Last week’s post was about “how job boards suffocate recruitment agencies” by offering recruitment services. But it’s not all rosy for many job boards either. They are too dependent on Indeed and other aggregators.

At last weekend’s TATech conference I met job board owners who lost 70% of their traffic overnight when they were removed by Indeed.  Most sites don’t have such an extreme dependency, but often still receive around 30/40% of their traffic from aggregators.

I understand why job board owners made the move away from Google and other candidate sources to aggregators. The traffic appeared cheaper. It was a quick fix. At the same time I don’t have too much sympathy: The end game was always foreseeable; in the USA Indeed announced their plans to some job boards and it isn’t rocket science to see that Indeed would replicate the same behavior in the UK and other territories.

Job boards abandoned marketing. They ceased seeking to differentiate themselves from their competitors and SEM teams were minimized. In the race to be the biggest in the market, the quality aspect of traffic, along with connected product developments and platform updates were sacrificed. The focus on deeper metrics was brushed aside.

In the USA the generalist job boards were hit hardest as you can see from the slide below. The same will happen in Europe, in time.

Source: Job Board Doctor TATech survey

Most job boards react to an Indeed exclusion with a surprising move: they spend their money predominantly with other aggregators! This improves their situation only temporarily, as the aim of most aggregators (stated or not) is to sell directly to recruiters (bigger gains and valuations) and as part of this process cut job boards out of the transaction completely.

Let’s be very clear here. I encourage job boards to continue using aggregators, especially if your target audience uses them. However, don’t get too dependent. Don’t see them as an easy ride to job board success. The JobBoardDoctor suggests to keep total traffic from aggregators below 15%. I agree.

Recruitment agencies and staffing firms, the same advice applies to you: aggregators will move into your territory as Indeed is demonstrating with Prime and through removing the organic listing of some of the biggest RPOs in recent weeks. Some might jump straight to this position, leaving out the transition to a job board. But they will be coming. Maybe not immediately, but they will.

Top tips to help minimize dependence


1. Revisit SEO and alternative traffic sources

Several providers have developed approaches to SEO that show early successes in outranking Indeed and other aggregators. Work with these providers or invest in SEO yourselves. Establish a traffic R&D budget to test and learn how other channels can bring the desired applications. Direct traffic still has the best conversion rates, therefore work on your brand being well known and relevant in your target market.

2. Be obsessive about your website performance

Your site itself is still the most important component – make sure it is optimised according to the needs and desires of your target market. Run lots of tests to improve conversions. Ensure that you have an ever evolving,  better and better matching search – this is the most important component and – especially when moving into recruitment solutions – a competitive advantage against aggregators as their business model is all about delivering clicks, so increased accuracy actually has a negative effect on their growth but has a positive effect on yours.

3. Provide a smooth workflow integration

We all expect seamless experiences. So do your candidates and recruiters. Don’t expect recruiters to change their workflow for you, but simply work within theirs by integrating into their ATS by services like Rolepoint Connect and reThinkData. These can also help you reverse the fortunes of mobile apply. Make it simple for candidates to interact with you, too, and build your service around their behaviours. Explore services like SwoopTalent, JobG8, Candarine or Choobah to deliver jobs instead of waiting for job seekers to come to you.