5 Ways to Use Keywords in Job Postings to Get More Applicants

August 30, 2017 Tim Sackett


Google for Jobs is throwing a monkey wrench into everything we do as talent acquisition professionals. Right when we thought we had the job posting SEO figured out, Google decided to make a “few” changes with the launch of their new job aggregator, and we are all now scrambling around trying to figure out how we ensure job seekers can find our jobs on Google.

Is having your jobs found on Google by job seekers even important?
Oh, heck yeah, it is! Like important times a million! Right now most of your applicant traffic probably comes from Indeed. Why? Because they owned SEO for jobs in every category for years. So, when someone Googles “Electrical Engineer in Chicago”, the jobs on Indeed would usually come up first.

Google for Jobs changed the game. Google wanted to ensure job seekers could more easily find the jobs that were relevant to them. They did this by changing their own algorithms and search technology to make job searching on Google more job seeker friendly. They also collaborated with job boards, like CareerBuilder, to ensure those jobs would show up high on Google.

Who didn't Google partner with? Indeed! So, all that applicant traffic you got from Indeed, that Indeed got from Google, will now fall much farther down on the search results. 

What does this mean for my organization, and how do I ensure candidates see my job postings?
It's great news for your organization. If you follow some simple rules, or your ATS vendor follows some simple rules, and you connect with the right Google partners, you should see an increase in applicant traffic. Also, there are some really quick and easy things you can do with your job postings to make them more discoverable by Google for Jobs.

Here are five ways you can leverage keywords to make your job postings show up higher in Google:

1. Use job titles that are normal for your industry. "Java Developer" is a thousand times better than "Ninja IT Developer." Leave the gimmicky words out of your titles.

2. Don't use abbreviations in your titles. "Senior Vice President of Finance" will be much more discoverable than "Sr. VP of Finance." Google's search algorithms rank non-abbreviations higher than abbreviations.

3. Put salary in the job description. Google for Jobs is designed for job seekers, not recruiters. Google believes candidates want to know the salary of the job before they apply. So, those job postings with salary will show up higher in their results. Google doesn't care about your thoughts on this. The data show postings with salary information get more traffic than those without, even when the salary is below market rate.

4. Put the exact street location in the job description. See the explanation above. Google for Jobs is for job seekers, and job seekers want to know where the job is. Jobs with exact locations will show up higher in results.

5. Stop "keyword stuffing." Traditional SEO was about keyword stuffing. Put as many words into the post about the job as possible and it will more likely rank higher. Google figured out people were doing this, and they are now ranking those postings lower. You still need to write great job postings, but you don't need "Java Developer" in a posting 25 times. Five mentions will do just fine.

These five are the big ones – for now – but Google for Jobs will continue to evolve and get better. It's critical you stay close to your talent acquisition technology partners to ensure they are staying on top of these changes as they happen. Many talent acquisition pros are trying to figure this out on their own, but a great technology partner should be helping you out with this.

CareerBuilder was one of the first talent acquisition technology companies that Google started working with when they began designing Google for Jobs. So, if you're using CareerBuilder job postings, you'll be in great shape in terms of potential applicants finding your jobs. In my own recruiting shop, we instantly saw an applicant traffic increase on our CareerBuilder postings the week Google for Jobs went live.

Learn how to write a powerful job posting

Tim Sackett, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources a leading IT and Engineering Staffing firm headquartered in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies in healthcare, retail, dining and technology. Tim is a highly sought after national speaker on leadership, talent acquisition and HR execution. He also is a prolific writer in the HR and Talent space, writing for Fistful of Talent and his blog The Tim Sackett Project. Tim is married to a hall of fame wife. They have three sons and one dog. He is a lifelong workplace advocate for Diet Mt. Dew fountain machines and hugs.

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