How to Get Google to “Love” Your Career Site
by Larry Engel
You know that having a career site Google will love is vital if you want job seekers to find you. You’ve probably been told how important things like optimization, keyword selection and rich content are. You’ve probably even heard of algorithms and bots. In this blog, I’m going to explain a little bit about how Google works and what you need to do to be a Google search star performer.
First, let’s discuss how the Google search engine works—and how it can work for you.
Let Google know you’re out there
In order for Google to know that your career site exists, you either need to create a Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) account and submit your website, or wait until someone stumbles across your site and creates a link to it on their website.
Once Google knows that your career site exists, it will send out its indexing spider robot (or “bot”) to crawl around your site and find your web pages and jobs. It typically does this on a nightly basis. However, it’s been known to skip indexing some sites for days or even weeks. Google sets your site’s crawling frequency based upon how frequently the content changes.
Change content frequently to get Google’s attention
Websites that change and add content frequently (e.g., CNN, eBay or Indeed) may be crawled up to several times an hour. That’s because Google wants to be able to show accurate information in search results.
Sites that seldom or never update their pages or change their content are crawled rarely. Google knows when pages aren’t being updated and won’t check for changes very often. These sites are more likely crawled weekly or sometimes even monthly.
TIP: If you want to keep track of how often Google is crawling your career site, create a Google Webmaster Tools account. It’s easy, and then you’ll be able to look up the Googlebot crawl data for your site. It’s in the WMT account under Health > Crawl Stats.
Make your site one that Google will love
Now that you have some Google basics, let’s look at how to get Google to “fall in love” with your career site. We’re going to pay special attention to the three most important aspects of a career site:
- Code: The actual markup elements in the source code of your web pages
- Content: The text, videos, images and whatever else is displayed on your web pages
- User Experience: Whether users can easily find what they’re searching for on your site
Once the Googlebot enters your site on its nightly crawl, it starts reading all the source code of your web pages. This includes all the markup elements that render your pages for your visitors’ viewing pleasure (e.g., URL, page title, headlines, text from the body of the page, images, anchor text, external links, internal links, etc.).
There are also other elements in the source code that the Googlebot looks for, even though they are “unseen” by visitors (e.g., h1-2-3, alt text, meta, schema and open graph tagging, etc.). These elements help the search engine determine what the page content is about.
In days of old, the coding of your web pages was the single most important aspect of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Without the proper code in place, you couldn’t be found. Today, the code in your web pages is still important, but the weight it brings to the overall SEO picture is somewhat less.
Code Summary: Google is basically checking to see that the webmaster has exercised best practices in creating the website, and has tried to adhere to its standards and guidelines. Include keywords and tagging where necessary, but don’t over-optimize and “keyword stuff”—it doesn’t work.
They say, “Content is king!” and they’re right. In the past, search engine marketers focused mainly on keyword research and inserting those keywords at critical places within the page’s source code. Today, technical optimization is still part of the optimization process, but it’s playing a smaller role. Webmasters now have to make sure that the content on the web page actually addresses the topic being searched for.
If you want your career site to be found when particular search queries are entered (e.g., “accounting jobs” or “jobs in engineering”), you have to make sure you incorporate both keywords and content on your web pages that closely match those keyword concepts and ideas.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you have an accounting supervisor job posted on your career site. You should optimize it for, and build content around, the word “job” rather than the word “career” (e.g., “Accounting Supervisor job” or “Accounting Supervisor job in Atlanta, GA”).
Someone performing a search using the word “career” could be looking for information regarding accounting careers in general, accountant responsibilities, employment outlook for the accounting industry or accounting educational opportunities or guidelines. A person searching for the word “job” is more likely to be an experienced accounting professional or new grad actually looking for a job in accounting.
Take the keywords you’ve chosen and work up plenty of original and engaging content that reflects the concepts and ideas surrounding your keywords. (When creating content, aim for about 350–500 words per page.) The content can address many different aspects of your career site and jobs, such as general employment branding, department pages, job family pages, job category pages and actual job postings.
Content Summary: Include the appropriate keywords and supporting content in your on-page text. Google will read it just like a user, and rank you higher for it.
User Experience (UX)
Google considers user experience paramount! All the recent Google algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin, Freshness, Diversity, etc.) were designed with one goal in mind—to create a better user experience for searchers, as well as site visitors.
The Google algorithm is designed to display web pages in the search results that have the greatest possibility of delivering the content the person was searching for, and engage the user. This gives users a better experience and keeps them coming back to Google, rather than switching to a different search engine, like Bing or Yahoo!.
How does Google accomplish a better user experience? As part of its search algorithm, it looks at several different factors when determining which sites should rank high for certain search queries. It takes into account basic factors such as click through rate (CTR), inbound links, page rank, on-page content, meta and schema tagging, and so forth.
Google also uses user experience data as part of its search algorithm. UX data, which has been given more and more weight in the algorithm recently, includes factors such as page load speed (are users bouncing due to slow page load?), engagement (are users staying on the page to read the content?) and internal links (are users clicking on the site’s internal links to discover more content?).
You want to make sure you are delivering the right content and ALSO a good user experience. So, put yourself in the shoes of one of your career site visitors and click around a bit. Be honest! Are you presenting what they’re looking for? Is your site easy to navigate? What other content or links could you add to help engage your visitors? If you can figure it out, and build these elements into your career site, Google will reward you with more visitors.
User Experience Summary: Google knows how long each user is spending on your career site, so make it as engaging and easy to navigate as possible.
Google wants to send users to sites that provide the best search match and user experience.
If users bounce away from your site and return to the search results page to click on a different link…you lose!
If you keep the three important guidelines I’ve discussed in this post in mind, and apply them as you build or modify your site…you win!
And Google will fall in love with your career site.
As SEO Strategist for 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.
Entry filed under: Career Site Development, Career Site Planning, Contributor, Larry Engel. Tags: career site SEO, career site updates, Google Webmaster Tools, keywords, Larry Engel, optimization, optimized content, search engine optimization, search engine ranking, search results, site crawl, user experience, WMT account.