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The Importance of Focus Keywords & Phrases | SEO for Recruitment Agencies

Posted On Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Author: Philip Sampson (Account Director)

What are Focus Keywords & Phrases?

“Focus keywords, yea? What are they?” I hear you ponder internally. Fortunately, the answer is pretty simple. A focus keyword is the word or phrase that you most want a single, specific page to rank for in search results.

Though it is important to have just one main focus keyword or phrase per page. This does not mean that you can’t slip others in here and there, but ultimately you should focus primarily on just one per page and any others you slip in should be kept on topic. Fortunately, the nature of a well structured website with a job board provides lots of optimization opportunities in the form of many pages with obvious focuses.

For example, pretend you are a Melbourne based medical recruiter that services all of Victoria. You probably want to focus on a key phrase like ‘Medical Recruitment Agency in Melbourne, Victoria’ when it comes to the homepage.

Implement in a Job Board

Job boards are awesome for SEO as they offer up a reason to have many, incredibly highly focused pages.

Job Categories

You’d probably want to focus on ‘Medical Jobs in Victoria’ for the root listings page for the site. From there you could have job categories which allow you to niche down and get more specific, targeting key phrases such as ‘Pediatric Jobs in Victoria’ or ‘Physiotherapy Jobs in Victoria’. If a job falls under more than one category then awesome, more listing pages and more opportunity to optimize for search engines.


Having the option on your job board to filter by location offers up more combinations as well e.g. ‘Pediatric Jobs in Bendigo’. And of course, you have the job posting itself which will be even more specific, like ‘Pediatric Speech Pathologist Job in Bendigo’. Remember, search engines know where the searcher is located. So, if the focus keyphrase is ‘Pediatric Jobs in Bendigo’ and someone types in ‘Pediatric Jobs’ while sitting at home in Bendigo, they will treat it as if they typed ‘Pediatric Jobs in Bendigo’.


Of course, with a well-built job board that is properly connected to your applicant tracking system, a lot of this can be automated! Check out our article about automating SEO with a job board.

The Importance of Keyword Research

You still need to pick your wording correctly. For example, a foot doctor falls under ‘Podiatry’ but occasionally people might use it’s synonym ‘Chiropody’. If using a system with the option for only one category, then you are forced to make a choice. Which one gets the most searches per month? Which one has the most competition? You must weigh these up and make a choice. Now consider the page title of the job posting itself, there can be only one! It’s situations like this where quality keyword research is absolutely critical!

Other Opportunities Throughout Your Site

We have focused primarily on the job board part of a website so far, but there will be lots of pages on your site that are seperate from the job listings. Like the part of your site that deals with clients. In this case, you’ll want to make sure your focus keyword or phrase closely matches what your potential client is typing into Google to try and find you. Identified a few? Means you might need to break it up into a few pages to cover all your bases.


We mentioned your homepage already which should have a very carefully picked focus keyword or phrase but there is also ample opportunity in your blog and/or news section to cover keywords and phrases that might not fit in elsewhere but would attract the type of people you want knowing that you exist. Be it for brand recognition or retargeting with paid ads down the line, based on the pages they have visited. Or maybe they’ll come for the literature and stay for the job listings. Your articles should include answers to common industry questions people search (Maybe an FAQ?), solutions to common problems, or just topics and subjects of industry interest etc.

Again, this is where critical keyword research comes in. By identifying what your target audience is punching into the search bar, you can build your content around them. This is not only good for getting shown in search results, but for gaining insight into your audience as well. If some of them are interested enough to actively search it out, then chances are quite a few of them would also read the article if presented to them in a newsfeed. Just remember, any blog article should always be primarily written for humans and not search engine bots. What use is getting to the top of Google search if the article is so weak that it doesn’t convert readers to clients or candidates? Never forget that the whole point of all of this is to bring in business. But now we’re getting into the realm of content marketing, and that’s already on the ‘articles to type up’ list, so we’ll wind it down.

The Takeaway

To sum it up, there will no doubt be a lot of search term opportunities that you will want to ascend the ranks for. The best way to achieve this is to identify the main ones that you want to focus on and implement them as focus keywords or phrases on dedicated pages. Whether that be through thoughtful tagging of jobs with categories and location or by introducing them into other areas such as the home page, about section, client section or blog articles. Just remember, 1 page = 1 focus keyword/phrase!


Now, where and how to implement them? Check out the following articles to help you with that!

Author: Philip Sampson (Account Director)

Over 4 years account management experience, working with developers, recruiters, marketers and pretty much anyone in the recruitment business that wants to connect. 


You can reach me at or find me on LinkedIn