Recruitment SEO primer: On-page vs. Off-Page SEO

When building and fleshing out your Career Site, it’s important to keep Recruitment SEO principles in mind.  Your organization needs to determine how to create the best process for leveraging the right keywords and pages to make sure your job distributioncampaigns and landing pages “get found” by candidates through search engines.


This process will most likely include both On-page and Off-page SEO strategies.  Let’s take a quick look at each one.


On-page SEO – Targeting the right keywords

On-page SEO helps Google determine the relevance of your content and refers to all the work you do to every one of your pages to make them as search engine friendly as possible.  This not only includes the actual actions of adding keywords to each webpage but also the upfront research in determining the specific keywords you will be targeting.  You have full control over the on-page seo on your site as you fully control the content.

Here are the main aspects you need to focus on with On-page SEO:


Identifying Keywords:  First and foremost, you need to do research on the keywords that you want to rank in Google for.  To do this, you can use tools such as the Google Keyword Tool, to identify keywords that yield the most monthly searches as well as the competition level for the specific keywords.  Once you come up a list of potential keywords to target, run searches on them, see if the top results make sense for the target audience you expected to see.

Sometimes keywords you identify as potential fits are actually searched on for another topic you weren’t thinking of.  Sourcing for example retrieves more links based on procurement than on the recruiting function.


Putting these keywords to use:Once you identify the keywords, it’s time to leverage them in the pages of your website.  A few tips before we get into the nitty gritty.  First, don’t use same keywords on every page of your website.  Your home page and inner pages of your site should each target a separate and specific keywords.  Second, don’t try and chalk full every page with twenty keywords.  Be selective with the keywords you use and always lead with the most important first.

In terms of SEO on your webpages focus on doing the following:


Page Title:Most important, set the page title to include the most important keywords first.  If I’m creating a page for Accounting Jobs in Madison, WI, I’d probably think the location is most important (as I doubt I’d be able to rank to highly in rankings just for Accounting Jobs especially against the job boards, Indeed or SimplyHired).  So my page title would be:

“Madison, WI Accounting Jobs”

When Google scans this page with their web crawlers (as it does with any webpage) it will first take a look at the Page Title.  In the example above, we’d be telling it that this page is about “Madison” then “WI” then “Accounting” then “Jobs” in terms of importance.  The more keywords you add the less value it assigns to each keyword so be succinct.  You would probably include your company name as well, both for SEO and branding purposes.

If you still aren’t clear with what the page title is, here’s SmashFly’s homepage as an example:

Recruitment SEO

Page Keywords:While you include keywords in your page title, you also have the opportunity in HTML to provide keywords your web page is targeting as well.  Make use of this when creating your webpage.

Also, make sure to use your keywords in the body text.  If you are targeting your page title for a specific keyword but then the text is targeting a different set then Google will look at your page unfavorably.

Meta Tag Descriptions:  While having no impact on SEO rankings, Meta Tag descriptions are a necessity for any webpage.  They enable you to write the text that will appear when your page appears in search rankings (the alternative being Google scraping text from your webpage).  The key with the description is to keep it short as well as use the keywords that you are targeting somewhere in the text (as it will be bolded in search results.)

Here’s an example of the SmashFly Homepage listing when “SmashFly” is searched:

Recruitment SEO

Alt Text:Whenever you have an image on your website make sure to add keywords to them by include ALT text in your HTML.  This is a simple way for Google to understand what pictures on the your site are about.

Internal Links:On your own webpages you should make sure to link to your own content and other pages within the content text.  The link anchor text should always include significant keywords that you are targeted for the linked to webpage.  See the section below for a clearer description of how good SEO links work.

You have full control of what you do from an On-page SEO perspective.  Identify keywords that you want to rank in Google for and set up a process for optimizing your job content on a continual basis on your Career Site.  There is little excuse that to get this side of the equation right.


Off-page SEO – Getting quality inbound links

Off-page SEO helps Google determine the authority of your content by tracking how many and what websites link to your specific webpages.  For every web page indexed by Google (which is not the entire internet but close) their bots will follow every hyperlink to other pages.  So for any single web page, Google will have all your on-page SEO information (see above) as well as all the webpages that link to that specific webpage (or inbound links).

When Google looks at your authority based on the links that point to your webpage, they look at a two main factors:


Linking Webpages Authority:  Not all webpages are created equal and receiving links from webpages that have more authority have a greater impact than links from lower authority webpages.  One way to get a feeling for what websites have more authority than others is Google Page Rank.  While not perfect, it can give you a basic idea of the link quality of a site.

Anchor Text: When the link directs to your webpage, Google will also look at the keywords included in the link text.  For instance, here I point to the SmashFly homepage for the keywords recruitment marketing technology.  Google will read that and will note that those keywords (“recruitment marketing technology”) are important for that webpage and verify it by comparing that to the On-page SEO for the page.

So when looking at Off-page SEO, the main goal is to get as many links as possible to your web content from quality sources.  Sounds easy right?


Where you are ranked?

No one except for Google truly knows what the ranking algorithm truly covets but the main thing that is known about SEO is the following:

Off-page SEO and authority (based on quality inbound links) are the most important aspects of your pages rankings on the 1st page of search rankings.  While On-page is important and can help, getting more better inbound links to your webpages is the greatest determinant to how your website is performing in search rankings.

How do I get more links?

So if Off-Page SEO and getting as many links as possible to your content is so important, what can you do to get more quality inbound links?

(Please note that if you are looking for some more comprehensive SEO strategies, I’d consider speaking to SEO consultants that can help in this regard.)

Here’s an idea on a few initiatives that can help drive traffic and links to your content:


Start a Blog / News Site:Adding a blog to your Career Site does one of two things.  First, it provides you with pages on your site that encourages candidates to come back to.  This is because there is an expectation that new and timely content will continuously be provided here.

Second, not only does each blog article represent a new page on your site with the ability to create links to your other content but blog content is also more “shareable” by others than job or static webpage content.  This means more links enter your website which will help not only this blog content but also all the other content you point to through links from these pages.

Get Social:Social Media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to share links to your content with others.  When you share good content most likely others will feel compelled to share the content and potentially link to it from their own website / blog.  Social is also one area that I expect to be more and more important in the Search Engine algorithm in the coming years so it makes sense to start using and sharing content on these channels.

Press / Awards: Are you doing some great things in your recruitment marketingstrategy?  Start talking to press contacts and submitting for awards.  These sites typically have good authority and will more than likely point to your site if you are included in the article / award selection.

Reach out to others: With today’s hyper-connected world, it’s becoming easier to connect and engage with others.  From blogs to career oriented sites, there is an incredible opportunity to educated the owners on your company and what’s special about what your organization offers.  If you are compelling, they will more than likely talk about your company and link to your site pages.  All you have to do to start is reach out.

When trying to get links to your recruitment content and Career Site, it’s important first to make sure that your recruitment message is compelling.  No one wants to link to boring job ads and stock about us messaging of a company that doesn’t provide a way for candidates to engage with them.


The best way to get others to link to your content and help your SEO is to create great content.  From employee blogs to informative and fun employment videos, there are a number of ways and interesting ideas you can use to make your Career Site worth talking about and sharing with their connections.


For a SEO strategy to work, you need to first make sure you are using the right keywords in the right way on every web page on your Career Site.  Once this is accomplished, create great content that helps candidates engage with your employer brand and most importantly, make it shareable not only by getting it out there with blogs and social media but by engaging with the community as well.


The combination of the two will lead to more inbound links and should drive up your overall search rankings and SEO results.

Views: 225

Comment by Ivan Stojanovic on March 9, 2012 at 10:20am

Hi Chris,


In your article you do mention the multiple job posting and distribution tools and do not reflect on what impact on your SEO they have. The content duplication issue really is the one to be addressed in the article about recruitment SEO.


The suggestion to use Google AdWords tool to check what people search for is a common mistake. The small print within the Google AdWords pages will tell you what those little numbers really mean. Google does provide tools that show what people search for – but that is just not that one.


PS. I like the colours on your site!


All the best,




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