Wondering why you’re having a difficult time attracting a waterfall of talent when everyone is still complaining about a tough job market? If your most recent search to hire the next Director of All Things Awesome isn’t panning out the way you expected–that stampede didn’t exactly knock down your door did it?–we’re guessing you may not have considered what Google thinks of your job.
No, we don’t mean call over to Mountain View and ask the Googlers what they think of your latest LinkedIn listing. We mean you’re not thinking like an online marketer–and you’re leaving way too many opportunities on the table. In a world where everyone looks to search engines to find what they need, job applicants are exhibiting the same behaviors as buyers shopping for a major purchase–which means they need to be managed with the same tactics. So if you want to improve your job applicant pool, it’s time to start attracting talent like its 2014—using search engine optimization to get your jobs found.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the science and art of getting your content indexed by search engines so that it is returned in the results when applicable searches are performed. For hiring managers this means having your job show up when searches matching your industry or open position are performed. It requires a mix of SEO best practices for setting up job postings and descriptions on your company website and third party listings as well as more advanced SEO tactics for optimal results.
SEO for Your Job Descriptions
The simplest and most immediate SEO best practices to implement in your hiring are to optimize on site job description structures. Each job description should have a standardized format with proper HTML formatting to help search engines figure out what your job description is all about. A sample structure is:
1. <h1> Title tags
The H1 tag tells the search engine the main point of the page. This should be your job title. Remember that this title should reflect a search that your prospective applicant might perform. So even if your position is titled Director of Awesomeness, unless your job applicants are going to be searching for that specific phrase, choose something else. Select something that informs both the search engines and human searchers.
2. <h2> and <h3> Subheadings
Just as you wouldn’t read through an unorganized mass of text, search engines and job applicants need help sorting out subtopics. If you have a specific set of job requirements, use <h2> and <h3> tags to group them together and organize them by a name that search engines and job applicants can understand.
3. <ol> and <ul> Lists
Use list tags to break up keywords and components that you’re looking for such as specific skill sets, training, education or experience.
Job Term Keyword Research
The second most important activity to improve your hiring SEO is to perform keyword research to understand what your job applicants are trying to find. If you’re trying to hire an inside sales professional but the industry is trending towards Inbound Business Development Executive in search queries, keyword research can help uncover this. Utilizing free tools such as Google Trends, Google AdWords Keyword Planner or Spyfu’s free version can help uncover similar keywords that may generate more traffic and clicks.
Backlinks and Social Signals
More advanced SEO strategies include generating key backlinks to your content as well as notable social signals. Google has explained that valuable backlinks, as well as regular social activity, signal to search engines that your content is legitimate and worthy of ranking. By posting your job on relevant forums (don’t forget niche forums, such as marketing job boards for your next social media manager position), including in-context links to relevant content and using natural anchor text to connect the dots for search engines, you will increase the potential for improved rankings dramatically.
In addition, while social signals influence SEO by correlation rather than causation, including social share options within job descriptions, posting social links to your job descriptions and covering job listings in blog posts, Google+ posts and in other company social profiles can only help SEO efforts. Consider including job application tabs where available—Facebook offers some advanced options for including job postings in company pages—and don’t forget to encourage sharing of job posts by active employees.
In general, employing any or all of these SEO strategies can only improve your job applicant pool by simply making it easier for job searchers to find your listing. By continuing to engage in ongoing SEO best practices, future job postings will benefit from a historically strong search engine ranking and incoming applications should continue to improve over time.