You don’t see many patents in talent acquisition software. And a patent for a marketing technique that involves career site optimization, SEO, and landing pages? Not so much.
The man behind the patent is Doug Berg, chief recruiting geek at SuccessFactors, a position he previously held at Jobs2Web before it was acquired late last year. The patent, approved in mid-September, describes in detail what the SuccessFactors’-owned technology can do for a company’s career site.
To Berg though, what might be even more important is how well it works. The candidates, he says, are much better as a result of their targeted and (now) patented system.
According to a press release published on Thursday, SuccessFactors’ technology, “optimizes how jobs appear on a customer’s career website for both ease of candidate access and search engine placement.” Of course, search engine optimization in recruiting is nothing new. Many companies and services offer to get your jobs better placement on Google, Bing and other search engines across the internet.
In a phone interview on Thursday, Berg said there were a couple key differences between simple SEO optimization and what they are doing.
“You don’t need to know anything about SEO to use our system,” Berg said. Part of the magic is that the system will suggest keywords and tags to use in job posts.
He added, “The other problem is that job posts aren’t typically around long enough for it to be ranked well in search engines.” The solution is targeted landing pages that stay up whether you have a job available or not. This allows for better ranking of both the landing pages (which stick around) and the jobs themselves. When you don’t have a job available, the system will collect the e-mail addresses of those who are interested in that type of work. When a new job becomes available, they are notified and can apply at that time.
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One of the reasons why the candidates from organic SEO driven searches are so much better (Berg says, based on internal tracking across all clients, you would need nearly seven times more candidates from job boards to compete with them) is because they way the system targets keyword is precise. “Instead of going after the term ‘nurse job’ which we’ll never get, we’ll generate something more targeted like ‘nursing job chicago’ and rise faster in the rankings,” he said. “We’ll do this over many targeted terms, too.”
A more recent risk has been Google’s consistent tinkering with the search algorithms it uses to display search results in both rank and relevance. According to Berg, they haven’t seen any major changes. “We’re not trying to game the system. We’re trying to display very relevant and targeted content to job seekers looking for specific roles,” he said.
So why patent? Berg believes that it helps position SuccessFactors as an innovator in the space. He also sees copycat solutions out there and I suspect, they don’t necessarily want to compete against technology that they spent time and effort developing and perfecting.
With millions of job queries a day across search engines though, SuccessFactors is continuing to work on the system to increase the reach of their clients. According to Berg, they also give their clients tools to view and improve their own ranking. And he says the real advantage is that they can make adjustments not just based on what’s working for your site, but what is working across their entire client base. “We’ll see small changes across our entire network before any company does because we aggregate so much data and adjust as necessary,” said Berg.