Search Engine Optimization is never going to truly be a “set it and forget it” tool for getting traffic to your job board or turning up on the first page of Google search results.
Ideally, search engines like Google and Bing want web search to be a meritocracy. Websites and pages that are relevant to the words or phrases you search for and have proven themselves to be valid and valuable should be what rises to the top.
Websites new and old have challenges in managing their SEO, often for different reasons. Old websites usually struggle with updating or cleaning up the structural and technical components of their site’s content, design, and its organization. New websites usually struggle to figure out how they can be unique and valuable enough to differentiate themselves from existing sites, and build up credibility.
There is a view, which stems from the early days of SEO, that making a website turn up on the first page of search results can be achieved simply through technical tricks and hacks. Google, in particular, is known for its evolving search algorithm – the way Google applies your search terms to look for appropriate search results today is not the way it worked last year, five years ago, or ten years ago.
Some recent and not-so-recent updates have included mobile search, secure websites, and meta keyword tags (which Google stopped looking at years ago, but which many people still try to use).
Structural and technical details are important to helping SEO, but so is content and the general usefulness of a website. Job boards inherently have both advantages and challenges when it comes to SEO. Job boards typically have a lot of content in the form of jobs and company profiles, but that content often changes or expires.
It’s important to build content and resources outside of your jobs, as well as marketing efforts that reach beyond your existing audience (things like social media, phone and email campaigns, advertising, and networking to build relationships and to have other websites link to your job board) all help to grow traffic and improve SEO.
Sometimes when people say they want “good SEO”, what they really mean is that they want more traffic, or higher-quality traffic. What they want is more visitors who do the things they want, like registering for accounts or job alerts, applying for jobs, posting jobs, and searching for candidates. Technical SEO can take you part of the way, but a solid value proposition and marketing strategy is needed to help get your job board on the first page of search results.
I’ve put together a cheat sheet for job boards to use as a reference for some of the elements of SEO and marketing that can help achieve these goals. While I cannot claim this cheat sheet covers everything to do with SEO for job boards, it’s a good reference for covering the basics and trying out new ways to meet your job board’s SEO and traffic goals.