SEO Questions (Collection From Seodmb) | Search Engine Optimization | Search Engine Indexing

Hi Friends I have collected some Interview questions from my previous experiences hope you will enjoy it.

Few Tips from my side to crack an interview are: 1. Be attentive 2. Dress well 3. Keep a little smile on your face 4. Be confident 5. Remember interview is not arranged to interrogate you but it is simple share of ideas and to test your real work experience

SEO Questions
Technical / Tactics - Questions about Technical and Tactics related to SEO field
1. Describe briefly your general SEO experience. (This can usually bring a lot of ³BS´ talk and distract from the issue at hand) 2. Can you write HTML code by hand? (I don¶t see a need for this question. Coding by hand is no longer necessary) 3. Could you briefly explain the PageRank algorithm? (I don¶t even think Matt Cutts could do this without Guy Kawasaki saying ³Bullshit!´ to Matt as he did at PubCon in Vegas. 4. Have you created any SEO tools either from scratch or pieced together from others? (Is this an SEO interview or a programming interview? I don¶t know many SEOs who are also programmers). 5. What your opinion of PageRank? 6. Do you recommend the use of XML sitemaps and why? (This is a solid question and should get their opinions on a lot of issues) 7. What are your thoughts on the direction of Web 2.0 technologies with regards to SEO? 8. What SEO tools do you use on a weekly basis? 9. Under what circumstances would you look to exclude pages from search engines using robots.txt vs meta robots tag? 10. What areas do you think are currently the most important in organically ranking a site? 11. Do you have experience in copywriting and can you provide some writing samples? (Personally, I would rather have these two jobs separate. I don¶t believe a copywriter can be a good SEO and visa versa. 12. Have you ever had something you¶ve written reach the front-page of Digg? Sphinn? Or be Stumbled? (Does this really matter? You can hit all three with enough Spam, it isn¶t that hard). 13. Explain to me which META tags matter in today¶s world. (Is this referring to ³today¶s world´ or to the ³search engine algorithms´ because most meta tags do matter, they just aren¶t indexed or counted in the algo)

14. Explain various steps that you would take to optimize a website? (A better option would be to show them a page, tell them the keyword and state, ³You have exactly 12 minutes to optimize this page.´ And then see how they do. Asking them to verbally state what to do is poor in my view. There are too many unknown factors. Get them to perform to see what they would do.) 15. If the company whose site you¶ve been working for has decided to move all of its content to a new domain, what steps would you take? (Poor question as the chances of this happening are not common). 16. Rate from 1 to 10, tell me the most important ³on page´ elements. (I don¶t think most top SEOs could answer this question, or really care about it. If you analyze any industry and the keywords that drive the industry, you will see that different elements count stronger than others in Google) 17. Review the code of past clients/company websites where SEO was performed. (This could be good to do, but also can be time consuming. Also, what proof is there that the person sitting across from you, or corresponding with you is the person which did the work?) 18. What do you think about link buying? (Great question) 19. What is Latent Semantic Analysis (LSI Indexing)? (and a good follow-up is what is their opinion of it). 20. What is Phrase Based Indexing and Retrieval and what roles does it play? (I¶m not sure if this is a good interview question since this has more to do with detecting of Spam than it does in placement). 21. What is the difference between SEO and SEM? (If the candidate doesn¶t know this, there isn¶t a reason to continue). 22. What kind of strategies do you normally implement for backlinks? (A better option would be ask for the domain of a site they have reached a PR5 for and do a backlink analysis with a program such as SEO Elite. 23. What role does social media play in an SEO strategy? (I don¶t see a need to ask this in an interview) 24. What things wouldn¶t you do to increase rankings because the risk of penalty is too high? (I am assuming Black Hat tactics are sought after here). 25. What¶s the difference bewtween PageRank and ToolBar PageRank? (I love this question. If you get ³Aren¶t they the same?´ end the interview immediately). 26. Why might you want to use nofollow on an internal link? (This should also get their opinion on the actual use of the tag itself) 27. Could you differentiate between HTML and XML Sitemaps? Why still we use HTMLS Sitemaps and Why we use XML Sitemaps?

Analysis ± Questions on your Analytical Skills
1. Which web analytics are you most familiar with? (Every SEO must be familiar with web analytics) 2. From an analytics perspective, what is different between a user from organic search results vs. a type-in user? (I am unsure of the real reason behind this question.

3. How do you distinguish the results of your search optimization work from a seasonal change in traffic patterns? (I¶d toss this one out too) 4. How do you evaluate whether an SEO campaign is working? (Hopefully the answer here is ³conversions´ and not traffic) 5. What does competitive analysis mean to you and what techniques do you use? (make sure this answer stays brief or it could be very distracting) 6. If you¶ve done 6 months of SEO for a site and yet there haven¶t been any improvements, how would you go about diagnosing the problem? (I hate this question. If it takes you 6 months to figure out there hasn¶t been any improvements, you¶re doing it wrong. You should be able to see changes within three weeks of implementation. Six months is a joke in my book) 7. How many target keywords should a site have? (This is a poor question as well as it depends upon the industry and the goals of the company). 8. How do *you* help a customer decide how to their budget between organic SEO and pay-per-click SEM? (This is a poor question as well. You use PPC to understand which keywords convert and you concentrate on the keywords which are revenue producers on both the organic and PPC side) 9. You hear a rumor that Google is weighting the HTML LAYER tag very heavily in ranking the relevance of its results - how does this affect your work? (Hopefully the candidate discusses testing the rumor on a test domain before implementation on the target domain) 10. Why does Google rank Wikipedia for so many topics? )Great question which should produce insightful answers) 11. Have you tried Google Website Optimizer

Industry Involvement ± How much you are involved in industry?
1. If salary and location were not an issue, who would you work for? (Do you really want to know the answer to this? 2. Have you attended any search related conferences? (Follow-up should be pros and cons) 3. Google search on this candidates name, (if you cannot find them, that¶s a red flag). 4. Do you currently do SEO on your own sites? Do you operate any blogs? Do you currently do any freelance work and do you plan on continuing it? (This is vital as any SEO who is good always has side projects) 5. Of the well-known SEOs, who are you not likely to pay attention to? (I love this one) 6. What are some challenges facing the SEO industry? (I don¶t like questions like this as it becomes more of ³speculation conversation´ which isn¶t very productive)

7. What industry sites, blogs, and forums do you regularly read? (This is a great question and they better rattle off less than a dozen, or they spend too much time reading and not enough time working) 8. Who are the two key people - who started Google? (Does this really matter?) 9. Who is Matt Cutts? (Same. Does it really matter? Honestly, if someone had no idea who Matt Cutts was, could they still be a great SEO? I say ³Yes´) 10. If you were bidding on a contract, what competitor would you most worry about? (I don¶t see a need for this one either) 11. How much time you spent in social participation related to seo updates?

Open-Ended Questions
These questions are more about how an answer is given rather than the actual answer. They often scare interviewees, but with no wrong answer they¶re actually a good opportunity to shine. 1. Tell me your biggest failure in an SEO project (good question - watch them ³shift´ in their seat) 2. What areas of SEO do you most enjoy? (look for direct and to the point responses) 3. In what areas of SEO are you strongest? (test these areas heavily to make sure they are really strong in those areas) 4. In what areas of SEO are you weakest? (make sure they actually admit to a weakness. Those who state ³I¶m too organized´ or ³I have too much attention to detail´ are red flags. Everyone has weaknesses.) 5. How do you handle a client who does not implement your SEO recommendations? (This should produce some ³passionate´ answers. If they respond, ³I¶m okay with it, it¶s their site, it is their choice´ is a warning. You want someone who responds, ³If they don¶t implement the changes, why are they clients?´ is a better answer.) 6. Can you get ³xyz´ company listed for the keyword ³Google´ in the first page? (I can only assume this is a trick question to see if the candidate understands the role of authoritativeness in the algorithm.) 7. What do you think is different about working for an SEO agency vs. doing SEO in-house? (This is another ³philosophical´ discussion that I would rather not have with a candidate.) 8. Why are you moving from your current position and/or leaving any current projects? (Ah, a great question. Listen close to the reasons, and any ³bitching´ which results, and if it does, just keep quiet and let them talk.) Personally, I prefer to do a brief phone interview, and then to an in-person interview (if location permits) and I do the following: 1) .htaccess knowledge. Do they know how to do the non-www page protection? (If they don¶t know how, I still continue the interview. If they do, and can do it with me, they score major points). 2) I have them show me a site which ranks well that they have done the SEO on, WHICH

THEY STILL MANAGE. I then ask that they put my name at the bottom of the home page (I require they bring their own laptop). If they can¶t do it (which means they don¶t have FTP access to the site), I end the interview right there. 3) I have them do a search for a competitive phrase, and then a pick a random number, such as #34, and we go to that page and I ask, what three things would you first implement to get this page to move from #34 into the Top 20, and what is the expected time frame. This question gives me insight on their code reading ability, how they do competitive analysis and how to break down what a page needs to get a better ranking. Good luck finding the right people for your business.

SEO Interview Questions
What areas do you think are currently the most important in organically ranking a site? Obviously a subjective answer, but domain trust, inbound links/anchor text, and properly formatted title tags are a good start. What kind of strategies do you normally implement for backlinks? What do you think about link buying, link bait, and other specific backlink strategies? There are too many correct answers for this one, so let¶s go with the wrong answer: ³Reciprocal link requests´ What is the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything? 42 of course. If your candidate doesn¶t know this please shoot him with the Point-of-view gun. What is page segmentation? (ever heard of VIPS?) VIPS is a research paper from Microsoft that stands for Vision-based Page Segmentation which is just an offshoot of the general topic of page segmentation. It is an analysis of how a user understands web layout structures based on visual perception and is independent from the underlying code and technologies. Each section of the page is segmented into blocks and different degrees of relevance are put on each block. This explains one reason why links in content areas are more heavily weighed than sidebar and navigational links (another reason is through the use of shingling algorithms, which I¶llget into on another question). Since this is a visual topic, I¶ll give you a visual

example from the research

Paper:

What is the difference between Page Rank and Toolbar Page Rank? Internally Page Rank is constantly updated while toolbar Page Rank is updated every 2-3 months. Toolbar Page Rank is a single digit integer while the internally calculated Page Rank is more like a floating-point number. And the final answer: Who cares? What is Latent Semantic Analysis (LSI - Indexing)? The process of analyzing the relationships between terms in sets of documents. The engine looks not only at the query, but also looks for common terms in the document set. Documents that are semantically similar will carry more weight than those that are not. This is often a misunderstood concept. What is Phrase Based Indexing and Retrieval and what roles does it play? Phrase based indexing is used to classify good and bad phrases based on certain criteria inside the entire document. The number and proximity are taken into account. It also is capable of predicting the presence of other phrases on the page and will assign a higher or lower value depending on if those phrases or present or not. In Google Lore - what are Hilltop, Florida, and Big Daddy? Hilltop: An old and often contested algorithm that calculates PageRank based on expert documents and topical relevancy. The theory behind it was to decrease the possibility of manipulation from buying high PR links from off topic pages. This was implemented during the Florida update, which is our next topic. Florida: The highly controversial update implemented by Google in November of 2003, much to the chagrin of many seasonal retail properties. There were several theories as to what was included in this update; Over optimization filter, competitive term filter, and the Hilltop algorithm. This update had catastrophic results on many web merchants. Big Daddy: A test data center used by Google to preview algorithm changes. This information was made public around November of 2005 by Matt Cutts and allowed marketers to preview upcoming SERP¶s. What is a shingling algorithm and how is it used? A shingling algorithm is a page segmentation method similar to VIPS, but less resource intensive and more likely to be used in search engine algorithms. These shingling algorithms look for blocks of content that do not occur frequently across a web site and look for blocks with certain desired features. When the engine stores this information, the navigational, advertisements, and other non-content areas are omitted. This increases speed, saves on storage space, and theoretically makes the results more relevant because of the increase in unique content.

Search Arbitrage: Web Blight Or Brilliant Marketing Strategy?
Few words in the online marketing world raise more diverse opinions than the single word ³arbitrage.´ Be warned before you say it in mixed company. The reactions will range from vehement cursing to shrugged shoulders to sly smiles. Everyone has an opinion; some are based on facts; others on conjecture, but the word is guaranteed to start a heated discussion.

Search arbitrage is most commonly seen in PPC advertising. A site will buy search ads and send the unsuspecting searcher to another page full of ads. The arbitrager is paid when searchers click out on yet another ad. The arbitrager pockets the difference between what they paid per click and what they get paid per click. While the concept of arbitrage is simple, the execution can be sophisticated. An arbitrager has to know what they are being paid per click, understand the clickthrough rate on any given phrase, and combine that information with what they are paying for the traffic. If any of those numbers suddenly change, it¶s possible to lose a lot of money very quickly. Few arbitragers know their revshare percentage, so they may have insight into what a click is worth, while others fly blind in this regard. Many people try arbitrage, though few are ultimately successful. Caught in the middle are advertisers. Advertisers often don´t have insight into where their ads are being shown on partner search sites of Google and Yahoo. Once you move past search sites into the content networks, the visibility becomes even murkier. Most advertisers find their ads on arbitrage sites by actually clicking on an ad and seeing one of these ad pages. it¶s the sight of their ad displayed on a page where the only content is advertising, and then the realization that their ad dollars are funding these sites that quickly lead to emotional responses. In the end, many have opinions on arbitrage that are often based more on feelings than actual figures. Before jumping to conclusions, it¶s worth looking at both sides of this seemingly ambiguous story.
In Defense Of Arbitrage

One of the advantages of arbitrage sites is that advertisers can receive traffic from ad positions they don¶t control on a search page. Usually an advertiser only controls a single ad position, and if the advertiser didn¶t attract the first click, then it becomes increasingly difficult to receive traffic from that consumer. Since an arbitrage site is displaying a page full of ads, if an advertiser appears in one of those they have a second chance to receive the click. In essence, advertisers can receive traffic from ad positions they don¶t control. Arbitragers often bid on tens or hundreds of thousands of keywords. Due to their long tail bidding, the advertiser can receive traffic for keywords they didn¶t realize were relevant. Hence, the advertisers are receiving traffic from someone else¶s work.

Some arbitragers even go to the extremes in making sure that the keywords they are buying are closely aligned with the ads they are serving, so that they deliver quality traffic to the advertiser. This is definitely not true for all arbitragers. However, there are arbitragers who want to make sure that their sites aren¶t blocked by advertisers, or thrown out of the network, both of which reduce the arbitrager¶s revenue. These are some of the advantages of employing search arbitrage. However, the general reaction from search marketers is usually quite negative.
A Blight Upon The Web

Some advertisers consider arbitrage an offense akin to spam²and not necessarily just search spam, but the vile kind that fills up your email inbox. These advertisers want arbitrage sites thrown off all advertising networks, and ultimately, would like to see them banned from the web. With such strong feelings, one needs to examine the arguments behind these statements. The first argument against arbitrage pleads for the user experience. The search experience is about finding answers. If a searcher is taken from a search result to a set of ads without any meaningful content, then they really didn¶t find any answers. The searcher now has to click on yet another ad to get to an advertiser¶s page. Following the logic of these arguments, if the page full of ads wasn¶t in the middle between the search result and the advertiser¶s page, the searcher would have found the information one click sooner and had a better experience. One way of being profitable with arbitrage is to buy inexpensive words and send them to a page of similar, yet more expensive words. Thus, the second argument against arbitrage resolves around ad relevancy. When a page shows ads for a different keyword than the one just searched, combined with the fact the advertiser is being charged for the more expensive keyword from the arbitrage page, not the cheaper keyword that occurred on the search page, there¶s a sense of being cheated. Advertisers want both control and relevancy. If the search was ³lawyer´, one can assume it¶s a fairly ambiguous query. Because this is an ambiguous query, it¶s often not an overly expensive click compared to other legal terms. So, an arbitrager will buy the keyword ³lawyer´ and send it to a page about ³personal injury lawyers,´ a click cost that is often four or more times more expensive than ³lawyer.´ Should an advertiser be charged for a ³personal injury lawyer´ click when the search was just for ³lawyer?´ Why should a company be able to buy an ad about one keyword and send traffic to ads about an entirely different keyword? The last argument against arbitrage is about the proverbial ³middleman´ taking his cut. Advertisers don¶t wish to pay someone who is not adding value to the search chain. They feel these arbitragers are stealing money from their search budgets. These advertisers often have ethical reasons for not wanting to see arbitrage proliferate no matter what the actual ROI may be. They often have other arguments regarding relevancy and search

experience; however, no type of positive performance will ever matter. They feel they are being cheated, and they don¶t want to put money in a thief¶s wallet.
In Search Of ROI

The last group of advertisers just doesn¶t care about arbitrage other than it¶s yet another potential source for traffic. These advertisers measure each site or network individually, and bid based upon actual numbers. Feelings don¶t matter. Opinions don¶t matter. The only piece of information that matters to these marketers is reaching their advertising goals. If an arbitrage site is converting well, one may consider advertising exclusively on that site. This can be done with Google¶s site targeting or a direct deal with the site in question.
If an arbitrage site is not converting well, then the advertiser will either try to block that site from the network or lower their bid to compensate for these low converting clicks. In cases where sites cannot be blocked (such as search partners of Google and Yahoo), an advertiser will have to request that their ads don¶t show up on these sites. The largest barrier to becoming an ROI bidder in terms of arbitrage sites is collecting enough information about your ads and conversion metrics to make these decisions. Often systems that can receive full visibility into these metrics are expensive or require technical skills, so not all businesses have access to this information. How To Solve The Arbitrage Dilemma? With one set of advertisers liking arbitrage, another vehemently against the practice, and yet a third who just views it as inventory, what¶s to be done about arbitrage sites? As with many arguments about improving PPC advertising, the answer lies in visibility and control. Google has added the ability to block sites in its content network, and they have stated they are working towards more visibility. However, will that same visibility be available for the search network? Yahoo has become more Google-like with Panama in respect to quality score. Will they come forward with visibility and blocking controls in their ad distribution? Microsoft adCenter has slowly introduced new traffic sources which they control, and hence can measure quality. Arbitrage hasn¶t greatly affected adCenter yet, but when it does, how will they react? Arbitrage is a word that is sure to evoke a response in any internet marketer. However, the responses will vary as greatly as those found in a heated political debate. There isn¶t necessarily a magic answer, but advertisers clearly want more control and a greater visibility into how their ad dollars are spent. When marketers have full visibility and control of ad dollars, they will have the ability to not just debate arbitrage²they will have the power to act on their feelings.

I have collected these questions from different Blogs, Websites. I haven¶t created these questions personally My intention is to collect and share knowledge. I will share answers to remaining of the above surely, in my next sheet.

From: Devanshu M Bhatnagar Search Engine Optimizer Seo.dmb@gmail.com

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