The whole SEO field is somewhat obscured by a kind of industry mystery, where no one but those directly involved really know what it is all about, and sometimes even those involved seem to be a bit clueless. So, where does this leave you, looking to employ an SEO professional?

It is difficult filtering out the charlatans from the true SEO professionals, especially when you’re not too clear on the details of SEO yourself, but worry not, you needn’t be an SEO pro to hire one.

The following questions might intimidate the SEO uninitiated, and you might not quite grasp some of the jargon but don’t let that worry you, the purpose of the questions is not to see if the SEO’s answers are the right ones, (there are very few ‘right’ answers in SEO), but rather to see if the SEO knows his stuff.

Does the SEO stall for time, does he stutter and stammer, is he unsure of himself, do you get the impression he has no idea what you’re talking about when you spring some of these questions on him?

If the answer to any of the above is “yes”, you might want to reconsider employing him.

SEO Quiz

Have fun when asking these questions, and don’t be afraid to ask a professional the tough ones. If he really is a professional, he’ll appreciate the opportunity to ‘show off’ his knowledge, if not, you really don’t want him handling your SEO campaign or your website anyway.

# How do you determine what keywords I should use?
# Can you provide me a keyword count of what is searched monthly?
# What are your rules for the title browser?
# Do you have a strategy regarding how many characters should be in the title browser?
# Do you have a strategy taking into account keyword density?
# What is your strategy for the description tag?
# Do you have a strategy for how many characters should or should not be used in the description tag?
# Do you have a strategy for the density of relevance for each target keyword, a percentage?
# What is your belief regarding keywords in the meta tag? Are they valuable? If not, why? If so who recognises them?
# Do you have any rules for on-page keywords?
# Is there any value in the syntax variations?
# How does Google treat plural versus singular forms of the same keyword?
# What is page rank and is it important?
# How valuable are backward links?
# In its algorithms, how does Google treat nouns versus pronouns?
# How does Google measure a sites age? URL date? Launch date? Last page updated?
# How do you plan and organise your strategy, considering none of the search engines inform the world as to the nature of their algorithms?
# Can you explain, briefly, the page rank algorithms?
# What SEO tools do you regularly use?
# Rate, from 1 – 10, what you feel are the most important on-page elements.
# How do you evaluate whether or not an SEO campaign is working?
# What area’s are the most important in ranking organically?
# Finally – Can you show me the results you are getting for your clients?

Be hard on your candidate, don’t let him get away with easy or indirect answers. When looking into results he’s achieved in the past, don’t consider results for a company’s brand name (as is is not too difficult to rank well for the name of a brand) but rather the results garnered for a company’s website for keywords relating to the service that company provides.

Above all, remember that there is no quick-fix, no magic solution to your SEO needs. Any SEO claiming to offer this is lying. A good SEO will make no promises, offer no sure-fire guarantees.

For the sake of propriety I have chosen not to include the answers to any of these questions within this document. Real potential clients wishing to know the answers can contact me via email or direct phone call.