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What is SEO? Is it teen slang? A new premium cable channel? Some investment bank?

In fact, SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s integral to making sure your organization gets on the radar of interested applicants. SEO involves finding ways to increase your site’s appearance in web visitors’ organic (non-paid) search results. While most people focus on SEO strategies for Google specifically, a good SEO strategy can also increase visibility in other internet search tools such as Yahoo and Bing. Simple tweaks to the wording and formatting on your organization’s web pages and blogs in compliance with SEO best practices can help you maximize the chance your job posting will be indexed prominently in search results. We offer a quick guide to help you capture more visibility in search engine traffic, drive social shares, and reach new audiences.

1. Writing your listing

  • Use the complete job title for the listing title.
  • Avoid using the listing title as a pitch or tagline and make the title as detailed as possible — e.g., “Online Fundraising Associate” versus “Fundraising” specifies the career level, department, and key specialization.
  • Don’t abbreviate titles – you don’t want an applicant to miss your opportunity because you wrote ‘PM’ but they searched ‘Program Manager’
  • Note clearly if the opportunity is part-time, contract, temporary, or anything that isn’t a full-time salaried position.

2. Using Keywords

Make sure your listing includes terms people are actively searching for relating to the role, organization, or industry. What phrases are relevant to your job description? What terms might a job seeker search for in order to find a job like yours?

In addition to your job title, using similar terms in the listing copy will increase relevance to search engines. Avoid overusing one single keyword or “keyword stuffing”. Three or four keywords in a 300-word description is appropriate. Google can tell when keywords are being overused and it will have the inverse effect on search engine rankings.

Keyword research can be done through several tools, including:

  • Google Search
  • Auto-Complete
  • Google Ad Planner » Keyword Ideas

3. Formatting

General guidelines for formatting an SEO-friendly listing are as follows:


  • Keep your listing to under 800 words and over 300 words
  • Use numbers and bullets. Aim for between two and seven
  • Use sub-headers. These will make it easier for users to scan your listing and identify the information most of use to them.
  • Use bold, italics, and underline features sparingly


  • Consider your audience and make sure you’re using language that is inviting and understandable to those who may not yet know your organization inside and out
  • Aim to use the focused keyword of the listing and relevant phrases to the keyword in the headers. This will help search engines to find your listing when someone searches for a particular word/phrase.


  • Use sentence case headers, and don’t use final punctuation unless it’s expressive (?!) or multiple sentences
  • Contract whenever it isn’t confusing (careful with homonyms, e.g. it’s/its or their/there/they’re)
  • Use numerals—don’t spell out numbers except for “one”
  • Don’t overdo it with the exclamation points!
  • DON’T USE ALL CAPS. Unless it’s a design element for your organization’s name, a button, or filetype (PSD, PDF, etc.). If you want to emphasize text, use italics or bold instead.
  • Don’t punctuate items in ordered and unordered lists. Unless the list item runs to 2 sentences. 


We hope this helps demystify SEO and provide some helpful practices for you as you write your next listing. If you’re ready to post, log in to your Idealist account to get started. As always, if you have any additional questions, please contact our Community Support Team (they’re all humans and happy to help).

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