How search engine optimisation (SEO) can impact talent attraction

Pubished 30th May 2019

In our daily lives it has become a routine process to find information using search engines, and this natural behaviour has inevitably transferred to the job searching experience. Candidates can now explore new career opportunities with a single swipe in the palm of their hands. Even though 73% of candidates start their job search on Google, more often than not careers sites are hard to find via search engines.

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Competition to attract the best talent online is fierce, bringing a need for search engine optimisation (SEO) to be part of a business’s talent acquisition strategy. If a business is ready to hire top quality candidates and looking to advertise roles, a strong, consistent and well-optimised online presence can go a long way.

Historically job-related search results were focussed on job boards, which have been doing well from an SEO perspective for many years. If the searcher added a branded term to their job-related search, the chances are that brand’s careers site would not have turned up on the first search engine result page (SERP) due to the number of competing boards. This lack of visibility on the SERP could be an untapped candidate pool for businesses as 75% of people never scroll past the first page of a Google search.

It is crucial for an employer that owns a website to build out a subfolder, subdomain or a microsite dedicated to careers and ensure job posts are optimised for search. Candidates utilising a careers site are able to apply on average 70% faster than traditional hiring methods. On top of this 64% of candidates found career sites to be the most valuable while researching new opportunities. Utilising this strategy can give an employer vital search visibility on search engines for branded job-related search terms.

Google has recently launched their job searching platform using AI and machine-learning engines to assist both candidates and employers. Approximately 30% of all Google searches are job-related, and therefore it’s no surprise that they decided to get involved in the candidate process. Now instead of job boards dominating the SERPs, candidates have easier access to relevant job data and rich supporting content on Google for Jobs.

It is important for employers to ensure their job posts are optimised with structured data and pass Google’s quality guidelines in order to appear in this feature. Adopters that implement this feature could see an increase in organic traffic to their job pages before their competition.

A US-based recruiter saw an increase of 600% in organic traffic to job listing pages when their jobs were indexed in the Google for Jobs feature. Although Google has not yet added paid functionality, it can be assumed that when this happens, organic results may be pushed further down the listings.

Another critical SEO factor that can influence a business’s ability to attract talent online is whether their website is mobile-friendly. Mobile recruitment is an indispensable tool as 9 out of 10 candidates now search for a job via mobile, with 45% searching at least once per day. It is vital for an employer to have a responsive website that candidates can navigate with ease and use on any mobile device.

In 2018 Google made two major updates to its search engine centred on mobile; the first being mobile-first indexing, focussing on security, speed, mobile-friendly design, and mobile SEO across all services. The second update made mobile site speed a core ranking factor in their search engine as for every extra second a website takes to load it loses 20% of its users. Only 39% of career websites are optimised for mobile, so businesses that ignore this strategy could find themselves being less favoured in the search rankings.

Career sites can be hard to find in search engines when organisations use an out-of-the-box Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to manage their jobs, most often globally. These packages were not built with SEO in mind, lacking the structured data needed to display in the SERPs. However replacing a legacy ATS with a more modern, mobile optimised alternative could be a costly move. Businesses could instead look at ATS integration with their website, enabling job detail pages to have keyword rich URLs to help deliver a quality candidate experience that also allows search visibility.

By deploying the right technology and SEO strategy, a business can increase the search visibility of their careers site for relevant job-searches. Google has levelled the playing field with their job search feature, meaning businesses and recruiters have as much chance of being seen in the SERPs as the big job boards. SEO also has ~20X more traffic opportunity than “pay per click” methods on both mobile and desktop, making it a cost-effective strategy to ensure a business is attracting the most suitable high-quality candidates to their website.