Jeremy Walker, (April 14, 2015)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a specialized practice, but it’s essentially relevant for all digital content, including content that’s relevant to most businesses — at least the ones that hire employees.
Developing careers-related content, listing open jobs and handling the application process is typically outsourced to a number of vertical experts such as talent acquisition software companies, skilled in helping businesses from the moment job seekers arrive at your site. Aggregators rank your job listings highly in organic search and help you attract applicants. But do you want to get your job listing pages ranked in organic search? Can you compete with job aggregators? Do your careers partners make this easy for you? Unfortunately in many cases, the answers to these questions is no.
To get all of your career content and open jobs listed in organic search, you have to start by using the same approach as with regular website content, and do three things:
Integrate your career content, job search and job listings within your primary domain. Talent acquisition software companies offer a hub hosted outside of your domain, which may be less expensive and less of a hassle. Companies often also hire an HR agency to help with careers content, but they create and host a separate site for this experience, leading to three negative consequences: 1) the user experience can be jarring, as the navigation, look and feel changes between your site, the career site and the job search/application site, 2) the content is outside of your control and cumbersome to optimize, and 3) this highly trafficked and valuable content doesn’t get the benefit of your primary domain’s authority and doesn’t substantively add to your domain’s authority. This isn’t just a contrast between the ideal and the practical—it often means that your job listings won’t appear in organic search results, even for branded searches. Work with your talent acquisition partner to integrate their content within your primary domain.
Analyze the landscape. As with all SEO, determining how jobs are being searched (top keywords) and getting a lay of the competitive landscape (how many pages include those keywords in the title tag) is critical. This will help set expectations with the HR team on how challenging it may be to fill the most important positions. Use Google Webmaster Tools or other SEO analysis tools to figure out how your current job listing pages are performing in search. Are search engines indexing this content? Do page titles for job listing pages reflect each specific listing? You’ll be surprised when you see what’s being used in your title tags, meta descriptions, H1 and URL. You’ll better understand how you’re doing and reveal the nature of your needs (no/some SEO best practices in place, some categories are appearing/others are not, etc.)
Employ SEO best practices in your careers and job listing pages. Use your research from step 2 in conjunction with your business priorities to build your optimization plan. Next, research the current process for job posting. Is this done manually or via automation? Are there steps in the process that are negatively impacting the work done at the start (e.g. an automated import doesn’t bring in specific content elements or writes over the optimized content each day)? Once you understand the process, determine the best point to inject your SEO efforts. Start by addressing the immediate issues you uncovered in step 2 and then work against your prioritized plan.
This may seem daunting. You may be making the first-ever effort to address search listings for your career and jobs content. But this is crucial to one of the most important elements of your business. Luckily, you might be the first business in your category to make these efforts, and you will reap significant rewards: increased traffic, more applicants and over time, less reliance on paid listings.