Jason Kamara on Recruitment SEO & Getting Your Job Ads Found on Google
How does talent find your job ads?
Recruiters post roles anywhere and everywhere they possibly can online, from the company website, to third-party job sites like Workopolis and Indeed, to social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. But where does talent search for jobs?
So how do you get your roles to show up in Google’s search listings? That’s the focus of search engine optimization (SEO), a practice Wikipedia describes as:
“… The process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page [including job ads] in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or un-paid (‘organic’) search results.”
Employers and their recruiters need SEO: to get the word out about roles, increase the quantity of applicants, and make sure they don’t miss out on that would-be-perfect candidate who just didn’t scroll down far enough in the search results to find their job posting.
What’s the secret? How do you do the SEO ‘thing’ and get your jobs found on Google by the right talent?
He kindly agreed to a little Q&A…
“Focus on quality. Understand your audience. Not everything needs to go viral, but it needs to be good.”
Can knowing about and applying SEO techniques increase the likelihood that a recruiter’s job postings will be seen by potential applicants?
Jason: Definitely. It can be pricey putting all those listings up, on Monster, Workopolis, LinkedIn, so you want to make sure there’s as many potential applicants as possible see them. If you understand how search engines work, and you are using the right language in job descriptions, you can get more visibility for those listings as well as listings on your corporate website or career page.
It’s important to know that the words you use in job ads determines the type of people that will find your postings. Different people search using different keywords.
“… The words you use in job ads determine the type of people that will find your postings. Different people search using different keywords.”
How do you find out what words are being used by the people you want?
Jason: If you’re doing any kind of data collection or research, you can ask applicants and candidates how they found the job and what keywords they were using if they were searching Google. You can add the questions to employee surveys or interviews you’re doing.
If you’re not collecting data from applicants, some of the tools you can use include Google AdWords: Keyword Planner, which is probably the most widely used keyword research tool. It’ll tell you how many searches for different keywords occurred in difference locations each month. So you’ll get a sense of how popular certain keywords are.
You can also use tools like Google Webmaster Tools. Which shows you how many queries there have been for certain keywords that brought people to your website.
There are lots of other tools out there that will tell you what keywords people are using to get to your website specifically or what keywords are being used in general.
Google itself is a useful tool for Keyword research: if you start typing in the search bar, there is an auto complete function. It guesses what you might be typing based on popular searches – and it can give you an idea of what people are using to search. There are also other tools [such as ??] that can show you thousand of different autocompletes for a root phrase.
It really is like any other area, where you really have to understand your ‘customers’, your audience. How are people searching for jobs? What places would they use? What time of day? What mood are they in? You really want to get inside their head.
Content Manager’s note: Two other useful tools for keyword research are Google Trends, and SEMrush. For a super easy-to-use primer on keyword research, check out the data and analytics section of the UK Government Digital Service Content Design guide.
5 Keyword Tools for Your Job Ads:
- Google AdWords: Keyword Planner: Keyword ideas from Google’s own data
- Google Webmaster Tools: Keywords already getting people to your content
- Google Trends: Words and phrases trending at different places and times
- SEMrush: Keywords your competitors use
- UK.GOV Content Design Guide: Easy keyword research how-to
What’s the right way to integrate keywords into your job ad?
Jason: Keyword relevance comes first. Let’s say you’re hiring a front-end developer who needs PHP and CSS skills. You check the Keyword Planner and find that ‘Java’ is a popular keyword for job-seeking programmers, but your position doesn’t require that skill. You might be tempted to include a trending keyword to get more traffic to your job ad, but don’t. Make sure you are using relevant keywords: the exact ones that people are using. What are front-end developers searching for if they’re looking for a job? Well, developers are very technical, so they’re probably going to search for something like “php css jobs vancouver”. So you can go through your job listing and see: how often do these words appear in close proximity to one another?
“Keyword relevance comes first … You might be tempted to include a trending keyword to get more traffic to your job ad, but don’t.”
Do keywords matter in social media postings? What role, if any, does social media play in SEO?
Jason: Google uses social shares as one estimate of popularity in determining your content’s search rank. Social is also great for amplifying your content. If you spend the money to create the listings on Monster or LinkedIn, you want to try and get as many visitors to those listings as possible. So not only does sharing on social networks get more people to your job ads, but it builds more links, which helps with SEO.
If current employees like working for your company, then they’ll want their friends and families to know about those open positions. It’s worth engaging them to share job listings through their personal social networks, to further amplify the listings’ reach. This widespread sharing serves as a popularity signal which Google considers when ranking content.
“… Not only does sharing on social networks get more people to your job ads, but it builds more links, which helps with SEO.”
Are there any common mistakes you see with SEO? Particularly, mistakes you see people making by adhering to old, one-time best practices that are no longer valid.
Jason: Wow, yeah I could go on for hours about that. SEO used to be about trickery: how can we fool Google into thinking we’re actually about this, but we’re actually about that? People were hiding keywords with font colouring, redirecting away from other content, auto-generating content spam to build mass links.
Don’t even try it. You run the risk of being penalized right up to having your content dropped entirely from the search index.
What SEO is about today is quality. Create something that’s unique, that’s valuable, that’s relevant. And provide the best possible user experience. If you do that, you’re ahead of the game. So rather than just focusing entirely keywords – like plugging twenty keywords at the bottom of a page – try to make sure that you’re providing a really good user experience.
For example, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Like it or now, a lot of people landing on your website, on your job ads, are on a mobile device. You don’t want them to land on a page that’s not mobile-friendly because it’s going to give them a bad impression of your company. Just think, if you’re on a phone and you hit a job listing that requires you to pinch and zoom and scroll across, you’re going to give up and say “nah, I’m out of here.”
The search engine knows that if you spent only ten seconds looking at that content, the quality is not there?
Jason: Exactly. Google actually does use that as an engagement signal. We call it pogo sticking. You click on something in the search results but come back after just ten seconds. Google is going to say “I don’t think that page satisfied the searcher’s request”. If it happens again and again, Google will say “Okay, I’m going to demote that page.”
“… If you’re on a phone and you hit a job listing that requires you to pinch and zoom and scroll across, you’re going to give up…”
SEO changes so fast; the bad practices we talked about were good practices just a few years ago. Looking forward, what should we be doing with our web content to prepare ourselves for how SEO is evolving?
Jason: The rapid evolution is pretty amazing. But what it’s really evolving into in the last few years is content marketing. Everyone’s spending their money on content. Native content instead of just ads.
Focus on quality. Understand your audience. Not everything needs to go viral, but it needs to be good.
Does that mean HR teams and recruiters should produce content – not just job ads – that appeals to the interests of the people they’re looking to hire?
Jason: Oh yeah. When you do that you become an authority figure. For example, if you have a career section on your site, the more posts you put out that help job seekers in your field, the more search engines associate you with being an expert in that area, the more you show up – and the higher your rank in the listings – when people search on that topic.
What Google is really pushing for, if you look at their patents, if you look at the changes their making, is a focus on what’s called E-A-T: experience, authority and trust. That’s how they’re determining search rank. Their algorithms are trying to gauge: Are you believable? How strong are you in your field?
“… the more posts you put out that help job seekers in your field, the more search engines associate you with being an expert in that area, the more you show up … When people search on that topic.”
Connect with Jason
By Christian De Pape, Content Manager & Communications Consultant