Search engine optimisation. SEO. A dark art or simply an understanding of how the search engines decide the order of the links they deliver as a result of a specific search? Is it the domain of the ‘SEO guru’ or the application of a few ‘essentials’ to ensure that your careers website, page or job is delivered as high up the search results list as possible?

Whatever your level of knowledge around the way that search engines operate – and believe us they change all the time – there are some fundamental principles that will always remain true. And these are what we’re going to talk through today. Because search engine optimisation is just that, optimising your site, pages and jobs to be delivered as a result of specific searches. And the more you optimise, the better the results.

Search engine friendliness

The truth is that all websites should be search engine friendly. The code, structure, meta information, core content and job details should all be produced in line with development best practice. This combined with use of Google Search Console will see your website successfully indexed. But if you’re looking for your website to be indexed for specific key words or phrases, then you have to make sure that your website is optimised for those specific key words or phrases. That is search engine optimisation.

What is search engine optimisation?

What it isn’t … is a single magic silver bullet. It’s an understanding of the different aspects that the search engines are looking for when indexing a website. Some of this is about search engine friendliness, but it is also around candidate experience, compelling content, the visibility of your jobs, etc.

But first … a little reality check

Do any search that centres around job or careers on Google. What do you see? Chances are the top listings will include Indeed, large generalist job boards and smaller niche job boards. This isn’t a big surprise; they sit at the top of the vacancy rankings for a reason. They they’ve been around for years, are big, powerful and use a combination of good SEO and paid advertising.

While this article will help you improve the performance of your careers website, it’s highly unlikely to get your website, pages or jobs listed above those of these big players. So realistically your objective may end up being the highest-ranking careers website for a specific search, for example ‘shoe design jobs’. That is certainly achievable.

Start with the mobile experience

Chances are over 50% of the visitors to your careers website will be using a mobile device. Therefore, it makes sense to assume that mobile is also where your target audience of job seekers will be searching for jobs. That’s why you have to start with mobile. What’s more, whether you have a careers website or just some vacancy postings you want to get found, Google is very interested in your mobile experience. If your pages are hard to find, slow to load on mobile – even if they are fine on your desktop version – you’ll be marked down in search rankings.

Ensure your site is as fast as possible

Google measures the speed of your careers site and judges that a good user experience is a fast user experience. A slow careers site or vacancy posting turns off candidates and impacts SEO. Research by found that 47% of people expect a site to load in less than two seconds – so it’s likely a similar expectation will apply to a careers site. Some of the things you can do to speed up your site include moving to a faster server and reducing your image file sizes. Google’s new Page Experience algorithm will go live in May 2021 and give another reason to focus on site speed. Why not use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to find out how you can improve your site speed.

Get your careers website set up for Google for Jobs

Google for Jobs has been designed to simplify and speed up the process of job hunting for job seekers. By simply coding your job details pages in line with Google’s requirements, then your roles will appear in Google’s job search box by matching what your candidates have been searching for. Simple and free. Some of our clients have reported a 60% increase in job views as a result of their jobs being indexed by Google. Why not get a copy of ‘Our little guide to Google for Jobs’ ebook.

Write good job postings

Sometimes the most obvious things get overlooked. Google is looking for websites to act and talk in a way that feels human. Which means that your badly written vacancy posting could have a negative impact on your search engine performance. Stop ‘cutting and pasting’ your job description and person specification and calling that a vacancy posting. You might think it’s OK and has all the facts. But will it engage your audience and sell the opportunity? Hardly. Remember, if you think it is dull to read, so will Google. And your candidates will too. Here’s a quick guide to writing an effective job posting.

Use job titles that people will be searching for

You might have a really great line in funky job titles. Customer Delight Officer, Employee Happiness Manager, Recruitment Superstar – all look great on the business card – but are really not what your candidates are actually searching for. If they aren’t searching for it – it’s no use for your SEO. Talk in your candidate’s language. Use job titles that mean something.

Use relevant keywords

Beyond the job title there are other words that will help your candidates find your roles. A good way to come up with the right keywords for your job posting is to think about the ideal candidate and what you imagine they will type on the search engine when looking for a job. The job title will always be the first, but other facets of the role may come into play. It would help if you put the appropriate keywords in your headlines and subtitles. In a recruitment role context, you might use resourcing, talent attraction, talent acquisition and of course, don’t forget the location.

Optimise for voice

Remember we started by talking about the importance of a good mobile experience? Voice search mainly happens on mobile devices and research has shown that 56% of all voice searches are made via mobiles (BrightLocal). It’s therefore a given that candidates are using their mobiles for job searches too. That’s why your best SEO strategy to capitalise on voice searches is to have a mobile friendly site.

On a keyboard we might type “Marketing jobs Bristol” but with a voice search, we’ll ask that as a question which will sound more conversational. “Show me marketing jobs in Bristol” Or, “show marketing jobs near me”. So, you’ll need to list the location in the copy. In practice, having your vacancies set up for Google for jobs will contain all the location details a voice search will need.

Optimise your images

Google doesn’t just search for keywords in text, it also searches for how image files are saved and titled. If your post uses an image and you’ve called it ‘Image1’ that won’t mean anything, but ‘Women in IT image – Data Science Jobs – NFU Mutual Careers’ will.

Use videos on your careers pages

From an SEO perspective, videos help improve your online visibility. Users are more likely to click on video links on search engine result pages. Research by SEO Inc. found that when compared to click through rates on plain text-based content, video click-through is 41% higher. Also, videos are more likely to get more organic search rankings because there is less competition amongst them as compared to plain text.

Share vacancies across your social channels

You can boost your SEO by having your vacancies shared by users on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It also increases your search rank, given that search engines take the shares into consideration for the generation of search results algorithms. So, engage your employees to start talking about your opportunities and sharing with their friends and networks too. Find out more about how social media will help support your employer brand.

Make use of landing pages

Google loves landing pages. It means that you should stop thinking about your website as a single entity, but actually a set of landing pages all stitched together with a clear navigation and a consistent look and feel. By developing pages aimed at specific job families or office locations, we can be sure that our content is matches the searches that job seekers are carrying. As a result, it could be that these landing pages could often become the entry point of your careers website. Not everyone will be entering your careers website from the home page.

Don’t forget about a blog

Blogs are a great way to create and share content that helps your candidates apply for a role. Interview tips, CV writing, how to apply etc – these are topics that will first attract interest, and you can then redirect them through a link to your company’s career page where they may get interested on your vacancies and apply.

So, how does your careers site measure up?

If you are interested in careers website SEO, the chances are you’ll also want to know what else could be improved with your site. That’s why we have developed our Careers Website Audit. The audit will benchmark your careers website against best practice in site content – and a whole lot more. We also look at design, structure, functionality, and candidate experience.

To get a free copy of your Careers Website Audit, simply complete the request form. We’ll review your website against our key criteria and within 24-48 hours we’ll pass you back our findings. We think that you’ll find the results of the audit really very interesting.

In conclusion

You don’t need to be a search engine expert to successfully optimise your careers site. If you think about the experience your candidate would enjoy – and create well written vacancies, a fast site and other features that enhance that – then you’ll be doing many of the things that contribute to good SEO and give your website, pages and vacancies a much better chance of being found.

For further information

If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around your careers website and SEO, just drop me a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea, a biscuit and a Zoom call.