How to Optimize Job Listings for Google Search

Google for Jobs is charging ahead: Don’t let your job listings fall behind

By Roy Maurer Jan 3, 2018
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Now is the time for employers to optimize their job listings and careers pages so that they will appear in Google for Jobs search results.

Google for Jobs has been steadily rolling out new features for job seekers since June 2017, presenting aggregated information like salary ranges and reviews from sites like Glassdoor and kununu and enabling location searches.

Before Google for Jobs launched, a search for specific job openings in the United States on the Google search engine turned up paid ads and organic search results boosted by search engine optimization (SEO) efforts from the larger job boards and aggregators like Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder. The same search performed today will highlight Google for Jobs listings between the paid ads and organic results. Once job seekers click on an ad, they can read the job post, find information on the employer and choose the channel through which they will apply.

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First, it's critical to understand that Google for Jobs works by pulling in job postings from a wide range of sources and choosing which ones to display, explained Moritz Kothe, the CEO of Vienna-based employer review site kununu. "Those sources include company career pages and over 70 job boards, such as Monster, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter and CareerBuilder."

Google for Jobs filters through all those sources and chooses just one listing per job post. "It not only provides the same information you would find on individual job boards, but it goes a step further by aggregating job listings across multiple job boards and removing duplicates," Kothe said. "In other words, posting the same job on multiple job boards is now a waste of money."

The job seeker can choose how to apply, either through one of several job boards or through the employer's careers site and applicant tracking system (ATS).

"So, if you already have a Monster account, and have built a resume there, you can select to apply to that job via your Monster account and not, for example, through CareerBuilder or a site where you don't have an account," explained Joel Cheesman, one half of the popular Chad & Cheese podcast on all things recruiting, and the founder of Ratedly, which monitors anonymous employer review sites. "You can also opt to apply directly through a company's ATS and bypass job boards entirely. Google doesn't say how it decides the order, but [it appears that] the company site comes before the job sites."

Cheesman said it's worth noting that posts on Indeed won't show up as long as it chooses not to participate in Google for Jobs. "A lot of job seekers have an Indeed profile, which is easy to use," he said. "It's easy to apply that way. Indeed would be a great addition as on option for people to apply, but they're not even going to be on the playing field."

Previously, Google displayed job-listing sources in search results based on criteria like SEO and how much metadata was provided, said Mike Fahey, executive vice president at Madgex, a leading job site technology provider that partnered with Google to test and launch Google for Jobs. "Many times, Google would feature a job board and not always show an employer's careers site as the best place to go to apply for a job."

Google's decision to allow multiple job-apply sources is consolation to job boards that were fearful they would be forced out of the job search business, but it may also end up boosting organic traffic to employers' careers sites and ATSs. "If the job seeker is shown the employer's site along with multiple job boards, they are more likely to click on the employer's site," Fahey said.

But people who have uploaded resumes with CareerBuilder or Snagajob, for example, may find it quicker to apply through those sites, experts argue. Cheesman predicts that people will "gravitate toward the easiest, biggest brand site that they're already on as opposed to going to an ATS and filling things out from the start."

Chad Sowash, his partner on the Chad & Cheese podcast and co-founder of Catch 22 Consulting, a Columbus, Ind., firm focused on recruitment of veterans, thinks organic ATS applicant traffic will decrease, forcing organizations to improve their application processes.

"The reason that Google is allowing all these [options] to apply is because employers don't give enough information in the application process," he said. "Job seekers deserve to know what the salary is, or at least the salary range. Not to mention they don't deserve a crappy [application] process. The user experience sucks. It's horrible, and until that is fixed, candidates are going to continue to go around it."

Make Sure Google Can Find Your Jobs

Google for Jobs can substantially increase the number of searchers who see your job postings, but only if the Google web crawler can access them. Job listing web pages must be indexable and follow good SEO practices, otherwise Google will ignore them.

"You can't trick Google into showing your content more prominently in search—the only way to do that is to earn it," Kothe said. You can accomplish that two ways: adhere to Google's job posting structured data guidelines to directly integrate with Google, or use a third-party job site that has already integrated with Google, such as America's Job Exchange, Direct Employers, iCIMS, Glassdoor, JazzHR, Madgex, ZipRecruiter and several others.

Integrating directly with Google is the most reliable method for ensuring visibility for your job postings, but for this to happen the employer must have a website with job postings and be able to edit the HTML on those pages. As of October 2017, only 37 percent of the Fortune 500 had integrated their jobs directly with Google, according to KRT Marketing, a recruitment marketing agency in the San Francisco area.

"If you're relying on your ATS, especially one of the older ATSs, likely the pages aren't directly indexable," said John Cotton, recruitment technology and user experience strategist at CH2M, an engineering firm based in Englewood, Colo. "You may have to work with your vendor to ensure your site pages are optimized for search engine crawling and indexing. That means checking the robots.txt file to ensure that you or your vendor haven't inadvertently made your jobs invisible to Google."

Ensure that Google's bot can crawl your job posting web pages and that your host load settings allow for frequent crawls. After your pages are findable, it's time to add Google's structured data to job postings.

"You'll need to get your webmasters involved to answer your questions and create your structured data markup for Google," Cotton said. "Your careers site vendor or web development team can put you in the optimal position to get your jobs on Google for Jobs quickly by grabbing the correct pieces of data from your ATS listings and placing the content as structured data into your career site job description pages."

The minimum data Google requires is:

  • Name of the organization posting the job.
  • Title of the job (not the title of the posting). For example, "Software Engineer" or "Barista" and not "Warehouse Jobs" or "Retail Hiring!"
  • The job description, including job responsibilities, qualifications, skills, working hours, education and experience requirements. "The job description can't be the same as the job title, must be formatted in HTML and have one paragraph at a minimum," Cotton said.
  • The posting date for the job.
  • Location information for the job including full address. The more location information provided the likelier it will get selected by Google's algorithm, Cotton said.
  • The expiration date for the job posting, if applicable.

Optional but recommended data requirements are:

  • The company's unique identifier for the job, usually the requisition number from the ATS.
  • The type of employment—whether full-time, part-time or contractor, etc.
  • Base salary information in either a lump sum or range, including currency type and frequency of pay period.

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