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So What Did I Do Wrong?


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7 replies to this topic

#1 LibbyLu

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 06:44 PM

I applied to a SEM job and was E-mailed a list of questions. I answered them and was sent back an E-mail stating that based on my replies I was not a good fit. So what did I do wrong? Here are the questions and my answers. I am just trying to learn more and be a better sem professional. Thanks.

1. Tell me about two of your proudest achievements. Specifically detail how they impacted the organization/situation/condition you were in. Did they change something?

2. Let's say (company name) is bidding on a keyword in Google that everyone thinks should provide a lot of orders, but after two weeks, it isn't providing any. Talk about what you'd look into to find out if the problem is with the setup of the campaign or our assumptions of the keyword's potential success.

3. What are some ways to increase search share on a search result page for a particular keyword? (by search share, we mean the number of results for your company on a page)

4. If you were given a bigger budget for PPC purposes, how would you figure out where to spend the extra budget?

1. My two proudest achievements in SEM would be when I got one of my clients conversions off of Yahoo! by turning off her contextual advertising (she provides info about nursing homes and senior housing and contextual is not a good fit for her). She was thinking of ending her Yahoo advertising. The second achievement would have to be when I was able to direct my boss to my former boss at companyname.com so she wouldn't have to refund a client's money. This was an online casino, which Google doesn't accept. My former boss specializes in online casinos (company name makes their money in part from going after accounts that Google does not).

2. I would first look to see what the traffic for the keyword is. Then I would see what comes up for the keyword. What is doing well organically and who is bidding on the keyword. If the keyword gets a lot of traffic and the sites that are doing well for the keyword (and bidding on the keyword) are in the same category as Company Name then I would look at the campaign. I would look at the CTR to see how successful the ad is and at the bounce rate. That would give me an good idea of how relevant the ad copy and landing page are.

3. Getting a Google Places account would help in increasing the share on a keyword. Also making sure that the site has good SEO to increase the organic clicks.

4. I would do several things if I had a bigger budget. I would set up accounts on other search engines (which I know Company Name is doing as you are on Bing) and also increase my Google spend. I would then use analytics to see what converting better. I might also try new things such as Google image ads.

#2 Michael Martinez

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 01:00 PM

It's impossible to second-guess what the prospective employer values or to determine why they did not select you for a closer inspection. I would not dwell on this, as you're only going to find fault with yourself that others may not see.

Right now it's an employers' market, with more people seeking jobs than there are jobs available, even in search marketing-related fields.

#3 scorpioilya81

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 03:07 PM

Well I think sometimes really negative criticisms inspires people to do better things....I'm no expert by any means but here's what I see as being wrong with your answers.
1. I would say neither of those 2 things is a huge achievement in SEO-related areas (probably what they were looking for). I still don't understand what the second achievement was to be honest.
2. The question is explicitly about PPC and you're trying to delve into organic rankings. I would have suggested to quickly verify that the ad is even GETTING clicks and impressions...that's obviously just a sanity check. If its got a good bid that is 1st page worthy, but not getting clicks, I would look at quality score and ad copy because either google doesn't like the landing page, or your visitors don't like the ad copy.
If visitors ARE liking the ad copy AND google likes the ad (there's clicks and impressions at a reasonable price) but no orders, I would think the ad copy is driving the WRONG kind of people; it could be an informational ad that's the wrong kind of customers. If after trying multiple ad copies the order/click ratio doesnt go up, I would strongly suspect that the keyword itself just doesn't convert very well.

3. Making sure that the site has good SEO is OBVIOUSLY the answer but its like replying "solve for x" to the question "how to solve for x". If the google query reveals a google maps/blended result , your google places suggestion would be good.....I would also have added deep linking to other pages within the site to increase the # of results for that company. I would also have built out social media profiles and done the standard facebook/twitter/linkedin etc etc etc. I would have also suggested at least 1-2 press releases and uploaded some images and videos and tagged them properly.

4. you missed a biggie; I would have looked which keywords are actually converting to orders and increased my budget with them, using google website optimizer and google analytics.

Hope that helps.

#4 Michael Martinez

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 05:37 PM

QUOTE(scorpioilya81 @ Jan 31 2011, 12:07 PM) View Post
1. I would say neither of those 2 things is a huge achievement in SEO-related areas (probably what they were looking for). I still don't understand what the second achievement was to be honest.


They looked fine to me. In the first case, an advertising campaign that was souring took a turn for the better; in the second case, an experienced resource was found.

Why does any one person's "proudest" achievements have to be better than someone else's?

Skipping question 2.

QUOTE
3. Making sure that the site has good SEO is OBVIOUSLY the answer but its like replying "solve for x" to the question "how to solve for x".


Actually, most people would overlook the significance of the submitted answer -- which is to capture a higher visibility on the SERP through a Places Account, although the answer assumes that the query could be affected by that.

The question is poorly asked (they all are, actually).

QUOTE
4. you missed a biggie; I would have looked which keywords are actually converting to orders and increased my budget with them, using google website optimizer and google analytics.


That is basically what the original poster said, in addition to testing other search engines (which is a good approach).

Here is why I detest these types of compare-the-answer-discussions: people come away thinking, "Wow! I really screwed up" when in fact they probably didn't do anything wrong at all.

There are many possible "correct" answers to these questions. But none of us know what the employing company believes, wants, or considers to be important. You could cite every SEO "expert" in the industry to some people and leave them feeling cold because you didn't agree with their pet theory.


ON EDIT:
As someone who has hired more than a few people in the SEO field, let me say that I am not really interested in what knowledge or techniques job applicants bring to me. I want to know about their personalities and their intelligence and their creativity and their resilience.

I conduct a job interview like it's a Kobiashi Maru test, throwing the job applicant (or, if I am the applicant, the interviewer) into thought-provoking situations to see how they react. I want to know whether any hiring has a good chance of producing a good working relationship.

How does that other person make me feel? I've turned away some opportunities for applying for jobs because I didn't want to work in certain environments. I am sure some companies passed on me because they didn't feel I would be a good fit for their teams. I don't take that personally.

Any job application and interview is a negotiation between people. That company should have passed or failed your test -- it just sounds to me like you weren't testing them. And if that is the case, you're better off not going further into that process.

You really want to make prospective employers prove they are the right companies to work for -- after all, they ARE making you prove you're the right person to hire. If you have something of value to bring to the company, they still owe it to you to provide you with a valuable work experience and environment.

I did recently go through a job search. Thankfully it was brief for me. Nonetheless, I spent months contacting companies and talking to people on the phone. Sometimes I was interested in what the opportunity might be. Sometimes I was disgusted with the lack of professionalism and knowledge of SEO on the other end of the line.

I picked a great company that has a lot of knowledge of SEO. I feel they picked a great employee who has a lot of knowledge of SEO, too. So far, we're a pretty good match, in my opinion.

And I hope THAT is helpful to someone.

Edited by Michael Martinez, 31 January 2011 - 05:45 PM.


#5 scorpioilya81

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:35 PM

Michael

I guess my question to you would be...then do you believe in any kind of base knowledge that every SEO should have? or do you feel that its still more of an art and each approach can be drastically different? Do you think its possible to come up with a baseline test for even an entry-level position?

#6 Michael Martinez

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 10:45 AM

QUOTE(scorpioilya81 @ Jan 31 2011, 03:35 PM) View Post
Michael

I guess my question to you would be...then do you believe in any kind of base knowledge that every SEO should have? or do you feel that its still more of an art and each approach can be drastically different? Do you think its possible to come up with a baseline test for even an entry-level position?


There are a few basic skills that all SEO technicians have to acquire.

But most people can master the basics. When I'm hiring (or putting myself out to hire) I want to know there is a good mix of personalities. Am I going to enjoy working with these people? I've had some awful co-workers, some terrible bosses, and there are people who would probably say the same about me.

If I don't learn from those experiences, I'll never move forward. So, frankly, what a job applicant thinks I want to hear about SEO is irrelevant. I'll be sharing my point of view often enough in the future, and encouraging that person to make some (hopefully informed) choices, too.

Of course, I am a strong believer in ongoing SEO training. There is too much change in this industry to let it all slide by you. But with the training should come good roundtable discussion. That's the life and breath of (in my opinion) successful agency SEO evolution.



#7 DeanRichards

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 12:50 AM

I've done my share of interviewing job applicants and I'd be happy to toss in a couple of cents worth of ideas.

The first thing I would counsel any prospective job seeker is to remember that as an employer, what I'm looking for are people who are going to help my business grow and succeed. In other words, what I care about most is what you can do for me. So when you have to face something like this the first thing to get straight is that it really doesn't matter what you think of the questions or of the hiring process. Take it or leave it. If you decide that you're going to take it and seriously apply for the job, then you should do your best to answer them to your best advantage or you're just wasting your time. I would also suggest that the "real" question behind all of these written questions is "what can you do for me?" and I would suggest that you answer that question within the framework of all the other questions.

I found your first answer extremely confusing. You wrote: I got one of my clients conversions off of Yahoo! by turning off her contextual advertising In marketing, I know the word "conversions" to mean getting a desired result (like making a purchase or clicking a link). You're converting a visitor into someone taking action. So I don't see how getting rid of conversions is a good thing. Jargon issues aside, as I read your answer, it seems very weak. Ok, so you got her out of contextual advertising and she stayed with Yahoo. I can see that as a good thing for Yahoo, but what did it do for her? What was the result? She saved money? She made more money? I shouldn't have to draw conclusions. A much better answer would have been something like, "One of my proudest achievements was when I was able to cut my client's advertising costs by 50% with no loss in traffic. I was able to do this by analyzing her campaign statistics and discovering that her contextual ads had very poor conversions due to improper placement."

This is a much stronger statement because it has facts and figures (when job hunting, you should always be prepared with facts and figures that demonstrate your value) and it provides a clear cut path to the value you created. In essence you're saying, I got this specific good result and I did it by knowing and following these specific industry best practices. You demonstrate your achievements and your knowledge in one go. All employers want to be assured that you know your stuff and that you've actually achieved something with it.

The second achievement would have to be when I was able to direct my boss to my former boss at companyname.com so she wouldn't have to refund a client's money.

What does that have to do with SEO?

This was an online casino, which Google doesn't accept.

What does that have to do with giving someone a refund?

My former boss specializes in online casinos (company name makes their money in part from going after accounts that Google does not).

I'm sure this all ties into SEM and SEO somehow, but I don't see it. Again, I shouldn't have to figure out your answers.

Question #2 - Talk about what you'd look into to find out if the problem is with the setup of the campaign or our assumptions of the keyword's potential success.

Again, I would suggest a more complete explanation that clearly demonstrates a knowledge of how to run a PPC campaign. Maybe something like, "The obvious first step would be to verify the numbers of searches being done for the target keywords in exact, phrase, and broad matches and to verify that the campaign settings are correct. There is often a problem with broad match keywords delivering poorly targeting traffic, so I would want to carefully look at the sites that are ranking naturally for broad match to make certain that our offer is compatible with what is being offered by the naturally ranking sites." And then on from there.

OK, I think I've made my point. The actual questions don't really mean much. What it's all about is that they're giving you an opportunity to demonstrate your value to them and you need to go into these sorts of things ready to do that. The hardest thing to grasp for most people is that the whole resume/application/interview process isn't about you. It's about what you can do for them.

#8 LibbyLu

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Posted 06 February 2011 - 05:24 PM

Thanks everyone. I learned a lot.




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