Ladders Embraces Its Inner TMZ with Latest Content Strategy

Google for Jobs has put the job board industry in quite a pickle.

Before the search giant got into the job search business, managing a job board was fairly straight forward: Use job postings as content, get that content and as many pages pointed to that content ranked organically on Google as possible while improving PageRank, and, voila, free traffic and happy, returning customers.

Those days are fading, and while many job sites enjoy the free traffic Google for Jobs delivers, there’s no promise that’ll last. So what now? If you’re TheLadders, you hire a team of journalists to write content to drive traffic. According to a story that appeared on NeimanLab back in April 2017, the company employs a team of 10 and aims to publish 7 to 12 stories a day that goes out to 10 million email recipients regularly.

Marc Cenedella [Ladders’ CEO] is a big media enthusiast who thinks deeply about the historical origins of newspapers in America. He has a 19th-century newspaper model, but where he has the classifieds and no news,” editorial director Ryan Sager told NeimanLab. “This is an interesting way to think about how a media company can be funded in this day and age.”

Indeed, Ladders has put together some legitimate writers. Its editorial page is complete with professionals with buzzwords like “Wall Street Journal,” “Mashable,” “Guardian,” “TIME,” “Bloomberg,” and “Reuters.” There’s even a “Social Video Producer.” Impressive.

A team like that should be generating content that would make Woodward and Bernstein applaud, right? Well, maybe. Here’s a rundown of some recent articles:

  • Your face can reveal if you’re rich or poor, study finds — “In general, any sign of positivity seen on the face correlated to that person being wealthy.”
  • New study proves people (and computers) can guess a person’s name by looking at his face — We sometimes attribute certain names to people based on cultural stereotypes, but it’s also possible for our names to impact how we present ourselves.
  • New study shows what our bosses are not giving us at work — “Having your hard work acknowledged is key to feeling invested in your job. Too many employees, however, aren’t getting the recognition they need.”

OK, so it’s likely none of these stories are going to win any awards, but it doesn’t really matter. As TMZ, Buzzfeed, and others have taught us is people read, click on, and share this stuff. According to Buzzsumo, these articles are bringing in eyeballs.

Ladders stories like “20 misused words that make smart people look dumb,” “5 scientific secrets to handling a narcissist,” “12 habits of genuine people,” and “10 ways smart people stay calm” have generated nearly 100,000 social media shares. Now, those are the most popular stories, so most won’t hit home runs. However, at a pace of 7 to 12 articles a day, the visitor count starts to add up. According to Google, there are already over 4,000 articles created since April.

The company has had its issues in the past, I personally don’t like how they require visitors to register on the site before seeing any job postings, and I certainly don’t think the company is going to change the world with the content it’s currently churning out day after day.

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However, there’s a lesson here for job sites who are looking for ways to generate traffic that Google for Jobs has taken, or will potentially take, which is, create good content, and people will come. In a weird way, Ladders is turning the tables on the traditional job board strategy. Instead of thinking jobs first, it’s putting content first. That’s refreshing.

Its competition would be wise to pay attention. And they’d be even wiser to copy Ladders’ content strategy.

Joel Cheesman

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.