Search Engine Optimization for Startup Company Recruiting

Updated: June 28, 2010

Recruiting SEO how-to:

Many organizations organize their recruiting efforts through an ATS or Applicant Tracking System. If you're using an ATS, the first step of your SEO strategy must be to figure out which pages if any from your recruiting site are being intentionally blocked or inadvertently obscured from the view of search engine robots . Many ATS providers explicitly prevent robots from indexing content they've generated with robots.txt files. If that's the case with your ATS, your web developer will have to modify that file before your pages are accessible to search engine indexing.

Even if your content isn't being hidden by a robots.txt file, many systems make job board pages inaccessible to robots by placing content behind a search box where candidates input keywords to access postings. While this may work just fine as a human interface, a search engine robot trying to index your career site is incapable of entering data. Robots only find pages through hyperlinks; anything that exists behind an input box is hidden to them.

Before investing any time in SEO, perform this test to make sure that your career site is being indexed:

Point your browser to your career site and copy the full URL. Paste that URL into a Google search behind the phrase "Site:".

The search will return a full list of pages being indexed within that domain, anything not on that list cannot be found directly via search engine by a potential candidate. If you've found that some of your career pages aren't being indexed, it could be for one of the reasons mentioned above (a robots.txt file, postings behind keyword search bar), or it might also be that the pages require a login to view or are embedded within frames or pop-ups. In any case, you'll need to work with your web design or IT department to tweak your career site infrastructure to make it more SEO friendly.

Once you've got a good site structure in place, SEO for recruiting becomes like any other SEO project: you'll increase your search rankings by choosing good keywords, writing descriptive, keyword rich title and description tags, and creating back links to your site. And like other SEO projects, your investment appreciates over time but is unlikely to yield immediate results. Laying the groundwork for a good search-optimized site before you need it makes it more likely that a fresh job posting will float to the top of a search result page.

Choosing the right keywords:

Here are a few tips for drawing up a good list of keywords to work into the content of your job posts, use in meta tags and create back links with:

Job seekers very rarely search for company names in job queries. The best keyword phrases contain words for the job function and location.

If the position your hiring or your industry goes by more than one name, make sure that both appear in the content of your job post. Never rely only on abbreviations, even when they're standard for your industry.

Job search queries almost always contain a geographic keyword. To be found, your postings must contain the city name (and name of nearest metro area if the job will be located outside of a major city), the spelled out state name, and zip code.

Choose keyword phrases that are at least three to four words in length, they're easier to rank for, more specific, and more likely to be search for by serious candidates.

Use a few synonyms for "job" like "position" and "career."

Construct keyword phrases that will target candidates at different stages of their job search. Your prospects are likely to do searches for "salary" and "resume" during the preparing stages, just before they enter the market.

Title and description tags:

Many companies make the mistake of using generic title and description tags across all of the pages of their careers site. It's essential to a good SEO strategy to get strong keywords containing the relevant job title and location into the title tag.

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