How to Gain Traction for Your Employer Brand with Search Engine Marketing

By Richard Mosley

When you need to raise the search engine ranking for your employer brand in a hurry or you’re looking for a way to more effectively target certain talent, consider paying for a higher search engine ranking.

With SEM, such as Google AdWords, you can target or exclude geographical areas, set your daily budget and how much you’re willing to pay per click, create your own ad(s), and specify the keywords and phrases you want to trigger your ad(s) appearing in the search results. To optimize SEM results and your return on investment (ROI), follow these suggestions:

  • Don’t pay for what you’re already getting for free. If you’re already showing up near the top of the search results for the keywords and phrases you’re targeting, don’t pay for advertising. Use your budget to shore up weaknesses in your recruitment advertising or to promote specific job openings.
  • Be specific with keywords and phrases. Use exact matching and keyword exclusion (negative keywords) to produce more targeted search results. With keyword exclusion, you can prevent your ad from appearing in the search results if it includes a specific word; for example, if you’re advertising for an electrical engineer, and you’re getting a lot of traffic from people searching “software engineer,” you can enter “software” as a negative keyword, so your ad doesn’t appear when a user includes “software” in his search phrase.
  • Fine-tune the destination. If a user clicks one of your pay-per-click ads, make sure she lands on a page that’s likely to provide the information she expected. For example, if you create a PPC ad to promote a job opening for a CEO, make sure that ad links to the page devoted to that job opening and not to the home page of your career website.
  • Start low when choosing how much to pay per click. Your ad doesn’t need to be at the very top of the list. If it’s in the top three, that’s usually sufficient.
  • Track and tweak. Keep track of PPC activity and tweak your messaging to see how users respond. Minor changes in your messaging can significantly improve results. Track both your click-through and conversion rates:
    • Click-through rate (CTR): This metric tells you how many people are clicking your ad to learn more. The higher your CTR, the more your ad is connecting with the desired audience. If your CTR is lower than 1 percent, you need to adjust your ad copy.
    • Conversion rate (CR): If your ad leads to a call to action, such as “apply for this job,” the CR represents the percentage of times a person who visits your site after clicking your ad performs the call to action — in this example, the percentage of people who click the button to apply for the job. An average CR is about 2 percent, an outstanding CR is about 5 percent, and a mind-blowing CR is 10 percent or higher.
  • Boost SEO with SEM. Coordinate your SEO and SEM efforts. As you increase your PPC efforts, you’re likely to get a boost in traffic from organic search results (those you’re not paying for). Use the same keywords and phrases in your SEM as you do in your SEO to help search engines associate those keywords and phrases with your company.

Not to give Google free advertising, but if you want to get the most for your SEM buck, consider spending it on Google AdWords. Google is the world’s largest search engine, accounting for 72 percent of all global searches.