So far this year we have had numerous meetings with clients regarding Search Engine Optimization techniques and strategies.
Some of the meetings have been on managing all types of organic, optimized content on the Internet; other meetings have been specifically about job postings and how the aging of a job posting affects the optimization/position of a link; and other conversations have been about recent algorithmic changes being implemented which impact optimization strategies.
The organic ranking of content will vary with each Search Engine – as each Engine uses different algorithms, while occasionally changing these algorithms to remain competitive with other search engines and sourcing tools on the web. And also to maximize their users’ satisfaction.
In this blog entry, before I discuss the basic foundation of managing an SEO program, I will cover our strategy for maintaining the ranking/visibility of job postings and the most recent changes in search algorithms by Google, which with more that 60% of the Search Engine market is not the only search engine, but is the most important search engine to watch and respond to when making appropriate changes in SEO implementation.
1) RELEVANCY OF CONTENT IMPACTING JOB POSTINGS
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) hinges on a number of things, but one of the most important, if not the most important, is content.
With any jobs-specific site, the content is largely driven by the individual jobs and the “relevancy” of that content is highly significant when Google (or the other search engines) determines whether or not to trust it.
Our use of the term "relevancy" refers to how closely aligned the job titles and descriptions are with normal internet search behavior. For example, if a candidate is actively seeking a customer service position and uses Google to locate available jobs in their area, this person would likely search for "customer service jobs" or s/he may be slightly more specific and search for "customer service jobs in city, state.” If a company were to title their customer service jobs "Customer Excellence Specialists" for example, those jobs are not “relevant” or aligned with normal search parameters.
If the content is good (in our case a well-written and informative job posting/description), Google will trust it and deem it as very relevant. They will want to keep it in their index and show it to users. So, the longer a good job posting is out there, the better it will do to attract talent.
With that said, we know some jobs have a short shelf life and will not be posted very long - especially in the ATS, from which jobs are pulled for the majority of our SEO assignments.
We recommend keeping popular jobs active for a period of time after they close in the ATS so that Google can still show them to their users. We do not want to serve up dead links when we're trying to get the search engines to trust us. During this time we monitor the jobs for their traffic performance and make recommendations to our clients on optimization strategies and tactics including….
a) Determine if the job page is actually producing good candidates.
b) Make sure that when another similar position is posted, the same description is used if possible.
c) Recommend that we create a dedicated landing page for the role based around the content in the popular description. This new landing page will serve as the attention grabber to drive more applicants to the site.
e) Recommend that all job postings are written in the same manner as the ones that Google deems most relevant.
2) RECENT ALGORITHMIC CHANGES
Now SEO techniques need to be constantly adjusted to respond to algorithmic changes being made on a regular basis by most search engines. Google changes its algorithm on a regular basis, and most changes are so subtle that few notice. In the past year, Google has announced 40+ search algorithm changes and implemented the most recent change on January 17, 2013. The changes address a variety of user experience and functionality features, including those impacting related searches and sitelinks.
Our SEO team believes the most noteworthy update is the refreshing of data in Google, making it more accurate and more sensitive to topical content on the Web. Google also has indicated that it is modifying how it evaluates links.
While most algorithm changes might affect about 1% of searches, one change in the past year impacted 11.8% of the Google search results in the US, a far higher impact on results than most of its algorithm changes. This change has only impacted results in the US, though it may be rolled out worldwide in the future.
The change primarily impacts “scraper” sites and “content farms,” which are sites that either copy others’ content (“scraper”) or produce minimal levels of original content (“content farms”). Some “Scraper” sites reproduce the content of other sites through legitimate means, such as using RSS files with permission. Others may aggregate small amounts of content under fair use guidelines. Some simply “scrape” or copy content from other sites using automated means — hence the “scraper” nickname. Regarding employment sites, job aggregators such as Indeed and SimplyHired scape or index content from other sites. They therefore supplement their SEO performance with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns to maintain their visibility on search engines.
Google’s defines “content farms” as sites with “shallow or low quality content” – and these sites have been especially impacted by algorithm adjustments, which seek to downgrade them in organic rankings.
Other crucial Google algorithm changes in the past year:
- Related Searches: New data has been added to aid in the generation of related searches. Expect greater coverage in the future (meaning that related queries will appear for more queries).
- Sitelink Modifications: Google adjusted signals for its sitelinks feature, tweaking a categorizer used to identify duplicate snippets and adjusted signals so that expanded sitelinks are based more on page content and less on the query itself.
- Locally relevant predictions in YouTube: Google has improved its rankings predictions in YouTube to provide more locally relevant queries. An example of this would be users in two countries searching for the same generic term (engineering jobs). A user in the U.S. will see results akin to "Engineering Jobs in the U.S." whereas a user in India would see "Engineering Jobs in India".
- Official Page Detection Accuracy: Adjustments were made to how Google detects official pages, which will lead to fewer pages incorrectly identified as official.
- Image Index Expanded: Google has expanded the size of its images index, which means more relevant images on a larger set of queries. Visual assets are playing an increasingly important role in SEO.
- Site Query Update: Google is adjusting its site query operator to increase the diversity of results. Google provided no indication of what sources would be used for the query but our team continues to test the process to ascertain how to respond to the adjustment.
- Data Refresh for Related Searches: This update refreshes the approach Google takes to generate the related searches section when queries are performed in succession by the user. So, for example, when someone searches for “pear” and “apple” in succession, Google determines they must be looking for information on fruit and not Apple, the computer company.
3) BASIC SEO TECHNIQUES
For the basic foundation of building and managing search optimization strategies, we recommend the following:
PRIMARY FACTORS TO FOLLOW:
a) Quality: Well written pages with a substantial amount of content relevant to the search.
b) Research: Keywords and phrases in text and tags which people use when searching for content.
c) Engagement: Visitors must spend time on the pages and not bounce away quickly.
d) Topical: Pages need to be updated with new, fresh content, preferably about hot, sought-after topics.
a) HTML title tags contain keywords relevant to page topics.
b) Meta description tags describe and refer to content on pages.
c) Headlines and subheads use header tags with relevant keywords.
a) Crawling: Search engines must be able to easily crawl pages on site.
b) Speed: Site should load quickly.
c) URLS should be short and contain meaningful keywords to page topics.
4) Site Navigation:
a) This is important for both the user and for Google. Google values sites that offer an easy way to crawl and index its pages. With a streamline site navigation and one that is laid out logically, Google can crawl and index more pages more often. From a user experience, a site that is easy to navigate lends itself to more actions, which leads to better site engagement. These two components are not mutually exclusive but work hand in hand.
SECONDARY FACTORS TO FOLLOW:
5) Referring Traffic:
a) Other sites/domains refer visitors and users. In SEO, we call these votes. The more votes, the more authority your site has a chance to obtain.
b) Quality: Links should be from trusted, respected sites.
c) Text: Links should point at pages with relevant content and words to the topic on the originating page.
d) Number of pages pointing at your page.
a) Reputation: Content being shared on Social Networks by respected or highly-followed individuals.
b) Shares: Number of individuals sharing your content on their Social Network pages.
a) Authority: Links, shares and other factors endorse the integrity of a site.
b) History: Duration of time site or domain has operated in the same manner with similar content.
a) Country of recipient will impact optimization and ranking in search.
b) Locality (city and state) will impact optimization and ranking in search.
c) History of individual previously visiting or “liking” site.
d) Social: Impact of friends referring individual to site.
NEGATIVE FACTORS IMPACTING SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION PERFORMANCE, INCLUDING LOWER RANKINGS OR BEING BANNED FROM A SEARCH ENGINE:
9) Insubstantial Content:
a) Thin or Shallow contact lacking substance.
b) Stuffing: Excessive use of words not directly relevant to content on page.
c) Hidden: Colors or design hide words which found could contribute to high ranking.
d) Cloaking: Trying to confuse search engines by showing different pages to “spiders” than to humans.
Points “b” thru “d” above are referred to as “black hat” SEO tactics.
Well, that’s just some of the points that have been highly discussed in the last month regarding SEO. For more information on this valuable strategy for securing applicant flow through higher visibility at a cost lower than many alternatives, contact your Account Executive at Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications.