Getting SEO right for recruitment sites in the Brave New World

It’s been a while. That phrase probably sets all the context you need for this blog post.  I’ve sadly neglected this blog and not made the time to write.

I’m not particularly ashamed of that – we all need to go off and make money once in a while… it’s more that looking at this blog now in early 2014 the first thing that strikes me is what a different place we all inhabit than when I last posted here almost two years ago.

Today, when working with my recruitment clients, the acronym SEO has gradually taken on such a different meaning. It’s so much more about advice, pointers, myth-busting and hand-holding than it used to be.   Ten years ago, SEO practitioners had to ‘do’ stuff. Much less so, these days. Software (CMSs) has improved and the majority of sites do the majority of what they should do out-of-the-bag.  So SEO has become more about the creation and finessing of good content in many ways, rather than rolling eyes at a nasty mess of bad source code.

But let’s remind ourselves of the basics. The success factors in optimising recruitment sites still falls into three main groups:

  • On Page SEO - what you do on your site to help gain meaningful traffic from search engines
  • Off Page SEO – what you do away from your site to help gain meaningful traffic from search engines
  • Compliance - being aware of and responding to guidance, intelligence and feedback from search engines, their rules, violations, warnings, etc. 

You can read more on this here on SearchEngineLand

There are some things a SEO practitioner can influence and others that only the web content / admin person can.  Generally, the sway is still moving towards the latter and away from the former.

Just as social becomes increasingly important as a signal of quality and relevance, spam and poor quality or paid-for inbound links are weeded out as considered violations that can lead to penalties.

Neither of us has much control over that. We can simply put in the request to Google to help us clean it up – but ultimately we are at their behest.

Coming from an SEO background, we built FXRecruiter (our recruitment website CMS / marketing software) from the ground up with SEO in mind, so those “on page factors” that we can influence, we already do.  I won’t isolate any of our competitors – most people in software development have got a grip on SEO over the years. It’s not just us. The rest is really about content (which we don’t traditionally do) and links (mainly social – but all of which you should not try and ‘rig’, anyway.

Good relevant content will naturally get linked to and shared anyway.  We’ve always said this. Google’s always known it. Nothing new, but worth chanting…!  This will reward you in traffic and ranking.   But better still, it rewards you with engagement and quality relationships with your visitors.

We think the fundamental principle is the same as it has always been: Content is King. Google is getting better at finding the good content and filtering the trash.  Of course it is.  It has to.

Most decent website CMS systems will help Google make ‘sense’ of that content, and we are proud of the high traffic sites we have developed using the FXRecruiter CMS.

As a recruiter, the majority of your content is your jobs and we’ve said that many times before. This is what the majority of your audience are looking for. Your keywords are actually obvious from the categories and locations you serve:

[job title] in [category] in [location] – e.g. “project manager in IT in London”

You then have more generic search terms for which our landing pages are optimised, e,g,

“IT Jobs” – don’t expect to rank well for this – or get good quality referrals as it’s not specific to what you do. There will be sites more relevant than yours in Google’s view.

“IT Jobs in Oil & Gas in Buenos Aires” – high chance of performing well – more relevant to what you do.

You should see SEO as one part of a holistic and measured digital marketing process that should also encompass email, social, content syndication.

Erm… still.

Evenbase has acquired Jobrapido, for €30m

Just to prove how important feeding your jobs to the job aggregation sites is, Evenbase has just bought JobRapido for a staggering €30m (or c. £25m)

Evenbase (owners of Broadbean and Jobsite amongst other big players) have brought their competition closer to home to ride the powerful stats of the job aggregator – with

“Last month, Jobsite had 5m unique visitors; Jobrapido had 32m – we’ve gone from 5m to 37m,” Evenbase chief executive Keith Potts said.

Read more here on the Recruiter wesbsite www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2012/04/jobrapido-acquisition-supercharges-evenbase/

More jobseekers using social media in the USA

Fascinating report into the current US job market sparked my interest. I’m usually careful about reblogging or assuming that what goes in the US is relevant to my UK clients, but this report By Jobvite (PDF) contains lots of food for thought.

It stands to reason really when you understand that referrals are still fundamentally the most common way to secure a new job.

Young professionals build their networks faster and generate more referrals online (when compared to previous generations still using more traditional methods) and social media is the arena for that networking more and more.

The astronomical growth of social networks has created a new way for companies and candidates to connect online.   Nielsen calculates social network traffic grew by 43% from June 2009 to June 2010, and social network activity is now the single largest activity online, dwarinng online games, email and search. And Americans are now turning to their social networks to find jobs.

  • 44% of all job seekers cited referrals and/or social networks as the source of their most recent job, compared to 32% for job boards (note, respondents could select multiple options).
  • 18% of respondents ages 18-24 and 19% of respondents ages 25-34 used social networks to find their current job, compared to 9% of those 35-44,  4% of those 45-54 , and 1% of those 55+.
  • Extrapolated to the national adult population, approximately 14.4 million US American job seekers would credit online social networks for their current/most recent job.

Read the report here

Completing the loop: What are you spending your money on?

It sounds a simple question, but how important is SEO to your recruitment website?  I honestly don’t know.  Did you expect me to?  How could I possibly know – you haven’t shown me the figures… so I can’t say.

You do have the figures… don’t you?  Don’t you?

If you’re putting any effort into marketing your recruitment company you’ll have some good idea of the cost of using various channels

  • SEO
  • Pay Per Click
  • Social Media Optimisation
  • Email Marketing
  • Other online advertising or sponsorship
  • Print media, newspapers, directories, Yell.com, etc etc.

… but it’s not about costs – is it.  If expenditure was about cost we’d all live in the woods under tarpaulin.   It’s about value.  What’s the value to your recruitment website of every pound you spend on any of the channels

And I’m not talking about value of a click – those are just flattery.  Surely you’re measuring your marketing in terms of a good CV or ultimately a placement.  What’s worth most to you – a click from Google on some long-tail search, or one of the 500 hits your site just sent out from its email alerts.

  • What’s the best source of good CVs?
  • Which keywords are generating the most placements?

If you’re asking those type of questions, you’re on the right track.  Job Aggregator Indeed.com have spruced up and modernised an old marketing phrase relating to the Four As of Advertising and in their white paper remind recruiters how they can only have true control over ROI for marketing if they think like a CFO and observer the four A’s:

  1. Assign
  2. Automate
  3. Analyze
  4. Adjust

I won’t go into it verbatim here, but I’m particularly keen on the “Automate” angle of recording marketing expenditure – and am currently helping a client to do this.  We’re looking at

  • Providing full referrer information in a consultant’s application email (Source of click, keywords typed (if search) etc.)
  • Providing a linkback to the Recruitment Database (in this case the FXRecruiter website also doubles as the database)
  • Full custom reporting system that can pull application and referrer data from the database into easy to view graphs and spreadsheets.

Basically, it’s about filling the gap that currently exists between spending your money on marketing and getting good candidate CVs through the door and getting paid for making placements.  And recruitment is all about filling the gap – right?

Vanity Search nets a good job

If you think you’re working hard to get the right candidates in the right posts, think how hard some candidates are working…

Alec Brownstein, a 28 year old New Yorker who was in need of copywriting work.

Alec’s plan was to play upon the the guilty pleasure of ‘Vanity Searches’ (Googling your own name) and paid for Google PPC ads using the keyword of the name of his targeted big-shot employers. When those employers Googled themselves (go on – we all do….) the ‘sponsored’ result they saw was Alec Brownstein’s pay-per-click Advert, pointing them to his own website.

The clicks on all the ads cost a total of $6 – and he’s now employed. Nice work.

Recruitment Websites “by design”

One of the common problems we have to overcome is ‘design’ not really being about ‘design’ at all – but being about visual appeal.

I posted this earlier today on the Reverse Delta blog but thought it worth posting here… though I guess I’m preaching to the converted here if you’re reading a blog about Recruitment SEO!

http://www.reversedelta.co.uk/blog/seo/recruitment-website-design-the-familiar-challenge/

Flash and SEO – understanding the balance and implications.

We understand the importance of the Brand – all companies need to keep careful control of how they come across to their audience – and the importance of presenting a good image to your audience – whether clients or candidates – on your website is very high. You only get one chance in many ways.

Visually, your site needs to do the job well, and we must accept that one of the big tools in ‘grabbing’ people is animated, (usually Flash) graphics in some way. There’s no avoiding it… things that ‘move’ tend to work. (Within reason – we’ve all been to sites that are way, way too annoying before!).

The problem is, of course, that Flash is effectively a graphical interface – the words or messages in Flash are not indexed by Google or any search engines. They’re ‘empty’ words as far as SEO goes. So does that mean you should be avoiding Flash for your new recruitment website? Well… not really, but you do need to get the balance right. Continue reading