16 Oct

Finding Good SEOs who Walk-the-Walk

Giving both clients and potential clients a keen insight into what makes our business successful builds trust and understanding.

Businesses are only as good as their personnel and if you have been around the SEO industry for a few years, you will already know that Mother Nature did not create all Search Engine Optimization Professionals equal.

How do you find good SEO?

Recently, Search Engine Marketing People is recruiting. Unlike many business owners, I like recruiting.  I like to know what is going on in the market and, in particular, what is happening behind closed doors.


Recruitment is a great way to gain market intelligence. I was also excited to hear what young SEOs would have to say for themselves.


In the past, my interviewing technique might have been a little intimidating.  One of my old colleagues in personnel took to calling me ‘’Dr. House’’ – ouch!  In my defense, I need to mitigate, I want to know what makes candidates’ tick.


To make it easier on interviewees, I chose two topical subjects to discuss:


  • Google’s Hummingbird update


  • Structured Information/Data


I read much conjecture about Google’s Hummingbird update.  Personally, I have never been one for guessing games.  When it comes to business, I like hard facts.


Since the start of 2013 there has been a buzz about ‘’Structured Information’’ and more so since Google’s Hummingbird update.  Later in this article, I intend to introduce my Technical Partner, Michael Gracia, to provide some insights on Structured Information/Data.


I was dumbfounded that only one of our first batches of candidates knew something about Structured Data / Microdata.


Larry Page, Google’s co-founder said, “The perfect search engine would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want”.


In earlier articles, I advised new Search Marketers to keep a diary (bookmark) of their Search Queries, first clicks and pages that held their attention.  Search Marketers that get

Search Marketers that get first-click and hold my attention long enough to deliver their messages are winners.  I like winners.


I still keep a list of Search Queries and when thinking about Search Marketing, I group my first clicks and those pages that inspire me for later analysis.

I am always looking for commonality to inform/improve our own Search Marketing Strategy.


Moreover, I like to examine code to see if Structured Data is used and in what format.


If you understand Search Engines, Search Queries and Search User evolution, you can pretty much forecast or have an opinion on where Search Engines may be going – you would expect Search Professionals to know a bit about their industry’s history – would you not?


If you are new to Search Marketing, I suggest you start your journey here –  Google’s  Inside Search and our own introduction to SEO Study Guide written by me three or four years ago for the former owners of Search Engine Marketing People.


When looking for good SEOs, my goal is to find  “techies” who think outside the box. Today, Search Marketing requires both sound technical knowledge and creative thinking.

I want to find good SEOs who walk-the-walk rather than talk-the-talk.

During our first interviews, I am dismayed to find that many Search Professionals are reactive rather than proactive types. Most interviewees I found preached a robotic technical service.  The best candidate was a 20-year-old ex-hacker who my partner would not take on principle.  I liked him.


I was looking for two new additional Search-Marketing professionals, fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish.


My partner handled the CV analysis and work histories.


I sought personnel with a mature outlook, who think rather than parrot ideas and have their own considered opinions on Search Marketing.


I was pleased by the excellence of candidates in our second batch of interviewees, which is  a relief. I do not use tele-commuters.  Not yet anyway.  I want a solid core team.

If you are not in Montevideo or could be, please note we are not looking to recruit.

What sort of questions did I ask when looking for good SEO?

My first question, ‘’tell me what you know about Search Users and how Search Engines have evolved to meet their needs’’.


My second question, ‘’put your headscarf on and look into your crystal ball, tell me where Search is going and what recent updates tell you about how Engines may evolve?’’


My third question asked candidates to explain Structured Information or Structured Data in non-technical language and tell me how important they considered Google’s advice on providing data for ‘’information rich snippets’’.


Many of my first interviewees went blank at this stage.


I asked my interviewees to think about Google, what applications had their development teams recently withdrawn, updated or launched, and what inference, if anything, they gleaned about where Google may be heading.


My first task for interviewees, ‘’take a pen and map out for me on the whiteboard how you would develop a 360-degree search and content marketing campaign for….I gave various client information and sectors and captured their work on my phone for later consideration.


The second task is one that sorted out the men from the boys (sadly we had no ladies apply).  I gave a brief and asked candidates to create headline and copy (200 words) in three languages within 30-minutes for a client meeting (my team) and be ready to present their ideas.


I do not have time for first and second interviews and so I interviewed/overlapped two candidates each day. I told them it would be a long one and gave them a good lunch.  Seeing if potential new team members would fit and contribute is equally important to me.


My team tested interviewees without mercy, at this point, I imagined my old mealy-mouthed personnel lady in tights and socks, all pensive and worried looks –  Search Engine Marketing People want street-fighters able to deliver a ‘’Search Marketing Knock-out Punch’’.


I do not want buzzword-junkies who cotton on, learn parrot fashion and present everyone else’s ideas.  In our first round of interviewing, we found only one candidate confident, with a considered opinion on Search Marketing and able to defend his views with vigour.


Going back to Google for a moment – Google envisions a ‘’brave-Google-world’’ (an unhealthy dominance) delivering the most relevant Search Results across all data sources. There is little doubt that Google wants to control the Search Market – in your home, at work and when you are mobile.

There is little doubt that Google wants to control the Search Market – in your home, at work and when you are mobile.


Google’s own words, ‘’in pursuing this goal, we maintain a maniacal focus on the end-user experience’’.


Clearly, someone dropped the word  ”profit” from the above quote.


Most of our interviewees did not share our vision of creating 360 degrees Search Engine Marketing Strategies and seemed focused on feeding the Google addiction – that bothered me.


The most ”opposing reactions” came from candidates who thought my views on building back-links old-hat and even black-hat!

You have to stay true to your views on SEO and not be swayed by ”market pump”.

SEO is not dead and one day, just like those nasty, tired old directories, social media may be bad for the SEO.  It all goes horribly wrong when the black hats manipulate search results and search engines put a foot down.

I have often though Google + is not long for this world, I service pages but focus on where the traffic comes from, again, my view was shot down by candidates and I liked that.


At Search Engine Marketing People, we acknowledge Google’s dominant position in Search, we respond positively and 100% in line with Google’s recommendations, but our advice and indeed our mantra is, repeat after me, ‘’counter Google dependence’’.


We recently invited two Good SEOs  – Fede (a Cambridge Graduate from Madrid) and Luka (a Croat via Portugal and Brazil who finished his studies in Buenos Aires) –  to join Search Engine Marketing People.


They do not think I am anything like Dr. House.


Our recent interviews seemed to uncover a knowledge gap and so I asked my technical partner to write about Structured Information/Data.


Structured Information in a nutshell 

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