SEO for Recruitment: A Guide To Attract Quality Candidates

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SEO for Recruitment: A Guide To Attract Quality Candidates

In a crowded market, how can you attract top talent to your company through your job boards and career pages? An SEO recruitment strategy can help you to stand out above your competitors looking for the same candidates but also help you to target the type of candidates you’re looking for. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) may be a bit technical, but this guide will help to unpack what exactly SEO is and how you can use it to attract the right caliber of applicants. 

Why is SEO important in recruitment? 
Introduction to SEO Recruitment 
How to use SEO in recruitment

Why is SEO important in recruitment? 

You might be wondering whether SEO will benefit you as an HR professional or recruiter. There are several reasons why SEO can be highly beneficial in recruitment: 

  1. The term “job application” has risen by 100% in Google search queries over the last year. Another study also showed that over 70% of job seekers start job hunting on Google. Optimizing SEO can ensure that your company ranks well to help attract the most suitable candidates.  
  2. Using the correct SEO techniques, you can also increase the visibility of your jobs for your ideal target audience. 
  3. Getting more visitors to your careers page and jobs board allows you to position your company amongst the top talent. 
  4. SEO drives traffic to your website and adds value to your employer brand. As your search engine rankings improve, your company will become more known and can build credibility with potential candidates. 

Introduction to SEO Recruitment 

What is SEO?

SEO is the practice of improving a website or webpage to increase its visibility and techniques used to assist your website in appearing on search result pages. As the quote attributed to Content Factory surmises: “ If you’re going to post content on your site anyway, you might as well take the time to make sure Google takes notice of your effort.”

More specifically: 

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  • SEO boosts your presence in search results to get more leads and sales, and in the case of recruitment, to increase visibility with quality candidates to hire. 
  • SEO uses your page description and title to appear on Google or search engines when someone searches for a particular term.
  • SEO involves incorporating keywords, which are terms that people use to search for information on a search engine, into your copy and website elements.
  • SEO drives ranking and visibility for the website and the pages.

There are several other factors that Google factors into ranking content. SEO is a science on its own, so when starting, see what works and does not.

How to use SEO in recruitment

Before we get further into the nuts and bolts of SEO for recruitment, it’s important to know that SEO isn’t just about keyword research. This is one of the crucial elements, but there are other factors to consider, such as technical setup and on-page optimization, which we will go into a bit more detail below. 

Also, some aspects may be pretty technical for HR. Having an overview is good, but leave it to your marketing and website management team to manage the more technical SEO aspects. 

SEO for Recruitment

Step 1: Understand how Google ranks content

It’s important to understand how Google ranks your content so that you can use these insights in your recruitment practices to attract suitable candidates. 

Google ranks your website or content based on the following: 

  • The quality of your content: Google factors in the quality of your content. Make sure that your content provides valuable information to the reader that is readable, authoritative, and new.
  • Keywords in copy: Keywords are important because they inform Google what your content is really about, and uses this information to determine whether the content is relevant to a user.
  • The image you use: Images also play a part in determining the quality of your site and enable search engines to crawl your pages and rank your website. Optimize your images by, for example, compressing the image size so that the page can load quicker, adding alt text to help screen-reading tools describe the images, and search engines to display your images when users search for specific keywords. Add images that add value. Instead of a stock image, use a demonstrative image or a chart, for example. 
  • Expertise: Google wants to present the most authoritative and informative content first. For example, you would want searchers to see your careers page displayed first on a search page when they are searching for “Jobs at .” If you aren’t appearing on the first page of search results, then your page does not contain the most informative content for your audience and needs to be improved.

Step 2: Research keywords

To better explain how to attract potential candidates to your careers page or jobs board by targeting the right keywords, let’s use a working example. 

You work as an HR professional at Sunshine Tours, and you are tasked with hiring a candidate who will have more of a generalist position within the company. Their role will include assisting the MD, office management, organizing company events, and assisting HR with basic onboarding and administrative duties. You are looking for someone who can juggle these multiple roles.

Let’s look at how you can attract the right candidates to fulfill your ‘Jack of all trades’ role by conducting keyword research. 

1. Create a list of relevant terms for the job

Compile a list of relevant terms for the position by asking the hiring manager. Also, look at competitors’ terms when referring to the same type of position. 

Example: The hiring manager at the Sunshine Tour company informs you that the role will be similar to that of an assistant or general office manager. Similar roles advertised by your competitors use the title of office manager and office coordinator. 

2. Conduct SEO keywords research

You can use various keyword research tools (free and paid-for) to research suitable keywords for the position. Ask your marketing team what tools they’re using. They will likely have access to at least one paid keyword research tool.

Some of the best tools to use include:

Once you have found 1 or 2 keyword research tools, the next task is to determine the right keywords, find the search volumes on targeted keywords, understand the user intent behind the keyword, and identify related terms. 

Example: One of the suggested job titles included assistant. You research the keyword ‘assistant’ and ‘office coordinator’. Your research finds that there are 81,000 monthly searches on the ‘assistant’ term, but the top pages appearing on Google search are unrelated to ‘assistant’ job vacancies. Also, the terms match are too broad and irrelevant to the position you will be advertising. 

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Terms match: 

SEO Recruitment: Finding Relevant Terms
Terms that match or are related to the ‘assistant’ keyword. These provide insight into what other keywords are also being searched.

The term ‘office coordinator’ has lower search volumes but provides more relevant search results than ‘assistant.’ Pages ranking for the term ‘office coordinator’ also match your job requirements. 

Additionally, one of the terms relevant to the position includes ‘front office coordinator,’ which helps you to define the job title further and target the right candidates for the role.

Search volumes on keyword ‘office coordinator’:

SEO Recruitment: Understanding Keyword Difficulty & Search Volume
Keyword difficulty shows the level of difficulty to rank for the term on Google. Search volume shows how many users are searching for that term on average every month.

3. Research related terms

Next, consider the terms related to your target keyword. This can assist you to further refine your keyword and also offer insights into other related keywords to include in your copy.

In the example, you would look at terms related to ‘front office coordinator’ to determine if there are any additional keywords you could use in the job advertisement. In your research, you see that some of these terms include ‘front office coordinator salary’, ‘front office assistant duties and responsibilities’, etc.  

4. Prioritize keywords

Once you have conducted your SEO keyword research, the final step in your research is to prioritize your keywords. In the example above, your research has provided you with the following keywords that are relevant to your position: 

  1. Office coordinator
  2. Front office coordinator
  3. Front office coordinator salary
  4. Front office coordinator duties and responsibilities

Based on search volumes, ease of ranking for the term, and the total monthly search volumes, your main target keyword will be ‘front office coordinator’. 

Let’s discuss where these keywords need to be placed within the copy and other ways to optimize your page in the next step.

Step 3: Optimize on-page SEO 

On-page SEO, also referred to as on-site SEO, optimizes certain elements on a page or website to help the page, and its content, rank better on search engines.  Some elements you can optimize with your researched keywords include: 

  • Page title: Add the keyword to the page headline. For example, the keyword ‘Front Office Coordinator’ would appear in the title of the jobs board page or on your website’s job posting page. 
  • Subheadings: The subheadings, or h2, h3, etc., are various headers formatted onto your page. Include your target and related keywords to these where relevant. For example, one of the headlines could be ‘front office coordinator duties and responsibilities. 
  • First 100 words: Add your target keyword to the first 100 words of the page. For example, in the first paragraph of your job advertisement, the term ‘front office coordinator’ will be included. E.g., Sunshine Tours is looking for a front office coordinator to join our dynamic team.
  • Metadata: The metadata includes the meta description (a short paragraph that appears below the page title in search results), meta keywords, and alt tags. Include your keyword in the meta description, the job board description field, and any alt tags if you have added images on the page. 
  • Multimedia: Including multimedia on your career page can enhance page authority. For example, a video of why people love working at your organization, an infographic on the benefits you offer, etc.

Additionally, you can also include external and internal links on your page. External links provide ‘backlinks’ to your pages, which is valuable for search engines to determine whether the content is relevant to the audience. The more backlinks that point to a page, the more relevant it has for the audience. Internal links help search engines to crawl your website and understand the relationship between your website pages.

  • External links: Hyperlinks on a page that lead you to a different website. For example, including a link from your advertised job on LinkedIn,, Reddit, etc., to your website careers page or about us page would be classified as an external link. 
  • Internal links: Hyperlinks on your page that lead the reader to another page on the same website. For example, your careers page links to your DEIB section on your website or relevant blog articles. 

Step 4: Consider technical SEO 

A selection of technical aspects of SEO is listed below, with examples of how you could implement these: 

What to checkWhat it meansWhy it mattersBest practices
URL structureThe URL structure is how your link will look in the search engine address barSimple but descriptive URL structure is better. For your vacancies, a URL that displays as: /vacancy/front-office-coordinator is much more descriptive than having a URL /vacancy/267830Find out how to edit the URL in your ATS or the tool where your vacancies are published. Stick to the job role title for your URL. Separate words with hyphens. Use unique slugs.
Page speedHow long a page takes to loadPage speed is a Google ranking factor. Faster pages rank higher. Use a good website hosting service. Compress your images. Reduce redirects and cache your web pages. 
Duplicate contentContent that matches or is similar to other websites or other pages of your website. Duplicate content confuses Google and might lead to the page ranking poorly on search results.Think carefully about your candidates’ journey on your website and create unique taxonomies for each part of your site. 
Alt tagsThis is text that appears if an image does not load. Allows search engine crawlers to identify images and index them correctly. Keep your alt tags short and simple. Include the target keyword in your alt tag. Describe what you see specifically. 
IndexingThis is what a search engine uses to organize and categorize information.More pages indexed means you rank higher. Keep your URL short to ensure correct indexing.

Step 5: Measure your SEO progress

Once you have implemented various SEO techniques, it is important to track what is working and what isn’t.  First, define your goals, for example:: 

  1. Get more visitors to your job sites and career page
  2. Get higher-quality applicants
  3. Improve your employer branding

When you have defined your goals, select the SEO metrics you will. Some of these metrics could include: 

  • The number of organic visitors: Track how many visitors you’re getting through search engines. This is usually measured through the website’s analytics tool. The most commonly used tool is Google Analytics. Your marketing team should be able to help you set it up. Also, some ATS have built-in career page analytics features, like Recruitee.
  • Conversion rate: This displays the quality of your organic traffic. For instance, how many candidates are visiting your website and applying for a job? Monitoring your conversion rate measures whether you’re bringing the right audience to the site and your brand’s position and attractiveness. 
  • Time on page: How long did a prospect spend on your page? For example, if you have content that is 5000 words long, but on average, your visitor only spends 5 seconds on the page, then the content may not be engaging, or the type of visitor coming to your page may not be the right audience. I.e., the keyword does not match the search intent.
  • Keyword rankings: Refers to your page’s position on a search engine page. If your page appears in the top 3 positions on the first page of a search engine, then there is a higher likelihood of increased click-through and conversion rate. 

Additionally, some of the best tools to measure your SEO progress are: 

To conclude

SEO can be one of your most valuable recruitment and employer branding tools to utilize. SEO and recruitment can best be summed up by Matthew Jeffrey, global head of sourcing and employment brand at SAP:

“Recruitment is marketing. If you’re a recruiter nowadays and you don’t see yourself as a marketer, you’re in the wrong profession.” 

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