchemer

alchemer survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

Alchemer is an advanced survey maker developed for the enterprise client.

Paid features include custom coding so you can customize every single element of your survey, from the survey URL to the form logic.

They stand out among free survey makers for being one of the few (besides Google Forms) to offer unlimited questions and Excel exports in their free plan. Clients include Disney, Salesforce, Verizon, and The Home Depot.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Three surveys at a time.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • 100 responses.
  • 10 question types.
  • Export to Excel.
  • Customizable templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Unlimited question types.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Ability to embed surveys in websites.
  • Export to PDF, PowerPoint, or Word.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Survey analytics and reporting.
  • Ability to accept payment.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $49 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users needing to create long surveys with advanced logic and question types.

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6. Jotform

jotform survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

With over 10,000 templates, Jotform takes the cake as the survey maker with the most form templates on our list.

Jotform also stands out for letting you accept payments with the free plan (although you’re limited to 10).

This popular survey maker includes clients as wide-ranging as AMC and Nickelodeon to Redfin and the American Medical Association.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Five surveys.
  • 100 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website.
  • Export to PDF or Excel.
  • 10,000 survey templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • HIPAA compliance.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Users who want a template for every kind of survey possible.

Which Survey Tool Will You Use?

There truly is a survey maker for everybody.

The above options are all solid choices. Which one works for you may depend on your organization’s needs and your personal preferences.

Take advantage of the free trials and see which one you like best.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock



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