Many HR professionals believe that SEO (search engine optimization) should be left to the IT and marketing departments. After all, it’s technical and it is related to marketing. Right?
Unfortunately this is an inaccurate assumption that hampers talent recruitment efforts and makes it difficult to find qualified candidates.
Today’s world of mass digital consumption is forcing the HR department to learn the basics of SEO and use this knowledge in their online recruiting efforts.
Understanding the Basics of SEO
An important, and often overlooked step in talent recruitment efforts is the optimization of online job listings. By optimization, we simply mean creating SEO friendly job listings.
But what does SEO friendly really mean? It simply refers to the practice of producing job listings that properly use search engine best practices. Don’t get caught up in the phrase best practices, because it doesn’t have to be complicated. In the most basic terms this equates to the following:
- Create job listings that provide solid information for the reader
- Format job listings so the are readable and easily digestible by the user
- Select relevant keywords for each job listing
The majority of job candidates use search engines to search and apply for employment opportunities. Job searchers also look beyond job aggregator websites and dig deeper into search results pages and corporate career portals. Your goal as an HR professional is to make sure your online job listings appear in these search results.
HR professionals who take the time to learn the basics of SEO will see a positive shift in the quantity and quality of their job applicants, as well as an overall improvement in online recruiting efforts.
Twenty Tips for Making Job Listings SEO Friendly
The only legitimate way to make sure your company shows up for job related searches is to create SEO friendly job listings. Here are some quick tips to get your HR team pointed in the right direction:
- Have a clear path to the career section of your website or microsite. Label this section as “Careers” so applicants can quickly find this content and review your openings. Avoid cute or campy names and focus on the KISS theory of writing.
- Make sure your microsite or the career section of your website provides a solid overview of your company, your work environment, and applicable job perks or benefits. Today’s applicants want more than a salary. They look deeper into corporate culture and look for employee friendly work environments.
- Create a single page entry for each job listing. This will allow you to match a particular job opening to an individual keyword phrase. An SEO best practice is to use one focused keyword per piece of content.
- Provide an easy to browse job list that highlights the job title, location, and a link to more details. In Content Management System (CMS) solutions like WordPress, a mini database can be created with custom post types and taxonomies. This will allow you to segment out large career lists into groups while also providing an option for website visitors to browse through multiple listings quickly.
- Create a job title that is search engine friendly. Make it descriptive and include a location if this is a position that requires a presence in a physical office. If virtual employees are acceptable, make sure this language is present too. The more details you provide the more opportunity you have to show up in search.
- Pick the right phrases when trying to recruit through organic SEO. If you’re not sure which terms are most popular don’t fret. Google offers a nice keyword search tool to help you find the estimated searches per month by keyword or phrase.
- Many HR professionals are familiar with progressive recruitment software that employs Passive Candidate Mining (PCM) to perform extensive searches for keywords to their open positions. The HR department can use this same approach to keywords to help ensure job title, description, and core information includes these same keywords and phrases. Then validate this list of possible phrases in the keyword search tool provided above.
- Make sure your full job description is on an actual website page and not forced into a PDF file. This makes the content more readable for search engines and users alike.
- Don’t block career listings behind a protected page that requires registration. This will make it impossible for search engines to read your job openings and it creates massive barriers and usability issues for applicants.
- Make sure each job entry is printer friendly. This isn’t a default of all websites, so take the time to create a style sheet specific to printing. While not every candidate will want to print an job opening they are interested in, many will and you want to make this process easy for them. Remember, first impressions matter.
- Each job opening should include job title, location, brief summary, detailed description, duties and/or responsibilities, and qualification requirements.
- Clearly describe the job in an easy to digest information page that uses a mix of paragraphs, headers, and bullets. This will allow applicants to scan the job opening and focus in on the information that matters most to them.
- Create a unique meta title and meta description per job listing. If you don’t have an SEO expert or consultant to help with this step, read through Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. It is a great how-to guide on all the basics and it will cover key data points like meta titles and meta descriptions.
- Remember to clearly outline the application process and give website visitors an easy way to move from job opening to application submission or inquiry. The easier you make it on visitors, the more applications you’ll receive.
- Make sure your website and page is mobile friendly. This is important to search engines for local inquiries and it is even more important to applicants that need to perform job searches on their smartphone or tablet. According to Merryfools.com, nearly 90% of job seekers prefer to search for employment opportunities on their smartphones.
- Create and XML sitemap of your job openings and submit this to Google and Bing via their webmaster tools portals. Most modern CMS packages have this capability present. In some cases, like WordPress, you simply need to add a plugin to accomplish this task.
- Don’t forget about social media outreach because it is critical to both overall online exposure and SEO. Share all individual listings (not the main career page) on popular social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
- Maximize your reach in social media by using industry and job related hashtags.
- Remember to use both company pages and individual profiles in social media accounts to maximize visibility. For example, by sharing each individual opening on corporate LinkedIn pages as well as individual employee accounts, you’re maximizing your reach and increasing traffic to your website.
- If you’re accepting online applications via web forms, make sure you use Google Analytics goals so you can track the source of applicant traffic, their activity on the website, and quantify what outreach efforts are working.
A Word About iFrame Usage
Many popular HRIS solutions offer their customers recruiting modules or standard capabilities that make use of an iFrame. An iFrame is a method of embedding a job list into the career section of a website by pulling data from an external data source and inserting it into a set container area within the website.
While this is great for ease of entry and applicant tracking and management, it does provide challenges for search engine optimization because the search engines cannot read iFrame based content. Issues also extended into usability for job applicants, because iFrames can be problematic on mobile devices.
Should you ditch your HR software and focus on solely SEO? Absolutely not!
You’d miss out on all the benefits that great HRIS software solutions provide. Instead of picking one absolute route, find balance between both SEO and HRIS software solutions.
You can have the best of both worlds by using the power of your HRIS software and augmenting this with your own listings within your website career section, blog postings, and/or social media outreach.
Taking the Next Steps
In an age of mass digital consumption, HR professionals should have a basic understanding of SEO. Doing so will help them achieve greater outreach and helps increase the success rates of talent acquisition and recruitment efforts.
Remember HR professionals don’t have to go it alone.
HR professionals should learn the basics of SEO and then collaborate with their internal IT and marketing teams. This collaborative effort will make sure recruiting is a priority throughout the organization and it will provide necessary checks and balances needed for success.