You can get a lot more job search traffic to your career site by Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) your jobs. But what is SEO? How do you do it? Why do you do it? We’ve got answers.
In the same way it’s standard procedure to SEO your corporate web pages to make it easier for search engines (we'll focus on Google) to index them, it’s a good idea to SEO not only your career site pages, but also all your individual job listings.
The basic idea behind SEO is to assign the most relevant keywords to a page and then optimize the most important elements of the page so that when Google “crawls” your website to index your pages, you’re helping it understand what YOU what you want the most relevant keywords to be. That way, when job seekers search for jobs via Google, your career site and/or job listings will come up in the search results. Depending on your ranking, that’s lots of free candidates coming your way via online search.
While one could write volumes about the fact and fiction surrounding SEO practices, we are going to focus on five factors that affect your ranking in search engines:
- Mobile optimization
We should note at the beginning of this article that if you use your applicant tracking system to host your career site and job listings, you may not be able to perform many of the optimization techniques below. In some cases, your jobs will be hidden from search engines altogether. If this is your situation there are solutions that allow you to host your own career sites and job listings and automaticlly SEO them here.
Trust in your content! Google knows that it lives and dies by providing valuable search results. If you focus on creating really great information on your career site, Google tends to find it. For example, do you tend to relocate a lot of people to your area? Put amazing resources for your city on your career site. This can help your job listings come up sooner in job searches related to your location. Also remember, your individual job listings are GOOD content. Make them compelling, interesting and make sure each one is optimized for Google.
Of course, keyword optimization should be part of your strategy, so make sure to designate keywords for each page. For your job listings, the main keyword is most likely your job title.
Optimizing Page Titles
Your keyword(s) should be designated within the “Meta Title” of your page. The Meta Title is a piece of HTML that tells the browser what to display in the browser tab as the name of the page. You can check if your job listings have the proper Meta Title by opening them and looking on your browser tab. If the title is vague or is simply a code generated by your ATS, your page is likely not optimized and potentially not indexed for Google search.
Keyword Position and Density
Ideally you will place your keyword(s) within your page headline, as well as within the first 100 characters of the body text of your page. Additionally you need to make sure your headline has an H1 tag. H1 tags are used to tell the browser that this headline is the main headline for the page. Google uses this tag identify what the main content of the page is about.
Main headlines usually end up with H1 tags when entered into a template or Wordpress-type system, but in some cases they don’t. You can check if your headlines have H1 tags in the Chrome browser by right-clicking your headline and choosing “Inspect Element.” Your browser will open up a window and highlight the HTML associated with your headline. You can do this in other browsers, but you may need to enable this function in your settings. Make sure you only have one H1 tag per page.
It’s also good to place up to five instances of your keyword on your page. You want enough keyword “density” to tell Google what your page is about, but you don’t want too much. More than five or so instances and your page starts to look a bit spammy and you might get penalized, knocking your ranking down a bit.
Each image on your page should have "Alt-Text." Alt-Text is what shows up when you hover your pointer over an image in your browser. If you don't assign specific Alt-Text to an image, it will sometimes default to the name of the image file. This can be messy. Make sure all your images have Alt-Text that relates to the image and to the keyword(s) you have designated. Google thinks that Alt-Text makes pages more useful, so they give you a bump for having your Alt-Text in place. But don't stock your images with one keyword. This could count against your keyword density guideline of five instances or less.
One of the most effective things you can do is to give your page a URL with your keyword in it – ideally at the front of the URL. This gives Google a hint as to what the page is about.
So a good example of a properly search engine optimized URL would be Acme.com/operations-specialist-tampa-florida-jobs. Note that you’ve included the title and the location AND the word “jobs.” This is because job seekers tend to use search terms like “operations manager jobs tampa, fl.”
Google’s crawler looks at internal and external links to your pages and makes judgments about the content of the pages and the value of that content. If you have an engineering jobs page on your site and other engineering sites with similar keywords link to your page, then that page may have more value in Google’s “eyes.” Likewise, if sites with a high “Page Authority” rank link to your page, Google takes that into account and can assign a higher weight for your page. Though you can’t always control who links to you, providing valuable and interesting content definitely increases your odds. And it’s always good to make sure you have a few relevant internal links on all your pages. This helps clarify to Google what your page is about and helps ensure that more of your pages get indexed. More pages indexed is a good thing for search ranking.
Google also looks at whether your content is original. If it determines that another domain has the same or similar content, it could penalize your page and reduce the ranking. This is where aggregators like Indeed.com or SimplyHired can be a liability for recruiting SEO. It is great to see your jobs scraped off of your site and advertised free of charge on aggregator sites. In the long term, though, your jobs on these sites tend to get indexed first on Google. This can lead to the listings on your site being penalized as duplicate content.
We work with Talemetry clients to block their jobs from being scraped by Indeed.com and others, in favor setting up automatic feeds to these aggregators that can be controlled, managed and analyzed. This way, our clients can control how and when jobs get distributed and increase the chances that their job listings get ranked higher than aggregators’ listings. These direct search engine results provide a much better experience for potential applicants. Plus, controlling which aggregators scrape your site provides much more accurate traffic analytics throughout the recruiting cycle.
Mobile Optimized Pages
As we reported previously, Google now places more weight on pages and sites that are optimized for mobile devices. They know that most of their searches originate on mobile devices, so make sure your career site, job listings and applications are mobile optimized to ensure you receive the highest ranking and job search traffic from Google search.
Again, SEO is a deep and controversial topic with many conflicting viewpoints. At the end of the day, getting your jobs properly indexed and ranking highly can bring a significant amount of additional traffic to your career site. Having a solid understanding of recruiting SEO and firm strategy for maximizing search traffic will help you take advantage of this free source of applicants.