Technical SEO requires technical and analytical skills along with a good understanding of how Google and other search engines work.
In addition, a good technical SEO should know the basic rules of SEO and be able to identify whether a website is breaking these rules.
Finally, a technical SEO must be able to offer possible corrections to the problems identified on the website and be able to determine whether the corrections have been implemented correctly.
But how can you verify that your next technical SEO hire has these skills and knowledge?
In this article, you will find 15 examples of job interview questions to help you decide if the person you are interviewing is the right candidate for a technical SEO position.
- 1 1. How Do You Check Whether A URL Is Indexed By Google?
- 2 2. How Do You Block A URL From Being Indexed?
- 3 3. What Are The Most Important SEO Ranking Factors, In Your Opinion?
- 4 4. What SEO Myths Have You Had Enough Of?
- 5 5. What Is Your Favorite Website Crawler And Why?
- 6 6. How Do You Analyze Page Speed And Core Web Vitals?
- 7 7. What Are Some Quick Technical SEO Wins?
- 8 8. A Site That’s Been Online 9 Months Is Getting Zero Traffic. Why?
- 9 9. How Do You Check If Googlebot May Have Problems Accessing Site Content?
- 10 10. What Example Errors May An XML Sitemap Have And How Would You Handle Them?
- 11 11. How Do You Perform A Technical SEO Audit?
- 12 12. You Discovered That A Website Has Hundreds Of Duplicate Pages. What Do You Do?
- 13 13. What Do You Use Google Search Console For? What’s Your Favorite Use Of That Tool?
- 14 14. How Do You Check If The Site Uses Structured Data And Whether It Is Valid?
- 15 15. What Are Your Favorite SEO Resources?
- 16 Bonus: Yes Or No Questions
- 17 Final Thoughts On Interviewing Technical SEOs
1. How Do You Check Whether A URL Is Indexed By Google?
The site command: is the simplest way to quickly check if a given URL is in Google’s index.
Any technical SEO should know the site: command and ideally a lot of other Google search operators that allow filtering and narrowing of search results.
In addition, you can also ask the candidate how they would check how many pages are indexed by Google and what the most accurate way to do it.
Here, your ideal technical SEO hire should demonstrate familiarity with the Google Search Console coverage report and indicate how it differs from the site: command.
Screenshot from search for [searchenginejournal.com], Google, July 2021
2. How Do You Block A URL From Being Indexed?
With this question, you want to see if your potential technical SEO hire actually knows the purpose of a no-index tag and does not confuse it with blocking a page in robots.txt.
They should know that robots.txt is for controlling and optimizing crawl, while non-index tags are for keeping pages out of Google’s index.
In addition, you can also ask about the best ways to protect a page from being accessed by anyone, including curious people (ie protecting it with a password in addition to adding a no-index tag).
If the person says that you should block such a page in robots.txt, then it means that they still have a lot of SEO homework to do.
3. What Are The Most Important SEO Ranking Factors, In Your Opinion?
Of course, there is no definitive answer to this question. But hearing the person’s perspective on Google’s ranking factors can tell you a lot about their knowledge & amp; experience.
A good technical SEO specialist candidate will:
4. What SEO Myths Have You Had Enough Of?
Only a person with at least some knowledge and understanding of SEO will be able to answer that question.
A complete novice will in many cases often present SEO myths as ultimate SEO truths without offering any of their own insights and comments.
If you are looking for an experienced technical SEO expert, ask them to elaborate on their favorite SEO myths and how to deal with them on a daily basis.
5. What Is Your Favorite Website Crawler And Why?
Website crawlers are probably the most important tools for technical SEOs.
You want to be sure that your future technical SEO uses a lot of different SEO crawlers (both desktop and cloud based), knows how to use them effectively and is able to perform advanced SEO analytics with their help.
Screenshot from Screaming Frog, February 2022
For example, anyone can connect the domain name to the crawler and start crawling, but only an experienced technical SEO expert can:
You want your next technical SEO specialist to be familiar with all or most of the most popular crawlers, such as Screaming Frog, Sitebulb, Deepcrawl, JetOctopus, etc.
6. How Do You Analyze Page Speed And Core Web Vitals?
Your potential technical SEO hire should use both the Google PageSpeed Insights tool (the Google Lighthouse report) and the Core Web Vitals report in the Google Search Console to analyze the site’s speed and performance before drawing conclusions or making recommendations.
The point of this question is to check that the person:
Screenshot from the Google Search Console, February 2022
Ideally, your candidate also knows other speed and performance tools, such as GTmetrix or WebPageTest, and knows how to use crawlers to analyze the laboratory performance of pages in bulk.
7. What Are Some Quick Technical SEO Wins?
In this matter, you want your potential SEO hire to draw on their experience.
While there is no best answer here, you would like to see that the person can really distinguish between low-impact, high-impact, low-effort and high-effort technical SEO optimizations.
For example, it always makes a huge difference whether you compress images on the website and convert them to JPEG or WEBP. In the meantime, it may not really help much to rebuild the entire site (and use a wealth of resources in the process) to get it from 92/100 score to 98/100 in PSI.
8. A Site That’s Been Online 9 Months Is Getting Zero Traffic. Why?
Ask about the possible reasons that come to mind.
Sometimes the solutions to SEO problems are simple – for example, the page has no organic traffic because a no-index tag has not been removed, or simply GA is not working properly.
Other times, they require a wealth of technical and data analysis that goes far beyond checking the indexability of the pages.
With this question, you want the person to demonstrate his ability to look for solutions, think critically and be creative.
Screenshot from Google Analytics, February 2022
9. How Do You Check If Googlebot May Have Problems Accessing Site Content?
Here you want the person to demonstrate:
10. What Example Errors May An XML Sitemap Have And How Would You Handle Them?
I see that people focus too much on XML sitemaps with small sites (a few hundred URLs or less) and too little on that for large sites (sites of millions of pages).
When it comes to XML sitemaps, you want your next technical SEO hire to show that they know:
11. How Do You Perform A Technical SEO Audit?
Using this question, you will want to check if the person has his or her own SEO process for reviewing a site.
Do they use a set of different tools to do that? Or do they rely on a fully automated audit where the tool (not the person) determines what issues the site has and what their priorities are?
12. You Discovered That A Website Has Hundreds Of Duplicate Pages. What Do You Do?
With this question you will again have the person to demonstrate their abilities for critical thinking and desire to look for solutions.
There is no right answer here, but an experienced technical SEO specialist should mention the following in their answer:
Additionally, you can also ask the person when duplicate content is not an issue and how to check if the site actually has this issue.
If the person says the site can be penalized for duplicate content, it means they have something to catch up on.
13. What Do You Use Google Search Console For? What’s Your Favorite Use Of That Tool?
The Google Search Console should in most cases be the best SEO tool for technical SEOs.
You want your future technical SEO hire to share with you how they use the tool and how it helps them achieve their SEO goals.
Screenshot from the Google Search Console, February 2022
There is no single correct answer to that question again, but you will probably want them to mention the following:
14. How Do You Check If The Site Uses Structured Data And Whether It Is Valid?
Structured data can be a specialty in itself in SEO, but you still want your technical SEO to:
Here you can also ask the person about the difference between structured data, extended results and highlighted excerpts.
15. What Are Your Favorite SEO Resources?
This is a completely open question, but the more resources the person cites, the more nerdy they are.
An absolute must is that they are familiar with Google Search Central, read the Google SEO documentation and see the SEO office hours with John Mueller.
Screenshot from Google Search Central, February 2022
If you hire an SEO nerd, you can be sure that they will never miss any meaningful SEO news and will happily test and implement new strategies.
Bonus: Yes Or No Questions
Open-ended questions are good for seeing how a person is thinking and how deep their knowledge actually is.
But yes and no questions can also help you check if a person updates their knowledge often and really by this.
Here are a few yes and no questions about technical SEO you can ask your potential hire.
Ask them to justify their answer to gain even more insight:
Final Thoughts On Interviewing Technical SEOs
If your potential technical SEO hire managed to get through all of these questions and gave you satisfactory answers, congratulations!
Chances are good that you have a pretty smart and experienced technical SEO who would like to work for you.
On the other hand, even if the candidate was not able to answer all your questions at the moment, but has a willingness to learn and a genuine interest in SEO, they can still become a brilliant technical SEO expert in no time – if you gives them a chance.
Featured image: fizkes / Shutterstock