It’s no exaggeration to say Google’s journey to world domination, though hindered at times, is still in full swing. In its latest round of tests, the search giant appears to be making a move into the recruitment industry — an industry worth a whopping €450.4bn per year.
In just the past few weeks, it has launched a beta applicant tracking system and trialled a jobs pack, which is similar to the local pack, and which it has now confirmed will be a feature in the SERPs. In light of these tests, should recruiters be worried? Absolutely! But the changes also represent new opportunities, as we’ll explore here.
The recruitment industry is huge. In the fight to grab the attention of job seekers and employers alike, a range of gargantuan aggregators have grown, as well as local, much smaller recruitment agents seeking to thrive in industry niches.
It’s a marketplace that you’d be forgiven for suggesting is too competitive for any new players. But we’re not talking about a new player here — we’re talking about the world’s most used search engine, which has previous experience in taking over silos in this way — just look at Google Flights and hotels as two other examples.
As Google seemingly primes itself to make a big move into the recruitment market, existing recruiters are no doubt worried. If history tells us anything, it’s that Google can do what it likes with the SERPs and when it finds a format that works, it’s not averse to monetising that format either; such as Google Shopping. All of this means that recruiters could be looking at reduced SERPs visibility and the need to spend on paid advertising, where previously that need hadn’t existed.
What exactly is Google doing in the recruitment space?
So let’s break this down. What exactly is Google doing in the jobs space?
So far, a few things. First, eagle-eyed Twitter user @Aaranged spotted a new jobs tab within the Google user panel. This hinted at a new area of focus for Google, but was soon removed, presumably after testing was complete.
Then came a jobs pack test, spotted by another Twitter user, @Dan_Shure. In a format similar to the local pack, jobs were being displayed, showing job title, description, location and basis (full- or part-time). After clicking, the user was taken to another page within the Google environment, providing more information on the job before — finally — sending them to the job origin once the user was ready to apply. While JobPosting has long been an agreed schema format, Google seems to be making use of it more and more to showcase job content in different ways.
— Dan Shure (@dan_shure) April 28, 2017
The final piece to the puzzle was the beta applicant tracking platform, which was released in April and which could lend itself to making Google a more prominent part of companies’ recruitment processes, too.
It all adds up to a pretty powerful message for recruiters: Google’s coming to get you!
What does this mean for the recruitment industry?
Like the travel industry before it, the recruitment industry can expect to see big changes in the way jobs are shown in search results.
Established recruiters, even names as big as Total Jobs, Monster and LinkedIn, will be worried. Their domination of the jobs SERPs is under threat and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.
Smaller or less established recruiters may see this as an opportunity. As the big players are quashed by Google, the focus will, in theory at least, open new opportunities for those that can take them — as we’ll explain later.
For those searching for their next job, the party line from Google will no doubt be that it is offering up those jobs listings in a clearer, easier manner, enabling the searcher to browse without having to move between websites to do so.
What should recruitment SEOs do?
There are a few things I’d recommend to anyone working in SEO either in house at a recruiter or on the agency side, but I’d be keen to hear from the community with any other suggestions.
Essentially, it all stems from the idea that Google is trying to show the best jobs results, so a focus on quality content and best practice schema markup will be key.
Schema markup: That’s the big one. In its jobs pack, Google is using structured data to pull out those components of each job — job title, location, full- or part-time, etc. — so there’s an opportunity for recruitment SEOs to implement schema markup and take advantage of this.
I prefer the JSON-LD method of inserting structured data as it keeps data and design/build code separate. You can find a guide to implementing JobPosting markup, including example code, here.
Recruitment SEOs should also invest in non-job-related content. This is where the job searcher will still be active, but Google doesn’t seem to be making a play. Think “how to succeed in a job interview”-style guides, or category landing pages that pull together industry-specific jobs tips with current available roles. All of this will, in theory, still be up for grabs.
Should recruiters be worried?
Yes. Bluntly put, recruiters and jobs aggregators do have cause for concern with these latest updates from Google. It’s a bold move from the search giant but given that recruiters are playing in the Google environment, it’s unlikely to be a game they’re going to win.
The threat of the recruitment game becoming pay to play in terms of SERPs is also very real. Google monetised Shopping very successfully and there’s no reason it wouldn’t again, especially given the high value of the recruitment industry already.
With that said, it’s not a complete game changer. Recruitment SEOs will still, in my opinion, be able to be visible in the SERPs through strategic content marketing and a focus on non-job keywords, as well as best practices across jobs themselves (e.g., schema markup). It remains to be seen how users will respond to the new format, too, and in an industry where searchers are inclined to browse more than one source, Google could become simply another source of jobs information alongside existing offerings.
What do you think? Do you work in recruitment and are you worried? Perhaps you work in another industry that’s been affected by a “Google takeover”? Let me know your thoughts and tips in the comments below.