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Recruiting the right talent for your team is tricky no matter what industry you're in, but people working in search marketing face some very particular challenges.

There aren't a lot of experienced and talented people to go around. Equally, experience doesn’t always correlate with talent.

There are a lot of excellent search marketers with only a few years experience and others who’ve done the years but don’t have the skills. 

Lots of people are responding to this by taking on trainees, this can work a treat but does eat into one of your most precious resources – your senior team's time.

So if you decided to recruit someone with more experience what do you ask them?

Well in most case culture and attitude will be hugely important but I wanted to to share with you five questions you could use to test their technical suitability.

You could ask these face-to-face or perhaps as an exercise. I hope you find them useful.

It’s also worth noting that potential candidate could Google these questions and find the suggested responses. I’d actually see that as pretty ingenious and be pleased!

Question One 

Over the last few years Google has been more proactive at enforcing the content rules from its webmaster guidelines. This has resulted in many sites being hit with penalties which impair their ability to rank for search terms.

You are working at an independent search marketing consultancy and begin working with a client who believes they have been penalised. How would you diagnose the problem and what corrective action might you reasonably expect to take? (33 marks)

1-10: Acknowledges types of search marketing activity that may cause penalisation.

11-20: Understands the principles of penalty recovery and the actions required.

21-30: Realises the differences between manual and algorithmic action and all previous levels of understanding.

31-33: Displays a pragmatic and creative understanding of future risk aware strategies.

Question Two

Given enough budget it’s always possible to buy more paid search traffic, the challenge is whether this can be delivered profitably.

You are working for a major hotel chain as a PPC manager and you’ve been asked to explore expanding your campaign to target American customers looking to book hotels in the UK.

What would you need to know to forecast whether this campaign would be profitable? (33 marks)

1-10: Understands the basic forecasting data - e.g. demand, average order value & cost per click.

11-20: Understands the above and the variance in cost per click, demand and average order between different product types and keywords.

21-30: Realises the above plus acknowledges that profit and margin are more important than just revenue.

31-33: Displays an understanding of all of the above and customer lifetime value’s impact on the way you judge the value of a sale.

Question Three

You work brand-side for a high street fashion retailer. You’ve been given the responsibility for producing content to drive both social and SEO objectives.

You have been given a total content budget of £75,000. How would you decide how to spend this money? Also draw up a provisional allocation of resources. (33 marks)

1-10: Understands the need for content to deliver SEO and social media success.

11-20: Attempts to allocate resource based upon an understanding of what content will be tactically successful.

21-30: Achieves all of the above while tying the success into commercial objectives.

31-33: Explains all of the above and proposes a possible framework for measurement of success.

Question Four

You work at a large multichannel marketing agency delivering online as well as offline marketing services. You’ve been asked to participate in a new business pitch to represent the disciplines of paid and natural search.

The pitch asks for examples of innovative and new approaches to both paid and natural search that have been implemented across campaigns.

Detail a number of campaigns you’ve seen that you were impressed by that included interesting, original and new approaches to both PPC and SEO. (33 marks)

1-10: Details a number of campaigns that were successful but not that original or new or only covers SEO or PPC, but not both.

11-20: Outlines a number of campaigns using original and new approaches in both PPC and SEO.

21-30: Explains all of the above while understanding specific project constraints and their impact on delivering results.

31-33: Understands all of the above and that we can only really assess the quality of the campaign by understanding its commercial objectives and performance against them. 

Question Five 

You’re working in-house at a travel company that is fourth place for market share in your sector. 

What strategic approach would you take in paid search to increase market share. (33 marks)

1-10: Details a number of tactical elements of a paid search campaign.

11-20: Outlines a more strategic approach to paid search.

21-30: Does all of the above but with a clear understanding of gaining market share and how they would interact with their competitors.

31-33: Understands all of the above and includes some of the more advanced paid search tactics like re-marketing, ad-extensions etc.

Kelvin Newman

Published 24 July, 2014 by Kelvin Newman

Kelvin Newman is SiteVisibility's Creative Director and is the editor of the UK's most listened to Marketing Podcast. He also spends his time at conferences, tweeting too much and working on top secret research and development projects. He's also on Google+

21 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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himanshusharma

Good information. like your blog so much. now i come to know that what type of questions ask in interview. Thank you for sharing these information.

almost 2 years ago

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Collin Davis

Thats a good set of questions - One of the other questions I would add is to ask marketing candidates any campaigns that they carried that really stood out or any campaigns that really caught an eye and which they were able to learn from.

Those too could give you insights into how passionate or how creative the candidate is in his/her line of work.

almost 2 years ago

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Paul Hussey, Director at Paul Smith

It would be nice to see how you would answer these questions in detail.

Agency's and Site Visibility have great theory but often lack in practical implementation.

almost 2 years ago

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Lavina Advani, Marketing Manager at Argus Media Limited

Hi Kelvin, good set of questions but would be good to see a follow up with a more detailed post on answers to these questions.

over 1 year ago

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