Local SEO for Regional Job Boards

Something many businesses that serve a particular geographic region take advantage of when it comes to their Search Engine Optimization is local SEO.

If you live in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan and search for “pizza”, it’s not very helpful if the results you get are for restaurants in New York. That’s why search engines try to deliver results that are relevant to your location as well as your search terms.

So, if you make great pizza in Moosejaw, how do you reach local potential customers? Okay, I know if you’re reading a blog on a job board software provider’s website, there’s a chance you run a job board or a recruiting business and are not in the business of making delicious pizza. (That said, if you’ve found a market for pizza-related employment and you’re thinking of starting a job board…call us!)

Below I’ve gathered some tips and resources for bolstering your local SEO and ideas on how to handle some of the challenges that online businesses may face.

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Are You Competing with Indeed?

I’ve said before that I think you can compete with Indeed. Yes, you.

I don’t say it because I have blind faith in you (although I’m sure you’re great), I say it because I know that a job board or recruiting platform with a value proposition that resonates with and delivers for its target market can, indeed, compete with Indeed.

A focused target market and unique content can define what makes a job board valuable and preferable for job seekers and employers/recruiters to use over using a site like Indeed. Unique content (candidate profiles, blog content, job posts, landing pages, etc.) can arguably come in two forms – original content that is found nowhere else, or content that is curated in such a way that your organization and delivery of it is unique and valuable. In many cases, unique content is a combination of both original content found and unique curation of content that was first published elsewhere.

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SEO Marketing Cheat Sheet for Job Boards [Infographic]

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.

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Scary Mobile Experiences on Job Boards

We’re one week away from Halloween, and I’m thinking about all things spooky and scary, including what’s frightening on a job board – bad mobile experiences.

I know, I know.

You know that job seekers search and browse jobs on their mobile devices. We’ve talked about it a lot here on the Careerleaf blog, and you’d have to have your head in the sand not to notice how many people use their mobile devices for just about everything.

But the reality of it, and how job boards are facing up to it, can be a frightening prospect. Below are a couple (anonymous) examples of what job search can be like on a phone.

Classic Old School

This job board features a still-functional older design, but it’s intended only for desktops/laptops, and becomes unreadable on mobile without excessive zooming and scrolling. The point of registration for the job seeker isn’t any easier for the mobile user.

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On-Page SEO for Job Board Content

I briefly mentioned on-page SEO last week, but it’s a topic that deserves a post all to itself, especially when it comes to job boards.

Job boards are challenged with marketing to two audiences – their job seeking users and the people doing the hiring. Much of the content on a job board is made up of job posts. But those job posts don’t hang around forever. They’re up for 30 days, 60 days, maybe longer, but they usually do expire.

The impermanence of so much of your job board’s content makes it vital that you go beyond job posts if you want to your site to be discovered by your target market through search engines, regardless of what jobs are currently published there.

We’ve previously outlined ideas for what that content might be – research, advice, interviews, news, highlights of your job content, etc. We’re not only talking about hastily-compiled lists or self-promotion, but authentic, valuable articles, images, and videos that will interest and benefit your audience. You need your content to be unique. If you’ve established who your target market is and learned about them, and settled on your own branding and messaging, you’re ready to start creating it.

Publishing your awesome content for job seekers and recruiters will improve your SEO, but there are a lots of ways you can optimize it on its own.

What Your Content Looks in Search Results

SEO for job board content
Search engine result for “start a job board”

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Generating Inbound Traffic to Your Job Board

The concept of inbound marketing is based around getting people to come to you, to discover you, and seek you out.

This is different from outbound marketing, which includes more traditional methods like exhibiting at tradeshows, airing commercials (on TV, radio, even YouTube, etc.), print advertisements (in magazines, newspapers, billboards, mailed flyers and brochures, etc.), outbound calls (telemarketing!) and emails.

These methods are usually regarded as more disruptive, in that you are interrupting the target audience to communicate your marketing message. They also can cost more in terms of services and production, and they tend to be more difficult to track direct ROI.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is tailored more towards the Internet user of today. If you want to learn about something, you Google it. If I want to buy a new laptop, I’m going to check out the prices and specs online first. I might read reviews or ask on social media if anyone has any recommendations or experience with the model I’m considering buying.

The same goes for job search, recruiting, and all sorts of business challenges.

The number one task of inbound marketing for job boards is:

Be Discoverable!

“Build it and they will come” does not apply to online businesses in 2016. You need to make yourself discoverable through the content on your site, basic SEO, and your messaging and branding. This is in addition to your job board-specific content.

First thing’s first: Who are you? Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to do? Why should they do it? How can they do it?

You need all those questions answered. And they should also be answered for anyone who arrives on your job board.

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Maintaining SEO When Your Website Changes

You have a job board, and maybe you need to change the domain name. Maybe you’re upgrading your CMS, or even your entire job board’s structure and technology.

No matter why it’s changing, when your existing URLs change, it will impact your site’s SEO. It will also impact traffic from sources beyond search engines – think of your established audience who types in your URL directly or has you bookmarked. Think of all the places online that link to pages on your site.

If you make a change that affects those URLs, you’re going to get hurt. Yes, even if you’re moving to a better system with nice, clean, human-readable URLs to replace the less-than-ideal dynamic ones you had before.

There are ways to mitigate the damage, however, and it helps to plan ahead.

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How to Promote Your Job Board

Start with Branding, and Know Your Value

I routinely come across a lot of recruiting, staffing, and software websites, and I’ve developed a very particular pet peeve as a result. I hate it when I visit a website and can’t ascertain in ten seconds or less what they actually do.

Reading their Twitter profile bio (if they have one) is often my best bet to get a quick summary or definition of their business, because it’s concise and to the point. 140 characters or less, baby!

It’s tough to take everything you do and boil it down to a tagline, but it’s so worth it. A clear message to your target market and audience helps focus your goals, making them easier to achieve. It’ll be easier to build upon that success and pitch to other markets as you grow, so don’t worry about excluding future verticals. Start with how you’re going to make money and serve your base of employers and candidates now.

Before you start your marketing campaigns, lay out the welcome mat. Put yourself in a stranger’s shoes–would this person be able to grasp all the amazing things your job board can do for them? In ten seconds or less? 140 characters or less?

It’s hard to pack the entirety of your value into such small packages, but if you lead with brevity and give them a reason to go deeper, you make it easier to stick around. A recognizable brand (name, logo, colours, taglines!) and a clear offering go a long way. Out of that, you’ll start to define keywords and more ways to sell.

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Pieces of the Puzzle for Job Board Success

Whether you are about to launch a new job board venture or you’re an industry veteran, it’s common to feel like success is a puzzle and the pieces aren’t quite coming together the way they should. Here on the Careerleaf blog, we lay out the key pieces of the puzzle and give you some ideas for pulling it all together. Even if your particular business model is a little different or unique, there are common areas you can focus on to help create success for your job board.

Be aware: Everyone’s puzzle fits together a little differently

Notice I said help create success. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are no magic bullets, no one-size-fits-all solutions to your job board business problems in perpetuity. What works today may be stale, awkward, and inefficient in a few years. Your dedication to staying aware and your ability to adapt will remain your most important assets.1

There are common building blocks that shouldn’t be overlooked when building a job board business, or using a job board as an additional revenue stream for an existing business. Starting with the basics, let’s review the purpose of your job board:

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Enhancing Recruitment Marketing with SEO

I can still recall, quite vividly, the days when my whole household had one cellphone, and it was carried by the family member who could justify the greatest need for it.

In 2007, I reluctantly purchased my first cellphone that I didn’t share with a family member. I was 22 at the time and being a late adopter was a point of pride – I wanted to see how long I could hold out before being swallowed by the mobile revolution. Tell that to my parents, and they’d laugh thinking about the technology they had when they were 22. Tell that to one of my cousins in high school, and well, they’d probably laugh as well – who waits till they’re 22 until getting their very own phone?

Fast forward to today, and I’m more likely to leave my house without my wallet than my cellphone – a sentiment that I believe is quite significant in terms of how the Internet and proliferation of mobile devices has truly changed our society.

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