Publishing your job ad online means anyone can find it, right? Well, not exactly. Not all online content gets traffic and a great job ad won’t get any applications if no one finds it. The majority of web traffic comes from organic searches, making search engines the gatekeepers of which jobs get applications and which ones don’t.
For an online job ad to be effective, the site you advertise it on has to have good SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it refers to the process of increasing the amount of quality traffic your website gets from organic (i.e. not paid) search engine results.
When you google “PhD positions in Europe,” you’re instantly shown a list of websites that the search engine thinks will best match your query. These results, also called rankings, are based on two things: relevance and popularity. The search engine looks at several different aspects of your website to determine how it should rank in the list of search results. These include things like website indexing, keyword optimization, page design, the content itself, and user experience.
Let’s dig in a bit further.
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How do search engines determine if a site is relevant?
To determine if a website or page is relevant to your search, the search engine first has to figure out what the website or page is about. There are several things the search engine looks at to do this. For example, it looks at the titles of the page and the URL to check what the keywords they contain. It looks at when the content was published. Search engines also look at what’s called the meta description, that’s the little snippet that comes up in the search results. Does the meta description contain relevant keywords for the search query?
How do search engines determine if a site is popular?
When it comes to determining popularity, the search engine looks at how visitors have interacted with the site over time. For example, are the number of people visiting the page increasing over time? Is the content shared frequently on social media? How many other sites link to this content? When one website links to another it’s called backlinking. You can think of backlinks like citations. A high number of backlinks indicates to a search engine that the information on that page is valuable.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other factors that affect a site’s relevance and popularity and therefore how it ranks. SEO takes time to master which is why a website with good SEO is incredibly valuable–especially when you’re posting a job vacancy.
Want to learn more about SEO and how you can leverage it to optimize your talent attraction? Download our SEO for academics guide below.