4 Reasons Indeed Might Be ‘Crazy Like a Fox’ to Block Google for Jobs

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May 1, 2019
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

I give Indeed a lot of grief for not participating in Google for Jobs and not letting the search giant index its job postings. For years, Indeed has gotten rich off the free traffic Google provided, so it seems a bit selfish to take its ball and go home when Google decides to become a competitor.

And why say nay to all the free search traffic Google for Jobs could provide to and employers and job seekers, Indeed? It’s a bit irresponsible on its face and frankly a tad crazy. That said, there are reasons to think Indeed might just be crazy like a fox by not playing Google’s game.

Chew on these.

  • The move toward staffing. Indeed is owned by one of the largest staffing firms in the world, Recruit Holdings. Indeed quietly launched Indeed Hire late last year, and sources tell me it’s pushing it pretty hard. If Indeed is becoming a staffing firm first, and a job site second, then holding on to your job search market share for as long as possible, while not doing Google any favors, makes a lot of sense. Think of it as slowing the bleeding.
  • It has seen this movie before. In 2006, Craigslist barred Indeed and other job search engines from accessing its job content, while Monster and CareerBuilder lapped up the free traffic but eventually got burned as Indeed became the largest job search site in the world on their content. Today, Craigslist is a billion-dollar business and traditional boards are worth a fraction of past valuations. What was smart for Craigslist then could also be brilliant for Indeed today.
  • Mobile is eating the world. Indeed has the most popular job search app in the world. Sitting on millions of smartphones all around the globe — and growing — is a nice place to be. Google for Jobs, though optimized for tiny screens, is primarily a desktop service. I don’t see a native app coming from Google anytime soon. To focus on mobile devices is arguably more important, and that’s where Indeed excels. And don’t forget about Job Spotter.
  • Brand, brand, brand. Google has a way of commoditizing content, and jobs will be no different. You don’t even have to click on a job board now to peruse its job postings. Users don’t visit your site to submit a resume, click on ads and become retargeted users. No-click search should scare the hell out of the boards, who will eventually pay another Google toll to get traffic. By focusing on its brand with massive advertising spends, in an ever-noisier world, and making sure “Indeed” equals jobs in the mind of consumers, the long game is its to lose. Monster forgot this and lost its name to an energy drink in the minds of most young consumers.

The strategies above are far from a slam-dunk. Betting against Google has been a fool’s errand for many over the years. However, it can be done. Yelp has been fighting the good fight against Google for years and survives nonetheless.

Indeed seems to be following Yelp’s lead, as well as Craigslist’s. Ultimately, this could work well for it, at least until the staffing business and other solutions gain a foothold, making job postings less important.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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