What the Hell Does Indeed.com Do Now That Google for Jobs is a Reality?

Indeed.com had to know this day would come.

After much speculation, Google for Jobs was officially announced last week. As rumored, Google will start serving job listings within the organic results of its popular search engine. Although it’s early, millions of job seekers who start their search at Google will find comfort staying there, just like they do for images and news, and as a result put vertical search engines like Indeed in a potentially fatal sleeper hold.

It’s tough to sugar coat what just happened to Indeed, a site that has climbed the top of the online job search mountain in less than a decade on the backs of former market leaders like CareerBuilder and Monster. It may take another 10 years for Indeed to be in the same boat as their forefathers and become an afterthought, but it’s fooling itself if it thinks this isn’t a DEFCON 1 moment.

But digging the grave at this point is a bit overzealous. Indeed has a ton of brand awareness, existing traffic, and mounds of data. America didn’t surrender when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, and I don’t expect Indeed to roll over, even for Google, the company all Internet businesses fear will one day step on their field of play.

Here are a few ideas I suspect Indeed is throwing around to make sure it’s still breathing a decade from now:

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  • Mobile, mobile, mobile. Indeed already has arguably the most popular native app for job search on smartphones. It needs to be even better. Just as people bypass Google to find restaurant reviews on Yelp’s app, so it needs to be for Indeed. Indeed needs to equal jobs on the smart phone.
  • Screw Google. Be more like Netflix and Amazon. When Indeed launched over 10 years ago, it branded itself “Google for jobs.” It worked well for the times, but times have changed. Today, people would rather have stuff they want served to them without them even knowing they want it. Perfectly matched jobs need to be served up on a silver platter, no search required, in order for them to win the long game and beat Google.
  • Quit making non-job content a second-class citizen. Did you know Indeed has a competitive amount of anonymous employee reviews to Glassdoor? Did you know Indeed has some of the best jobs-trend data around? Did you know its salary data is badass as hell? Too few people do, and Indeed needs to change that. Give consumers more and more reasons to visit that aren’t about the job postings. By the way, this is proprietary stuff that Google can’t touch, if you don’t want it to.
  • Go all-in as a technology solution for employers. Get all the brains in one room and figure out how to make the best applicant tracking, CRM, recruitment marketing, kitchen sink tool in the world for employers of all sizes, and give it away for free. The fact that Google Hire is coming and basically is going to be the industry’s Swiss Army knife, makes this move that much more crucial.
  • Apply with Indeed. This button needs to be everywhere a job listing exists. Why? Because job seekers are going to see Apply with Google all over the place soon. The API is already getting a foothold, and the apply process will follow. If you have to pay popular ATS providers to make your button exclusive, do it.
  • Shoot for the moon. Up to this point, Indeed has been successful by staying laser focused. Be bolder than that. Job Spotter is a good start, but go bigger while staying within employment. Google’s too busy chasing self-driving cars, colonizing Mars, and becoming SkyNet. In contrast, Indeed should be diving headfirst into virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, virtual and voice assistance, and whatever else has the opportunity to change the employment game. Ninety-nine out of 100 things will fail, but it might be that one thing puts Indeed in another stratosphere.

Sure, I’m spitballing here. I’m sure the folks at Indeed have a list of about 100 ideas to take its business forward and fend off all competition, not just Google. It’s just not going to publicize those ideas, so I’m happy to opine.

Ultimately, every vendor in this space is going to be challenged as Google, Facebook, and the two-headed monster that is Microsoft/LinkedIn get serious about solving the problems around jobs. And unlike the past, they all seem to be really serious about it. You can thank LinkedIn’s price tag of more than $26 billion for that.

As one job board owner recently told me, “More than 50 percent of our traffic still comes organically from Google.” He compared Google getting into Indeed’s wheelhouse to the sinking of the Titanic for all sites like his. For Indeed’s sake, I hope it’s doing more than shuffling the deck chairs.

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.


21 Comments on “What the Hell Does Indeed.com Do Now That Google for Jobs is a Reality?

      1. I got it “Animal House” the question is why would you use this in an article that has no relevance? Not everyone get’s it.

  1. Joel, funny, well-written piece, and absolutely spot-on. If Google gives Google for Jobs the same “effort” it’s given past offerings like Google+, other sites will be OK. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

    I was a salesman for Nabisco in the 1990s when the Wal-mart Supercenters began coming to town. Many grocers panicked and closed, while other stupidly tried to fight Wal-mart on price, and then closed. The grocers that stayed in business and even prospered were ones that upped their game and highlighted the ways they were different than a big box store. Screw Google. I’ve had Google fatigue for years. I just need a reason to go elsewhere.

  2. Joel – Nice article. The Yelp/Google analogy is spot-on. Google, by definition, is a jack-of-all-trades – perhaps Indeed can embrace their niche and make like Yelp.

  3. Joel, Thanks for this thoughtful article highlighting the advantages of competitive Indeed offerings. For employers it’s a win-win.

  4. Like you I have 20 years in online, like you I have an SEO firm that deals with recruitment SEO. However I am not so sure it is Google Jobs that will kill Indeed. Rather Indeed is probably going to kill itself because it is compromising its customer experience.

    Before I get to that I also have to say that from what has been released so far Google Jobs has a limited set of places it is going to get job data from. So SERPs result will have Google Jobs with limited job sources and Indeed with a wider range of job sources that are found in Adwords Links, Local SEO and organic results. For Google to get traction for me it needs to fix that lack of locations it scrapes jobs from because it runs the risk of it becoming a joke before it gets started.

    The holy grail for most quality talent matches is via the long tail match, the vanity searches of head and shoulder terms are what job board with a budget go for and those with little to no marketing budget (which forms the bulk of job boards) get found for very little and so rely on the likes of Indeed. Google needs to get into that part of the market asap to challenge indeed.

    But back to where I started. Long tail is the holy grail for exact match talent, indeed does this well but the user experience after clicking the link is poor. Which is to say rarely is the SERPs link they follow the job ad they thought it was, rather it is the latest list of results. That just sucks as the user has to go look for jobs a second time. Then they find there are no jobs and the ranking that Indeed has was for a past job. Google can better that with an actual job ad and that might be why it does well. Indeed user also know this problem and are being asked to stump up thousands to get a sponsored ad slots at the top of results.

    So my prediction is indeed will die but at its own hands, based upon a poor user journey. Google jobs could then follow the same fate 20 years on, for the same reasons.

  5. These are all great ideas that should be explored by Indeed and other similar companies. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if “Apply with Google” buttons will supercede “Apply with Indeed” buttons. Somehow, I don’t think so. Considering Google+ never caught on, I just don’t think people would take the time to fill out a profile, even when forced to. Is Google Hire going to be free? What does that mean for the other customized, innovative ATS out there? Only time will tell! Looking forward to your take on it later on, as well.

    1. Shows how little you know. If I saw an “Apply with Google” button, I’d definitely do it; Google+ may not have become the next Facebook, but it is doing just fine since it’s tied so closely with SEO.

      I don’t think you understand it wouldn’t be that hard for Google to parse your resume or LI profile and make something really killer with that.

      Hope none of you invested in Indeed and the like. LinkedIn might have been lucky to avoid being killed by getting sucked up by MSFT.

      Hate to quote Donald Trump b/c he is such an ingrate, but to quote him, this is gonna be YUUUUUUUUUUUUGE.

  6. As a woman who successfully returned to the workforce and working to help other women do so with Après – the prospects for ever beating the algorithms with a work history gap just got insurmountable. That is why what we do at Après is so important.

  7. When talking about Indeed, or any job board/aggregator, we are talking about the “10 percent” – i.e. that small slice of the talent pool that’s actively job seeking. What about the 90%? If Google starts to deliver organic jobs in search results against a company name, related industry term, etc., they will be able to tap into a massive passive audience that is, by the nature of their search, showing interest in the company/field/job category, etc. That places them in position to deliver jobs to the entire talent market (active and passive candidates). That, it seems to me, is something that will, indeed, put Google in a league of it’s own in the job advert world.

  8. As someone who has been tracking Indeed for a while, it was only a matter of time before they got caught up in their own lie. Looking forward to watching them die after screwing over so many of their partners.

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