The Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Job Boards (SEO Demystified)

Search engine optimization. SEO. For people that don’t know SEO, it seems to be a mystical practice that sometimes gets you more traffic to your website. And sometimes it doesn’t.

Like the scene in Wolf of Wall Street with Matthew McConaughey (whose last name I’ve never typed), no one knows whether the rankings are going to go up, down, or sideways. But there are things you can do to help promote your rankings to go up.

Who is this article for

Before we get started, I want to let you know exactly who I had in mind when creating the video and typing this out.

  • Recruiters who are looking to diversify their income streams by taking the skills they already gained from hammering the phones and offering alternatives to those clients that don’t agree with fees
  • Recruiting agencies who are wanting their executive search consultants to post in one spot in order to grow as a company instead of growing Indeed, Monster, or CareerBuilder
  • Job board owners who want to diversify their traffic sources and get away from the cold approach
  • People thinking of starting a job board and are considering using SEO as their primary source of traffic
  • People looking to hire an SEO for their job board and want to learn the basics of SEO so they can talk the talk & call out shady SEOs

If you’re already familiar with SEO, I’m only going over surface-level information. No talks of keyword cannibalization, canonical tags, or black hat link building (except exposing and dissuading it).

What you’ll learn in this article

We’ll cover a few surface-level topics about SEO to get you up and running with your job board.

  • Pros and cons of SEO
  • Warning signs when hiring an SEO
  • Who should focus on SEO as a primary source of traffic
  • Some SEO basics
  • Content ideas to get you started with SEO

Let’s kick this off with the pros of SEO.

Pros of SEO for your job board

There are many benefits to implementing a proper SEO strategy for your website. These range from organic traffic to giving your visitors a better experience when they’re on your website.

SEO can be inexpensive

You don’t necessarily need to spend $5,000+ a month on SEO. If you know exactly what you’re getting, some SEOs offer à la carte style services so only get what you want. Different services you could receive include keyword research, technical SEO fixes, audits, analytic reports, or Google My Business maintenance. Don’t worry, I’ll explain those in more detail later.

The heart of SEO is content marketing. Whether that content is articles, pages, or products, you don’t necessarily need to spend hundreds of dollars on an article. Of course, some factors like the complexity of the subject and length are a factor. 

Trust me, if you’re spending anything less than $3/100 words, you’re going to have a bad time. That could be the rate for things like listicles (top 10 type posts), but not anything industry-specific.

“Free” and quality, targeted traffic

I put free in quotes to be sort of tongue-in-cheek because organic traffic is toted as being free when you need to put in work or dollars to get those visitors. There’s not a free traffic switch you can toggle. Unlike outreach or paid traffic, your efforts from 12 months ago will still be putting in work today. You know if you stop cold calling or cold emailing, your pipeline dries up. Can’t have that.

The targeted traffic is just that: targeted. If you’re writing articles like How to Get Hired as a Recruiter, you’re not going to get Tony Jabroni coming to read for fun. That’s not an entertaining topic. You’re getting people that want to be recruiters and your call-to-action can be to browse your job listings.

SEO works 24/7 for you

Unlike manual outreach, SEO continues working for you throughout the day, day after day. It’s an effective way to keep your pipeline full, and eventually, your job board sells your service itself.

Long-term strategy

Like in a brick and mortar business, as long as you’re doing everything right your most serious threat is a competitor moving in. SEO is no different. As long as you’re creating the absolute pinnacle of content, you should have to worry about competition.

Additionally, since this is a long-term game, stay away from any tricks or black hat strategies. Don’t give up long-term success for short-term gains. As far as algorithm updates go, as long as you’re doing everything the right way you shouldn’t be impacted heavily.

Better SEO = better UX

UX stands for user experience. For the most part, on-page optimizations improve visitor’s experiences when they’re browsing your job board. Fast site speed, easy navigation, headings so you know what you’re about to read. Those all make for a good experience for someone who’s never been to your website before. And these help with your SEO as well.

Semi-passive

I didn’t want to put this in here because it’s not passive if you’re doing it correctly. But, you could do something like

  1. purchase, edit, and publish 50 articles about your industry
  2. never touch them again
  3. reap the benefits
  4. for a long time

Like all good things, they come to an end. Over time competition moves in, algorithms change, and random acts of the unexplainable occur.

Cons of SEO

Be forewarned, some of the cons have already been stated as a caveat to the pros previously mentioned. You should still know what you’re getting yourself into.

SEO takes a while to work

SEO is not an overnight success. It can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months before you start seeing any trickle of traffic from your efforts and another 6 months before those early articles plateau. But unless you’re ranking #1, there’s still work to do. There’s always more work to do…

seo that long wait

Here are the first few months of a job board I worked on. As you can see, it wasn’t until month 4 that I started getting consistent daily traffic. That was publishing 5-7 articles a week at 1200-2500 words apiece. Plow through it. Your efforts will see fruition. Eventually.

Cheap could mean destructive

The same way fast food can ruin your internals for a few hours, using cheap SEO services could destroy your organic traffic. Stay the hell away from Fiverr. Period. Cheap articles won’t rank, cheap backlinks will either do nothing or tank your rankings (or worst, get a manual penalty), cheap hosting runs slowly. So you either need to learn and get to work or you need to invest. And treat SEO as an investment.

Algorithm updates

The bane of any SEO’s existence, the dreaded algorithm update. If you’re doing any sort of black hat tactics, you’re going to see the downfall of your traffic. For the most part, if you stick to the basics and away from any easy wins, you should be good. But even then, sometimes innocent websites are affected by updates. Collateral damage if you will.

As complex as you make it

SEO is pretty damn complex if you’re interested in learning. The proverbial rabbit hole goes deep. And what works for one SEO may not work for another, so there is a lot of discrepancies between experts. That can get an amateur caught up in learning and not doing. If you stick to the basics, you’ll have very few issues.

No guarantees

You could do everything right as far as article length, backlinks, social signals, etcetera, and still not rank where you want to be. Then you look at #1 and they’re 250 words of spun content on a slow website last updated when Blockbuster was still in 50 states.

It’s a shady industry

Because SEO takes so long and it’s 100% based on theory & anecdotal evidence, it’s easy for shady practices to sell services and promises to clients with the constant reminder that “SEO takes time.” Before the firm knows it, they spent $10,000 on nothing and that’s that. Plus, it’s easy to take advantage of people that don’t know any better.

For instance, I went on a few local firms to see what their homepages looked like. One of them had screenshots of Google rankings for a local business.

For those of you not in the know, Google customizes your search results based on your history, meaning it showed the business being #1, but that’s customized to his search preference. While we’re on the subject of shady SEOs, let’s look at a few red flags you should watch out for if you’re interested in hiring an agency, freelancer, or consultant.

Warnings signs when hiring an SEO

If they make any promises like getting you to page 1 or rank 1, run. They cannot guarantee that, and if they do say they can, it will be for some obscure long-tail keyword that no one has ever used before like construction job board find me a job tomorrow.

cons to seo for job boards

Really? If their backlink plan includes the word PBN (personal blog network), run. That’s playing with fire and has the potential to get smacked by an algorithm update someday.

If they’re promising to build 50+ backlinks a month, run. You’re going to get terrible blog spam backlinks that are either worthless or will cost you in the long run because you will need to get them disavowed from your link profile.

If they hid their efforts, run. You should know exactly what you’re getting and what they’re doing whether it’s building backlinks (they should show you where you’re showing up at) or doing technical updates.

If they’re not offering monthly reporting, run. This ties back into the previous “run” and is a way you can keep up with what you’re paying them to do.

If they try to sell you on 500-word articles, run. You have to answer a very specific question to have success with 500-word articles, that usually comes from industry knowledge. If this article was 500 words, you would have never found it.

Who should focus on SEO as their PRIMARY traffic source

time is money seo

SEO should be added to every traffic strategy, but only a select few people should have it be their primary traffic source.

  1. People that already know SEO, because they know the time and effort that goes into starting a website using SEO
  2. People that have time to wait, because even for experts, it simply takes time to start seeing traffic
  3. People that have a low budget, because, for the most part, all you need is a comfortable keyboard to start typing your expertise

If you hire an agency, toss them $5,000 a month for SEO services but don’t know what you are getting or should be getting, you’re gonna have a bad time.

SEO basics

Ah, finally, to the SEO basics. There are only a few basics that if you do well, you’re going to see good results.

  • Technical SEO
  • Keyword Research
  • On-Page SEO (UX & Content)
  • Off-Page SEO (Backlinks)
  • Schema Markup in the case of job boards

Let’s swan dive into each one. But first, a disclaimer. I’m not going to go into intimate detail about how to do each task. There are plenty of resources available for that and it does no one any good repeated the same information that’s out there.

Consider the following more of a list of actionable items, and if you’re interested in learning how to do it yourself I’ll include resources to learn more.

Technical SEO basics

Technical SEO is tricky when it comes to keeping it basic, but I’ll do my best. The first thing you should do is create a sitemap and submit it to various search engine webmaster tools.  A sitemap is a file that lists the pages on your website. This can be automated with plugins if you’re using WordPress, and you can learn more about sitemaps by clicking here.

Increasing your site speed is going to help out immensely with your SEO. By not buying cheap hosting and keeping your website bloat to a minimum, you can increase or maintain your site speed fairly easily. There are additional ways you can increase site speed which you can learn about by clicking here.

Simplify and make it easy to read your site architecture. For instance, how your URLs are set up. Don’t include the date, index.php, or have your article URLs be random numbers. You’ll want your article title or a shorter version of it in your URLs.

Also, your navigation should include common terminology. Don’t have your menu item linking to your blog as something like “Our Thoughts” as a new user isn’t going to know what that means. HubSpot has a pretty good overview of site architecture found here.

Finally, after you build your website and start populating it, you can run audits which will give you more technical tasks to complete like resizing images, shortening page titles, and oddities like no-followed internal links. You can learn the basics in the video below.

Of course, technical SEO goes a whole lot deeper than just these few topics. We’ll just keep it surface level for now.

Basic keyword research

keyword research for job boards

Keyword research is the start of your SEO journey. After configuring your URL structure to include article titles, it’s time to start planning and creating those articles. But you don’t want to just start writing articles that people may or may not need. An easy and free solution is to use a website like answerthepublic.com because it spits out a massive list of questions people are asking about your topic.

For example, here are all sorts of questions that include the phrase “design jobs.”

Paid options include keyword tools like SERPStat, SEMRush, or AHREFs and paying for keyword research. When you’re looking at keywords to start targeting with your content, don’t discount low estimated volume keywords.

Something that gets 20 searches per month but those 20 people are ready to post a job is more valuable than a keyword that gets 1000 searches a month but are looking for entertainment.

The reason I recommended AnswerThePublic is because answering questions people have about your industry or location is some of the easiest ways to get job seekers to your website.

Again, even if a question gets potentially 10 or 20 people per month, it’s worth it because those add up quickly and are generally low competition. If you’re struggling to find topic ideas to write about, don’t forget the for or in modifier for those keywords.

  • how to write a resume gets over 40k searches per month and has insane competition, plus you’ll have untargeted traffic
  • how to write a resume for a graphic design internship gets a handful of searches per month, but if you’re running a graphic design job board, you can capitalize

Another piece of advice is every single piece of content should have a call to action or purpose. A call to action being something you want the viewer to do, whether that

  • post a job
  • browse jobs
  • buy a product
  • join your mailing list
  • reach out to start a conversation

For instance, the goal of this article is to get people to contact me for a consultation or SEO work. I’ll include a lot of examples towards the end of the article to get your ideas flowing for content.

On-page SEO basics

Let’s cover some of the very basics of SEO you need to do on your new articles before you hit publish.

Write longer content

Although it’s not always required to jam out 1, 2, 5, or 10 thousand word articles for every article, longer-form content has the potential to rank for more keywords. Just because you’re targeting keyword A, you may inadvertently rank for keywords B-M. By going into your search console after publishing, keywords N-Z could be won with some addition to your article.

Format

Format your article so that it’s easy to read. Use a good headline, include h2 & h3 tags in your article, include bullets, numbers, bold, and italics.

Optimize images and include video

Don’t upload massive images that are automatically resized to fit your screen width. The page is going to load the full-size image and resize it for you, slowing down your page significantly. Use JPGs over PNG files.

The green organic clients and candidates image is only 80KB of data in JPG form, while the PNG file was a whopping 960KB. If you find a relevant video to include in your post, embed it! Like my video and the AHREFs video posted above, not only does it add to the user’s experience but it also can help you show up in the SERPs with additional visuals.

Format your meta description & title

When you’re all finished and ready to hit publish, don’t forget to customize your meta description and title. This is what shows up when someone searches for something and your article or page shows up. Note that this does not help with ranking, but does help with click-thru rate to get people to come to your website.

Off-page SEO basics

Off-page SEO is basically backlinks. There are more that goes into it, but if you’re getting backlinks either organically or through outreach, you’re doing well. Assuming they’re not from spam or from spun content.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are like internet citations. They’re signals to search engines that you know what you’re talking about, and another website has linked to your website.

Think about testimonials.

If you’re a recruiter and have people that give you positive testimonials, that improves your status as a recruiter and people want to work with you. Entry-level placement testimonials don’t hold the same weight as a testimonial from more senior positions.

Same with websites.

A link to your website from major websites like college websites, news websites, and other major industry publications are worth more than a link from Suzy’s Personal Blog.

Schema markup

Finally, when you’re running a job board, you need to configure schema markup. Schema is simply telling the search engines that you have job postings and they should treat your job postings as such. Here is a list of properties and descriptions for job posting schema. But don’t worry, if you don’t want to or can’t read that page, you can install software that does it for you. If you’re using WordPress and a plugin to run your job board, the schema markup is usually built-in and all you need to do is submit the sitemap to the search engines.

Content Ideas

Here are some content ideas to get you started with your job board content marketing and SEO. The ideas with [industry] in them are more for industry type job boards whose [city] are more for location-based job boards

  • What to include in an [industry] cover letter
  • Best universities for [industry] in [state, country]
  • How to become an [industry profession]
  • How long does it take to learn [industry skill]
  • How to get [industry certification]
  • How to increase salary in [industry]
  • Cost of living in [city]
  • Jobs in [city, industry]
  • Where to find jobs in [city, industry]
  • Best [additional product or service you offer]
  • Best [product your industry uses] for [industry]
  • Best [city, industry] job boards
  • Best [industry] firms in [city]
  • Salary for [industry] in [city]

Do you see what I’m getting at? Some of the ideas are career advice, some are things someone looking to move to a new area would think about before moving. They’re not Here’s Why We’re The Best Job Board.

That’s a wrap

Have you read through this article and said to yourself yeah, I’m not learning all of that? Reach out, I’m available to work as a consultant or SEO for your job board or future job board. Send a message on the contact page and let’s start the conversation.