Search Engine Optimisation for Job Adverts

  • This document is designed to help you find the best location to place an advertisement and to write the advert in a way that it will perform well with search engines.  The information in this document results from the Search Engine Optimisation training delivered by Richard Bunkham.  HR are planning to further develop this to also include more information about different places where we could advertise.

  • A good place to advertise a particular job is to advertise in the same place as other jobs of the same type.  You can find this out by simply typing the job title into a Google Search.

    At the top of the Google search it will show you locations where companies have paid Google to advertise.  This doesn't mean they are the best places to advertise because they may only have one job but because they paid Google to advertise they are automatically at the top, so look just below the paid adverts and you will see the locations where adverts for the job title are commonly found.  Google has algorithms that enable it to put the places, where the most adverts for the job title you search for, are placed at the top

    You may notice that Indeed ranks highly for many jobs when you conduct a Google Search.  At the time this document is being written, Indeed is the world's leading job site. Oxford Brookes already advertise on Indeed for free.  This is because Indeed automatically takes Oxford Brookes’ jobs and advertises them for free, we don’t have to ask, they just do this so that they can ensure they have the biggest selection of jobs available for people to look at. 

    You will see on the Indeed page that the top adverts that show are sponsored adverts, that means they have been paid for, the adverts that are not sponsored such as the Oxford Brookes adverts are below the sponsored adverts, so we need to get our adverts at the top of the free adverts.

    Your advert will go close to the top when you first advertise anyway because Indeed and Google tend to put adverts in date posted order, with the most recent at the top, but it is more complicated than that, as it also tries to analyse how relevant the job is to your search which will also affect where the job appears in the list.   Over time the advert slips lower down as newer adverts appear.  You can help your advert to appear higher up the list by writing it in a way that optimises it for search engines, you can also for a relatively low cost do “Pay Per Click” where your job is advertised for free but you only pay a small amount each time someone clicks on it, and you can limit how much you will pay as a maximum e.g. set a £50 budget, see the section below headed Pay Per Click Advertising.

    Most job searching is done on a Monday between 10am and 1pm and a Tuesday between 10am and 1pm. This means ideally we need to be placing adverts that appear on job boards on Monday at 10am so that we are right at the top without having to pay.  This is easily organised when we are paying for an advert, but for Indeed where we don't pay, we need to think about the date and time it goes live on our own website because Indeed will be sweeping our website for that advert and if we mistime when it displays on our website then it won't appear at the top of Indeed's listings at the ideal time, and instead if it appears earlier it could have traveled down the listing quite a long way by the time Monday 10am arrives.

    Advice from Indeed

    Indeed advise that we should probably time our advert to go live on our own website from late Sunday evening, early Monday morning, for example 2am on a Monday morning which you link HR Team can organise in the New HR System.  Indeed explain that their system indexes (scrapes) websites every six hours. There is no set time that this will happen to each website, so they can't guarantee that our website will be scanned at 8am every Monday morning for example, but advise that if we place the job on our website on a Monday morning then it will definitely be picked up by Indeed on Monday afternoon/evening.  So as we are wanting the advert to be close to the top of the listings at around 10am on a Monday they advise that we should post our advert to our own site on a Sunday evening/early Monday morning.

    Timings you should use

    Aim for adverts to go live from 2am on a Monday morning and hopefully the adverts will be fairly near the top of the listings.  We can only guarantee a specific time by paying for the advert though.  In the Additional Information section on the Staff request put something to the effect "Please arrange for the advert to go live on the OBU website from Monday (date) at 2am so that we can benefit from being at the top of the lists by Monday morning when Indeed will have captured our advert from the OBU page as this is when there is a surge in job searches happening."

    You can help your advert to appear higher up the list, at no extra cost, by mentioning the job title 4 times in the advert itself, even if it feels clunky, this is what Google and Indeed and other search engines use to rank posts, they are looking for commonly used words so the more often you use the words the higher up the list your advert will appear, also if there is another commonly used job title for the same role you should mention that title in the advert text as well so that when people search for it the advert will also be drawn into the search.  

    Below is a snap shot of an advert showing how to incorporate the job title 4 times in the advert:

     advert seo image


    More details about job titles can be found in the section headed, Job Titles and Alternative Job Titles.

    If your advert can be known by different titles in different organisations for example, Executive Assistant, Administrator, Clerical Officer, Office Assistant, Secretary, PA etc then you should try to mention the commonly used other titles in the text of the advert so that if your job title is Administrator the advert will still appear if someone searches for PA or for secretary, for example.  
    If you have a job title that is unusual then people may not be searching for that title, for example, if you have a post title of “HRIS Support Centre Manager” it is an unusual job title and people are more likely to be searching for “System Manager” or “Information System Manager”.  This means that when the person is employed we can give them the job title of “HRIS Support Centre Manager”, but when we advertise the post we want it to appear in job searches so we should advertise the post with a job title of “Information System Manager” as this is what prospective applicants are more likely to be searching for.  We have found that when we search for the job title “HR Assistant” it brings back few posts of this type, but when we search for the job title “HR Administrator” it brings back numerous job adverts, so when we advertise an HR Assistant post, in the advert we call it an HR Administrator post.  Search for the job title you are advertising and also similar job titles and see which provides the best search response and adjust the job title in the advert accordingly.

    The way people search for jobs has changed and most people scan the advert for key pieces of information so it is important to structure the advert so that key information is seen. 

    Here is a list of the key items that an advert should have:


    • Your advert should be at least 500 words long for Google, Indeed and other search engines algorithms to work best.
    • Begin the advert with a summary of the role in a couple of sentences which includes keywords.
    • Repeat the job title 4 times in the advert
    • Use a job title that people are likely to be searching for.
    • If there are lots of job titles that can be used for the same job, try to use them in the advert so that searches for the other job titles will pick up the Ensure the job title makes sense externally to Oxford Brookes and is a commonly used job title that people are likely to be searching for
    • Use sub-headings to attract the reader’s attention and it makes it easier for scan readers
    • Keep sentences and paragraphs short
    • Sell the job and highlight the attractive aspects
    • Use tangible filters to reduce unsuitable applications e.g. qualifications, experience.
    • Make it personal - “you will..” rather than “the successful candidate will …”
    • If your advert is very long, consider wording the advert so that the key attractions of the post are near the top as people are less likely to scroll all the way down the advert before they have made their decision whether to look into the role further. 

    Below is an example of a fictitious post which incorporates: 

    • The job title 4 times (highlighted in yellow)
    • Alternative words which could appear in a job title search (highlighted in blue)
    • Introduction and context
    • Summary of the job
    • Sub Heading (in a red box)
    • Attractive aspects of the job and tangible filters
    • Selling the benefits of working for OBU.

     marketing and comms officer advert - seo


    A cost effective way of advertising is to do Pay Per Click.  This means you advertise for free but when someone clicks on your advert you will be charged a small fee such as 80 pence.  Most job boards offer this facility and as you are paying it means you will be higher up the search lists.  Many advertisers and job boards offer pay per click including Google and Indeed, but Indeed is considerably cheaper than Google and as Indeed often appears at the top of Google searches you may consider this the best and most cost effective option.

    You are also able to set a spend budget so that once that budget has been used up on Pay Per Clicks your advert will continue to be advertised but it will start to slip down the list rather than appear near the top.  A suggested budget is £50.  You can always increase this if you wish at a later stage.

    Before using Pay Per Click advertising please read the section headed Low Response Rates With a Week Left of Advertising as this may help you decide when the best time to use Pay per Click Advertising is.

    If you advertise for 4 weeks using the free advert on Indeed etc, and find that after 3 weeks you have quite a few applicants then leave the advert as it is, but if you only have a few applicants then consider “Pay Per Click” advertising on Indeed for the final week of advertising which will push your advert back up to the top and you will only pay for the advert if someone clicks on it, something small each time such as 80 pence.  You can also set a budget and say that you will not exceed £50 worth of pay per click so that you are in control.  You can also do pay per click with Google so it appears at the top of the Google search but Google charge a lot more than Indeed and at this time our consultant felt that Indeed was better value and it is currently the world's leading job site. 

    Research has shown that Oxford Brookes’ largest conversion rate of applicants to employees comes from people who found out about a vacancy from a “friend” or employment contact.  This means if staff are able to recommend a vacancy to a friend or business contact, who would be interested, they are the people who are most likely to become an employee at Oxford Brookes.  This is because when people recommend a job to a friend or business contact it is because they think that person would be interested and potentially has the skills the University is looking for.

    Some staff may have large professional followings on LinkedIn, Facebook, G+ Share or Twitter, for example, and wish to share appropriate job adverts to their network as a way of letting people know about a vacancy that could be of interest.  Staff who wish to do this are able to go to the relevant Oxford Brookes job advert  on and click on the share buttons as shown in the screenshot below and share the advert instantly, easily and very quickly.

    advertisement seo

    If you wish to place an advert on LinkedIn you can pay to do this and should contact your Link HR Team to organise this and source a price, LinkedIn also offer pay per click advertising .  Please see the section headed Conversion Rate is Largest for “Friends” which also explains a way of advertising on LinkedIn for free which staff are welcome to do if they choose

    Avoid advertising posts in August and December as these are well known times of year when applicant rates fall as people are just not looking for jobs.

    The most common time of day and day of week for people to be searching for a new post is Monday between 10am and 1pm and Tuesday between 10am and 1pm.  This means that ideally you should be arranging with your Link HR Team for your jobs to be posted ready for these times so that your job appears at the top of the list.  If you advertise your job on a Friday then by the time Monday 10am comes around your job will have been pushed down the search lists by jobs that have been more recently posted.

    The most common time to be completing an application form and submitting it is on a Sunday evening, this means if you close your advert in the middle of the week you are unlikely to have received many extra applications as most people will have submitted them on the Sunday evening so arrange for your posts to close on a Monday.