Your Career Site SEO and Sitemap.xml—A Valuable Friendship

August 16, 2012 at 7:59 pm Leave a comment

By Larry Engel

Does your organization’s career site include a sitemap.xml file? Not sure? Have no idea what a sitemap.xml file is? Maybe you’re thinking, “Why would I need one? My career site works just fine.”

Well, here’s the thing…

If your site doesn’t include a sitemap.xml file, there’s a very good chance that potential candidates aren’t finding your site—or your jobs—when they perform organic searches. And, if they’re not finding you, they’re not applying for your jobs.

A sitemap.xml file can help fix that.

Here’s how it works.

A sitemap.xml file is simply a listing of all the pages on your career site. It lives inside your site and is every search engine’s preferred way for you to tell them about new pages and other changes to your site. Once your sitemap.xml is ready, you’ll need to register it with search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing so that their spiders have a chance to crawl and index the file. Search engines will find your pages more easily, which means your jobs will rank higher in organic search results. For best results, you should update the file at least once a day.

The main goal of career site SEO is to have your company’s jobs appear on page one of any major search engine results pages (SERPs). When you perform a search for a job opening on Google.com, the top organic results will usually be job aggregators or job boards, like Indeed, SimplyHired or Monster. That’s o.k. It’s hard to get ahead of these sites. However, with great SEO in place, you can expect your jobs to show up near the top of the results—probably on the first page.

Try this experiment. Perform a Google search for “RN job (insert city).” The first few results will be the usual job aggregators and job boards. But, career sites with great SEO strategies in place won’t be far behind. An organization that shows up on page one is doing a great job with its career site SEO and being rewarded with a lot of traffic from Google. Look at the first result that belongs to an actual employer. Does that career site have a sitemap.xml file? Yes, it does.

So why doesn’t everybody make the extra effort and create a sitemap.xml file? I don’t know, but I suspect that some webmasters don’t know what a sitemap is. Hence, this article. Or maybe they choose not to spend time implementing a sitemap and an accompanying strategy because they don’t think it will make much difference. It will. Some may even avoid creating a sitemap.xml file, concerned that Google will limit the pages it indexes and displays in the search results. Not true—you can index any number of pages by simply creating and indexing multiple sitemap.xml files.

Here’s what Google says on the subject: “Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover” (italics added). In both its Webmaster Central Blog and Webmaster Tools, Google endorses and encourages webmasters to create and submit sitemap.xml files.

By the way, once your sitemap.xml file is created and submitted, using Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can log into your account and see Google’s daily stats and find out how well your pages are being crawled and indexed.

Remember at the beginning of this post I asked whether your site included a sitemap.xml file? It’s time to find out.

To learn whether any career site, including yours, has a sitemap.xml file, just type the URL for your career site into your browser window and add “/sitemap.xml” at the end—for example, http://www.MyCareersite.jobs/sitemap.xml or careers.MyCompany.com/sitemap.xml.  If the site has a sitemap.xml file, it will appear in your browser window. If there is no sitemap.xml, you’ll get a 404 or file not found message instead.

Was it there? Yes? Good for you!

No? Then, it’s time to think about creating one.

Because—in addition to search engine optimization (SEO) strategy development; keyword research, identification and implementation strategies; website audits and analysis for SEO best practice compliance and conversion optimization; career site design and on-site navigation; and user experience (UX) analysis, design and implementation—creating and maintaining a sitemap.xml file is key to your overall SEO success.

Larry Engel, SEO Strategist

As SEO Strategist for the the NAS Interactive Division of NAS Recruitment Communications, Larry Engel  oversees the research, design and implementation of search engine optimization (SEO) methods for client career sites. His recruitment agency experience includes 12 years in account management, 5 years as a Certified Google Advertising Professional (AdWords GAP Program) and 2+ years’ concentration in SEO. Larry also has OMCP Master Certification in Social Media Marketing (SMM) and recently completed a mini MBA in SMM from Rutgers University.

Connect with Larry at lengel@nasrecruitment.com

Entry filed under: Career Site Development, Contributor, Larry Engel. Tags: , , , , , .

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