Google for Jobs (GFJ) launched in 2017 to become the go-to platform for job postings for both employers and job seekers. GFJ is comparable to Google’s search engine in that job post rank and visibility are heavily dependent on how posts are optimized.
GFJ consolidates job postings from across the web, whether from small businesses or major job boards that house thousands of listings, and helps job seekers find their next job without ever having to leave the place where they often start their search.
Similarly to the search engine optimization (SEO) practices that have created an entire industry (dedicated to improving Google rankings for websites, blog posts, etc.), jobs are no different. The bottom line is, if you want your job postings to appear in front of job seekers on Google, you have to optimize them.
Like the litany of ranking factors that make up strong SEO, there’s a lot that goes into an optimized job post. Our engineering team has found dozens of key ranking signals that significantly impact the traffic a job post gets…but which of these ranking signals is most important, and relevant, to include in your job posts?
In this article, we cover some of Google for Jobs’ most important ranking signals as well as some tips, straight from our team of experts, on how you can improve them.
So, let’s jump in!
1. Meta Tags and Descriptions
Title tags (often referred to as meta titles) and meta descriptions are small bits of HTML code that appear in the headers of web pages.
Meta titles are very important because they essentially define a webpage or job posting. Meta descriptions are also critical because they describe pages more deeply, both to searchers reading through SERPs (search engine results pages) as well as to Google’s algorithm (if Google can read and comprehend the content of a meta description, it’s more likely to rank your page to answer a given search query).
Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag. Anything that exceeds this length can negatively affect a ranking. Meta descriptions, on the other hand, can be a bit longer than meta titles (with a recommended maximum character count of something in the 120-160 range).
Let’s illustrate this with an example: the Jobiak careers page.
The title tags are the words underlined in red in the image above, while the meta description is what appears underneath the title tags (in the blue box).
These tags and descriptions provide small summaries of the webpage or job posting. With a Google for Jobs post, meta tags and descriptions help Google’s algorithm understand just what your job posting is about. The keywords it picks up then help the GFJ engine better categorize the post. The more relevant your titles and descriptions, the higher the quality (and volume) of applicants you’re likely to see.
Another lesser-known meta tag worth mentioning here is the meta viewport, which improves your posts’ appearance on small-screen (e.g. mobile) devices. This is unsurprisingly important considering that 4 out of 5 people report using a mobile device when searching for jobs.
Bottom line: missing meta tags, meta tags that are too long or short, and meta tags that don’t contain relevant information or keywords can all negatively impact your GFJ rankings. Be sure to include all of them in your job advertisements to optimize your posts.
2. Using the Company Name in the Domain
The Google for Jobs algorithm prioritizes website postings over job board postings.
Why does this matter?
This means that, on GFJ, job postings that link directly to a career website’s landing page will rank higher than that same job posting linked to a job board.
So, job posters can improve their ranking simply by ensuring that their posts lead to a career website that houses their company name in it’s domain.
But it doesn’t stop there – this also improves the candidate experience; if a job seeker is sent directly to a career site, they’re effectively subverting the intermediary steps that often pop-up when applying via job boards. Fewer steps to apply generally translate to a higher applicant conversion rate!
3. Job Title
“Job title” is a GFJ ranking signal that you’re probably not surprised to see on this list. Many job seekers often start their search with a specific job title, meaning titles are a common entry point to your job posts. Even if you’re not an SEO whiz, you probably know how important it is to have a solid headline for a piece of content if you want it to be successful.
Simply put, job titles are one of if not the most important ranking signals when it comes to GFJ searches.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re optimizing your job titles. First off, it’s a good idea to make your titles specific and succinct. It’s okay to use jargon or other terminology that’s common for a given industry or scope (e.g. “CPA” isn’t a term that everyone is familiar with, but if you’re hiring a CPA it’s unlikely that a qualified applicant won’t know what the acronym stands for), so long as you stick to something that’s between 35-50 characters in length.
Some of the most common mistakes we see in employers’ job postings are:
- Vague job titles
- Misleading job titles
- Job titles attempting to be job descriptions
It’s worth repeating: giving your job a specific and succinct title solves these issues and improves your ranking on GFJ.
Another tip to improve your job post ranking is to include relevant essential keywords in your titles. This is because the google algorithm is robust in its ability to map keywords to one another. That means that even if a job seeker doesn’t search for a job with the exact same syntax as what appears in your post, they’ll see it if it’s relevant.
The reflex to stuff titles with keywords and other “fluffy” descriptors necessitates a warning: don’t go overboard with your job titles.
- Adding unrelated keywords, descriptions, and special characters (exclamation points, pound signs, etc.) to your titles actually harms your overall ranking and impacts visibility for job seekers.
- Throwing in additional “fluff”, just for the sake of it, is also a red flag as far as Google’s algorithm is concerned.
- Don’t attempt to treat titles like job descriptions. We see a lot of posts trying to fit a location, date, salary, company name, and more into the title. While well-intentioned, it’s simply ineffective; referencing things like location and salary harms your ranking for broader queries.
Bottom line: job titles that are succinct yet descriptive are your best bet for a strong GFJ ranking.
Let’s illustrate some of these points with an example:
Note that this job post includes the job title as well as the location and the company name. To align better with the most important ranking signals and ensure that your job will be found by Google and distributed to more applicants, we’d suggest something short and sweet. For this example, “Assistant Manager” will get the job done just fine. If all of your other ducks are in a row (meaning you’ve stuck to the other tips mentioned in this article 🤓), you’ll see an influx of qualified candidates in no time!
4. Job Descriptions
Job descriptions are another of the most important components of a strong ranking on GFJ!
The job description is where you can, and should, incorporate the information that’s most important to job seekers. That’s why this field also happens to be one of the most important in the eyes of Google’s algorithm.
An ideal job description will include:
- A company overview
- A summary of the job
- A description of the job’s duties and responsibilities
- An outline of required skills, experiences, and qualifications
- Working hours
- Salary and benefits information
- Other relevant information (like information about your company)
We recommend providing as much relevant information as you can in your job descriptions. The key word here is “relevant”; you don’t need to write a novel (try to keep this content between 300-500 words), but make sure you equip potential applicants with all the information they would reasonably want to see before they hit that “apply” button.
While this all may seem obvious to you, it’s worth taking note of everything on this list – it’s all important in the eyes of Google.
For example, adding information about your company is often something that gets overlooked. Yet because providing this context is useful to job seekers, Google has made it a priority as far as job post rankings are concerned. More often than not, this information is taken directly from a company’s ‘About’ page, but adding some notes about your organization’s growth or culture can add that extra “oomph” to your job description.
When job descriptions aren’t comprehensive enough, you’re more likely to be met with a flood of unqualified applications (as well as fewer qualified ones).
Here are some abbreviated tips to consider when crafting a job description:
- Include all the components we listed in our outline (above)
- Think about readability – including things like concise bullet points that make your job post easier to scan help with ranking. Blocky text and lengthy paragraphs are a surefire way to deter applications
- Include the exact location (more on this soon) of the job directly in the copy to improve visibility
- Try and make the details of the role, responsibilities, and other components of your description simple yet engaging
- Avoid special characters like exclamation marks and capitalization
- Don’t post a job if your description contains fewer than 200 characters
Finally, remember that Google is smart. Gone are the days where you need to spam and stuff keywords into your posts to get them seen – Google maps relationships between certain words, titles, and so on to determine topical relevance, meaning the algorithm expects to see words in your listing that show up in other, comparable job posts. It can therefore be helpful to look at competing listings to see if there are any important keywords or phrases that you might have missed. While your attempts to include relevant terminology are important, remember that it shouldn’t compromise your posts’ ability to communicate (i.e. it’s more important that your posts are coherent).
Bottom line: the better you’re able to communicate what you’re looking for, the better the hiring process will be for both your business as well as for job seekers.
We’re mentioning salary again because it can be a game changer when it comes to ranking higher on Google.
Salary is a variable that as many as 90% of job posts don’t list, making it a low-hanging fruit when it comes to levers you can pull to outrank your competitors.
Including a salary is not only an important factor for a high ranking on GFJ, but it also significantly improves the job seeker’s experience overall.
Warning: make sure the salary range you display on your posts is fair and accurate; Google encourages transparency and often compares job ads with industry averages to show job seekers how you stack up.
While many employers are convinced that including a salary in their job advertisements reduces their negotiating power during the interview process, it’s a mindset that is likely worth changing. Our CEO, Venkat, spoke on one of HR’s most popular podcasts about this very topic. If, after listening, you’re still not convinced then here are 7 reasons to consider including a salary range in your job posts from our friends at SocialTalent.
Bottom line: providing detailed, transparent information to job seekers is always a good practice, especially in the eyes of Google.
6. Occupational Category
The occupational category is a key technical attribute for a GFJ job posting. It is a specific occupation that’s a part of the overall job category.
The reason for its importance is simple: designating the right occupational category for your job posts drives more targeted traffic to that job. This is largely due to the occupational category being one of the things that Google’s algorithm looks to make sure a post is properly categorized and, subsequently, indexed and ranked.
This detail, combined with an optimized job title and description, ensures that relevant audiences are able to find your posts (regardless of the specifics of their search criteria). So, whether a job seeker inputs a specific job title for their search or something more general like “[category] jobs near me,” your posts are more likely to show up in either instance.
7. (Specific) Location
Another obvious, yet often overlooked, contributor to a high-ranking GFJ post is location. Including this in your job posts not only improves visibility but also impacts how hard it is to rank for a position. This likely seems obvious – many jobs in cities, for example, will often face stiffer competition versus that same job posted in a rural area.
It’s important that you get specific yet never mislead job seekers about the location of a job posting. We see lots of employers who are tempted to claim that some of their jobs are located in major cities even if, in reality, they’re in proximal suburbs. What tends to happen is that their rankings suffer and they are also perceived to be dishonest.
If you spend even just a few minutes on the GFJ interface, you’ll quickly notice that GFJ focuses on displaying jobs in your area. When you search for something like a “software developer job”, you will likely be shown results of relevant jobs that are located near where you’re searching. Google recognizes location as one of the most important elements of a job search, so the more precise the location, the better.
We recommend including the street address, postal code, and city that a job is in when coming up with a post. The closer a users’ IP address is to the exact location, the better your post will rank.
In the remote work world, it’s unsurprising to note that Google also accommodated searches for remote jobs. As a job poster, you’ll be able to classify your posts as “remote” or “telecommute” if you’re open to recruiting virtual workers.
8. Employment Type
Put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker: if you’re looking for part-time work, you’ll understandably only want to apply to jobs listed as “part-time” or, in some cases, “contract”. The inverse is true if you’re looking for full-time employment. Yet while including employment type in a job post seems like a no-brainer, its another key GFJ ranking signal that’s frequently overlooked.
One of the reasons explaining this is that employment type is not one of Google’s required schema properties (it’s only “recommended”). Yet when all other things are kept equal, job posts that don’t include employment type typically receive far less traffic versus those that do.
Given that employment type is one of the most-used filters by job seekers, it becomes another important ranking signal to consider if you want your post to perform well on Google.
9. Publishing Date
Spend a few minutes on GFJ, especially looking at job postings in more competitive hiring industries, and you might notice some correlations between a job post’s publishing date and its rank.
The ability to quickly fill jobs is critical for many recruiters and candidates alike, especially for those who work in high-turnover industries (like, for example, retail and hospitality). Google accounts for this phenomenon with a “validThrough” field which influences how relevant a job post is.
So, what does this mean when it comes to optimizing your job posts? Make sure to include the posting date as well as the expiry date. This ensures that both job seekers and Google’s algorithm have confidence that your posts are worth their time (also, expired jobs are a big no no).
Automate Your Google for Jobs SEO
Incorporating the GFJ ranking signals that we’ve covered in this post can significantly improve your online recruitment efforts. Yet, despite the relative simplicity of these tips, actually applying them to your job posts and within Google schema can be both difficult and time-consuming. And that’s not to mention all the other ranking signals we didn’t cover!
While you can account for these ranking signals manually, most employers lack the time, resources, or expertise to get meaningful results from GFJ. That’s why there are cost-effective technologies designed to easily publish and optimize your job listings for you. And while these technologies are sophisticated, the solutions they offer are simple:
- Easily publish and optimize your listings on Google, ensuring that all ranking signals and relevant keywords are accounted for
- Significantly reduce the time and resources you spend trying to get your jobs on Google
- Receive, on average, a 4x increase in qualified applicants