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October 25, 2007 / Toby Dayton

SEO Tip #4 For Corporate Career Sites

From our recently published whitepaper on SEO for company job boards:

Tip #4: Your jobs should be published in HTML

HTML is the universal language of webpages. All browsers can read it and search engines are built to search it. To make your listings as accessible as possible to both jobseekers and search engines, they need to be published in HTML. They should not be delivered in a PDF or .doc (Microsft Word) file, and especially not in a format that requires something to be downloaded in order to be viewed. Despite the fact that search engines such as Google and Yahoo are increasing their support for non-HTML files, anything but HTML presents a potential headache to the jobseekers visiting your site.

One might think that providing a link to download a free PDF reader like Adobe’s Acrobat Reader is a sufficient workaround for continuing to use PDF files or that everyone has a PDF plug-in installed in their browser. It’s not and they don’t. Imagine standing in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, trying to decide which new cereal to try. All the boxes fit in your cart except one. This one cereal brand requires you to go to the other end of the store for a special cart in order to get it off the shelf and transported to the checkout lane. What are the chances that you’d pick that one? Pretty slim. While some might make the trek, many people simply won’t bother. Jobs in a PDF format are just like that.

Don’t assume, either, that all your visitors or even a sufficient number of them have Microsoft Office on their computer and can view .doc files. Despite Microsoft’s seemingly tight hold on the word processing application market, .doc files are simply not a universally accessible file format.

In the case of both PDFs and .doc file formats, it is important to remember that many, many people access the web through public computers or own an older computer and might not be able to install the required programs necessary to access your jobs. While PDFs and Word Docs might have more design capabilities and often look better than most webpages. the overall benefit of HTML far outweighs the aesthetic appeal of these less accessible formats. If your jobs are not in HTML, they cannot be bookmarked either (read yesterday’s post on bookmarking jobs here). If you absolutely must, for some reason, list your jobs in PDF or Word files, make sure to offer both the enhanced version and the HTML version of your jobs.

So what’s the easiest way to determine whether or not your jobs are published in HTML? When the internet was young, most webpages ended in .html or .htm. But with the ever-present programming languages that help companies deploy websites faster, it’s no longer possible to rely solely on the address to determine if a page is HTML. To do so, right-click on the text within a job listing – if you can see “View Source” or “View Page Source” in the menu that pops up, you’re looking at HTML. If you are not able to find the “View Source” options, your site is most likely not using HTML.

If you’re using PDFs or Word files (or any other format other than HTML) to publish jobs on the career section of your site, take the time and make the effort to switch to HTML. It’s far more convenient for your visitors and easier for search engines to find your jobs. Not only will you increase your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), but you’ll attract more applicants in the process.

[tags]SEO, SEO for HR, HR SEO, Search Engine Optimization, Attracting Jobseekers To Your Corporate Career Section, HTML, PDFs, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office, Job Boards, Online Job Listings[/tags]