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SEO

What Are Some Technical SEO Questions to Ask During a SEO Strategist Interview?

When it comes to hiring a SEO strategist, it is essential to ensure that they have a strong understanding of technical SEO. Technical SEO is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy, encompassing various elements that directly impact a website’s visibility and performance in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Understanding Technical SEO

Before diving into the questions to ask during a SEO strategist interview, it’s crucial to comprehend the significance of technical SEO within an overall SEO strategy.

Think of technical SEO as the infrastructure of a website. Just like a well-designed building needs a sturdy foundation, a website requires a solid technical framework to support its on-page and off-page optimization efforts.

Technical SEO focuses on improving the technical aspects of a website to make it more search engine-friendly. It involves optimizing website architecture, structure, code, and backend functionalities. By addressing technical SEO issues, a website can enhance its crawlability, indexability, and overall user experience, leading to better SERP rankings.

But what exactly makes technical SEO so important in an SEO strategy? Let’s explore some key reasons:

  1. Improved crawlability: Ensuring that search engine bots can efficiently crawl and index a website is essential for its visibility in SERPs. When a website is properly optimized for crawlability, search engines can easily discover and understand its content, leading to better rankings.
  2. Enhanced indexability: Technical SEO helps eliminate indexing obstacles and ensures that all relevant pages get indexed by search engines. By optimizing the website’s structure, implementing proper redirects, and managing duplicate content, a website can improve its indexability and increase its chances of appearing in search results.
  3. Optimized website speed and performance: A well-optimized website loads faster, providing a better user experience and reducing bounce rates. Technical SEO involves optimizing various elements such as image sizes, caching, server response time, and code efficiency to improve website speed and performance.
  4. Mobile optimization: With the increasing number of mobile users, optimizing a website for mobile devices is crucial for SEO success. Technical SEO includes techniques like responsive design, mobile-friendly layouts, and mobile-specific optimizations to ensure that a website is accessible and user-friendly on different devices.
  5. Structured data implementation: Leveraging schema markup and structured data helps search engines understand the content and context of a website. By providing additional information about the website’s content, such as product details, reviews, and events, structured data can enhance search engine visibility and attract more targeted traffic.
  6. URL structure and redirects: Proper URL structuring and implementing redirects can improve user experience and maintain search engine rankings. Technical SEO involves creating user-friendly URLs, optimizing URL parameters, and managing redirects to ensure that users and search engines can easily navigate a website.

Now that we understand the importance of technical SEO in an SEO strategy, let’s delve into the key elements that make up technical SEO:

  • Website architecture: The way a website is structured determines how information is organized and presented to users and search engines. A well-designed website architecture ensures logical navigation, proper categorization of content, and easy accessibility for both users and search engine bots.
  • Crawlability and indexability: Ensuring that search engine bots can easily crawl and index a website’s pages is crucial for its visibility. Technical SEO involves techniques like XML sitemaps, robots.txt optimization, canonical tags, and managing crawl budget to improve crawlability and indexability.
  • On-page optimization techniques: Optimizing individual web pages by focusing on meta tags, headings, keyword placement, and content relevancy. Technical SEO includes optimizing HTML structure, improving meta information, and ensuring proper usage of header tags to enhance on-page optimization.
  • Mobile optimization and responsive design: With the proliferation of mobile devices, optimizing a website for mobile users is vital. Technical SEO involves implementing responsive design, optimizing mobile layouts, and ensuring mobile-friendly user experiences to cater to the growing mobile audience.
  • Site speed and performance optimization: Having a fast-loading website improves user experience and search engine rankings. Technical SEO includes optimizing various elements like image compression, minification of CSS and JavaScript files, browser caching, and server response time to boost website speed and performance.
  • URL structure and redirects: Properly structured URLs and redirects ensure that users and search engines can easily navigate a website. Technical SEO involves creating descriptive and user-friendly URLs, implementing redirects for outdated or moved content, and managing URL parameters to improve usability and search engine visibility.
  • Schema markup and structured data: Implementing structured data helps search engines understand the content and context of a website. Technical SEO includes leveraging schema markup to provide additional information about the website’s content, such as product details, ratings, reviews, and events, which can enhance search engine visibility and attract more targeted traffic.
  • XML sitemaps and robots.txt: XML sitemaps provide search engines with a roadmap of a website’s structure, while robots.txt controls bot crawling behavior. Technical SEO involves creating and optimizing XML sitemaps to ensure that search engines can easily discover and index all relevant pages. Additionally, optimizing the robots.txt file helps control which parts of a website are accessible to search engine bots.

Preparing for the SEO Strategist Interview

Now that we’ve established the importance of technical SEO, it’s time to discuss how to prepare for a SEO strategist interview. This preparation plays a vital role in ensuring that you hire a competent and knowledgeable SEO professional.

Researching the Company and its SEO Strategy

Prior to the interview, make sure to research the company and its existing SEO strategy. This will help you understand their specific needs and challenges, allowing you to tailor your questions accordingly.

Consider the following when researching the company:

  • Current SEO performance and rankings
  • Target audience and industry competition
  • Existing content and on-page optimization efforts
  • Historical SEO challenges and successes

By delving into the company’s current SEO performance and rankings, you can gain insights into their online visibility and how well they are competing in their industry. Understanding the target audience and industry competition will help you identify potential areas for improvement and growth. Additionally, analyzing the existing content and on-page optimization efforts will give you an idea of the company’s content strategy and how well it aligns with SEO best practices. Lastly, exploring the historical SEO challenges and successes will provide valuable context for understanding the company’s SEO journey and the potential opportunities and obstacles they have faced.

Familiarizing Yourself with Technical SEO Concepts

As an interviewer, it’s crucial to have a strong grasp of technical SEO concepts to assess the candidate’s knowledge effectively. Familiarize yourself with the following technical SEO concepts:

  • Website architecture and site structure
  • Crawlability and indexability factors
  • On-page optimization techniques and best practices
  • Mobile optimization and responsive web design
  • Site speed and performance optimization
  • URL structure, redirects, and canonicalization
  • Schema markup and structured data implementation
  • XML sitemaps and robots.txt guidelines

Understanding website architecture and site structure is essential for evaluating how well a website is organized and how search engines can crawl and index its pages effectively. Crawlability and indexability factors, such as robots.txt directives and meta tags, play a crucial role in determining which pages search engines can access and include in their index. On-page optimization techniques and best practices, including keyword research, meta tags, and content optimization, are fundamental for improving a website’s visibility in search engine results. Mobile optimization and responsive web design are increasingly important in today’s mobile-first world, as search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites. Site speed and performance optimization are critical for providing a positive user experience and improving search engine rankings. Understanding URL structure, redirects, and canonicalization helps ensure that a website’s URLs are clean, user-friendly, and properly handled when changes are made. Schema markup and structured data implementation enhance search engine understanding of a website’s content, leading to rich snippets and improved visibility in search results. Lastly, XML sitemaps and robots.txt guidelines are essential for guiding search engine crawlers and controlling which pages should be indexed.

Technical SEO Questions to Ask During the Interview

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to ask the right questions to assess a candidate’s technical SEO knowledge. Here are some questions to consider:

Assessing Knowledge of Website Architecture and Structure

Website architecture and structure play crucial roles in enhancing a website’s SEO performance. Ask questions to gauge the candidate’s understanding of:

  • How website architecture impacts SEO
  • The importance of a logical site structure
  • Best practices for organizing content and navigation
  • How to optimize a website for user experience and search engines

Website architecture is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. It involves organizing a website’s pages and content in a way that is logical and easy for both users and search engines to navigate. A well-structured website makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index the site, leading to better visibility in search results. It also improves user experience by making it simple for visitors to find the information they need.

When assessing a candidate’s knowledge of website architecture, consider asking them about the impact of URL structure on SEO. A candidate who understands the importance of descriptive URLs and proper keyword placement in URLs demonstrates a strong grasp of on-page optimization techniques.

Additionally, inquire about the candidate’s familiarity with site hierarchy and how they would approach organizing content on a website. A candidate who understands the importance of categorizing content into relevant sections and creating a clear navigation structure shows an understanding of the importance of a logical site structure.

Finally, ask the candidate about their approach to optimizing a website for both user experience and search engines. A candidate who prioritizes creating a seamless user experience while also implementing SEO best practices demonstrates a well-rounded understanding of website architecture and structure.

Inquiring About Crawlability and Indexability

Crawlability and indexability directly affect how search engines discover and index a website. Assess the candidate’s knowledge in:

  • The factors that influence crawlability and indexability
  • How to identify and resolve crawl errors
  • Ways to optimize robots.txt and XML sitemaps
  • Strategies for managing duplicate content issues

Search engines use crawlers to navigate and index websites. Crawlability refers to how easily a search engine can access and explore a website, while indexability refers to how well a website’s pages are included in a search engine’s index.

When evaluating a candidate’s knowledge of crawlability and indexability, consider asking them about the factors that can impact a website’s crawlability. This may include discussing the importance of having a clean and crawlable site structure, avoiding excessive use of JavaScript or Flash, and ensuring that important pages are not blocked by robots.txt directives.

Additionally, ask the candidate about their approach to identifying and resolving crawl errors. A candidate who is familiar with tools like Google Search Console and knows how to interpret crawl error reports demonstrates a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy crawlability and indexability profile for a website.

Furthermore, inquire about the candidate’s understanding of optimizing robots.txt and XML sitemaps. A candidate who knows how to properly configure robots.txt to control search engine crawling behavior and how to generate and submit XML sitemaps to help search engines discover and index important pages shows a strong grasp of technical SEO.

Lastly, discuss the candidate’s strategies for managing duplicate content issues. Duplicate content can negatively impact a website’s search engine rankings, so it’s important to assess the candidate’s knowledge of canonicalization techniques, such as using canonical tags or 301 redirects, to consolidate duplicate content and ensure that search engines understand the preferred version of a page.

Evaluating Understanding of On-Page Optimization Techniques

On-page optimization is vital for targeting keywords and making web pages more search engine-friendly. Assess the candidate’s expertise in:

  • Optimizing meta tags, headings, and content
  • Keyword research and implementation
  • Creating SEO-friendly URLs
  • Using internal linking to improve page authority

On-page optimization involves optimizing various elements on a web page to improve its visibility in search engine results. This includes optimizing meta tags, headings, and content to include relevant keywords and provide clear and concise information to search engines and users.

When evaluating a candidate’s understanding of on-page optimization techniques, consider asking them about their approach to keyword research and implementation. A candidate who demonstrates knowledge of keyword research tools, understands the importance of targeting relevant keywords, and knows how to strategically place keywords in meta tags, headings, and content shows a strong understanding of on-page optimization.

In addition, discuss the candidate’s approach to creating SEO-friendly URLs. A candidate who understands the importance of descriptive and user-friendly URLs, as well as the impact of URL structure on SEO, demonstrates attention to detail and a commitment to optimizing all aspects of a web page.

Lastly, inquire about the candidate’s knowledge of internal linking and its role in improving page authority. Internal linking involves linking relevant pages within a website to distribute authority and help search engines understand the hierarchy and relationships between different pages. A candidate who understands the importance of internal linking and knows how to strategically implement it to improve page authority shows a strong understanding of on-page optimization techniques.

Asking About Mobile Optimization and Responsive Design

In the mobile-first era, optimizing websites for mobile users is imperative. Evaluate the candidate’s knowledge in:

  • Mobile optimization best practices
  • The importance of responsive web design
  • Mobile user experience and page speed optimization

With the increasing use of mobile devices for browsing the internet, it’s crucial for websites to be optimized for mobile users. Mobile optimization involves ensuring that a website is accessible and user-friendly on mobile devices, with fast loading times and responsive design.

When assessing a candidate’s knowledge of mobile optimization, consider asking them about mobile optimization best practices. This may include discussing the importance of responsive design, which allows a website to adapt to different screen sizes and provide a seamless user experience across devices.

In addition, inquire about the candidate’s understanding of mobile user experience and page speed optimization. A candidate who is familiar with techniques such as compressing images, minimizing CSS and JavaScript files, and leveraging browser caching to improve page load speed on mobile devices demonstrates a strong understanding of mobile optimization.

Discussing Knowledge of Site Speed and Performance Optimization

Website speed and performance significantly impact user experience and search engine rankings. Assess the candidate’s understanding of:

  • The factors affecting website speed
  • Tools to measure and analyze website performance
  • Optimization techniques for improving page load speed

Website speed and performance are crucial for providing a positive user experience and improving search engine rankings. Slow-loading websites can lead to high bounce rates and lower conversion rates, negatively impacting both user satisfaction and SEO.

When evaluating a candidate’s knowledge of site speed and performance optimization, consider asking them about the factors that can affect website speed. This may include discussing the impact of large image files, excessive use of JavaScript or CSS, and server response times on website performance.

In addition, inquire about the candidate’s familiarity with tools used to measure and analyze website performance, such as Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. A candidate who knows how to use these tools to identify performance issues and optimize website speed demonstrates a proactive approach to site speed optimization.

Furthermore, discuss the candidate’s knowledge of optimization techniques for improving page load speed. This may include discussing the importance of minifying CSS and JavaScript files, leveraging browser caching, and optimizing image files to reduce file size without sacrificing quality.

Exploring Understanding of URL Structure and Redirects

Proper URL structure and redirects contribute to user-friendly navigation and search engine indexing. Assess the candidate’s knowledge in:

  • Basic URL structure best practices
  • 301 and 302 redirects and their appropriate use cases
  • Canonicalization for avoiding duplicate content issues

URL structure plays a crucial role in both user experience and search engine indexing. A well-structured URL can provide users and search engines with valuable information about the content of a web page.

When evaluating a candidate’s understanding of URL structure, consider asking them about basic URL structure best practices. This may include discussing the importance of using descriptive and concise URLs, avoiding excessive use of parameters, and using hyphens to separate words in URLs.

In addition, inquire about the candidate’s knowledge of redirects and their appropriate use cases. Redirects are used to redirect users and search engines from one URL to another. A candidate who understands the difference between 301 redirects (permanent redirects) and 302 redirects (temporary redirects) and knows when to use each type demonstrates a strong understanding of URL structure and redirects.

Lastly, discuss the candidate’s understanding of canonicalization and its role in avoiding duplicate content issues. Canonicalization involves specifying the preferred version of a web page to search engines to avoid indexing duplicate or similar content under different URLs. A candidate who understands how to implement canonical tags and handle duplicate content issues demonstrates a strong understanding of URL structure and its impact on SEO.

Inquiring About Schema Markup and Structured Data

Schema markup and structured data provide search engines with additional context about a website’s content. Assess the candidate’s proficiency in:

  • Understanding the concept of structured data
  • Implementing schema markup for enhancing search visibility
  • Applying structured data for rich snippets and knowledge graph integration

Schema markup is a form of structured data that helps search engines understand the content and context of a web page. It provides additional information about entities such as products, events, recipes, and more.

When evaluating a candidate’s understanding of schema markup and structured data, consider asking them about the concept of structured data and its importance in SEO. A candidate who can explain the benefits of implementing structured data, such as enhanced search visibility and the potential for rich snippets in search results, demonstrates a strong understanding of schema markup.

In addition, inquire about the candidate’s experience with implementing schema markup. This may include discussing the use of JSON-LD or microdata formats, as well as the process of identifying and applying appropriate schema types for different types of content.

Furthermore, discuss the candidate’s knowledge of applying structured data for rich snippets and knowledge graph integration. Rich snippets are additional information displayed in search results, such as star ratings, reviews, or event dates. Knowledge graph integration involves providing structured data to help search engines populate knowledge graph panels with relevant information about a business or entity.

Assessing Knowledge of XML Sitemaps and Robots.txt

XML sitemaps and robots.txt files play crucial roles in guiding search engine bots and controlling crawling behavior. Evaluate the candidate’s understanding of:

  • The importance of XML sitemaps in SEO
  • How to generate and submit XML sitemaps
  • Best practices for managing a robots.txt file
  • How to handle URL exclusions and directives

XML sitemaps and robots.txt files are essential tools for communicating with search engines and guiding their crawling behavior on a website.

When assessing a candidate’s knowledge of XML sitemaps, ask them about the importance of XML sitemaps in SEO. A candidate who understands that XML sitemaps help search engines discover and index important pages on a website, as well as the benefits of submitting XML sitemaps through Google Search Console or other search engine webmaster tools, demonstrates a strong understanding of XML sitemaps.

In addition, discuss the candidate’s knowledge of generating and submitting XML sitemaps. This may include discussing the use of automated tools or plugins to generate XML sitemaps, as well as the process of submitting XML sitemaps to search engines for indexing.

Furthermore, inquire about the candidate’s understanding of best practices for managing a robots.txt file. A robots.txt file is used to control search engine crawling behavior by specifying which pages or sections of a website should be excluded from indexing. A candidate who understands how to properly configure a robots.txt file, including handling URL exclusions and directives, shows a strong understanding of robots.txt management.

Lastly, discuss the candidate’s knowledge of handling URL exclusions and directives. This may include discussing the use of “disallow” directives to exclude specific URLs or sections of a website from being crawled and indexed by search engines.

By asking these technical SEO questions, you can evaluate a candidate’s proficiency in various aspects of technical SEO. Remember to consider their answers holistically, as technical SEO knowledge should align with the company’s specific needs and goals.

Choosing an SEO strategist who thoroughly understands technical SEO is crucial for shaping a successful SEO strategy and achieving long-term growth in organic search traffic. So, make sure to select the right candidate who can lay a solid foundation for your website’s SEO efforts.