SEO Job Interview: Ten Tips For Corporate SEO

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Over the past year I’ve interviewed for a half dozen SEO jobs at substantial companies where they’ve decided to stop out-sourcing and bring the SEO position in-house.

While I have not yet decided to take any of those jobs, I have noticed some things that may prove enlightening to anyone considering making the move to corporate SEO.

1) If contacted by a headhunter or recruiter attempting to “Qualify” you for the SEO position interview, be patient and realize that you’ll often be explaining SEO to them as they may only have a passing understanding of SEO beyond the job description provided to them. The may have a short list of our industry buzzwords in front of them.

2) If the company interviewer or human resources director doesn’t understand SEO and has that same list of SEO buzzwords in front of them – be patient as well. The reason they are hiring an SEO is because they need your expertise. Just realize it will be about personalities at that point and not about your qualifications. Discuss your SEO successes, point to client web sites and searches to show current positions for that client’s keyword phrases.

3) If the company you’ll be working for has a home page that is a flash movie which starts playing music immediately, includes the word “Enter” or has a 30 segment image slice, politely decline the interview. You’ll never convince them that text is what gets them good search engine ranking. (Art, music, video, television or radio related sites rarely include transcripts of programs, song lyrics or text reviews and text is rare for the visual, audio and video creatives.)

4) If a “site:company.com” query returns 12 pages on the SERPS, and they all include the same lame catch-phrase without keywords, make sure your job description includes “Content Development.” PS: “Content Development” better be in every SEO job description.

5) If a site:company.com query returns 120,000 pages on the SERPS, and they all include the same lame catch-phrase without keywords, make sure your job decsription includes “Keyword Research.” PS: “Keyword Research.” better be in every SEO job description.

6) If the job description puts the SEO position in the Marketing Department, smile and apply. Marketing is where SEO belongs. Textual content as a sales tool is welcome and extensive use of real words as content is encouraged. The position title may be something odd that fits the company org charts like, “Director of Product Mgmt, Search.”

7) If the job description puts the position in the IT department, look out! They’ll expect an automated and programmatic solution to SEO. Automated keyword extraction tools, which take keywords from body text and insert them into Title Tags, may be in your future. You’ll inevitably spend your time debugging scripts so they don’t insert stop words into those tags, rather than actually writing effective tags or training content management staff to do so.

8) If you are asked if you have experience with one particular content management platform, run – unless you are certain their CMS platform allows for manual editing of Title tags, metadata, and embedded links in body text – and that system allows for CSS attributes that can be altered to support SEO concerns. Few companies will abandon legacy CMS systems because you tell them it won’t work for SEO or that it will require complex workarounds to hack the proprietary in-house CMS database.

9) If asked, “Do you have experience with SEO in the field of “_____ (fill in the blank)” turn and leave the building, because they don’t understand that experience with SEO is the same in every business except for differing industry buzzwords. If, on the other hand, you have a passion for the topic of the company web site, celebrate because you are going to love your job even more.

10) If the company asks if you have experience with any one particular reporting system for web site statistics and log file analytics, answer “Yes” because they all serve the same purpose, provide the same data, and export the same Excel or CSV reports. The only difference is the login username and passwords and internal navigation.

Hundreds of substantial companies are hiring in-house SEO and PPC managers to do their search engine optimization as the position continues to prove its value to corporate search rankings. I’m continuing to interview companies until I find the right corporate SEO position for me. If you get that SEO job and any of my observations here helped you in the interview, how about a link to my site from your corporate home page? 😉


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Mike Banks Valentine operates SEOptimism, Offering SEO training of
in-house content managers http://seoptimism.com/SEO_Staff_Training.htm
as well as the Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial at
http://WebSite101.com and blogs about SEO at http://RealitySEO.com
where this article appears with live links to SMO stories, buttons, blog posts and examples.

SEO Job Interview: Ten Tips For Corporate SEO
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  • http://www.bulgariasfinest.com James

    That’s amusing, you go for an seo job and the people conducting the interview, know very little about the subject, strange and funny.

  • http://www.the-little-things-in-life.co.uk Peter

    Apart from keyword difficulty and the cost, what is the difference between corporate seo and none corporate seo, in regards to keywords are targetable by anyone.

  • http://www.business-sale.com Randy

    How very true, gread read and funny

  • corporate seo

    Why does one look for a corporate seo gig?  Usually cos they’ve had experiences in smaller organisations and feel they need to challenge themselves a little more – maybe I’m missing the point here but if an employer is ‘challenging’ doesn’t mean you walk away.  Very few organisations are SEO savvy, half the challenge is convincing them that SEO does work. 

    SEO is not an easy fix or an easy role to play in any organisation.  In particular a large corporate.  If you’re walking away because things look too difficult, you probably don’t intend to take on a corporate seo role.

  • http://www.pdfpal.org Thomas Schriek

    Job Fair are good places to meet many company representatives from corporations of all industries and sizes during a short period of time. Every job fair has a set of similar, basic elements or processes that require your attention. Check this at pdfpal.org for more information.

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