Recruitment website optimisation part 2: SEO for job postings

Ailis Rhodes

In the competitive world of recruitment, getting your job ad seen is as much about incorporating SEO into your own role as it is into your job listing.

Our previous guide on SEO essentials for recruitment websites detailed the practices for technical optimisation but in this blog post, we’re shifting the focus onto the individual job listings; namely, what makes a well-optimised job ad from an on-page content perspective?

With so many job listings going live each day, getting yours to rank organically, hold candidates’ attention and encourage applications may seem like an insurmountable challenge. But don’t worry, this article will help you get to grips with some job posting best practices that are proven to improve performance while being friendly to users (and to Google). I’ve optimised hundreds of job adverts in my time as a content marketer and it’s amazing how much of an impact a few small on-page tweaks can have on performance.

Whether you’re writing a job advert from scratch or looking for ways  to transform an underperforming listing, with these job posting SEO tips you’ll be one step closer to boosting visibility and engagement – and hopefully filling those vacancies with the perfect candidates.

Keyword research for recruitment SEO

Keywords are vital for recruitment – after all, everything starts with the job search. To create a killer listing, you need to build a clear picture of your ideal candidates and then find the terms they are using to search for your role.

Here are some recruitment keyword research tips from our content team:

If this is more than a one off task and you’re looking to conduct keyword research for a whole host of listings, our content strategists can help you find the best keyword opportunities and tell you exactly how to compete for each.

E.g. Keyword research related to ‘Digital PR jobs’

Digital PR job keywords example

Optimise your job listing

Now you know who you’re trying to attract and the keywords they’re using to search for a job, the next step is to tailor your listing to match.

Page title

As the most important ranking factor, you should take extra care to optimise your page title. It should be clear and concise (no more than 70 characters) and should include relevant keywords e.g. ‘SEO Consultant Job – Builtvisible’

When deciding on the job title to display on your listing page, we’d recommend keeping this short and sweet, for example ‘Commercial Lawyer | London’ vs. ‘3PQE+ Commercial Lawyer Opportunity – Boutique Firm – City of London | £Competitive & benefits’

Despite some recruiters believing a longer job title helps their ad stand out,  job boards tend to prioritise the listings with more relevant titles.

However, don’t take it too far in the opposite direction. Abbreviated job titles could also harm the chances of your ad ranking e.g. ‘Snr Management’ and ‘FC’ (Financial Controller).

Meta description

Although not a specific ranking factor, the meta description is still important in recruitment SEO. It can be optimised to contain key terms and attractive selling points about the role which can encourage users to click through from the search engine results page.

Meta description example

Short description box

While the meta description refers to the text underneath the title on a search engine results page, another area that is frequently neglected is the short description box on a job board. Not all job sites have this feature, but when they do, it serves as a meta-description equivalent.

Here’s an example of how short descriptions appear on site:

Short description job post example

This  box offers the opportunity to encourage the user to click through to the job page. However, when neglected, these descriptions are automatically taken from the first few lines of ad copy. Customising this short description box may take a fraction more time, but it is well worth it to grasp the attention of the right candidates.

Before

We are partnering with a very exciting start-up who take on a broad variety of fun and interesting work. They are seeking a bright, ambitious and talented individual to join their team…

After

London based start-up seeks graduate graphic designer | Varied and exciting client work | Up to £22K per annum + flexible working and benefits

Main body copy

Use your target keywords, synonyms and variants to guide the copy throughout your listing. Make sure not to overload your job description with too many keywords as this keyword ‘stuffing’ could potentially negatively impact your advert.

Location targeting

Location-oriented keywords are also important as often candidates search for things such as ‘marketing assistant jobs London,’ so mentioning the job location in the copy is useful for the candidate as well as Google.

Call to action

Every job advert should contain a clear call to action. This should ideally include a keyword and let candidates know how they can apply.

E.g. To apply for this Marketing Executive role based in London, please get in touch with your CV today.

Create a clear structure for your job listing

Not only does a well-structured job description have a positive impact on user experience, but an advert broken down with headers and bullet points can directly impact job ad performance.

A clear structure can encourage more applications

Keep your ad brief and structure it with bullets and clear sections to encourage candidates to spend more time reading and increase your chances of them applying.

Job structure example

Aim for a sensible word count

There’s no golden rule, however, too long and your USPs get lost in a sea of information, too short and the candidate may not get a true sense of the role.

The balance may lie somewhere in the middle. Research by Appcast.io revealed that the click to apply rate for ads with around 350 – 1,600 words was 5 times greater than shorter / longer listings.

Keep it mobile-friendly

Over 50% of candidates apply via mobile so it’s important to consider how your ad will appear on a small screen.

For example, here’s the same ad on our site, desktop view vs. mobile view.

Desktop job exampleMobile job exampleMobile job example (animated)

Chunky paragraphs and long lists of responsibilities are overwhelming on mobile and force job seekers to scroll endlessly. Make sure your ad gets straight to the point with clear job specs and a call to action.

For more tips on how you can improve your site for mobile users, view our full guide to mobile search and SEO.

Choose the right job board category

It may seem obvious, but categorising your ad with the right industry sector, experience level, contract type etc. will not only help your listing rank well, but it will help you attract the right candidates. Most searchers start with broad terms and then filter down their preferences by category.

If you’re posting a high volume of ads, it’s easy to disregard these finer details, but keeping the facets consistent with the information in the advert will help the candidate find what they’re looking for.

Job ad content: how to write a job description that counts

Generally speaking, the more details you can give to applicants, the better. But keep in mind that a job advert is a summary of the job which should contain clear, concise information and USPs. Including too much information could result in a very long job ad with a high bounce rate.

Be transparent with salary and benefits

A recent survey by Indeed.com found that out of 1,000 people seeking a new role, 83% believed that good pay and compensation were an important factors when job seeking and 42% said that they were more likely to apply for a job with a variety of benefits.

Rather than displaying ‘Competitive’ or ‘Negotiable’, where possible, you should display an exact salary figure or use a sensible salary bracket so you are not misleading the candidate.

If you’re under strict instruction to omit the salary for a particular listing, then the experience level should be made clear and a detailed list of benefits (such as a pension scheme, private healthcare and bonuses) should be included.

Responsibilities will include

If you have a long list of responsibilities, limit it to 5-10 priorities. Title the section ‘Responsibilities will include’ and save the longer list for successful applicants. In search engine results pages, candidates can be intimidated by a long list of responsibilities at first, so avoid this if possible.

Example: Applying Job Posting Best Practices

Digital PR job example 1Digital PR job example 2Digital PR job example 3

Now you’ve got the blueprint of a good job ad, you’re ready to start applying these best practices to all your existing and future listings to ensure that you are maximising the organic potential of your job listings. To ensure that you’re not undoing all your hard work, here are some final pieces of recruitment SEO advice:

Don’t duplicate your adverts

As tempting as it may be, reposting the same optimised advert may harm its overall performance on a job board. It’s fine to include recruiter footers with contact details or ‘boilerplate’ text, but just make sure each individual listing is unique.

Don’t expire your listings early

Expiring your listing prematurely can have a negative impact on job board reporting. This cuts the time frame of performance measurement short, so the impact of job optimisation cannot sufficiently be measured. Not only this, but it can disappoint candidates in the process. They may have saved a particular job, only to find it has expired which can undermine confidence in your brand and deter applications.

Deal with expired listings carefully

When you eventually do need to expire a listing, pages should be dealt with carefully as Google can now enforce manual action if sites fail to comply. View tips on how to correctly handle expired job posting pages here.

What about Google for Jobs?

Where on page optimisation is concerned, there is a large degree of overlap between best practices for job sites and Google for Jobs. A well-written, well-optimised ad with appropriate meta elements will have potential to rank on Google and Google for Jobs.

One of the key things you can do to boost your ad’s visibility in G4J is to implement Google’s recommended structured data format. This makes your job ad eligible to appear in Google Search results like so:

Google search results: jobs

To optimise your listing for Google for Jobs, we recommend the following:

These steps can make the difference if you want to rank in Google for Jobs as well as regular searches.


I hope you’ve found these job posting SEO tips useful. For information on optimising your recruitment website beyond individual listings, view our extended guide here.

As well as SEO, our agency offers expert services in Content Strategy, Data and Digital PR. To see how we could help your business get the recognition it deserves, check out our case studies and resources for more.

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