Getting Back to Basics: Recruiting Drivers Through Search

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a zero-sum game. It’s complicated, expensive, and super competitive. If you are bidding large amounts of money on keywords, you can be sure that your competition is doing the same thing. SEM hasn’t become such an integral part of recruiting because it’s flashy and high tech. It actually works.

The reason SEM is perfect for driver recruiters is that it gives you the unique opportunity to reach drivers right as they are thinking about finding a new job. You know that drivers are looking for open positions through search; all you have to do is figure out how to reach the right audience with exactly the right message.

People who spend a lot of time running Adwords campaigns can sometime sound like they are speaking a different language. Before we discuss how to make sure your money is being used efficiently, lets cover a few important terms related to SEM.

Common SEM Terms


Search Engine

– A software or application that searches for information and returns sites that provide the most relevant information to users.

Search Engine Marketing

– Internet marketing involving the promotion of websites by increasing website visibility in paid search engine results.

Google AdWords

– A paid placement advertising service provided by Google (sponsored search ads).

Paid Placement Advertising

– Sponsored ads you see at the top and side of your search results in search engines. Advertisers bid on keywords, and when searched, their ads show up.


– The amount paid by the advertiser when someone clicks on a sponsored ad. Each keyword in a campaign may have a different cost per click rate.

CPM (Cost-per-Thousand Impressions)

– The amount the advertiser pays for every thousand impressions of their ad.

Click-Through-Rates (CTR)

– The number of times (percentage) that people clicked your sponsored ads.

Conversion Rate

– The ratio of the audience reached compared to the number that engaged with an ad or form by clicking or submitting.

Paid Search Targeting Options

Paying for clicks that don’t ultimately turn into hires means you are wasting lots of time and money. Finding the drivers you need is all about reaching the right driver at the right time.


A paid search campaign allows you to choose to show different ads to drivers depending on where they are located. This tool can allow you to create more targeted ads. For instance, fleets that promise drivers a greater amount of home time need to display to drivers according to where they live. You can also have the ability to display your ads according to the specific routes that you are looking to hire for. This ensures that the drivers who are most likely to be interested in your open positions are seeing relevant advertisements.


Running a paid search campaign allows you to choose optimize your campaigns to bid on searches from a certain device, i.e. smart phones or desktop/laptop computers. Depending on the type of lead or application that you need you will want to target different types of devices.

  • Phone Calls
    – If you need to generate phone calls then you can specifically target mobile devices. By targeting smart phones, you can use “click-to-call” which allows drivers to call you by simply clicking a button on your ad.
  • Short Form Submissions
    – Short form submissions are the most versatile when it comes to device targeting. These are also the most common form of applications that recruiters want to generate.
  • Long Form Submissions
    – Long form submissions are best targeted to laptop and desktop computers. Because of the information being requested is more in-depth, it is much harder to fill out these forms on tablets and mobile devices.


Every campaign has metrics that you need to know. You need to at least have a general understanding of what click- through-rate, quality score, cost-per-click, and conversion rate mean and how they affect your campaign. However, the most important metrics you need to know are how much it costs you to get an application, and then how many of those applications become hires. These numbers give you a better understanding of how well your campaigns performed, and insight into what worked well and what didn’t.

Establishing your costs to get an application and then your final cost-per-hire are complicated, but these numbers can improve the quality of your campaigns.

Search engine marketing is complicated and can be very difficult, but it works. Very few marketing channels can allow you to advertise to such a highly targeted and engaged audience. By taking the time to invest in SEM, you have the chance to get your trucks back on the road and hauling freight.