Do You SEO, Bro?

Recently I was at an event where several professionals were discussing their talent attraction efforts, and at some point one of the participants asked, “Do you even SEO?” There were a few smirks and giggles at the way the question was worded, but to me it highlighted a really common occurrence: the person who asked the question probably didn’t get SEO.

They’re not alone. Smashfly reported in January that only 34 percent of Fortune 500 companies engage in “modern” recruitment marketing practices, which would include things like SEO (search engine optimization).

Poor SEO practices can cause your company to miss out on search engine traffic … ultimately costing you potential candidates. While SEO practices have evolved over the years and some argue is better thought of as a branding play rather than a marketing tactic, everyone agrees SEO still has relevance and strategies caring for it should have a place in your program plan.

Start with a SEO audit of your website and social sites that have also invested heavily in search engine marketing. Conduct your audits twice a year to make sure you’re fully “optimized,” so to speak. Start with the basics.

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SEO Basics

  1. Start with Keywords. Search engines rank your site based off of keywords, so when people go to Google, Bing, and the like to find a job, they use keywords and key terms to get the information they’re looking for. A 2013 study showed that 75 percent of users don’t go past page one of search results, so your goal is to be as high up on the list as possible. The No. 1 search result receives approximately 33 percent of clicks, and a 2012 study by Compete.Com showed 53 percent of organic search clicks go to the first link. Make a list of keywords and terms that your candidates are likely search for. Include your company name, jobs, interests, values, location, etc. SEMRush is a great tool to help you with keywords and their positioning. Once you have your keywords and terms established, be sure to use them in your messaging/copy, headings, and and with your images as alt text (it helps search engines “read” your images). Then create long-tail keywords (three-four words long) with more specific phrases your candidates are likely to enter to get your company.
  2. Domain Names and Suffixes. Now that you know your keywords, can you use them to your advantage in your career site URL? What about in your suffix (.com, etc). An excellent suffix for career sites is .jobs if you are creating a separate site from your primary corporate website. Your ideal domain name will have your company name, as well as a relevant keyword. If you can get a .jobs in there, that’s a bonus! When creating a new career site, don’t forget to submit your site map to Google to get a head start on ranking through early indexing.
  3. Take Advantage of Your Assets. Getting new fans and candidates isn’t the only way to put social media to work for you. They’ve invested heavily in search engine marketing, and search engines reward sites associated with active social media handles. Check to make sure you’re actively doing this with social media. If not, add a directive to your content marketing plan to link to your site regularly in post messaging for a rank boost.
  4. Featured Snippets (aka Direct Answers) Can Work for Your Employer Brand, Too. If you’re not familiar with Featured Snippets, Google explains them here. Glassdoor owns this space right now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get a leg up by creating your own “Frequently Asked Questions” page. Go through the questions asked by candidates before each audit, and make sure they’re cared for on your page as Google is showing Snippets in approximately 32 percent of queries and growing. When crafting your questions and answers, be direct and to the point. Use the language and words your candidates are likely to enter in the search bar. Ask the question and bullet-point the answer to up the odds that your site response will be the one Google features.
  5. Check Your Title Tags, Links and Pages.com should be your friend with every SEO audit you conduct. It will run through your site and tell you of any problems that need to be resolved with their free link check. Checking your title tags to ensure that they’re under 65 characters, that your meta tags are interesting and on-point while including brand mentions, and contain internal links (links to other pages within your website), will go a long way to making sure you ace your next SEO audit with flying colors. Don’t forget about your backlinks! Open Site Explorer (free & paid plans available) can show you a list of links pointing to your site. Run the same search on your competitors; you might find some opportunities to build backlinks and trends you need to take note of.
  6. Make Sure Nothing’s Broken. Code can become broken or corrupted for many reasons, but bottom line: you may not know when it happens. When it does, it can keep robots (and visitors) from searching your site, so include a check in your audit. Search Engine Spider Simulator is a great tool to use to ensure your content is readable. Don’t forget to ensure your audience can read your content from their mobile phone. Google’s “Mobile First Index” launched last year, and Google has said it is committed to using mobile as the “primary” means of indexing/ranking websites. Don’t put off mobile optimization.
  7. Feel the Need for Speed. Speed is your final factor in ensuring your functionality is up-to-date. Use Google’s Page Insight Tool to analyze your load time. It’ll give you some recommendations on how to improve your site, as well. If your site can’t load, it will impact your ranking in organic search rankings.

Following these guidelines and conducting an audit every six months will help you be able to feel confident in your SEO practices and boost your ranking to boot.

Crystal Miller Lay

Crystal Miller Lay is the CEO of Branded Strategies, building employment branding and recruitment marketing strategies for some of the world’s biggest brands. She has worked with start-ups to Fortune 15 companies to at the intersection of HR & marketing; creating campaigns and strategies that solve business problems, tell compelling corporate stories and share the meaning of work in engaging ways that drive results.

She has been a reliable expert source on the topics of talent attraction, talent acquisition, talent management, and digital strategy for multiple media outlets including CBS, Hanley-Wood, Mashable, and ABC. As an industry leader, she writes for outlets such as ERE and Recruiting daily, is recognized for expertise in employer branding, recruitment strategy & marketing, social media, community building, digital strategic solutions and speaks globally on the same.