Agency SEO Executive: What To Expect

Where your product, service or organisation ranks on a search engine is extremely important to the success of the venture. As mentioned in the In-House Positions overview, it's all well and good having a lovely shop front but not if it's on a street no-one goes down. Therefore, hiring digital marketers for your SEO department is an important step and one that will, if the right person is recruited, prove very beneficial for your company.

In this section, Daniel Nolan, Managing Director at theEword, provides an insight into how to hire the right SEO executive for your digital agency. theEword is an SEO and PPC marketing agency that has seen substantial growth in recent times growing from a team of three to employing more than 30 members of staff and a turnover of £2.4million.

Hiring an SEO Executive for your digital marketing agency?

When recruiting for any role, I think it is important to look beyond a candidate's skill set and focus more on how well they would fit in at our agency. As long as their CV contains relevant experience and expertise - and they are able to provide working examples of how they've used their skills throughout their career to date - I like to spend time getting to understand whether or not they will be able to work with us on a cultural level.

Lots of applicants for marketing roles will be able to tick certain boxes; they will have knowledge of tools such as Google Analytics or they will have run campaigns on certain advertising platforms. But if you recruit on the basis of box-ticking alone, you risk hiring someone who won't gel with your approach, ideology or your existing system. And that's a bad thing for the candidate and the employer.

Typically, our people are friendly, hardworking, honest and with a good sense of humour. So at interviews, we work out whether candidates also share these qualities. You can't ask someone "are you hardworking?" because invariably people will answer "yes" (who would say otherwise at a job interview?), rendering the exercise pointless - but by asking certain questions and leading the conversation in certain ways, you can pick up clues to a candidate's qualities. You should do the same for values that are important to your business; work out lines of questioning that will reveal a candidate's potential to fit in with your team.

We also like to assess a candidate's desire to stand up and be counted. Some people prefer to blend into a big operation at larger agencies, but at theEword we look for people who want to stand out, take on key responsibilities and undergo accelerated progression. In recruitment literature, we always say we are looking for people to become an important part of our team - and it's not just an empty sentiment. With a staff of 30, split into departments of 5-6 teammates, our people never feel lost in the crowd, and the opportunities to make a big impact are plentiful. Again, you have to probe a little deeper and get to know someone a little better to understand if they want that sort of challenge.

As well as skills and culture fit, recruiting for SEO and PPC means you also have to take into account a candidate's methodology, understanding how they believe the disciplines should be managed and how they have worked in their career to date. If someone has a wildly differing view to the rest of your team and agency on the future of SEO and how campaigns should be conducted, it's no good finding this out once they've already started. Again, incompatible ideologies are bad news for you and the candidate. Fortunately, best practice within search marketing is quite widely disseminated, with a good level of consensus among top up-to-date operators, but you still don't want to risk getting into any arguments about canonical tags on the first morning!

The Candidate

Overall, Daniel makes it clear that the personality and character of the candidate are key, understanding their methodologies and how they'd fit in (if at all) to your business is absolutely essential to learn during the recruitment process instead of finding out something doesn't quite work after you've hired the candidate.