Google AdWords presents businesses with an intriguing prospect for promoting their employer brand and driving up job applications. While we’ve spoken at length on this blog about how useful social media can be as a tool for increasing the reach of your employer brand, Google’s ads platform gives you the opportunity to move beyond social media sites and start attracting potential applicants through Google search results and across the Google Display Network. While the new possibilities that recruiters are afforded by this platform are exciting, they can also be a bit daunting. So, here’s an overview of some of the most common hurdles:
1. Defining the Right Search Terms
Okay, this hurdle really only applies to search ads (though, with display network ads there is the corresponding hurdle of choosing the right display partners), but your ability to master the Google AdWords environment will hinge on getting this right. Because Google determines which ads to display to which users based on a combination of quality score, relevancy score, and monetary bid, you want to be sure that you’re utilizing the search terms that potential applicants will actually use to find you. This can be trickier for building up a recruitment pipeline than for traditional sales, but the same principles apply. To begin with, think about your employee personas. What are their web browsing habits? What search terms are they using regularly and which of those terms are most relevant to your business? Then, you can use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to figure out the best terms to use. Remember, Google’s default is to charge you for Broad Matches, which means you’ll be bidding on search terms that are similar to but not the same as those you designate. We recommend using Broad Match Modifier to gain more control over what search terms you’re bidding on. In this way, you can be sure that you’re content is being shown primarily to your target personas.
2. Optimizing Cost per Click
The next challenge that needs to be faced is optimizing your cost per click. Because Google AdWords is already used by a number of large companies (who are able to leverage large recruitment advertising budgets), some of the more popular keywords can cost several dollars per click, which many smaller businesses may not be able to afford. One way to circumvent this issue is to choose less competitive keywords, but sometimes there’s only so much wiggle room for your search terms. To determine how much you can really afford to spend per click, you’ll need to consider the expected ROI of each visitor to your landing page. Again, this is a little more complex in recruitment than it would be in traditional sales, but if you have a sense of how much each hire is worth to you, compared with how many applicants per hire you usually get and how many applications you get per click, then you can determine the maximum price you can pay per click before your expected ROI turns negative.
3. Mastering Landing Pages
Getting a handle on your optimum cost per click is a good way to make sure that your budget and your recruitment goals are appropriately aligned. But again, the amount that you bid on each search or display ad is not the only determining factor in who sees your ads. Google is also interested in showing people content that they’re likely to find helpful. How do they do that? By checking the relevance not just of the contents of your ad, but of the landing page that the ad redirects to. This means that even if your bid for a particular search term is relatively high, Google can still penalize you for linking to a landing page that’s not relevant to the search term. How do you avoid this fate? First of all, you should make sure that the text of the landing page includes the appropriate keywords, and that, in general, it speaks to the search term. This means that if you’re targeting active job seekers (with, say, “developer jobs Python” as your search term), your landing page should include the words “developer,” “job,” and “Python,” in addition to being fairly explicit about the fact that you are, in fact, offering a job for developers working in Python. Not only will this help Google to show your ads to more people, it will help prospective recruits to orient themselves after they’ve been redirected, so that they don’t get confused about what steps to take next and drop out of the application process.
4. Crafting Your Ad
In addition to checking the relevance of your landing page, Google will also use the relevance of the ad itself in order to determine your ranking. The same keyword considerations outlined above apply here as well, but the constraints of the search ads format makes integrating the right keywords a different kind of challenge (for display ads, you have enough freedom that your primary concern ought to be attractive visuals and eye-catching graphic design). For your sponsored post, you’ll have space for up to three 30 character headlines and two 90 character descriptions, in addition to your display link and some 15 character “paths” (non-URL links to specific parts of your website). Use this space to give your prospective applicants a quick idea of your EVP and employer brand, and give them a direct call-to-action so that they know what action to take next. Again, make sure there is alignment between your chosen keywords, the text on your landing page, and the text of your ad. This way, you’ll get your employer brand in front of more potential applicants, and hopefully build up your talent pipeline in the process.
5. Tracking Your Progress
The final challenge on this list is in some ways the most important. Success on Google AdWords tends to be a function of trial and error. These ads can be tricky to get right on the first try, and they can easily become costly corporate albatrosses. One of the best ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to enable Google’s conversion tracking. By embedding a few lines of code into the web pages on your site that signal conversions (the “thank you” page after an application is submitted or after someone has signed up for a recruitment newsletter, for example), Google can help you figure out which ads and which individual clicks are driving the most helpful traffic and creating the kinds of conversions that you’re looking for. With these capabilities in place, it’ll be much easier to determine your Google AdWords ROI and to address any issues that may crop up. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to implement this kind of tracking, and the result is often less efficient recruitment advertising efforts.