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A comprehensive guide to hiring an SEO specialist

Recruitment | 6 Min Read

A comprehensive guide to hiring an SEO specialist


With the internet becoming an integral part of everyone’s lifestyle, online presence has become vital for businesses. Digital presence not only helps businesses in sustaining their relationship with current customers, but it also helps them reach a wider pool of prospective customers. Therefore, for organizations wanting stable, long-term growth, their potential and current customers should be able to find them online easily.




This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. When implemented correctly, SEO can help companies rise through search engine rankings, landing on the first page of search engine results.


What is SEO?

SEO is a set of practices to improve a website’s search engine visibility. With the goal of getting more organic traffic, SEO works on the appearance, positioning and usefulness of content. The content includes web pages, videos, images, local listings, and other multimedia assets. Organic search is the primary route users navigate to discover content online. Implementing SEO is vital to ensure that content published online can be found and viewed by the public, increasing the website’s organic traffic.


What makes SEO important?

Sistrix, in its research on Google’s click-through rate (CTR), analyzed over 80 million keywords and found that 28.5% of users click the number one organic search result. The click rates drop steadily after this, and by the second page, the click rates hover around 1%. Similarly, research by SEOinc. found organic traffic is constantly growing and has reached 53% in 2023.


Why hire an SEO expert?

Certain SEO aspects need in-depth knowledge of the principles; hence, it is best to hire an SEO specialist, as it will help businesses drive organic growth and build an online reputation.

SEO experts help organizations adjust their keyword and content strategy depending on the need of the business, be it a launch of a new product or entering a new market.


Roles and responsibilities of an SEO specialist

Keyword research:

Keyword research is a critical aspect of content strategy that aims to optimize the website for words, phrases, or questions that a business's targeted customers use to find the products online.

Website audit:

Website audit includes checking individual webpages, the content, metadata, and site performance to analyze the website from an SEO perspective and provide recommendations for improving it.

Competitor research:

Another critical duty of an SEO expert is competitor research. Here, the experts research competitor websites, their SEO strategies, keywords being used and rankings, to help their organization rank higher than their competitors.

Content optimization:

A crucial part of SEO strategy is content optimization. An SEO expert works with content writers and copywriters to curate targeted keyword-based content that has a higher propensity to be searched online by users.

Technical SEO:

Optimizing the website's architecture to make it easier for search engines to index is known as technical SEO. It includes securing the website with SSL, making it mobile-friendly, optimizing page load speeds, and ensuring that folder structures are easy for search engines to crawl.


What to look for when hiring an SEO expert?



SEO experts carry out numerous functions, acting as the lynchpin of the digital marketing process. Here are a few characteristics hiring managers should look for when hiring an SEO expert:


1. Understanding of SEO practices


The candidate should have an in-depth understanding of search best practices. This means understanding different SEO practices to be used for on-page, off-page and technical optimization of the website. Furthermore, they must keep themselves updated on the latest SEO guidelines.


2. Knowledge of consumer behavior


Implementing SEO practices is all about understanding consumer behavior in the digital space. For example, a traditional approach that may work offline may not work with the targeted audience online. Similarly, a copy-and-paste SEO approach for each product or campaign may not work as consumers use different keywords to search online.

An SEO specialist uses their knowledge of consumer behavior to find the best approach to increase traffic and improve click-through rates and response.


3. Good communication skills


Implementing SEO best practices and other marketing tasks requires communication with different teams and employees. A good example is discussing a content strategy to be implemented in a particular quarter. Hence, the SEO specialist must be able to articulate their ideas clearly and concisely.


4. Adaptability


The SEO space changes rapidly, and a strategy that may work now might not draw traffic a few months later. Hence, the SEO expert must keep themselves updated on industry trends and be ready to adapt and overcome any challenges that may come up unexpectedly.


Steps to hire an SEO specialist



1. Assess organizational SEO needs

The first step for hiring an SEO expert is to assess the SEO needs of the business. Common SEO goals include:

  • Improving website traffic
  • Growing organic search leads
  • Increasing keyword rankings
  • Creating more backlinks
  • Improving conversion rate

It is best to predetermine the organizational goals with regard to SEO. This helps businesses hire an SEO expert with the necessary skills to deliver meaningful results. It also enables recruitment managers to draft a good SEO expert job description, clearly mentioning the competencies sought for in the right candidate.


2. Shortlist candidates


After inviting applications for an SEO expert, recruiters must screen applicants and shortlist candidates whose experiences and qualifications align closely with the organizational SEO goals. Recruiting managers can also ask candidates for case studies or samples of their work. HR could also ask for references and talk to their clients and understand if the strategies implemented by the candidate have met their goals.


3. Interview candidates


Once SEO applicants are screened, organizations should interview them and gauge their SEO knowledge and other soft skills, such as communication skills.

Some insightful SEO expert interview questions include:

  • How do you do keyword research?
  • What are some common steps that can be taken to optimize a website?
  • What are backlinks? How will you ensure backlinks will bring more traffic to the organization’s site?
  • What tools do you use to track and manage your campaigns?
  • Can you give examples of recent Google algorithm changes and their implications?

While not exhaustive, these questions will show how well-versed the candidates are with SEO best practices and whether they keep themselves updated with the latest trends.


4. Roll out an offer letter


The last step is assessing the candidates interviewed, selecting one or more candidates – depending on the business’s need – and rolling out an offer letter. Before offering the job, HR should ensure that the selected candidates are clear on what is expected from them on the job and the metrics and timeline that will define how successful they are in the role.


How Mercer | Mettl can help

With the help of Mercer | Mettl, recruiters can hire SEO specialists that align with their business needs. Mercer | Mettl offers a comprehensive suite of pre-employment talent assessments of several kinds. These assessments help HR assess candidates’ specific role-based knowledge, technical competence, personality traits, and behavioral tendencies. When used, these assessments help expedite the hiring process.

While hiring an SEO specialist, organizations can rely on the Mercer | Mettl SEO Test. The assessment evaluates candidates’ skills in performing website optimization, developing concrete SEO strategies, conducting on-page, keyword searches, and competitive analysis.

Furthermore, the recruiters can also use the following tests to get better insights into candidates’ skills:



An SEO specialist can help an organization boost its online traffic and improve the quality of leads. While the results may take time to show, the organization will continue to reap the benefits of SEO for a long time. So, businesses should hire an SEO expert with a proven track record of success who clearly understands the organization’s needs and is in tune with the latest SEO trends.





Is SEO in high demand?

How does an organization hire an SEO expert?

How much does it cost to hire an SEO specialist?

What skills do you need for SEO?

Originally published August 14 2023, Updated August 14 2023

Written by

Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.

About This Topic

The accelerated pace at which businesses are rushing toward digitization has primarily established that digital skills are an enabler. It has also established the ever-changing nature of digital skills, and created a need for continuous digital upskilling and reskilling to protect the workforce from becoming obsolete.

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