By Nick Chasinov, founder of Teknicks, a research-based agile internet marketing agency certified by Google in Analytics, Tag Manager and Ads.

When you run an SEO agency, finding the right people to build your team isn’t always as easy as it may seem. Unfortunately, that’s not a new issue. Even this article from 2012 questioned the legitimacy of SEO “experts,” and the issue has only grown since then. 

Nowadays, it’s easy for someone to label themselves as an SEO guru, when they may not know anything more than what they have read in a few popular blogs. You want people who can put principles into action and make things happen for your agency and ultimately, your clients. 

So, how can you find top talent for your agency, and quickly weed out those who claim to be experts but will leave you weeping over dismal SERPs results? 

Always be recruiting.

Most agencies will go through a period where they do some hiring and a period where they don’t need any new employees. But, what if we were to tell you that isn’t a luxury you should take advantage of? 

You never know when the next SEO expert is going to be looking for a job, and it might not align with the period of time in which you’re actively hiring. So, make sure you’re always recruiting and scouring, even if it’s just online. Leave yourself in a position to hire someone if the perfect person comes along. 

Look at hard and soft skills.

When you’re thinking about hiring someone, having an understanding of their hard skills is definitely important. You should be impressed by their resume and the experience they have in working with SEO. Real-world experience should always stand out to you over someone who just claims to know what they’re doing. 

But don’t ignore soft skills. They include things like: 

• Leadership.

• Communication.

• Teamwork.

• Problem-solving.

• Flexibility.

You also want someone who isn’t afraid to think outside of the box and work their creativity. SEO is all about innovation and coming up with new ways to make your clients successful. You don’t necessarily want a “clone” of who you are and what you do. You want someone who will complement and complete whatever your team might be missing. 

Share your expectations.

You can only learn so much about a potential employee through their resume. If a few stand out to you, the next step is to bring those candidates in for an interview. You can ask a variety of different questions to get a feel for a candidate, but you should also be extremely clear about your own expectations. 

Let that potential employee know what you expect out of your entire team, and what you would specifically expect out of them. When you lay everything on the table, there is no confusion, and they will be able to tell you directly whether or not they can achieve what you’re asking of them. 

Far too often, employers gloss over job responsibilities, only to find out shortly after hiring someone that the person they thought would succeed isn’t right for the job. So, don’t be afraid to go into detail when it comes to your expectations. It might seem like a lot, but it’s beneficial for everyone involved. 

Offer up a quiz.

Do you have a candidate or two who crushed the first interview? That’s great. But, before you get too excited, it’s a good idea to check their SEO knowledge in a real-world setting. Obviously, you’re not going to hand them one of your clients to experiment with. So, the next best thing is to create a quiz/test for potential hires. 

This quiz should have real-life SEO situations — perhaps some your agency has even had to handle in the past. Ask the candidate what they would do in each situation, how they would handle problems and keep the client(s) happy. Quizzes like this let you know more about who that person is and whether they are willing to truly be a leader, work with a team and communicate effectively. It also gives you good insight into their SEO strategy and what they bring to the table. 

Foster a positive work environment.

As an SEO agency, you probably already know a lot about digital marketing and how important word-of-mouth advertising is. So important, in fact, that 92% of consumers trust the opinions of friends and family over advertisements. 

The same goes for the workplace. 

If you have a work environment that is positive, healthy and offers a fair work-life balance, people are going to want to come work for you. The best SEO experts in the industry will want to be a part of your team because they’ve heard good things about you. It’s about more than your success, how many clients you have or how well you perform. It’s about the atmosphere and culture within your business. 

So, don’t be afraid to involve current employees in the hiring process. Have them give candidates tours of your office, high-level processes or “shadow” them for a day to learn more about what it is they do. If you have a positive work environment, your employees won’t hesitate to talk about that throughout the day, and it can make anyone interested in coming to work with you. Treat your employees well, and they will treat you well in return.

Find the best of the best.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to filter through the thousands of “SEO experts” out there in order to find the best talent for your agency. It can take time, patience and maybe even a little bit of stress. But, if you’re willing to put in some extra effort, you’ll undoubtedly end up with some of the best SEO consultants in the business. 

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re considering bringing someone new onto the team, and always be on the lookout for the next great SEO talent that could be a crucial part of moving your business forward.