Great SEO Starts With The
Right People

by on 30th January 2015

Hiring the right people is hard. Hiring the right people who have years of experience in this industry is extremely hard.

With that said, I don’t think experience is always necessary to good hiring, or building a great company.

You’ve had a lot of success in your own search marketing efforts, but when it comes to growing your own SEO team, do you have an expert’s toolkit?

You might be a consultant undergoing a period of expansion or an in-house SEO Manager trying to make the case for a few more good staff. Either way, get a hire wrong and it’s expensive. It’s pretty miserable too.

I’ve known for a long time: “You’re only as good as the people around you” and honestly, you can’t build a great company if you’re not getting this right.

SEO is attitude and aptitude not always experience

That statement might not be completely true if you’re looking out for a big hitting SEO Manager to drive your strategy forward, but it definitely applies when you’re recruiting your “front line” SEO team.

Content marketers, researchers, technical analysts, digital PR people and content developers can all be trained provided that you’re prepared to put in the time to sort out their all important skills and knowledge. Provided you’re happy to start from a reasonably basic level to get your new team up to speed, what characteristics are you looking out for?

How can you make finding the right people a more productive experience? This is a process I’ve followed for years, and one we’ve repeated as we’ve worked with recruitment agencies or had a larger than usual intake.

The group interview

One of the most time consuming problems with team selection is the primary interview stage. Each candidate gets an hour of your time, and you could need to speak to as many as 8 to 10 people to find 2 or 3 great people. How do you feel about freeing up 25% of your available working week? Consider running a group interview to free up your diary.

While you’re designing your group interview, set group tasks appropriately to identify the character profiles and team interactivity you need. Setting group tasks and presentations in this environment can really help your best potential people shine, in a way a one to one interview rarely does.

Filter those CV’s

What are you looking out for? Work through all of your CV’s and find the top 8. In your hunt, you don’t always need to see a direct background in SEO. Instead, look out for exposure to the digital environment, an analytical / statistical maths qualification, a strong sporting or musical qualification background or anything that screams commitment, competitiveness, perseverance and intelligence.

You’re looking for those special people that tell a great story about themselves.

You could find skills that can lead to your next great team member, say, in a writer with a blog who casually mentions they’ve built their WordPress layout and coded their own CSS during the interview.


After you’ve run your group interviews, continue to the usual second stage full interviews knowing that you’ve already got a list of candidates with the right qualities and skills needed to learn SEO.

Following the simple rule of attitude and aptitude over experience can really streamline your selection process and will always end with a brighter, keener SEO team.

If you’re willing to hire the right people who need training and development, my only other advice: hire early. Training takes time.

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