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More and more often in digital environments we hear about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which a series of techniques that allow you to make your content more visible on search engines.
In the world of HR, when we talk about “search engine” we are not only referring to Google, Bing or Yahoo but to a whole set of job boards and job aggregators.
In fact, it is true that even in 2020 most job searches start on Google, but it is also true that almost all the results on Google then refer you to job boards.
Let’s take an example:
Looking for “Milan marketing work” on Google we usually get:
Paid ads, generally of large job Boards
Some organic ads of big job Boards (e.g. LinkedIn, Indeed, Jobtome, Monster…)
The Google For Jobs box
Other organic ads of big job boards
Very few organic results from specific companies
If, for example, we look for “Exelero job offers” we will probably find some pages published by Exelero among the first results, then the job board announcements.
The techniques we present in this article will be used to optimize ads on all search engines.
How to optimize a job description
In order to be able to write a winning description, attention must be paid to some fundamental aspects:
Ready? Here we go!
The first fundamental concept of SEO is that of keywords (“keywords”).
Every HR, before writing their ad, should make a quick analysis to understand which are the most searched for words in relation to the position to be opened, in order to include them in their ad.
In fact, although Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have made great strides in recent years, it is still very important to use the right words in a job advertisement. This is basically for two (related) reasons:
Search engines still give a lot of weight to the exact matching of keywords
Users who find a result that contains the keyword they have typed are generally more involved and more likely to click on the ad
For these reasons, keyword research is the basis of an effective job advertisement.
How do you do keyword research?
To find the most important keywords for our job ad we will use a free tool provided by Google: Google Ads (called Google Adwords until 2018).
This tool is used to publish advertising campaigns on Google, so it is possible that your Marketing department has already activated an account. Alternatively, you can easily create one by following the steps: it’s very simple and free.
Within Google Adwords we look for the Keyword planner tool.
Once this is done, click on “Find new keywords”, and write the title of the job offer you have in mind.
For example, let’s imagine that we are looking for a Marketing Director, and then write Marketing Director in the search bar.
In this bar we can enter up to 10 keywords, so we can expand.
At this point we will get various results, but what interests us most is the “Average monthly searches”. This data indicates how many times the keyword we have entered is searched every month on average on Google.
Of course we are interested in keywords with a higher search volume. If, for example, we noticed that “Sales manager” has a search volume of XXXXXXX and “Sales manager” of YYYYY should opt for the first option.
However, since “Sales Director” is also very much sought after, we can also keep this word in store, using it less prominently than the first.
Main Keyword: the term with the highest search volume
Secondary Keyword: Another term with a high search volume.
The Google Ads Keyword Planner also offers us new ideas from the keywords we’ve entered, so we can see if there are any other terms that we didn’t think of initially. Unfortunately, however, Ads will not return results in a language other than the one set.
We also always consider that other generic keywords such as “job offers” or “job seekers” have very high search volumes (you can check) and we can use them to better signify our ad.
How do we use the keywords we found?
Once we find the keywords, we have to use them. The main keyword must appear in the title (as described in point 2 below). We also try to repeat the main keyword 5-6 more times within the description. We suggest that you definitely include it at least once in the first paragraph of the ad.
In addition, we also try to enter secondary keywords that we may have detected.
It is important to be careful with the repetition of keywords. Depending on the length of the ad we can use more or less keywords.
Let’s say 5-6 repetitions of the main keyword are good for a 350-400-word ad. For the ideal ad length we refer to point 6 below.
N.B. when we say “use the keyword” we mean that the keyword should be entered as it is, without modifying it.
If the keyword for example was “Sales Manager”:
– Sales great Manager
– Sales Director
– Manager of Sales
– Person managing Sales
When publishing a job advertisement, an HR person should become a bit like a Marketing Manager and try to make their advertisement interesting and attractive for candidates.
Even if we had the most incredible job offer in the world on our hands but then published it under the wrong title, it may not generate many applications.
It is vital that our main keyword at the beginning of the sentence is included in the title.
Why at the beginning of the sentence?
because search engines like it better
because on any search engine, on a page full of results our ad will be immediately clear to users
Depending on the length of the main keyword we can consider whether to add more words, but taking into consideration that inserting too many, however, the title will be cut.
We avoid entering generic words such as “job offer” or “candidates now” because they have no concrete value for candidates. Rather, we prefer a few words that better define the advertisement, such as “Reserved protected categories” or “Part-time” or “Remote work”.
P.S. in some cases the URL of the page is also taken from the title. This is also an important element, but remeber it’s better to keep the title short.
The meta description is a short description that is presented, together with the title, in the search engine result pages.
Usually it is about 160 characters (one and a half lines, maximum 2) in which the content of the ad is summarized very briefly.
In some cases job boards and job sites allow you to enter it (it may appear as “Description”), alternatively they will create one automatically from the content of the offer. Of course, when we have the opportunity to choose it, it is worth taking advantage of this opportunity.
The purpose of the meta description is to entice candidates to read the offer, so let’s focus on this.
Basically, the title and meta description will be your business card, and the first elements that candidates will see of your ad, so it is important that they are clear and attractive.
When we publish an ad on our company website or on some job boards (unfortunately not all of them) we will have the possibility to use titles and subtitles, which are called headings. The main Heading is called H1, the secondary H2 and so on.
Usually it is advisable to use only one H1 and match it with the page title.
We use H2 to distinguish the various sections of the ad. For example, we can indicate as H2 the sections “Company description”, “Description of the offer”, “Requirements” etc.
Structuring the ad using headings on the one hand will make the ad more orderly in the eyes of the candidates, and will also make it easier for search engines to read the ad, and finally also create better organized content.
Bulleted lists are also great for search engines as they present offers in a clear and structured way.
They are also well regarded by the candidates, who then have at their disposal an organized “list” of activities that are required by the role, and characteristics of the ideal candidate.
Of course, not all parts of the ad must be organized by points, as there may be sections (or parts of them) in free text. For example, the description of the company may not be structured by points, while for sections specifying tasks, responsibilities and characteristics of the candidates, a bullet point list is preferable.
A short advertisement is not very valued in the search. Little content means little information, and little information is not appreciated by candidates.
On the other hand, ads that are lengthy are also not read.
Ideally the best length for an article is around 350-400 words.
It looks like a lot of information but by structuring the ad by paragraphs, as well as with bulleted lists, it will be easy to add or remove items depending on the length reached.
Of course, special cases and complex positions may require more length, which is not a problem at all. In general, it is better to adopt an informative approach (without exaggerating though!).
It is difficult for a candidate to get all the information they want from a simple description of the company, especially about who the company is and what it does in practice. So probably, if they’re interested in the ad, they’ll probably start getting information online, visiting the company’s website and reading reviews from users or employees on the network.
A great tip is to include links to your organization’s website within the description. In this way:
You will prove to be open and welcoming
You will direct the candidate directly to the pages that you consider most important to him/her (you could also create ad hoc pages)
You will prevent the candidate from running into any negative reviews on Google
As we have seen, the importance of Google for Jobs boxes is increasing.
A necessary part to be inserted in these boxes is the presence of structured data on the page containing the job description.
Please note that structured data can only be placed on a site owned by you, so this topic only concerns those ads that you publish on your site, not on job boards.
Structured data, as the name says, is data sorted according to a clear structure. Basically what we will do by applying the structured data to the job advertisement will be saying to the search engines: “This text contains the description of the offer”, “This text contains the date when the position was opened”, “This text contains information on where the job will take place” and so on.
Having the information ordered in this way will allow Google to immediately obtain from your ad all the information it needs to add it in its Google For Jobs box.
How do you implement structured data?
We are entering a somewhat technical topic, which will require the intervention of a developer or someone who has access to Google Search Console or Google Tag Manager. Alternatively, if you manage your career page with WordPress, there are also free plugins that allow you to add these “markups” in a quick and easy way.
The type of structured data that we have to apply to the pages is called “jobPosting”.
This structured data must contain the following information:
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