In my recent post Writing Effective Online Job Postings: 12 Tips, I offered some practical advice on writing online postings so that you would both engage potential job applicants and satisfy the unique demands of writing for the web.
Here, I want to go a step further and take on the important function of search engine optimization.
The fact is, enhancing your position in search results requires two seemingly contradictory conditions: your online job post needs to both stick out AND fit in.
Why Fit In?
In order for your job post to get noticed by search engine bots, it needs to include relevant words, words that are highly correlated to job seeking in general as well as to your industry, your organization, your location (city and state), and your open position in particular. This is how the web knows where you belong.
It shouldn’t surprise you that there are two great ways to identify these all-important words (and phrases).
One is the old-fashioned way. Simply round up a couple colleagues and brainstorm a list of common words that relate to your industry, company, service or product, and job title and description. Also, if your company has official, written job descriptions, you will want to look over those and add any other pertinent keywords and phrases.
The other is the modern way. By using online tools such as Google Planner or by analyzing tag clouds on similar copy (including any highly-ranked items posted by your competitors), you can also identify those words and phrases that will lead a particular post to getting noticed on the web.
Fitting in on the web is a matter of relevancy. The more of these relevant words you include throughout the body of your posting, the better.
Well, at least up to a point.
There is, of course, a law of diminishing returns. You should never sacrifice clarity in the name of keyword use. If you get to the point where you’re beginning to sound awkward or forced, you have probably crossed the keyword utility threshold.
And remember, Google doesn’t hide that fact that its search engine bots will essentially punish you — diminishing your position in search results — for gratuitous overuse of keywords.
So Why Stick Out?
“Fitting in” gets you a place at the table; “sticking out” gets you to the head of the table.
Sprinkling keywords throughout the body of your post is an important first step, but making sure they pop out to both humans and search engine bots requires a bit of extra effort.
If “fitting in” is a matter of relevancy, “sticking out” is a matter of calculated relevancy. Thoughtful placement of keywords can make all the difference in how well your post turns up in search results.
Great places for keywords to show up are
in your job title
in section headings
in bulleted lists
in bold print (I would stress that this is applicable if it makes sense to do so, not just for the sake of highlighting a keyword)
in italics (same as above)
Also of note: I often see attempts at SEO that are actually counterproductive. As I have said before, it all starts with your job title. Don’t get fancy. Don’t get cute. For example, extra characters like asterisks and exclamation points in a job post title are confusing to bots. The best job title is just that: the JOB TITLE, written in a way that both search engines and job seekers will understand what you mean.