Google for Jobs is calling out all recruitment agencies and job boards to improve their candidate experience or risk losing being found. These updates go into effect on 1 October 2021, leaving little time for most recruiters or job boards to adjust their technologies, processes and strategies in order to be in compliance with Google’s update. A new addition is a schema property called “directApply” which will require the application process to be straightforward.
In July, Google announced that they would update during October their job schema and job content editorial guidelines that will ultimately affect job post rankings on Google for Jobs. The timing of this is significant for recruiters – everyone who has jobs advertised will be affected by this update. Changes to Google’s algorithm will affect search rankings. That risk could potentially be huge as approximately 75% of job seekers start their job search on Google. Some recruitment websites will gain visibility, and some will lose it as a result. The success of your job postings will depend on the candidate experience of your website.
We have put this article together to help explain some of the key terminology and changes. Ensure you get ahead of the competition by checking your website process.
What’s happening with Google for Jobs?
Recruiters are struggling to attract candidates in the current market as demand surges and competition grows fierce for the limited supply of job seekers. As we leave summer behind and progress towards the festive season, recruiters are facing into a growing challenge to fill their client’s roles. Now more than ever, agencies need the traffic to their jobs so they can find the quality candidates to fill their client’s vacancies.
Few recruiters know that Google is about to make an update in October that is expected to significantly affect the traffic to jobs. Google is going to make a change to Google for Jobs (G4J) by updating their job posting guidelines to improve the quality and trust of results for job seekers. Google is making these changes based on direct candidate feedback on these interactions with job search listings during both job search and the associated application experiences.
Why is the update needed?
The user experience wasn't the best when Google first launched G4J in July 2018. The candidate experience was poor with many job boards and recruitment websites that didn’t help the process by jumping genuine applicants from one URL to another. The candidates were often the ones caught in the crossfire. What should have been an improvement to their job search and candidate experience often actually was not what they were expecting. There were instances where recruiters would bait a job seeker with a different company’s job to capture the job seeker’s information and never forward the candidate to the actual companies application process.
What is exciting about this G4J update is that it will eliminate a lot of that bad behaviour. This update creates a more fair playing field for both recruiters advertising their jobs and candidates to trust they are applying to an actual position. The results of these changes will also likely penalize job adverts where the candidate experience is lengthy, confusing, or otherwise sub-optimal.
What is directApply?
According to Google, a “directApply” experience is defined in terms of the user actions required to apply for a job. Google is looking for a simple and straightforward application process for job seekers.
Google goes on to give examples of a “directApply” experience in which they indicate that you LIKELY provide a direct apply experience if your site provides one of the following experiences (a site as defined by Google usually means one single domain and not cross-domain traffic):
The user completes the application process on your site
Once arriving at your page from Google, the user doesn't have to click on apply and provide user information more than once to complete the application process
Google even provides helpful imagery to describe the optimal (and likely acceptable) experiences that will benefit from the change (i.e. experiences that will not be penalised):
In order to indicate that your job posting provides “directApply,” Google has added a structured data property to their Google job posting schema for “directApply.”
It is the opinion of many in the SEO industry that this new “directApply” property will likely be used as an indicator by Google that your site should be crawled and verified for the application experience provided as part of the ranking process. It’s further believed that this will not likely be a human verification process, but probably some sort of programmatic and algorithm-based crawler that will attempt to score the experience and ease of the overall process.
In addition, it is highly likely that Google will use its knowledge of your page structure and application process to create an algorithm for your sites conversion rate (application start to application completion). Having a poor conversion rate (or poor application/candidate experience) will likely also impact your job overall ranking score.
Who will be impacted?
Anyone who advertises jobs on the web is going to be affected by this update. Google is favouring those who provide a quality experience to the user, so they’re calling out recruiters to improve their candidate experience or risk losing being found in G4J. This update can potentially negatively impact your recruitment strategy, the number of applications you receive per role, and at the end of the day, negatively impact your business if you are unable to achieve recruitment goals.
There is most certainly a ripple effect that will take place as job seeker traffic is redistributed. For example, job boards and publishers will lose traffic because they will no longer get some or all of the free traffic they have come to depend on from G4J. This means there's going to be a downstream effect, that employers are going to lose traffic from some of the publishers they rely on today. On top of that, if they're not indexed, they're already losing traffic from not being included in the index. The job traffic is going to go to the agencies that have compliant AND indexed job pages. In addition, if they prioritised the candidate experience, then their job rankings on Google for Jobs will be rewarded.
The agencies that have made commitments to quality application experiences or those that plan now to comply with Google’s new rules will have a significant advantage in this highly competitive market for talent. There is an opportunity to capture all the traffic that is most certainly going to be lost by others after the update. If you are not prepared, you’re going to lose traffic, and it’s going to go to a recruitment agency that prioritised the candidate experience.
Below we have ranked those we think will be affected by the changes:
Job boards that make candidates sign in the job board, before sending them onto either another job board or a recruitment agency website
Sites where the candidates have to sign in to one type of job tech and then sign in to a different piece of tech or a candidate software system to apply.
Recruitment agency sites that don’t have structured data to Google “Schema” standard.
Any “site” where the job seeker changes domains as part of the application experience (i.e. job view happens on abcrecruiter.co.uk but application happens on app.abcrecruiter.co.uk (a fairly common experience for Job Boards and bolt-on recruitment website job technology).
Any site requiring a second ‘log in’ or ‘sign in’ within the application experience as this has been shown to lead to an extensive drop off (+75% in some cases) and will likely negatively impact your conversion ranking score
Any site that requires users to click through an ‘apply’ button or similar action more than once after the transfer from Google for Jobs.
Improving the candidate experience
A benefit of this update is that it’s going to improve the job seekers experience by getting rid of sites in the search results that are using job post content to get unsuspecting job seekers to provide their information and will eliminate the “black hole” where candidates thought they applied to a job, but their application was never sent to a hiring manager. That's great news for everyone except those misleading job seekers, and it's hard to have any sympathy towards that loss.
From a purely selfish point of view this update favours recruiters with a fully rounded, informative website hosting their own jobs and easy apply processes (rather than relying on third party job boards). It should help foster a 'virtuous circle', sending more traffic to the recruiter's own website and help improve rankings further.
What should you do next
This update favours those with a positive candidate experience, but shouldn’t the candidate experience always matter? Many recruiters struggle to make their application process candidate-centric. It's usually a technical challenge to develop a process that puts the candidate’s needs first. It needs a strategic perspective in which most recruiters don’t have the means or the time to invest in.
With Google penalising jobs with poor candidate experiences, there is now an immediate reason to prioritise the candidate experience at your agency. Recruitment agencies that prioritise and make those changes to provide a secure, trusted and quality candidate experience on their recruitment website, will be the ones that will be favoured and benefit from additional traffic and applications.
Beyond just a grab for free traffic on Google for Jobs, a quality candidate experience is also proven to increase agencies pipelines, improve applicant conversion, improve ROI on recruitment advertising, and improve the bottom line. Time to make your candidate experience a priority, if you haven't already.
These changes that Google for Jobs are creating with their latest update were necessary for a long time and will probably become a positive change. If you would like to learn more about directApply or see how to prepare best, reach out to Reverse Delta, and we'll be happy to help you!