Recruit A SEO Manager; How To Hire Your Next SEO Manager

This part of our Digital Marketing Recruitment Guide looks at SEO Managers and how to go about hiring agency SEO Managers for your business. Our contributor discusses the type of questions to ask during the interview process and how to filter through the candidates to find a passionate and capable SEO manager for your digital agency.

In this section, Scott Pittman, Digital Marketing Manager at UP Search, identifies what qualities to look for in a candidate when beginning the recruitment process, listing particular character traits and experiences that will make it clear for your business to decide on which candidate to take on board. Christian worked within the digital marketing sector before taking up his role at UP Search as Managing Director.

SEO Managers run your Teams, they understand the industry and manage your digital marketing activities...

There appears to be a current state of high demand for talented senior employees as both businesses and agencies scramble to find the right person who can really drive theirs and/or their clients' businesses forward.

While it seems that there isn't a real shortage of candidates looking to fill these roles, the common costly and time-wasting problem that many businesses are faced with is that the talent and ability of SEO managers vary tremendously.

To further add to this, due to the technicality of the role and the ever-changing SEO landscape, seeing through the CV fluff and spotting those who only "talk the talk" can often be a challenge. But for those who know what to look for and can recognise the signs that point to a rare and talented SEO manager, the rewards are endless as this individual can lead the team, stay ahead of industry changes and trends, maintain good client relationships and ensure yours or your clients businesses stay at the forefront of your niche and continue to grow.

What Do You Look For When Hiring A SEO Manager?


I'd say the key, most important factor when hiring an SEO manager must first be their passion for the game!

If you find a candidate that is truly passionate about digital marketing then you can usually expect them to be very autonomous and take it upon themselves to constantly stay on top of and head of what is happening in the industry. This will include things like search engine updates, new techniques and skills, industry events, continuous training and development and more.

A passionate SEO manager will usually also really care about getting results in all areas of yours and your clients business. They will actively seek out solutions to problems and ways to continuously push forwards and develop both the business and also the team they are responsible for.

Passion is infectious so get a passionate and charismatic SEO manager with good communication and people skills and you will usually find that all or most of their team follow suit.

Look for:

  • Continual personal development: Attending events, courses, training - anything relevant that improves their knowledge and skills.
  • Owns and operates their own website or blog: This usually indicates that they never really "switch off" from the industry and generally enjoy what they do.
  • Active social media accounts (if you can see them): If they are tweeting and posting about industry topics then this indicates passion.
  • Ask them to tell their story about how they ended up in the industry and question anything that strikes a chord with you that you would like them to expand upon. The passion will usually shine through if it's there.


If you are looking to hire a great SEO manager, then passion is not good enough if the candidate struggles to communicate with people on all levels.

An SEO manager needs to be able to effectively communicate with everyone from senior management and CEOs to external agencies, to clients and their employees, to web developers as well as their own team.

Strong will, patience, an open mind and to a degree sales skills will all be required. Often the SEO manager will be required to relay important information or explain certain situations, as well as pitching strategies to clients and senior management who may push back and require extensive debate to agree on a strategy.

Look For:

  • Ask about and probe their reporting practices and how often they would keep different parties updated.
  • Ask about any difficult situations where they have experienced significant pushback or objectionable questioning from clients and senior management and how they handled it, and then the outcome.
  • Ask about how they manage or would manage their team. Try to get them to be specific and to identify specific situations and the outcomes.
  • Ask about how they handle the different parties that they will have to deal with.
  • Ask about and look for any relationships that they have built up over their career. If there have any high profile influences then this is a good sing.
  • Strong-willed but with an open and optimistic mind.

Experienced & Technical Knowledge

Some SEO managers may have the experience as a manager but not actually have a great deal of SEO or digital marketing knowledge, regardless of what they might tell you.

A good SEO manager needs to lead the team and is central to problem-solving and strategy development. Without a high degree of technical and marketing know-how, they might struggle to achieve what is required for the role.

Look For:

  • Experience in all areas of digital marketing with proven successes throughout and the ability to thoroughly explain to you why the success was achieved and what solutions or strategies were employed or problems overcome.
  • Up to date knowledge of all areas digital such as SEO (onsite and offsite), PPC, social media and any other channels and how everything fits into the overall marketing campaign.
  • Endorsements or recommendations from any high profile, influential or trusted people in the industry.
  • Any regular blogging, social or forum participation where they talk in depth about technical and/or marketing topics and are well received by the audience.

If you are on the hunt for your next SEO manager then by digging deep into the 3 core areas above, you will weed out the super talented from the mediocre and eventually find the right individual that will really make a difference to your business.

One last tip... 

...To attract more candidates is that with digital marketing being a lot more integrated today, using the term "SEO Manager" might alienate many high calibre candidates. Consider using a broader job title such as "Digital Marketing Manager" or "Search Marketing Manager" and you might attract a few rarer, talented individuals that would previously have been missed.



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