Recruitment Agency Websites - Are they broken?

A lot of the clients whom I work with are dissatisfied with their web presence. Quite a lot of them have pretty websites but very few seem to have a real measure of what their website does for them. I have recently completed a couple of SEO audits from clients to help them perform better. I have a fascination with all things digital as many of you know. I love finding out the "how to" and challenge stuff. I recently tweeted "If I had an agency i would get rid of client and candidate pages". Quite a few people came back and asked me either "why?" or "what would you do?" Neither of those questions can be answered in 140 characters so I said I would write a blog post on it.

"If I had an agency I would get rid of the client and candidate pages"

I still stand by this. Why?

I see more and more that the line between candidate and client is becoming more blurred (in fact at certain levels it always has been - senior managers recruit and change jobs, don't they?). Much of what a client wants to know is the same as a candidate wants to know - Who are you, what do you do and how do you do it? At the home screen if I am being asked to click:

Info for clients

Info for candidates

Could this restrict what I find or create a need to duplicate content?

How and what you do is the same, no matter who is reading it. "clients" may want to find out about our candidate experience to decide if we are any good. Candidates may wish to find out how we deliver results and work with hiring businesses to discover the same.

As the drive by Google to create SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) based upon authority and content continues then it is more likely that much of the traffic that finds me through search is doing so through research. Hence the need for quality content in a blog. Some of you may have found this article due to searching for "Recruitment agency websites". Bringing relevant traffic to your site may involve attracting individuals earlier in the sales funnel. i.e. NOT just searches relating to jobs and hiring talent. This traffic is still clearly desirable but is unlikely to be the only traffic you want. Your homepage is less likely to become the entry point for organic searchers and you will find you have multiple landing pages based upon content. To improve your bounce rate having better calls to action than "clients" and "candidates" in your navigation will improve time on site and pages viewed.

What Would I do instead?

Build a site that had high quality content that was of interest to those who were in the right sectors, industries or geographies. Build a blog to attract organic search traffic - A blog that   was more than "how to get a job" and "how to interview". Those are part of the mix - a fabric of content that attracts people beyond the job hunter, recruiting client is important. Be clear as to what your target audience would be interested in and write it. Use off site SEO opportunities available to you with social media - well shared content increases your relevance as an authority on specific subjects. Make use of this.

I would make sure that my site clearly explained what I do and how customers will experience something different. How many agency sites begin "We are different because.." and then say variations of the same thing. Check out this search in Google to see what i am saying. Difference is not sameness, right?

I would have sign up forms to create permission lists of those interested in a specific subject and then keep the list up to date with that subject.

My jobs would not be dynamic web pages - just because it was easier or cheaper for the developer to build a job search function that presents jobs as dynamic pages (those with the ? character in the URL) or as pop up windows does not make it a good decision. Google needs to crawl my jobs if I am going to rank highly for specific keywords. With project panda and penguin at Google generalist job boards are going to lose their grip on the SERP monopoly they have for some search terms.

Look at these two searches and compare the number of pages indexed by Google. There is some serious competitive advantage going on here.

My website would give me the opportunity to create new permalinks for searches conducted by candidates to increase my SEO opportunities - Someone searches my site for "java developer" combined with "London" "contract" and "banking" it will be capable of incorporating that search to become part of the site map and have a hyphen seperated permalink to add SEO opportunities for more jobseekers to find mty site:

Not the random URLs you see in search results such as:

My recruitment website would be mobile friendly. Not just resizing to fit an iphone but completely mobile friendly including the application process. How can a candidate upload a PDF or DOC to my website when they are on an ipad or iphone? I would let them apply with their Linkedin profile or bypass the mandatory field of "upload your CV".

This isn't the blog article for me to publish about full on SEO. As a discipline I think that SEO is rapidly morphing, back link juice etc is less and less important (if you are still using a comment on other sites to build juice you may want to consider stopping it as it doesn't give the juice it used to) and it is about sharing and perception of authority on keywords in searches. 

I am not talking about radical things. I just think that the old template of a recruitment agency is broken. If you are looking to review your website think about what you want it to deliver. Be careful of engaging a web designer who is all about the look and feel and brand and not about the delivery of traffic. Challenge them hard on how it will create leads and business. A well briefed web developer is often a better bet (IMO) than a creative designer. Your website should deliver clients and candidates not be an online brochure.