Resources Attract

How to Make Your Job Descriptions More SEO-friendly

As any HR professional can tell you, attracting top talent in today’s competitive job market is no easy task. Nowadays, it’s no longer enough to simply write a compelling job description and hope for the best. With so many opportunities available to job seekers, your first step must be to ensure that your posting can be easily found in online search results.

Just as marketers try to optimize their web pages to rank highly in Google, savvy recruiters optimize their job postings to rank highly in job search engines when candidates do job searches. Therefore, to get the most out of your job postings on Glassdoor and elsewhere, you’ll need to start thinking like a search engine and following best practices for search engine optimization or SEO.

This may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! Let’s go over six important tips so that can jumpstart your posting performance. 

1. Make your job title easily searchable

Most job seekers search by job title, so knowing how to optimize your title is the first step to getting your job posting in front of qualified candidates. To perform well, keep your title straightforward and consistent with the language typically used in your industry. Steer clear of creative titles like “Excel Wizard” or “Coding Ninja,” as these tend to rank poorly compared to frequently searched titles like “Software Engineer.”

Bhawna Singh, Senior Director of Engineering for Glassdoor’s job search engine, tells us, “Our algorithm will rank your jobs higher if the job title closely matches what the user typed in the search box.” Singh adds, “Additional phrases in the title, like ‘apply now’ or ‘competitive salary,’ make it less likely that your job will match well to the user’s query.” It’s also worth mentioning that including compensation in the job title on major job boards could actually get your job posting removed. These types of modifiers are best saved for the job description. 

2. Watch your abbreviations

When it comes to abbreviations, most search engines are advanced enough to recognize commonly used abbreviations such as “Sr.” for “Senior” or “RN” for “Registered Nurse.” However, things start to get tricky when the same abbreviated term may be used among different positions in different industries. 

To prevent your description from getting advertised in the wrong place, make sure to expand your abbreviations to specify whether your “PA” job is referring to “Physician’s Assistant,” “Production Assistant,” “Personal Assistant,” or “Personal Accountant.”

3. Include keywords 

At one time, SEO involved stuffing as many relevant keywords into your content as possible. As search engine algorithms get smarter and smarter, this no longer brings marketers or recruiters the same results!

However, it’s still important to know and include relevant keywords that can help your job descriptions show up in the right search results. Glassdoor recommends writing your job description first without thinking about keywords, then going back to replace or add keywords that match what your job seekers might be searching for. You can figure out what those keywords are by using an online keyword evaluation tool. If possible, use those optimal keywords in the heading and/or first couple of sentences of your job description. 

4. Keep an eye on character count

When crafting the right title and description for your job posting, it’s useful to keep length in mind. Optimized job descriptions are not too long… and not too short. Let’s take a look at some research that points towards the character count sweet spot:

Both too short (170-250 words) and too long (around 2,000 words) job descriptions have the same low click-to-apply rate of just 6.7%. Click-to-applies are up to five times higher for job descriptions between 2,000 to 10,000 characters. 

The job title is also important though it seems to have less of an impact on click-to-apply stats. Job titles in the 50-60 character range tend to outperform other titles by up to 40%.  

5. Formatting matters 

Job seekers tend to skim job descriptions, so it’s crucial that yours is easy to digest. However, beyond simply making your description easy on the eyes, there is an SEO incentive around formatting as well. Singh from Glassdoor says, “Good search engines take into account the quality of the job title and description. Misspellings and bad formatting can negatively impact how your job ranks.”

To give your description a well-defined structure, break up your text with separate paragraphs, section headings, and bullet points where appropriate. Below are a couple examples of how CareerPlug formatted a job description for a Director of Product Marketing position.

Paying close attention to formatting is particularly important when advertising the same job on multiple sites. Be cautious when copying and pasting descriptions that your posting doesn’t convert into a single blob of text. Singh advises, “If you’re using multiple sites, it’s always a best practice to check how the formatting of each one looks.” Be aware that some job boards do a poor job of preserving your original formatting, which will reflect poorly on you as the employer.

Job description templates to help format your job postings

The Hiring Experts at CareerPlug created job description templates for a variety of industries, so that you can be sure to nail your formatting and include all the right information.

GET MY FREE TEMPLATES

6. Be open and transparent

The more information you can provide on a job description the better. If your job posting doesn’t accurately and honestly describe the details of the role and what it’s like to work for your company, it can ultimately waste time for both you and your applicants.

With many states now requiring compensation to be listed in the job posting, it’s a good idea to hop on this trend of pay transparency. Getting detailed in your job description and including compensation can help it stand out in search results, and ensure that the right people are finding you. 

Your job description is a great place to showcase your employer brand and give job seekers insight into what it’s like to work at your company. With so many options to choose from, candidates will be more likely to apply to postings that give them more detailed information about the role and what the company values. 

To sum it all up 

When developing your job posting, remember that your goal is to craft job titles and descriptions that will match a job seeker’s search query as closely as possible. Try putting yourself in their shoes and think about how you would conduct a job search for your particular position. The more you can imitate the way job seekers interact with search engines, the better your job posting will perform.

Remember, your job description is your chance to sell your company to future employees and highlight why you are a great place to work. For more tips on writing the perfect job description that helps you attract your ideal candidates check out this video from CareerPlug’s director of HR, Natalie Morgan: 

Editor’s Note

This guest blog post was originally written by Lizzie Jeffrey, a content writer and business development specialist for Glassdoor, and published in September 2016. The article has been updated by CareerPlug as of February 2022 to reflect current job board SEO best practices. 

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