Fiona Kyle


August 1, 2022


Use Keyword Research to Target Candidates with Google Ads

According to careers platform CareerBuilder, 70% of job searches start on Google. When candidates type in their search query, the first thing they will see is a selection of Google ads. So how can recruiters make the most of the opportunities offered by the world’s number one search engine and use it to help them reach the high quality candidates they’re looking for?

Let’s take a look at some key points to keep in mind when targeting candidates with Google Ads…

Use Keyword Research to Target Candidates with Google Ads

How do you use Google Ads?

Type a search into Google right now. The first results that you’ll see on the search engine results pages (SERPs) display the word ‘Ad’ next to them. These are Google Ads which means that a company has paid for this search result and it might appear across the Google Display Network which includes YouTube, as well as Google itself. 

The ads are structured to look like normal search results–a clickable headline and brief description underneath. To create an ad, you’ll need a Google Ads account and you’ll start with a key search term that reflects what you’re trying to achieve and then you choose a budget. 

Rather than pay a flat fee to place the advert, you pay each time someone clicks on the ad so it’s important that the keywords you choose are resonating with the type of people you want to target with the advert. How much you pay for each click depends on how Google has ranked your ad.

Research shows it’s an effective way of getting people to your website. Google Ads have a click through rate of nearly 8% and nearly 46% of searches go to the top three paid ads in search results. Like job boards, Google Ads have been around for a while now but still have an important role to play in your recruitment strategy. For the most effective strategy, consider combining more established tools with newer entrants to the recruitment advertising market such as programmatic advertising, content seeding and different forms of mobile recruiting such as QR codes, SMS and social media. 

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What is keyword research and why is it important?

If you want to run a recruitment campaign using Google Ads, your starting point should always be the keywords you’re going to use within the text of the advert as this determines who will click on the ad. To make sure you’re choosing the right terms, use an employee focus group to create your ideal candidate personas then you can think about what Google searches they would be likely to make.

Google will decide which ads to display partly due to how relevant your advert is to the keywords you’ve chosen (known as your Google Quality Score or GQS) which makes your keyword selection even more critical. It also means it is more effective to target active job seekers rather than passive ones who might just be looking for information on a subject, rather than a job advert. So if your keyword phrase is ‘baggage handler jobs’, Google will look more preferably on your ad if it links through to a job vacancy for baggage handlers, rather than drawing people in with an appealing key phrase that the content isn’t directly relevant to. Keep this in mind when coming up with ideas with your focus group.

Once you’ve used your candidate personas to find some potential search ideas, the next step is to translate these into keyword phrases and research the popularity of the terms that you’re looking at. 

You can work with a recruitment marketing agency to carry out your keyword research or invest in SEO software like Moz or SEMRush. Alternatively, if you set up a Google Ads account, you can access the free Google Keyword Planner tool. This will show you how popular the keywords are that people are using to search for jobs–and how many other people want to use those same keywords.

You have to get the right balance between a popular search that there will be a lot of competition for (supermarket jobs), and a more obscure search which has less competition but is also likely to have fewer people searching for (shelf-stacking specialist in Swindon). As a rough guide, a good balance would be a keyword phrase that has more than 1,000 searches per month but competition is low to medium.

Google will ask you to choose to bid on either a broad match (when people search for a term that Google identifies as similar enough that the searcher is trying to achieve the same goal as your term) or a phrase match where your keywords exactly match the search terms used.

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How to create a great Google recruitment ad

Your ads may be a candidate’s first introduction to your employer brand so it’s important to make the right impression. Your ad has to get a lot right, in a very limited amount of space. It needs to grab attention, get your message across and have a clear call to action which gets qualified candidates to click–all within a limited character count.

Use your keywords strategically rather than stuffing several into the ad copy which might result in important messages being lost. Use your employee focus group to establish the key messages–what’s in it for the candidate? If you’re trying to recruit developers, for example, you could say ‘Software Developer Jobs–Remote Working and Flexible Hours’.

Finish with a clear call to action which reflects the goal of your campaign. If you want candidates to apply for a role, this could be ‘Apply now! Role closes 12 September.’

You can test your ad, changing the order of the wording or trying out different calls to action to see which brings the best results. Google Ads comes with a whole host of reporting tools so you can see what is working and what you could tweak.

Even a perfect Google ad isn’t enough on its own–think about the candidate’s journey and what they will see after they click your advert. Make sure the landing page is tailored around the candidate persona, that they can see at a glance what’s in it for them, that it matches with your employer brand and that it is quick and easy to apply for your roles.

If you would like to find out more about targeting your ideal candidates, please get in touch.

Looking for something to read? See how Google Ads can fit in with your recruitment media strategy in our blog.



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