Technical SEO

What Questions You Should Know Before Your Next SEO Interview?

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Jul 21, 2023

What Questions You Should Know Before Your Next SEO Interview

In today's digital-driven market, businesses of all sizes realize the importance of leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) to increase their online visibility.

Consequently, the demand for SEO professionals is at an all-time high, and job seekers looking to break into this dynamic field must be well-prepared to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

This article aims to provide those aspiring SEO experts with a guide on what questions they should anticipate and know the answers to before stepping into an SEO interview.

By understanding these key points, you can present yourself as a well-rounded, competent candidate ready to boost your potential employer's online performance.

Here are the most common SEO interview questions that you can expect from an employer. Knowing and practising them will surely help you outperform in your next SEO interview.

What is Link Rot?

Link Rot, also known as link decay, refers to the process by which hyperlinks on a website gradually become irrelevant or cease to work over time.

This usually occurs because the destination web pages are moved, deleted, or have their URL structures altered, making the existing links invalid.

Recommended reading: Link Rot

What is the difference between server-side rendering and client-side rendering?

Server-side rendering (SSR) is when the webpage is rendered on the server before it is sent to the client's browser. The browser then receives a fully rendered HTML and displays it to the user.

On the other hand, in client-side rendering (CSR), the browser receives minimal HTML and a JavaScript file. The JavaScript then takes over and renders the webpage in the browser.

What is Faceted navigation?

Faceted navigation is a type of navigation which is common in e-commerce sites, where users can filter products by categories like size, colour, brand, price range, etc.

It is used for accessing information organized according to a classification system, allowing users to explore by filtering available information.

Recommended reading: Faceted navigation

What is Pogo-sticking?

Pogo-Sticking in SEO refers to the action when a user performs a search, clicks on a result, quickly comes back to the search result page, and clicks on a different result.

This usually indicates that the earlier page did not satisfy the user's query.

Recommended reading: Pogo-sticking

Can Google crawl URLs when we block them using robots.txt?

When you block URLs using robots.txt, you are instructing search engine bots not to crawl those URLs.

However, if Google discovers these URLs from other sources on the web just as backlinks, it might still index the page, but without all the necessary information that crawling would provide.

If you want Google to not index a web page, it is ideal to block them using the noindex header tag rather than using a robots.txt file.

This way Google will be able to access the page, but due to the noindex tag it won’t crawl that page even if people link out to that page. 

Recommended reading: Robots.txt

If you have canonicalized any page, can that page still be crawled if so why?

Yes, a canonicalized page can still be crawled. The canonical tag simply tells search engines which version of a set of similar or duplicate pages is the preferred one to index. It doesn't prohibit crawling or indexing of both versions.

Recommended reading: Canonical tags

What is the difference between a sitemap and a sitemap index file?

A sitemap is a file where you list the web pages of your site to tell search engines about the organization of your site content.

A sitemap index file, on the other hand, is a collection of sitemaps, useful when you have numerous sitemaps. This is a convenient way to manage multiple sitemaps, as you only need to submit the index file to search engines.

Recommended reading: XML sitemap

Why might you opt for a sitemap index file?

If your website has a small number of URLs, a single sitemap file is usually sufficient.

However, if your website is larger and contains a significant number of URLs, you might find it beneficial to use multiple sitemaps. In such cases, a sitemap index file is useful, serving as a master list of all your sitemaps.

Are the syntax of these sitemaps the same?

Both the individual sitemaps and the sitemap index files follow the XML format. But there is a slight difference in their syntax.

The key difference is that a sitemap file must start with an opening <urlset> tag and end with a closing </urlset> tag. A sitemap index file must start with an opening <sitemapindex> tag and end with a closing </sitemapindex> tag.

The <URL> element is used to specify the URL of a page in a sitemap using LOC. In a sitemap index file, the <sitemap> element is used to specify the URL of another sitemap file using LOC.

Recommended reading: Sitemap Index

How can you fix the keyword cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization can be fixed by identifying and consolidating the cannibalizing content.

This might mean merging similar or duplicate content, using 301 redirects to guide users and search engines to the correct page, or using the canonical tag to indicate the preferred version of a page to search engines.

If in case I remove or merge the page and Google is still picking the non-canonicalized version due to the canonical tag being derivative rather than direct signal then I will remove keyword usage on that page.

If I am unable to eliminate all the keywords, I will consider adding exact match anchor text on the page I don't want to index, directing it to my preferred page that I wish to rank.

Recommended reading: Keyword cannibalization

Can you use noindex and canonical tags together?

Technically, noindex tags and canonical tags can be used together, but they send contradictory signals to search engines.

While Google's John Mueller has indicated that Google tends to prioritize the canonical tag over a noindex tag, it is generally advisable not to use them together to avoid confusion.

Does implementing a noindex tag affect the crawl frequency of a page?

Yes, applying a noindex tag to specific pages on your website will decrease the crawl frequency for those pages.

Google will revisit the noindexed pages to see if the tag has been removed or if any issues preventing indexing have been resolved. If the noindex tag is still present, Google will extend the interval between crawls for that page.

Recommended reading: Noindex tag and Crawl frequency

Does Google acknowledge the existence of a Sandbox?

The 'Sandbox' in SEO refers to a theory that Google supposedly restricts the ranking of new websites until they have proven their trustworthiness or quality.

Google has consistently denied the existence of a 'sandbox.' 

Recommended reading: Google Sandbox and Google Penalty

Is domain age a ranking factor for Google?

No, Google has debunked this myth several times, stating that domain age doesn't help in website ranking.

However, an older website might rank better because it has had more time to acquire a high volume of relevant backlinks, but only if they are not spammy.

Recommended reading: Domain age

Does longer content rank better on Google?

No, longer content doesn't necessarily rank better. There's no definitive correlation between word count and ranking position. The relevance and quality of the content are more important.

Recommended reading: Content Relevance and Latent Semantic Indexing

Is it true that SEO takes at least 3 months to have an effect?

The timeframe for SEO to show effect varies widely and is influenced by factors like market competition and the specific SEO changes made.

While some changes may take time to reflect, others may result in quicker visible outcomes. Therefore, stating that SEO always takes 3 months to have an effect isn't accurate.

What factors need to be considered during a website migration?

During a website migration, several factors need to be considered including ensuring tracking hasn’t been lost, maintaining the same content targeting using 301 redirects, and making sure search engine bots can still access the right pages.

Recommended reading: 301 Redirect

Do I need to blog every day to improve my SEO ranking?

No, this is a common SEO myth. While frequent updates can contribute to the "freshness" of your site, it's not necessary to create new content daily.

Moreover, Google's algorithm determines if a search query requires fresh results or not. It is more important to create well-researched, useful content that meets the searcher's intent.

Is click depth a ranking factor?

Yes, click depth can affect SEO rankings. It refers to how many clicks deep a page is from the homepage or starting point.

In general, pages that are closer to the homepage - requiring fewer clicks to reach - tend to be crawled more frequently, and are seen as more important by search engines, which can lead to better rankings.

However, it's important to note that while click depth can influence ranking, it is only one of many factors that search engines use to determine page ranking

Recommended reading: Click depth

Does Google always value backlinks from high-authority domains?

No, Google considers several factors when evaluating the impact of a backlink, including relevancy, contextual clues, and no-follow link attributes. The authority of the linking domain is not the only deciding factor.

Recommended reading: Backlink

Is the crawl budget an issue for all websites?

Not for all. Crawl budget, which refers to the number of pages Googlebot will visit on your site, is more of an issue for large or frequently updated websites.

Smaller sites with easily crawled pages might not need to pay much attention to crawl budget optimization.

Recommended reading: Crawl budget

What would be your course of action if your SEO strategy fails?

If the SEO strategy proves unsuccessful, my initial step would involve reassessing the search intent and checking if that page is indexable properly, particularly if it's a new project.

If in case I found that the target page has a search intent issue then I search for relevant keywords that could potentially aid in improving performance.

I would also consider revising the text on the page, along with the title and description to match the search intent.

If the website is still not ranking after these adjustments, I would investigate more severe issues such as harmful backlinks, Google penalties like Penguin or Panda, crawlability problems, or other technical issues.

The bottom line

Keep in mind, SEO is a multifaceted field that demands constant learning and keeping up to date with the newest news and algorithm changes.

Simply memorizing a few questions won't secure you a job, instead, you need to be open to acquiring new knowledge.

For a steady progression of learning and to get a comprehensive understanding of SEO, we suggest you read our SEO glossary. This will help you grasp all the concepts of SEO, which will undoubtedly assist you in refining your expertise.

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