HR Tech Advisor Success Profile
Learn how IBM combined SEO know how and an HR Technology Infrastructure to dominate Google search results.
Q: In the world of recruitment marketing, can a single company compete and win against Indeed, Monster, etc.?
Yes! Not only is it possible but IBM did just that. We had a goal to get our jobs on the front page of Google results, and we did it in one of the toughest tech capitals: Bangalore. We had competition from not only the job boards representing all their clients, but other giants like Accenture, Deloitte, Wipro, etc.
Q: How did you dominate Google’s search results?
I first devised a multi part strategy. We started with keyword research to learn for what words people were searching. Then we developed .com and .jobs pages that were relevant to the keywords by creating specific content, alt tags, etc. We also created a linking strategy between .jobs and .com which helped boost results. To bolster results even more we added paid campaigns directing traffic to landing pages via Google adwords and other similar type network advertising. When we did all of this together it multiplied the organic results pushing IBM up to between the 1 to 3 spot on the results list!
Q: What types of tools and know how did you and your HR team need to really drive results?
We use Google’s Webmaster Tools to constantly inspect and tweak our pages and make improvements. Our .jobs templates were created by industry expert Rick Worley for DirectEmployers Association. Our landing pages are now evolving into full career sites as interaction points, which is driving engagement and therefore SEO results.
Q: What has been some of the challenges implementing an SEO strategy?
Most job seekers want to find jobs locally. Since they search for jobs in a local way it’s been a challenge to make SEO and landing pages capable of aligning with that approach. Another challenge has been staff bandwidth. Most HR departments are typically in fire fighting mode, with staffing departments leveraging contract recruiters to meet ups/downs. But if you want SEO to drive results over the long haul you’ll need stability in the recruiter ranks to build on the inside what an agency does on the outside, and leverage your top recruiters with a team of technical people to support them. Many large companies will spend six figures or more on an external agency but not invest similar amounts to build those capabilities internally for the long haul. What’s fascinating to me is smaller companies can benefit even more from a well executed SEO strategy than larger companies.
Q: What kind of results did your efforts deliver to the business?
If you type SAP Consulting Jobs into Google you’ll see IBM’s optimized landing page between #1 and #5 in the results list (after paid/sponsored listings). Before our SEO efforts we identified key skills we needed in India but people searching there could not find our jobs on Google. Within 1.5 years were able to get on the first page of results. SEO optimized pages are now driving 1,000 candidates each week at a low cost to the organization and a proportional number of low cost hires.
Q: How do you measure overall recruitment marketing success? At the end of the day it’s all about the hires. SEO is the lowest cost solution but it takes time to develop, typically years, to make the first page. SEO must be part of our strategic plan; we are moving away from “post and pray” and in the US and India we are driving people to landing pages and engaging them to drive hires. Recruitment marketing success does not come easy, best results come from a proactive approach and since HR is typically a reactionary department you’ll have to be more social to be found in the market.
Q: How much does success cost?
Companies will have to invest in the new age of social and the big cost is in people’s time to truly manage the process to ensure success. With more companies catching onto SEO it’s only going to get more expensive in the future as CPC and CPI rates continue to climb. Google has built its business on ad revenue, so even though organic search results are “free”, there is a lot of ads being pushed to draw your target audience away. You can only compete with the ads so much, sometimes you’ll have to pay to be get the exposure you need.
In 1995 you could join OCC and get unlimited advertising a year for $3999. In 2000 most large companies were spending $100k+ on job boards, now some companies are spending millions on LinkedIn alone!
Q: As a long time pioneer and thought leader in the world of e-recruiting, how do you see recruitment marketing changing with SEO?
Job boards have tried to do it for the employers, and although they are often on the front page of results the individual employer may never see any of candidates clicking through because they are one of thousands of employers on the job board sharing the traffic.
One of the key challenges now for the industry is SEO is no longer a big part of the buzz, now it’s all about social recruiting which is great but without SEO you’ll miss a huge market opportunity. The other challenge is that SEO takes time, and most employers don’t have the human capital, expertise or most importantly the willingness to invest effort and patience to wait for results.
Q: How would you recommend to your peers they leverage HR tech?
Use all the solutions you can but don’t always follow the crowd, stay ahead of the pack and try out some newer tools on your own. Set up the infrastructure, then when candidates start flowing capture them into a talent community.
The future is leveraging referral networks for getting the right job to the right person with the right skills. Today there is too much spam and it’s not getting better but tech can help us with that – look for tech that is designed to be laser focused to drive social connections and SEO to help connect people to what they want most – a good job close to home.
Ray Schreyer, Manager, Global Talent Acquisition, IBM Corporation and 20 years Internet Recruiting Veteran
Ray began his HR career at First Union National Bank (Wells Fargo) in 1993, where he pioneered the use of the Internet / online networks for recruiting. He later became a content provider to America Online’s Career Center and served as the Director of New Business for TMP Worldwide representing their OCC and Monster recruiting solutions. While working at TMP he was challenged by a former Apple executive to re-enter the corporate arena to lead a major expansion effort at a new venture (Little). As Director of Employment for Little Inc. he doubled the size of the organization, and eliminated the need of outside agency support. In the late 90’s he co-wrote 3 best-selling HR books: “The Employer’s Guide to Recruiting on the Internet”, “Recruit and Retain the Best”, and “The Best 100 Websites for HR Professionals”
The success of those publications resulted in a call from the IBM Corporation and in 2000 he joined IBM as the Program Manager of Internet Recruiting. Several years later, as IBM expanded into Growth Markets, he was promoted to the Global Interactive Recruiting Manager role. Today he directs global interactive recruiting strategy for IBM and enjoys traveling to exotic locales worldwide while simultaneously building towards his “Delta million miler status”.
Since the early 90’s, Ray has been passionate about the possibilities of the online recruiting industry. He has been a supporter of the growth of this new industry and a vocal critic of pricing models and business practices that restrict the connection between talent and opportunity. Because of this stance, he served as a catalyst/founding member in the formation of the DirectEmployers Association, has participated on the Association Board, and served as President.
Ray received his Masters training in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of North Carolina and his Bachelors in Chemistry from Elmhurst College. When not traveling to exotic locales worldwide, he resides in Wesley Chapel, North Carolina with his wife Gayle.
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