Google turned 20 years old last fall, but it seems like it’s been around forever. Most of us can’t even begin to imagine a life without the ubiquitous search engine to help us navigate our data-driven world. When we need answers fast, we look at our phones or our laptops and bank on search engines to deliver the information we need. That search engine might be the giant Google or the less used Bing or Yahoo, but our expectations are the same, no matter which one we use.
This degree of reliance on search engines ensures that search engine optimization (SEO) is still a critical part of any digital marketing strategy. If a business wants to be discovered online, it has to invest in SEO. And, businesses know SEO matters. It’s estimated that brands and agencies in the U.S. will spend about $79 billion on SEO by 2020.
With an ongoing and increasing investment in SEO projected, a professional in the digital marketing field can feel confident that the job outlook will continue to be strong for those with SEO skills, whether you’re new to the field or you’re an experienced digital marketer. SEO training is a good way to transition into a digital marketing career for sales professionals who want to get out of sales, or recent graduates who have completed their MBA/B.E/B.SC. SEO skills are also valuable for startup entrepreneurs, and even CEOs who need to oversee the marketing team.
If you’re one of those who are seeking a new career or career advancement in the field of SEO, you’ll no doubt be pursuing the necessary training. But, also consider training yourself for that ever-important interview so, when your dream job becomes available, you’re ready to shine as a job candidate.
To set the ball rolling, we’ve compiled some common SEO interview questions for freshers all the way up to SEO executives below. Read on to learn more…
SEO Interview Questions for Freshers
If you’re applying for an SEO job at a beginner level, prepare for your job interview ahead of time with these SEO interview questions for recent graduates, or beginners. Many of these are appropriate SEO interview questions for 1-year experience and are geared toward someone with a solid education in SEO or some actual on-the-job experience.
1. What is SEO?
The practice of optimizing a website's architectural layout is known as SEO. It helps in content relevancy and link attractiveness so that its pages are more readily found, more relevant, more prominent in response to use web searches, and hence rank higher in search engines.
SEO aids in increasing a company's exposure.
Organic results are more trusted than sponsored results. Having your website featured for the appropriate keywords might bring you a lot of visitors.
SEO techniques enable companies to rank for possible keywords without paying a dollar on search engine marketing, resulting in the most valuable visitors. It's known as 'organic,' 'free,' and 'natural' outcomes. There are several optimization techniques and actions that Users should carry out to ensure that your site is SEO friendly and ranks for desired keywords.
2. Why is SEO important to businesses?
One of the famous jokes that run amongst individuals in the web sector is that you should put it on Google's second page if you want to conceal a corpse. Because just a small percentage of people go beyond the first page of Google results, your rivals will steal all of your clients if your industry isn't on the first page. With each position, CTR lowers progressively. One significant benefit of SEO over PPC is that, unlike PPC, your results will not end if you quit doing SEO today. SEO is crucial if a firm wants to grow sales without splurging on promotions.
3. The most important Google Ranking Factors are:
Quality & Relevant Backlinks
4. What is an organic result?
Organic results are provided by search results based on relevance, quality, and other ranking variables and are one of the two kinds of search results in SERP. Organic results, sometimes known as 'free results' or 'natural outcomes,' are unpaid. Several criteria determine the ordering of organic results.
The organic results appear underneath the sponsored results. Organic results cannot be influenced by charging Google, or they may be improved by ensuring superior data and allowing users to engage with it.
5. What is a paid result?
Paid results refer to advertisers who pay to show their ads alongside better organic results on SERPs. Paid results are instantaneous, and advertisers are not obligated to enhance their website and content to rank. Your Max CPC and quality score will determine your position. The more money you save, the better your quality score.
6. What is Google Sandbox?
The Google Sandbox Effect asserts that new sites are often on probation (inside a box) and hence cannot rank successfully for their most important keywords.
According to the notion, Google needs to contemplate before leaving the fictitious location. It might be caused by constructing too many connections in a short amount of time.
It was never formally announced, although it was discussed while Google discussed various things.
7. What is Google Autocomplete?
Google Autocomplete is defined as a search engine feature that works with search engines such as Google. When you start writing in the search field, Google autocomplete offers you a list of suggestions to help you finish your query. It enables users to complete searches less quickly and with much less initiative, particularly useful when searching on a mobile device. Search recommendations are strongly impacted in queries as well as your previous searches.
8. What is a TLD?
The last portion of an internet address is the top-level domain (TLD). There are many sorts of TLDs accessible, such as.com,.net,.org,.co.in, and so on.
9. What is ccTLD?
A ccTLD stands for a country code top-level domain. The domain extension for each nation is distinct. All ccTLDs have just two characters. For instance,.in stands for India, while.us stands for the United States.
10. What are keyword frequency, Keyword Density, Keyword Difficulty, and Keyword Proximity?
- Keyword Frequency: The amount of times a specific keyword phrase occurs on a web page is known as keyword frequency. When optimizing a web page, we must be careful not to overuse the term to the point of keyword stuffing.
- Keyword Difficulty: The keyword difficulty metric measures how tough it is to rank for a given term based on its prominence and competitors. The more complicated the keyword, the more time or backlinks are required.
- Keyword Density: Keyword density is the proportion of times a term or phrase occurs on a web page. Search engines may mistake the keyword frequency for term stuffing when the keyword frequency is significantly over the optimal level. Consequently, we must ensure that the keyword density for any significant or secondary search keywords is not excessive. For example, if a term occurs five times in a 200-word piece, the density is 2.5 percent. Although there is no perfect keyword density, 3–4% is recommended practice for SEO.
- Keyword Proximity: The distance between two terms on a web page is measured by keyword proximity.
11. What is the definition of a long tail keyword?
Long-tail phrases include more than four words and are very specialized. Long-tail keywords, as opposed to broad keywords, indicate the purpose and quality of the search, leading to a high number of sales if adequately targeted. The ideal way to use long-tail keywords is on a blog. They have a lower search volume than broad keywords, but when many long-tail keywords are combined, we receive a lot of traffic with a high conversion rate.
12. What is the definition of bounce rate in SEO?
No SEO Interview Questions and Answers guide would be complete without this question. Bounce rate refers to the proportion of website visitors who depart the landing page without viewing any other pages or taking action.
Bounce rate is defined as single-page visits divided by all sessions, or the proportion of all sessions on your site in which people saw just one page and sent only one request to the Analytics server, according to Google.
To reduce bounce rates, boost page engagement (through internal links, CTAs, etc. ), improve page performance, and provide consistent user interaction, among other things.
13. What is robots.txt?
It's a text file called robots.txt. It's everything done via this file. It addresses search engine crawlers how to index and cache a website, a webpage or directory's file, as well as a domain.
14. What are anchor texts? What role does anchor text have in SEO?
The accessible text in a hyperlink is called anchor text. Anchor texts assist users in understanding the purpose of the page. If keywords are used, it also has SEO value. However, if you are too optimized, Google may penalize you.
Natural anchor text is vital, as is variety, such as branded, long tail, picture links, partial and precise matches. Search engines utilize anchor text to determine the page's context to which it is connected. This has some SEO significance in determining what the site is about for search engines.
15. What is Robot's Meta Tag?
With directives like FOLLOW, NOFOLLOW, INDEX, and NOINDEX, the Robots Meta Tag directs search engines to handle the page.
16. What is an HTML Sitemap?
HTML sitemap is a new website that allows people to view a list of pages structured to understand and traverse the site quickly. An HTML sitemap isn't essential if your website has a few user-accessible sites. HTML sitemaps are very beneficial if you have a large website.
17. What is an XML Sitemap?
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is an acronym for "Extensible Markup Language." The purpose of an XML sitemap is to provide search engines with information about the most recent changes made to them. It contains a list of websites and the frequency with which they are updated. Using an XML sitemap, we may request that search engines regularly scan and index our essential pages. When a search engine discovers a website, among the first things it looks for is a sitemap.
18. Explain LSI
LSI Keywords are semantically linked to the principal term used by visitors in search engines.
When we use LSI keywords to improve a page, the keyword relevance will rise. LSI allows you to optimize keywords on a web page without worrying about keyword stuffing. Google's algorithm uses LSI keywords to determine the relevance of a search phrase. It aids search engines in deciphering the semantic structure of keywords and extracting the meaning of the text to provide the best SERP results.
19. What makes a website search engine friendly?
Several factors make a website search engine friendly, including keywords, quality content, titles, metadata, etc. A website needs these factors to be ranked by a search engine and therefore found by a user.
20. How do you measure SEO success?
You might want to answer this question based on the type of company you’re interviewing for, as goals might differ. In addition, there are a variety of ways to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and, therefore, success. During an SEO interview, possible answers might include increasing traffic to a website or particular landing page, increasing conversions such as newsletter signups or sales, growing the number of inbound links, driving traffic for a particular keyword phrase, or increasing referral traffic. It’s critical that an SEO professional measures result to know if the tactics and strategy need to change to succeed.
21. How did you learn SEO?
Obviously, this answer will depend on your individual situation, but it matters because a potential employer wants to ensure that you are well-versed in SEO best practices. If you learned SEO by the seat of your pants at your last job because someone had to do it, an employer might doubt the quality of the skillset you offer. And, if that’s the case, you can always get certified before applying for that job to ensure you are well trained!
22. Which SEO tools do you regularly use?
Various tools can make SEO jobs more accessible, and choosing the best one depends on your needs.
- sem haste
- quack SEO
23. How do you approach keyword research?
As with the question above, your answer might vary. You’ll want to explain which keyword tools you use for research, as well as how you go about it. For example, if you use Google Keyword Planner to do your keyword research, then that’s your answer for the tool used. But you must also explain how you go about it. You must demonstrate you do more than simply guess at a keyword and type that into the tool before checking the results. For example, perhaps you use personas to consider potential problems a prospect faces, and you look for keywords around that. You should also explain that you consider longer keyword phrases, search volume, and the competitiveness of a keyword. Demonstrate that you know how to find the sweet spot in keyword research, where the keyword narrower so it’s targeted and has good search volume, but is not highly competitive.
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24. What is link building and why does it matter?
Google exists to serve the searcher. That means Google is constantly trying to determine which results are most relevant to any given searcher and any given time. In addition to relevance, Google considers credibility too. So the search engine looks to see if other websites have linked to yours. If so, that means your content is worth linking to and is, therefore, more credible when compared to a website not linked to externally. In a nutshell, link building is what SEO professionals do to try and get links to their websites in order to improve search results.
25. What are backlinks?
When a website links to another, a backlink is established. In other words, Backlinks to your website are essentially a signal to search engines that people endorse your content.
26. What is page speed and why does it matter?
27. What method do you use to redirect a page?
In general, 301, 302, and Meta Refresh are the three most widely used redirects.
301, "Moved Permanently"—recommended for SEO
302, "Found" or "Moved Temporarily."
28. How can you do SEO for a video?
Videos are growing increasingly popular on the web, which can improve SEO if the videos produced get attention and therefore share and backlinks. But to get the video seen can require SEO to get it found, and Google can’t watch a video. It needs the same types of information required for text-based pages to rank a video. Including the transcript as a text is an easy way to do SEO for a video because search engines can crawl the text. In addition, the same attention should be paid to keywords, page titles, and descriptions.
29. Which meta tags matter?
Meta tags have changed since SEO became a common practice, but two remain critical: the page title and the meta description. Stick to these when answering your interview question. The page title (sometimes called SEO title) plays an important role in ranking but it is also important because it is the title that shows on the Search Results Page (SERP). It must use a keyword to rank well with Google but it must also be compelling so a user will want to click on it. The meta description does not affect ranking, but it also plays a role in the SERP because it also must make the user want to click on the search result. You should also mention that Google recently increased the character length limit of meta descriptions to around 280 to 320 (no one is sure of the actual limit yet).
30. What is the difference between a do-follow and no-follow and how are they used?
Nofollow links exist because we don’t want every single webpage or link to be something a search engine crawls and ranks. Therefore, no-follow link attributes tell search engine bots not to follow a certain link. The link is still clickable for a user, but not followed by a bot. On the other hand, all other links could be considered do-follow links, even though they don’t have to have special attributes to tell the search engine bots to follow them—the bots will by default.
31. Which SEO factors are not in your control?
The biggest SEO factor not in your control is Google! How exactly Google ranks websites is unknown. The company does not make public the search algorithms it uses, although SEO professionals have determined the best practices we adhere to in order to achieve results. However, Google doesn’t like young domains that aren’t yet tried-and-true, and you can’t control that if you’re launching a new site. Nor can you force people to link to your site, share your content, spend more time on your site, or come back to your site for another visit. Google looks favorably on all of these factors and ideally a marketing department is working hard to create content and user experiences that will make these happen, but these factors are beyond the control of the SEO person.
32. What is on-page vs off-page SEO?
This gets back to the question about the factors that are outside of your control. On-page SEO includes the factors you can control, such as keywords, content, page structure, internal linking, load time, etc. Off-page SEO includes those factors you can’t control, such as backlinks.
33. What are some black hat SEO practices to avoid?
Ideally, you won’t interview with an organization that condones any black hat SEO practices, but it might be a trick question to make sure you wouldn’t use them either. Cloaking, keyword stuffing, copying content from another site, exchanging or trading links, buying links, hiding text, and using a link farm are all underhanded techniques frowned upon—and penalized—by Google.
34. What is the relationship between SEO and SEM?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. The biggest difference between the two is that SEO is free and SEM is paid. SEM includes pay-per-click advertising and display ads that are purchased. Despite the major difference between the two, they work best in unison.
35. What qualities are required in order to be effective in an SEO role, in your opinion?
This is a question requiring a subjective answer, but you might want to think through all of the different skill sets required to be good at this kind of job. An SEO professional must have good research skills, for one thing, as well as strong analytical skills. An ability to spot trends and adapt to change is also important. As you think through the answer to this SEO interview question, consider your own strengths as an SEO professional. Could you weave those into this answer?
The SEO interview questions listed above are aimed towards professionals with about a year’s worth of experience. They’re likely transitioning into SEO as part of establishing a digital marketing career and perhaps have only a certification and not a reputed track record. For those with more experience, read on for advanced SEO interview questions.
SEO Interview Questions for Analysts
If you’re applying for an SEO analyst or specialist position, you should review the more advanced SEO interview questions below, because you probably won’t be asked about the beginner level SEO topics covered above.
1. What training do you have as an SEO analyst or specialist?
This is a question only you can answer, but be prepared to answer it in a way that emphasizes your experience and any advanced SEO training you’ve done.
2. What kind of analytics do you perform and what do you look for?
Because of the job you’re applying for, you might be asked several of these types of SEO analyst interview questions. Be ready. Talk about the tools you use for analytics, what you look for, and how you use those metrics to measure results and plan to make changes.
3. Which SEO analytics don’t get enough attention, in your opinion?
As per the question above, you’ll answer this based on your own experience. It might be that there are features of Google Analytics that many people don’t know how to use, or that people get caught up in the details and forget to look at the big picture, or perhaps they neglect to align analytics to the SEO strategy. Answer the question as you see fit, but do be prepared to answer it.
4. What is keyword stemming and why does it matter?
Keyword stemming is adding on to the stem of a word. For example, if the word interview was your stem, variations could be interviewing, interviewer, interviews. Using keyword stemming helps you to use more relevant keywords on a webpage without keyword stuffing or ending up with content that reads poorly.
5. What is the most important thing to look for when doing keyword research?
This is a subjective question! People new to SEO tend to focus on popular keywords without considering the competitiveness of that keyword, so that’s something you could mention. Search volume and relevancy are other factors you might discuss.
6. What is a canonical issue?
Canonical issues are most frequent when a webpage/website has many URLs that contain the same or comparable information. A lack of correct redirects frequently causes them, but they can also be created by ecommerce search criteria and syndicating or distributing material on several sites. For example, http://www.exampleURL.com and http://exampleURL.com.
7. How have you dealt with link penalties?
We hope you haven’t had any link penalties slapped on you by Google due to your SEO efforts, and you might want to make that clear to your interviewer! Then address the steps you’ve taken to find bad links, and either fix them if you can or to disavow those you can’t.
8. Which Webmaster tool do you use and why?
Google Webmaster Tools is a set of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools provided by Google to help you manage your site's visibility in Google Search results. They are now grouped and kept within Google Search Console, and they give you all the information you need to boost your search ranking.
Google Webmaster tool is a robust tool that allows website owners to track how their sites interact with Google.
9. What is Google’s preferred method of configuring a mobile site?
Google likes responsive web design when it comes to mobile websites.
10. What are rich snippets?
Rich snippets are the featured text that appears at the top of the organic search results, in a box, and sometimes with an image. Webmasters can use structured data to mark up content so that search engines can easily identify the type of content and deliver it as a rich snippet. Rich snippets are not part of SEO, but if used, they can deliver better results on the SERPs.
11. Why do you need to know about backlinks to competitors’ websites?
A competitor backlink analysis aids in the development of a digital strategy for your page and enables you to: Assess your industry's competitiveness. You can assess how well your rivals perform and develop parameters for what you're doing to compete with them by studying competition websites.
12. What is a link audit and why should you do one?
A link audit is basically an audit of the links that point to your website, the backlinks. SEO experts to link audits prior to doing a link building campaign, but also to make sure external links are of the quality you want to help with SEO.
13. Which are the major Google updates that have impacted SEO?
Panda and Penguin were the two most significant Google updates, although the search giant is constantly making changes to its search algorithm. Panda was introduced in 2011 and targeted poor quality content. The Penguin update was released in 2012 and targeted spammy link building techniques. Both are regularly updated by Google.
14. How has Hummingbird changed the landscape of search?
Released in 2013, Hummingbird has helped to make search contextual, moving us away from the strict adherence to keywords toward understanding a searcher’s intent.
15. What are accelerated mobile pages (AMP)?
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source initiative that aims to boost the performance of mobile web pages. Twitter and Google were the driving forces behind the initiative. The technology underpinning AMP allows for lighter, faster-loading websites for smartphone and tablet users.
16. How do you stay up-to-date on the near-constant search algorithm changes?
You’ll want to answer this question based on the sources that you rely on for up-to-date SEO and Google news.
17. How will you measure success as an SEO analyst or specialist at our organization?
As with the answer above, this will be subjective, but be prepared to answer it by showing you understand SEO’s role in the bigger picture. Talk about aligning with business objectives, achieving goals, and driving results, not just “winning more searches.”
Those are some suggested SEO interview questions for professionals with around 3 years of experience under their belt or an SEO analyst. If management is the direction you’re headed in, you will want to keep reading for the SEO interview questions and answers for experienced managers and executives.
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Technical SEO Interview Questions for Executives
If you’re interviewing for an SEO executive or manager position, you can expect to field questions about any of the topics addressed above, as well as questions about your management experience. As an SEO executive or manager, you’ll be expected to know SEO basics as well as technical SEO and other aspects of digital marketing, such as website optimization, content marketing, search engine marketing, strategy, and analytics. You will probably manage a team of copywriters and web developers in order to implement and achieve SEO goals for your organization.
1. What are some common SEO mistakes you’ve seen in other organizations?
If you’re an experienced SEO executive or manager, this should be an easy question for you to answer! You can talk about the obvious mistakes such as using the wrong keywords (which is possible in so many ways), not keeping up with changes made by Google, not optimizing for mobile, ignoring analytics, and so on, but mention others that are particular to your experience too.
2. What is RankBrain and why does it matter?
As with so many things Google, no one can say exactly what it is. RankBrain is part of Google’s search algorithm. It’s an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system used to process billions of web pages to help determine which results are the most relevant, in particular, queries that are new and not necessarily related to specific keywords (to really dumb down the explanation). There isn’t a way to optimize websites for RankBrain other than to continue to focus on quality content because RankBrain is less about keywords.
3. What is PageRank and why does it matter?
PageRank is about credibility and it is used to help rank your pages. Credibility is determined in part by the age of the page, the amount and quality of the content, and the number of inbound links.
4. How do you use content marketing for SEO?
Content marketing is crucial to effective SEO because Google wants quality content, it gives you content to optimize for SEO, and it creates content other websites will link to (when done right). Content marketing is often done via a blog, but content can be created in many other forms as well, such as video, podcasts, infographics, ebooks, and so on.
5. How do you use social media marketing for SEO?
The degree to which social media influences search rankings is not known, but social media still matters. For example, it can help you get backlinks when you share website content via social media platforms, and it builds your brand, which makes your website more likely to get the clicks on the search results page.
6. How do you see SEO and PPC working together to improve results?
This is another SEO interview question you’ll answer based on your experience, but some specifics you might mention include how PPC can be used to drive traffic while waiting for pages optimized for SEO to start ranking. Also, we no longer have keyword research tools just for SEO, so we have to use PPC tools. PPC can be used to try out a keyword before committing to using it for SEO.
7. What is your approach to developing an SEO strategy?
Again, you’ll answer this question based on your own experiences and knowledge. Factors you might mention include knowing the short- and long-term goals, knowing the competitive landscape, understanding the audience, etc. But how you as an SEO expert go about developing the strategy will probably be unique to your experience.
8. How do you evaluate web analytics to measure SEO performance?
As part of your answer, you will want to talk about how you use Google’s web analytics to look at direct navigation, referral traffic, numbers of visits, conversions, time on page, etc. and how you interpret all of that data to measure the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.
9. What’s your greatest digital marketing success story?
Obviously, this is an advanced SEO interview question we can’t help you with, but you have to anticipate and be ready to answer the question, preferably with some hard data to add credibility to your story.
10. What is your experience with managing a marketing or SEO team?
Again, this is an advanced SEO interview question we can’t help you with, but you are interviewing for an SEO executive or manager job, so you will need to talk about your experience as a manager
11. Explain Google’s projected plan for indexes in 2018.
Google had a mobile-first index starting in 2018. The mobile-first index implies that when indexing pages and selecting how to rank content in search engine results, Google will prefer mobile-friendly websites.
12. What is Hummingbird?
Unlike the earlier Panda and Penguin improvements issued as add-ons to Google's existing algorithm, Hummingbird has indeed been described as a total redesign. What makes the Hummingbird unique is its ability to read intent in new and improved ways.
13. Why do internal links matter?
Internal links are links within your website linking to another page within your website. Internal links help all of the content on your website to get crawled and ranked.
14. What is Domain Authority?
A website's domain authority (also known as thought leadership) reflects its importance in a particular subject area or market. Domain Authority is a Moz-developed search engine ranking score. This relevance directly influences its ranking by search engines, which use automated analytic algorithms to determine domain authority.
15. How do you stay current with Google’s changes as well as industry changes?
To answer this question, you’ll want to talk about those blogs or newsletters you follow, probably including the well-known SEO websites such as Moz and SearchEngineLand, but also including any others, you find beneficial.
16. How do you see SEO changing in the near future?
This answer is more subjective and no one will fault you if it turns out your predictions were wrong, but giving a well thought out answer shows you pay attention to the industry. You can talk about the two indexes Google will start using in 2018 and how that will affect mobile SEO and the continued importance of providing a good user experience (and what that might look like). Local search is still a hot topic, as is voice search. Take a look at what the pundits are saying prior to your answering your SEO interview questions and you’ll come across as someone in the know.
Bonus Before the Interview: Do Your Own SEO to Show Your Expertise
As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Make sure you’re using SEO in your own work. That means in your LinkedIn profile in particular, but also in a professional blog should you write one, your online resume, or your website if you have one for personal branding.
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Does Your SEO Expertise Need a Boost?
Whether you’re getting ready to answer beginner or advanced SEO interview questions, you might find that your SEO skills need a tune-up or upgrade. If so, consider the Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification training offered by Simplilearn. Our Advanced SEO training is designed to offer a complete 360-degree perspective on all the concepts, tools, and techniques of Search Engine Optimization. You’ll master the process of organically driving traffic to a website by mastering core concepts such as keyword research, on-page and off-page optimization, link building, URL management, and SEO analytics. You also get the best-in-class hands-on practice of all industry-related SEO tools and applications
From the beginner to the managerial level, SEO requires a lot of in-depth knowledge. Be ready to showcase your knowledge when answering your SEO interview questions by preparing ahead of time and making sure your training is thorough and up-to-date.