Employers who use an effective keyword strategy in job postings are more likely to attract top talent to a company. Learning more about search engine optimization (SEO) through keywords can get your job in front of more qualified job seekers as you rank higher in search results. Here are some ideas to help you jump-start your efforts to write and post clear, effective job descriptions that search engines and candidates recognize.
How to use keywords in job postings
Choose keywords using search volume data
Keywords depend on the search intent and the specific language choice of the user. Search volume helps you determine this by indicating how often people look for a specific term using search engines. Use a free or paid search volume tool like Keywords Everywhere or Google Keyword Planner to break down search volume by term, location, frequency, and competition. Search volume helps you choose the most relevant words to include in your job description once you've identified the most popular keywords related to your position.
For example, search volume data may indicate that more people search for "social media director" than "internet marketing director." Even if you can't change the job title, you can use the alternate job name in your description to optimize your content for keywords.
Post relevant job titles
While it may seem tempting to make your job title more interesting to attract attention, "Java Developer" is more SEO friendly than "Ninja IT Developer." Leaving the gimmicky words out of your titles actually focuses your keywords for better search results because most individuals aren't searching for those kinds of job titles.
It's also important to skip abbreviations in job postings. "Senior Vice President of Finance" is more keyword-friendly than "Sr. VP of Finance." For instance, Google's search algorithms rank non-abbreviations higher than abbreviations.
Put salary in the job description
Data shows candidates want to know a job's salary before applying since job postings with salary information get more traffic than those without, even when the salary is below the market rate. Search engines create algorithms that favor job seekers over recruiters, so posting a salary often helps your listing appear higher in the search results. Especially important among younger job seekers, posting a salary may even attract more applicants to your role.
Using an exact job location in your post can also attract more job search traffic. Job seekers often want to know the exact location of potential employers and frequently search for job titles paired with a city or state, making job postings with specific locations rank higher in search results.
"Keywords depend on the search intent and the specific language choice of the user."
Use relevant keywords in your company description
How you describe your company services, culture, and values can also impact your search traffic. Use strategic keywords in the company description that appears on your careers page and on the job posting to earn higher rankings. Make a list of terms to explain your business and how you fit into your industry. Analyze the search volume for these words and phrases to determine which ranked terms to include. Specific words like "software engineering" or "commercial design firm" clearly define a business and make it easier for job seekers to find your job posts.
Include keywords in your job responsibilities
As you list the most important responsibilities for the job, consider skills with a high search volume that match your role. Use simple, clear words or phrases that match job seekers' search intent. For example, a candidate searching for a job as a software developer may look for positions based on programming languages like Java or HTML to use their expertise. Employers who list these skills in a job description are more likely to appear in the search results for this job seeker.
Avoid overusing keywords
Traditional SEO focused on keyword stuffing, or the attempt to put as many words about the job as possible, into the posting with the hope that it would rank higher in search results. Search engines discovered this and deemed it ineffective for the user, actually ranking keyword-stuffed pages lower.
While using keywords in a job posting matters, focus on writing a strong description with the keyword appearing in specific locations throughout your text. Using a keyword in a title or subheading makes it even more visible for search engines. You can also include a keyword in a bulleted skills list. It's acceptable to repeat the keyword once or twice, but it's not necessary to include the keyword in the title, subheading, and skills list.
Improve Your Ranking with Links
In addition to using keywords in a job description, including links to other web pages can increase your search engine ranking. Adding links to your company website or other relevant pages improves your authority in search engine algorithms, making applicants more likely to view your page in the top results. Consider linking to any of the following pages on your company website to improve your authority:
- Company values and mission statement (About Us page)
- Benefits and compensation details
- Careers hub page
- Employee testimonials
- Contact Us page
Implementing a keyword strategy for your job postings can boost your search result rankings and connect you with more top candidates. Taking a few steps to identify the most relevant terms for your position helps you attract more qualified applicants. Consider what you include in each job posting and carefully compose an effective description that uses the most sought-after terms in your industry. With more applicants to choose from, your hardest task will be choosing the right individual to fit your needs.
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