Tuesday, March 03, 2009

SEO for Job Sites - a Race to the Bottom?

Google is the starting point for most people's navigation of the internet. For hr, recruiting, and job sites, this is no different. As a result, job sites focus intently on SEO (search engine optimization). SEO broadly refers to making the content on your site accessible to search engines (ie The Google!).

People Google the term "jobs" about 150,000,000 times a month. Because of this, almost all job sites want their pages to show up for common (and long tail) search terms. The result is that job search sites are all following the same best practices and focusing more on the question "will Google find this content?" than on "is this good content?"

Try searching for any job-related search term on Google. Try the term "miami jobs". Look at the first 10 sites; they are all following the same employment SEO formula, have similar page titles and meta data, and show the same jobs. Not one of the results gives you a website that is generally that useful or unique for someone conducting a Miami specific job search. This pattern continues for almost any job-related search, no matter how obscure.

I don't want to call the results spam, but they are just not interesting. Many sites out there have great content, but it seems the industry is focused more on gaming the Google SEO guidelines and less on producing interesting content. The result is that most sites are pretty much repackaging the same ole crap, competing against each other in a race to the top of Google, but to the bottom of the job seeker experience. More and more, all the job search sites out there are just starting to look the same.

Google, to its credit, recognizes that when sites create content for the sole purpose of search engine optimization, the quality of search results goes down. I wonder how Google will adjust it's algorithm to ensure fresh interesting results for career sites. It certainly will create a ripple in the industry.

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