How to write an effective SEO job description
Learn five of the biggest mistakes to avoid when writing SEO job descriptions and how to make your job listing stand out.
Do you know what makes an SEO eager to apply for an open position and what makes them click “back” quicker than a guest posting request email?
I do. At SEOjobs.com, I’ve been reviewing thousands of job descriptions for open SEO positions for almost a year now. Some were bad, many were OK but few were great.
Today, we take the first step in addressing all the above. No more excuses for subpar job descriptions. You’ll learn how to match great candidates with great companies.
5 of the biggest mistakes SEO job descriptions contain
Do you know why people view your description and choose not to apply? You might be surprised at what turns potential applications off before talking to them.
Below are a few items that SEO professionals dislike about job descriptions based on my Linkedin and Twitter polls that received more than 500 responses.
1. Lack of salary transparency
We get it, not every company can pay the top of the market. However, not posting a salary range and hoping you can get applicants in your interview process with promises of “we have a family culture” and “we have beer on tap” isn’t going to work anymore.
Pay transparency has upsides beyond compliance. Up to 91% of job seekers said that including salary ranges in a job post affect their decision to apply, according to a recent LinkedIn survey.
Share your salary range regardless what it is. If you know your not competitive than you can further leverage the rest of the description to explain why applicants should still consider you.
While we all have to pay our bills, many applicants are interested in the total compensation package including benefits.
Word of advice
Putting a salary range that is extremely vague may end up being worse than putting no salary range at all.
Your first impression with your applicants shouldn’t be simply meeting legal requirements (if required in your state).
2. Lack of remote working flexibility
SEOs spend most of their day behind a computer screen.
If there was any benefit to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was realizing that in most instances, a remote work culture can be just as effective as in-office working. This is especially true for SEO roles.
Word of advice
Flexible working arrangements are quickly becoming an expectation and I’ve talked to many SEOs who would even take a lower salary for this benefit.
If you cannot offer a remote working arrangement, consider how you make up for this in other areas of compensation.
3. Off-putting terminology
Are you even an SEO if you aren’t called an “expert,” “guru,” “ninja,” “pro” or “rockstar”?
Please, let’s stop using these.
There are so many ways to articulate the required skillsets for all roles ranging from entry-level position all the way of to VP of SEO.
Word of advice
Are you aware that terminology such as this can be considered gendered language?
4. Educational requirements
No higher education institution offers a dedicated degree in search engine optimization.
Setting the expectation that your future SEO needs both an undergraduate and graduate degree will severely limit your pool of applicants.
Those who do meet all your higher educational requirements are likely to demand top compensation.
Word of advice
Reconsider your education requirements in favor of real-life and proven SEO experience.
Focus on testing your applicants’ SEO knowledge similar to how you would any other technical role.
4. Multi-channel skillset requirement (vs. nice-to-have)
You’ve removed the requirement for having a masters degree in astrophysics for your open SEO role, that’s a great step forward.
Now, we need to address that your SEO job position requires individuals to not only be efficient in search engine optimization but also equally experienced in paid advertising, affiliate marketing, email marketing, social media, and at least a bronze medal in ice skating from the last Winters Olympics.
Does having multi-channel marketing experience provide you some benefits when it comes to the organic search channel? Sure!
But these are skills that should be sussed out during the interview process and help differentiate a good from great candidate.
Word of advice
Mentioning that additional consideration will be given to candidates with multi-channel marketing experience will likely increase your applicants.
Making it a requirement will only reduce the number of applicants that may otherwise be fully qualified for the role.
Get the daily newsletter search marketers rely on.
Reviewing a world-class SEO job description
In the thousands of SEO job descriptions we've reviewed, one job description from the Upgrow team continues to stand out to me.
I've kept the job listing live (despite no longer needing to be filled) simply so I can share with people looking for a great example.
First and foremost, let's check to see if this job description passes the "cringe test" (everything we outlined above to avoid):
✅ Base salary transparency.
✅ Remote working opportunity.
✅ Clear experience and education expectations.
✅ Prioritizes SEO channel, but upside for T-shape marketers.
❌ Minus one point for use of "wizard warrior." (We're not all perfect!)
What makes this job description special?
There are several components within this job description that go beyond that of a standard job listing.
You'll see why adding just a few of these extras can make a difference in making your SEO description stand out from the competition.
Wouldn't it be great to understand exactly where a "Sr. Manager" position at this company sits within its hierarchy?
This job listing not only explains what's expected of this role but how it works within the ~five different roles within the company.
Is this role a good fit for me?
Imagine if you could avoid multiple rounds of interviews to find out a component of the job simply isn't a good fit?
This job description outlines qualities of individuals who find working at this company awesome and some that may make this not the right fit.
A transparent hiring process
If you are like most people, you've been through hiring processes that are a single interview and an offer/no offer. On the flip side you may have gone through 4-5+ interviews to receive an offer/no offer.
This job listing goes the extra mile in outlining the complete hiring process starting with the online application all the way through to the job offer/onboarding process.
Let's help everyone win
Job descriptions aren't easy to write but neither is finding a new job.
Taking the time to articulate what the position requires but is transparent with expectations and company goals, that it will only make it easier to hire.
Look at Search Engine Land's weekly post on "The latest jobs in search marketing" for more examples of search marketing job listings or if you want to submit your own.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
New on Search Engine Land