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SEO in 2017:

A Checklist for Staffing and Recruiting Firms

For most people, driving in a car feels much safer than flying in an airplane. We dictate our future when we hold the steering wheel. We decide our direction, and we determine whether we reach our destination or not. Statistically, flying is much safer than driving, but most of us worry a lot more when we are on an airplane. We hate to give up control - it makes us uncomfortable when we're 35,000 feet above the ground. Control means security.

In SEO, search engines are your airplanes, and Google is your pilot. There may be 100 people on board an aircraft thinking they're headed to Miami. But if the pilot says he wants to go to Alaska, guess where you're going? Alaska. Hope you brought your jacket!

Everything Google does is in its own self-interest. Google is not a public service. They are a business looking to drive the bottom line. Profit potential fuels their algorithmic changes. They don't owe webmasters anything. However, if we can build a website that provides a remarkable user experience and answers a query, then Google will reward you with targeted visitors. They want people to continue using Google as their preferred search engine, so delivering high-quality results becomes a priority.

Remember, Google is not a human. It's a machine that was programmed by humans. Any time there's an algorithm in place, there's a way to manipulate the algorithm. Clients and candidates rely on search engines for answers to their questions, so you need to do everything you can to get in front of users who do not yet know who you are. Going forward in 2017, here's our SEO checklist to help staffing and recruiting firms get a little more control over the pilot.

Is your website built for mobile?

The world has made a rapid shift from desktops and laptops to cell phones and tablets. It's more important than ever to make sure your website looks great on a small screen and loads fast. Mobile-friendly is the name of the game. Here's what you need to implement to "future proof" your website:

Responsive Website Design

Responsive website design has become the barometer by which all mobile sites are judged. In the past, webmasters had to build two separate websites: one for desktop users and one for mobile users. Now, responsive design allows the on-page elements to adjust to the user's screen automatically. This is ideal for user experience and is Google's preferred website design.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is a new initiative by Google to bring the web to mobile users at lightning speed. Since Google has made their shift to the mobile first index, websites that take advantage of accelerated mobile pages have enjoyed a slight boost in rankings. Much like SSL, this advantage is likely to dissipate over time as more users adopt AMP technology. With that said, you don't want to be the only website without AMP pages a year from now!

Is your website fast?

Here are some facts about website speed that will make you lose a little bit of faith in humanity.

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Still not scared?

  • If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

If the customer is always right, then most of us have a lot of work to do. Building a fast website starts with a solid framework. You can always optimize an old site to make it faster, but that's like putting a turbo on an old Civic. The fastest cars (Ferrari and Lamborghini) are built from the ground up with performance in mind. To get the most out of your website, consider the following:

  • Do you have fast web hosting?
  • Do you have proper caching implemented?
  • Did you minify JavaScript and CSS files?
  • Do you utilize a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?
  • Are your images properly compressed?
  • Does the website use clean code with lightweight plugins?

Is your website secure with SSL?

In 2014, Google encouraged webmasters to use SSL encryption on their websites to improve data security. Google's initiative to create a secure web prompted them to provide slight boosts to SSL compliant websites within the search results. In 2016, Google told webmasters that unencrypted sites would soon be marked as "unsafe" by displaying a red "x" over a padlock in the Chrome browser. Although this has not officially been rolled out yet, it's on Google's timeline. Many consider this to be a form of shaming for unencrypted websites, but the truth of the matter is HTTP is not secure, and HTTPS is secure. If you are not utilizing SSL encryption, you're two years late to the party, and this should be at the top of your list for 2017.

Is it built with user experience in mind?

The ultimate goal of your website should be to drive new business. This means conversions should be the main priority. Each page should be designed with user intent in mind. For example, ask yourself, "If a user looking for accounting jobs lands on this page, will they find what they are looking for?" If the answer is no, you have two choices:

  • Fix the page, so the answer is yes.
  • Optimize the page using different terms that are more relevant to the page's content.

With user engagement slowly becoming a core part of Google's algorithm, gone are the days of keyword stuffing to rank. Your website must offer value to the user and answer their query. It's that simple. Of course, keyword optimization is still a large part of whether a page can "stick" for a query. But more weight should be given to the following items:

  • Encouraging users to stay on your website
  • Encouraging users to visit more pages on your site
  • Encourage users to contact you

Keep in mind that Google will not be a paying customer. It's the humans that find you through Google will want to do business with you!

Do you have an ongoing content plan?

Back in 2011, Google made a core algorithm change to reward websites that were regularly providing fresh and relevant content. Not only is fresh content seen as a plus by search engines, it tells humans you're alive and well.

Every staffing firm should have a long-term content plan in mind based on specific goals. Do you need more clients or do you need more candidates? If you need more candidates and job applications, are you creating content that appeals to candidates?

For ongoing SEO, content creation is key to your survival. Your content is an asset, and the best way to get people started down the sales funnel.

Do you have a plan to obtain backlinks from niche-relevant websites?

Backlinks are, and will continue to be, a core part of Google's algorithm. It's the one thing that cannot be easily manipulated, but it's perhaps the most powerful ranking signal.

Not all backlinks are created equal. Obtaining links from irrelevant nameless blogs may not do anything for your rankings. In fact, low-quality links may actually harm your ability to rank well. The real movement happens when you obtain quality backlinks from authoritative, niche-relevant websites. There are many ways to obtain high-quality backlinks legitimately, but manual outreach and custom content creation is still the most effective approach. Please note, this article isn't meant to be a comprehensive approach for link building. It's simply intended to highlight the importance of having a backlink outreach strategy within your ongoing SEO plan.

Final Thoughts for 2017

As Google becomes more sophisticated in its ranking criteria, so does the job of an SEO. Building a staffing and recruiting website for both search engines and humans can be a challenge if you don't have the proper experience. At Haley Marketing, we can guide you through the process of building a modern and engaging website that leads to conversions.

Take the next step

Let our team help guide your marketing strategy this year.