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SEO is one of the most delicate areas of digital marketing. For a very simple reason: books and tutorials aren't very useful in an opaque discipline where search algorihtms are constantly changing, and where Google aren't too worried about informing people regarding these changes. Good SEOs shouldn't only be constantly learning about new trends in the world of search, they should also have enough common sense in order to understand Google's way of thinking, so as to be able to distinguish fake theories from genuine SEO truths.
Here are 5 tips we're suggesting you to follow in order to find the best possible SEO candidate for your company.
1. SEO micro-rules often change, macro-rules don't change as much
A good way to understand whether you're speaking with someone who really understands about SEO, is to ask them which are the factors that have the greatest impact when positionning a website in SERPs. A candidate who tells you that nowadays the only thing that really matters is content (because they read somewehere that "Content is King"), and that the era of link building belongs to history, probably isn't the best choice to lead your company to success over search engines. Even more so considering that there's a clear connection between content and link building, for the simple reason that relevant content attracts inbound links, which means content is one of the cleverest and most subtle ways to generate link-building for your website.
While the impact of SEO tricks such as tuning your pages' meta tags may change over time, Some basic SEO concept such as link building and content are there to stay... make sure your candidate understands this!
2. SEO is very technical, look for tech-savvy profiles
While it's clear that nowadays PR plays an important role in generating links to your website through press releases, let's not forget that there's a lot of technology involved in order to optimize your website for Search Engines. A good SEO should have solid HTML knowledge in order to check your website's meta tags, find out whether your website can be easily accessed through mobile phones and be aware of the latest SEO monitoring technologies. The ideal candidate's academic background should be a mixture of social sciences (marketing, sociology, economics) and exact sciences (computer science, web development).
3. SEO isn't about positioning keywords, it's about selling products and services
Beware of candidates who talk about positioning your website for certain keywords. Positioning a website is pretty much useless if the keywords for which your site is appearing in SERPs don't turn into sales. A good candidate will be able to explain to you how to spot keywords that are likely to sell your products and services through keyword tools such as SemRush or Google Adwords keyword planner, and how to articulate your strategy around those high-potential keywords.
4. Look for candidates who have an SEO portfolio
The only way make sure your candidate has demonstrated SEO experience is to enquire about a portfolio. A good candidate should mention his SEO portfolio in his CV, however if that isn't the case, ask your candidate whether they may point out some website they've succesfully positioned in SERPs for relevant keywords. A candidate who's managed to position a website for competitive keywords will be delighted to give you precise information such as the website URL, the keywords it's been optimized for, etc.
5. Look for candidates who read a lot about SEO
It's opaque nature means SEO requires to be constantly reading news in order to stay atop of new trends and algorithm changes. A typical example of essential SEO reads would be specialized articles who analyze results of the latest SEO Reverse Engineering studies, where SEO gurus try tweeking their website by making small changes and then checking how each and every change is affecting their web page's SERPs positioning. The best SEO experts have their own blogs and websites over which they conduct these trial and error experiments that allow them to figure out Google's latest changes in their Search Engine's algorithm. While you might not necessarily be looking for that kind of guru expertise for your company, a good start would be to look for someone who at least can name a few specialized SEO blogs and websites such as Search Engine Watch and Seach Engine Land.