Recruitment marketers were abuzz last week when someone at Recruitics, the programmatic job advertising company, announced that Google for Jobs is ending its Alpha program that was testing paid job ads within Google for Jobs results. Google has been working with a handful of job marketing agencies to see what they could do around PPC for job listings.
Industry pundits have been touting paid ads for more than a year but I was always skeptical this initiative would ever launch.
Google for Jobs traffic showed great promise for the job board industry when it launched in 2017. The clicks a site gets from G4J are the best converting clicks in the industry, resulting in more time on site, more page views and more applies.
Unfortunately today, it has become dominated by the big boards, making it harder for smaller niche sites to take advantage of its free traffic. There’s also plenty of employers in those results too which further spreads out the clicks. A niche job marketplace that has a few hundred jobs is nearly invisible on G4J.
At this point the value proposition from G4J to many in the job board world is minimal at best….unless your a top 5 job board. They get the lion share of traffic. So you have to do more around traditional SEO like content marketing if you’re a new board trying to make your way in the world.
But I also wonder how valuable is G4J to the job seeker today if they are just regurgitating the big job board’s content? They likely already have accounts with these sites so I fail to see a significant benefit.
The sheer amount of jobs they have to index is overwhelming. There just isn’t a lot of web page real estate, especially if you are searching on your phone, to find a job that’s right for you.
The user interface G4J provides is cluttered at best. I wish they would take a fresh look at presenting jobs in a better way but that’s a longer blog post. Lets get back to why I think they killed off job PPC.
My friend Alex Murphy from Jobsync has a long Linkedin post on the subject but here’s the gist of what he said;
They have been trying to work with the job board space, that frankly has grown into a lead gen farm with little to no value for candidates or employers. I have been scratching my head as to why on Earth would Google allow this user experience to be promoted on their site….. A couple of years ago, Google seemed interested in pursuing a path that would elevate actual employers’ listings, but that doesn’t seem to have generated the traction many of us were hoping for. Maybe they will realize the job board space isn’t the best path and try to build direct relationships instead.Alex Murphy
Alex is referring to how some job aggregators have become bad actors (some have) by simply throwing up a job site and putting up a registration wall. Google for Jobs doesn’t give those sites much love however. They went on a big duplicate jobs crusade last year removing jobs from their index that sites like Indeed already had. But that’s not a sustainable strategy.
Employers have, and continue to demand, that job publishers redirect seekers to their ATS. This ‘apply click‘ then takes the job seeker into yet another journey, hoping the employer career site can get them through the apply process quickly. Good luck with that.
He goes on to say how some industry pros think it was because of a bad user experience which caused their change of mind. But I think additional factors are at play here.
Google is facing a number of challenges stemming from the quick advance of AI. They are worried about A.I. affecting its main search product where they make most of their revenue. They also just laid off a significant number of advertising sales reps so who was going to sell PPC job ads anyway?
And for paid jobs to be successful (i.e. make the most money) they would have had to create an easy way for ALL job publishers (employers, job sites, agencies, RPOs, staffing firms) to submit their ads. That wasn’t going to happen in their existing ad platform which would have required them to build something just for job publishers. They don’t do things like that.
I also heard from one agency exec who said the sponsored jobs on G4J also were not converting well which is another reason for the closure.
Then there’s the fact that they have shut down job related products before. Remember Google Hire? It was their attempt at an ATS (applicant tracking system). By all accounts people loved it and they had thousands of companies using it. Then they just abruptly shut it down saying it wasn’t a big enough business.
So my point basically, is that Google doesn’t seem to care that much about the job space. I mean, its broken already. Have you seen this video?
If you walk around the Google campus today, I wonder how much they care about the future of Google for Jobs itself. It needs a major refresh, but I suspect at this point they don’t have the resources or will to make it any better.
Don’t be surprised if one day it too disappears. Trying to wrangle all the webs jobs in a single web page interface may just may be a task that even Google can’t solve.