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Unlock the Secrets to Attracting and Retaining the Right SEO Talent to Your Agency

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Josh Peacock

Unlock the Secrets to Attracting and Retaining the Right SEO Talent to Your Agency

Unlock the Secrets to Attracting and Retaining the Right SEO Talent to Your Agency 

It was recently estimated from a Recruitment & Employment Confederation report that the average cost of a mid-management bad hire can set your company back by around £132, 000 – this is based on a £44k salary.  

These estimations include all aspects of a recruitment process, from the recruiter to the onboarding and training processes, and more. A few key reasons that could potentially cause this occurrence are a result of: 

❌ – Poor role descriptions 

❌ – Inability to understand and convey company culture 

❌ – Failure to consult the team/staff 

❌ – Poorly run interviews and/or onboarding processes  

From our own personal experience, after consulting with hundreds of agency owners and SEOs alike, another major factor that companies tend to overlook, is the idea that they are just simply too close to their own company, work and processes to be able to objectively go out and advertise a role to the public.  

Whereas, when there is an external (third-party) who are qualified in recruiting for that niché, it can help you to better market and attract a quality candidate for your role. 

With our experienced team, we recommended a few other pointers to consider when attracting top SEO talent into your agency (and retaining that talent):

    Establish a strong culture

    First and foremost, establishing a strong company culture should be the foundation of your company, and at the forefront of your mind when recruiting new team members.
    Building a team up that are all aligned with the company’s goals, vision, and mission, as well as sharing similar work ethics, communication styles (and whatever else you deem important culture for your company’s prosperity) will make working with the team effortless – eliminating possible miscommunication, missed opportunities and exhaustion of resources.

    Ensure that your company culture is as refined as possible when considering how to recruit, hire and retain your talent.  

     “You can hire an A-player, but how you manage that A-player will determine their (and your teams’) success. That role is ultimately in your hands.”  

    Build a Career Roadmap

    Provide a simplistic career roadmap. A lot of the SEOs we chat to aren’t necessarily only salary motivated. We’ve had plenty of SEOs who will take a salary decrease to join a company that has a clear roadmap on where they can be in 3 years’ time. 
    By having a general understanding of that progression briefed in the earlier stages will be enough incentive to attract the right fit for the role, and will also incentivise that candidate towards what they need to strive for and achieve.  

    Promote Team Colaboration

    Team collaboration is another key area to consider, especially since the candidate will be working with them. An efficient and effective way to take this into consideration is to task the team with creating a small, challenging project for the candidates to take part in – this could be part of the second stage of the interview. Alternatively, you could have the employee who is leaving help collaborate with the team to put this project together.  
    Thereafter, include the team in the review process.  

    Build Team “Must Haves”

    Determine the “must-haves” in your team and assess whether it’s best to expand the team horizontally or vertically. Are there any current teammates who you can place into a more senior role and make space for two junior team members who can be up-skilled internally? Or would you prefer to recruit for another senior role altogether?

    This can be determined by a few variables: 

    📈 – Your financial forecast 

    💪 – The skills and experience within your team 

    🏋️‍♂️ – Resources for training and upskilling, for both options  

    🥅 – Your teams’ overall goals and trajectories  

    Decide Fast, but well

    Expedite your decision-making process. This has happened enough times in the past months where an absolute stand-out, A-player of a candidate is ready to look for a new role, and suddenly, they’re sitting with 3-4 job offers from different companies, and sometimes even in different interview stages within those companies.

    It all boils down to how fast you and your team hit the golden buzzer, as this will become much more attractive to the candidate – as they then understand that your company is hungry for them and their talent.  

    Really Listen to Candidates

    Actively listen and take note of your candidates’ personalities and understand what you’d be willing to negotiate with. For instance, if there’s an absolute top candidate who is only able to come into work 2 times a week because they live further away (and this is promoted as a hybrid role with 3 days in-office), consider where you can be more lenient. For instance, you could negotiate a little higher of a salary for them to come in 3 times a week or offer a benefit – if 3 days in-office is crucial. Examine which aspects of the role are negotiable, and which are not, prior to the role going live. 

    Get your happy team talking you up

    Leverage employee testimonials as a way to encourage potential candidates to consider your role. Oftentimes, we can be way too close to our own work, making it difficult to objectively provide a captivating narrative to the role (outside of the benefits and role requirements). This is when team testimonials really come in handy.  

    The best talent wants to know who they’re working with, and why those teammates also love working in the company.  Honestly, who better to ask, than the team your candidate may be potentially working with? 

    This will only take a small amount of time to prepare and conduct vs the ROI being priceless and timeless.  

    Attracting top talent is a competitive game, and having them be emotionally invested from the get-go can also serve in your company’s favor. Highly consider this tactic when drafting the role’s description.  

    Not your average JD

    Make it personal, make it stand-out. Including your brand-voice and personality in interesting and eye-catching ways is another way to have your job description stand-out amongst the crowd, but also, again, bring your potential candidates to quickly emotionally invest in your company.  
    For instance, the SEO For Hire team makes use of our own system, the Golden Recruitment Formula, whereby you’re directed to a site with a live countdown until the role closes, a video explaining the role (from one of our team members),  the roles’ details and an interview style questionnaire with a tonne of questions about the company culture etc.  

    Keep it simple

    Once the role has been drafted, skim through it again to see where you can remove any potential fluff or over-explanations. You can even pass this along to the rest of the team to proofread to see how it sounds.  

    Remember, you want to make this as eye-catching and captivating as possible, while still harnessing the essence of your company. So, make sure that you’re really aiming to prioritize this period of editing the role. Don’t simply write the draft and post it – I’m sure you’ve seen many a draft role be posted, with not much time to carefully craft the description. It definitely does hinder the top talent from considering the company a viable option. Remember: you want to prioritize building trust with your potential candidates. This comes down to the little things like having a well-drafted job description, as this will show candidates that your company cares about their well-being.  

    “No matter how attractive a job description’s benefits or salary, no matter how well-known the company, candidates are attracted to companies that portray good values and build strong trust with their employers. Candidates, especially top-talent, are particularly attracted to job-security and career growth. Highlight these aspects when drafting your job description.”  

    Time is of the essence

    Keep the interview process short. We’re not joking when we say we’ve helped and heard of top-tier candidates come to us because they are so traumatized for 12-interview stages, only to then be declined offers. These are candidates with 10+ years of SEO experience, who are feeling exhausted emotionally, mentally and exhausted from their resources.

    Don’t be a company who puts candidates through anything longer than a 4-stage interview process – even then, that’s too long. Our average interview stages with our clients usually sits around 2-3 stages before a decision is made. This includes the first interview call/meeting, and a practice round – and sometimes even a cultural fit test. This is more than enough for you to determine your best pick. Anything more, and you’re wasting everyone’s time, resources, and mental and emotional energy.

    Let’s provide an example of what not to do: Don’t provide a Tech SEO with a test that will (on average) take them 10+ hours to complete, and not compensate them either. This is not fair on their part, nor ethical. Ensure that your interview stages (practices and tests alike) are small projects that should take no longer (on average) 2 hours to complete – and that’s with 2 hours pushing it.  

    Final Thoughts

    With the above topics in mind, we hope we’ve provided some valuable food-for-thought and direction to help you attract, land and retain the best SEO talent for your agency and team.  

    If you need further advice or tips, we encourage reaching out to the SEO For Hire team, or following us on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with our latest content on all things SEO recruitment related, as well as any info on our latest SEO roles, events, webinars and much more.  

    About the Author


    Josh Peacock – Co-Founder SEO for Hire

    I’ve been building SEO teams for over 2 years now. Working with 100’s of clients from global start ups to fortune 500 companies. My team and I have a passion for going above and beyond for our clients and our industry. If you enjoyed this article, please make sure to follow me over on Linkedin. My dm’s are always open 🙂 

    • 🏢 Establish a strong company culture aligning team with company’s goals and values.
    • 🛣️ Build a clear career roadmap to attract and motivate right-fit candidates.
    • 🤝 Promote team collaboration and include team in candidate’s review process.
    • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Determine team “must-haves” and assess whether to expand team horizontally or vertically.
    • ⏩ Expedite decision-making to secure top talent amid competitive job offers.
    • 👂 Really listen to candidates and negotiate on negotiable aspects of the role.