There is a crucial rule in Employer Branding: make sure candidates can find you. Like consumers, today's candidates do their research to make sure a company is a right fit before applying for or accepting a job. But since job seekers have more to lose, when considering whether to get involved with your business, they have no problem moving on if your employer brand doesn't attract them.
We asked Thomas Sommeregger, Digital Marketer & Owner of digitalbuero, whether he has encountered managers and stakeholders who want to learn more about SEA and online marketing in order to increase their success in winning top candidates. According to him, the request for those services as recruiting tools is not that big – yet. Considering that many candidates start to research about their future companies with a search engine – just like they check ratings for restaurants, hotels and other services – this topic should be hotter than we have seen so far.
BFY: How would you explain the difference between SEA and SEO regarding recruiting marketing and employer branding? What kind of impact is expected depending on which one is used?
TS: I would always start with the organic/non paid presence of the company. Try googling yourself - the company name itself, but also the names of HR managers, CEO, Managers - and aim for a professional, consistent presence. The details about the company name, logos and portrait images should be up-to-date and consistent over the platforms (e.g. on Google My Business, company website, social profiles, press releases). As a candidate, I’d love to find correct, up-to-date information about the company and the people I might work with in the future.
BFY: What SEO and SEA tips and tricks can you give which have to be incorporated into an employer’s branding strategy to be available where top candidates are looking?
TS: Pay attention to these 3 things: Don’t think of “SEO” only regarding your own domains and websites. Candidates will find content about your company anyway, so include thoughts about other outlets, social media and news articles which might show up as well. This means, do brand monitoring (manually or with tools, but regularly) to get a notice about all mentions of your company. Include names of representatives as well, which are important in the recruiting process. As soon as they are mentioned/cited/shown anywhere online, you should be aware of that. Think big, start small. Don’t wait too long with the perfect SEO and SEA strategy. Often I find company websites with job-offers that aren’t properly shareable on social media with a nice and unique URL and with no detailed, optimized “Open Graph”- elements (making the content nice on social media, with text and image in a certain appearance). This means that dozens of jobs someone would have shared show just a generic snippet and image, and link just to the job overview page or even worse, the homepage. Technically those job-details aren’t indexed at Google as well, because of a missing URL strategy. This means employer branding could improve in this case by an approximately 15-30 minutes developer-task in order to fix those links, get multiple new pages/jobs in the Google results and allow anyone to share jobs around with colleagues, friends and peers. Don’t wait for an employer branding manager to start, just look at the search results, social media and your website on a regular basis from a candidate’s point of view. Do your homework, and then do the advertising. Yes, Google Ads are easy. Especially from the candidate’s point of view. But please don’t forget before starting your campaigns and spending your first Euros/Dollars to take care of the landing pages, the content, all the communication and process management. Is the HR manager on holiday for 2 weeks? Don’t start your advertising a few days before (at least not on a high volume), as no one would be able to change ads, landing pages and appropriately respond to calls, e-mails or applications.
BFY: How can blogs influence the ranking of job ads or career pages and what do you have to pay attention to if you own a blog?
TS: I would do a blog on the company’s website, plus spread content on other outlets as well, e.g. guest blogging, appearances in videos or on stage. As a negative aspect of a company-only blog from a candidate’s perspective, I would see the fact that you could tend to write only about the “sunny side” of business life, as the blog would be 100% controlled by the internal content team. Opening up to other platforms as a company shows that other websites and outlets are appreciating a certain work, approach or success and invite professionals from a company to contribute to their platforms. Personally, I would rate content on a renowned external platform higher than just a blog-post on the company’s website. As a candidate, I would definitely search for people at the company who contributed to forums and commented with their know-how, and I would prefer this content over (too) polished blog posts under their company’s domain.
BFY: What is the correlation between Google searches and activities on social media? Is there a most preferred platform to use in terms of using a search engine (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Xing)?
TS: I like to speak about “maximizing your SERP real estate”. This means the more space a person or company controls on the search result page (=SERP), the better it is. You don’t have to list all of your own websites or blogs. But if you actively take care of - manage and optimize - several social media profiles, they’ll show up right around your own website for the relevant queries used by candidates.
I can’t decide from the search engine’s point of view, which services should be preferred. But looking from the candidate site, LinkedIn and Facebook seem to be a “must”, way more than I see Instagram, Xing or Twitter. The latter is likely to be left out in the DACH area, as I can’t monitor a high Twitter activity in Austria and Germany – as long as the company/job field is not in a branch/niche with a certain usage/followership. Xing is losing a bit of pace compared to its international competitor LinkedIn right now. Fun fact on Google Trends: as there is a negative spike around December 24th for both platforms regarding Google Searches, I assume nobody is really searching jobs and new business contacts around Christmas. Though, the relative search volumes see certain peaks around the new year, which could mean – new year, new job. Consider such tools monitoring search volumes and seasonal trends, too!
Another trend, which might help you to find better candidates: Use the right wording, e.g. Online Marketing vs. Digital Marketing, because internationally it’s “Digital Marketing” whereas in Germany only it’s more like “Online Marketing” – so consider those facts in search volumes also when deciding which candidate you want to find, and in which regions you are hiring. Starting with the right job title (best search volume in the market/language) can lead to better results within the process.
BFY: How helpful can SEO and SEA be for candidates searching for jobs and using Google or other search engines?
TS: The majority is starting their search at Google. “Zu niemandem ist man ehrlicher als zum Suchfeld von Google” (a german quote by Constanze Kurz, ‘You're no more honest to anyone than to Google's search box’). So it is very likely that the search engine knows your intention, way before the people around you, your partner, parents, teammates and your boss might get an idea of your future career plans.
I see Facebook and LinkedIn doing good work at improving the career-field with postings, newsletters or ads that find the right people – before the people start to actively search themselves. For me, SEO/SEA activities should go together with postings on Facebook and LinkedIn in order to be present in many stages of the candidate journey.
BFY: Do you have any other SEO strategies for building a successful employer brand?
TS: I recommend to invest in content continuously (e.g. own blog or guest blogging or speaking at events). As I candidate I’d love to read content about companies where I see future teammates or seniors “in action”. Not showing how nice their office looks, how good they are at playing pinball or how well they score at the football table during their lunch breaks. But how good they are at doing their job – so I’d love to work with them in the future because I admire their approach, professionalism and work ethics, shown in articles, posts and speeches.