Hiring an SEO manager for your organisation can be a frustrating experience. Not only are they very hard to find, but they are also difficult to interview unless you yourself have some experience of the industry.
An experienced SEO manager will come at a high price, but this is much more likely to be a worthwhile investment to your organisation than hiring someone with a relatively basic knowledge, for less. The following are four traits to consider when making your next SEO hire.
Let’s consider a recent fad, content marketing. It's existed under various forms and names since the first website was built. How does being an experienced SEOer help with a content strategy? An experienced SEO manager will have a vast knowledge of previous content ideas and the strategies used to distribute them. They know what has and hasn’t work previously and they might have a great idea in their back pocket that a different client has rejected.
Breath of digital marketing experience is vital for a top performing SEO manager, but that's not just limited to the technical or content-side. In order for an SEO project to drive maximum value it needs buy in from the whole business.
SEO specialists require help from the PR team’s contacts, the content team producing keyword rich content and the social team distributing that content. Getting all of these teams to pull together for the greater good of search success is hard and requires an experienced hand in navigating company politics.
The hardest skill for an SEO manager to learn is developing a deep technical knowledge. Google considers hundreds of different technical factors when deciding on how to rank a website. This can be as simple as changing a robots.txt file to as complicated as redesigning a whole site structure.
Having a web development background can help, however the most important factor in the process, and one that I will keep referring to, is experience; when the SEO manager overcomes a technical problem, it is invariably stored away within their knowledge bank for future reference.
Industry knowledge takes time to build. The longer an SEO manager has been in the industry, the more tactics and techniques they will have seen. While I would never advocate plagiarism, a wise man once told me that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - SEO experts will take a great deal of inspiration from what has happened in the past, and also what is currently successful in other markets.
Lastly and most importantly are communication skills. An experienced SEO manager will know how to build monthly, quarterly and yearly reports that speak to all levels and skillsets within the business. It’s important that reports can speak to and be understood by people with very little web or technical knowledge. The true value of SEO needs to be presented in order to get the buy-in for new project and budgets from c-suite level executives.
In conclusion, I would recommend always trying to hire the most experienced SEO manager possible. They will have real life practice that they can bring into your brand to actively improve your results. While it will cost you more money, nine times out of 10 they will provide greater value.