The big showdown: Indeed and Google

You’re in a crowded saloon. The biggest, baddest gunslinger is lounging at the bar, regaling his compatriots with stories of how big and bad he is, about his millions of followers and billions in revenue. Then the door swings open. Another gunslinger comes in. He starts handing out traffic, moving from table to table, complimenting each person, working the room like a professional politician. Then he reaches the biggest, baddest gunslinger. He sticks out his hand. The biggest, baddest gunslinger stares at him, then stands up and walks away. (That’s right – no gun violence in this blog!).

It could be a cliched movie script. But…it’s what’s happening in the job board world right now. Google – as you know – moved into job search in a big way about a year ago. If you’re a job seeker and you’re searching for jobs on Google (and yes, that’s where most job searches still happen), you’ve been confronted with the Google Jobs ‘blue box’ of search results – right where the omnipresent Indeed job listings used to be. You’ve seen results from big job boards, niche job boards, ATSs, and company career sites.

But you haven’t seen search results from Indeed. The biggest, baddest job board out there isn’t playing with Google Jobs. For whatever reason, Indeed – which used to bill itself as the ‘Google for jobs’ – isn’t having its jobs indexed into the Google Jobs world. Sure, you’ll still see Indeed listings in the organic results – but they’ll be below Google’s big blue box.

So if you have even a passing interesting in our industry (and if you don’t, why are you reading this blog?), you have to ask yourself: why is Indeed doing this? It seems like an awfully big gamble. A literal face-off at high noon: Indeed vs. Google.

Well, I don’t know, but (of course) I have a few theories:

  • Indeed thinks it is big enough to grow without Google: When you’re #1, as Indeed is, the horizon can seem endless. Smooth sailing, big paychecks, and an endless supply of candidates and employers. That’s where Indeed is now. They’ve got a deep-pocketed parent company in Recruit, an aggressive expansion plan, and millions of candidates (hey, wait, that kinda sounds like LinkedIn!). Why do they need Google, after all? And who’s to say, after all – maybe they’re right. But…strangely enough, if you walk into a crowded room and ask who knows Google vs. who knows Indeed, I’m betting the predominant answer is ‘Google’.
  • Indeed is scared: Over the past 7 years, Indeed has shifted from being an aggregator that received most of its revenue from job boards, to being a job board that receives most of its revenue from direct employers (if you’re outside of North America or the U.K., you may still be experiencing Indeed as an aggregator. That’s ok – just wait.). However, unlike some of their competitors (say, LinkedIn or Google), they don’t have much of a brand, and their employer-facing services are a bit limited. Now a key component of their success – Google – is moving into recruitment marketing. If Indeed doesn’t participate, they lose a big percentage of their traffic – but if they do participate, Google might do…something even worse. What, I don’t know. But fear has to be playing a part of Indeed’s decision making right now.
  • Indeed is incompetent: Of the 3 options, I think this is least likely. Monster suffered through years of incompetent management; Indeed has not. On the other hand, maybe it’s Indeed’s turn for short-sighted, narcissistic management!

Google is going to do what it does. When you’re the world’s biggest search tool and ad sales platform, you tend to do that. Indeed is making a gamble – that Google is playing a game it doesn’t understand, that Indeed is bigger in the job world than Google, that Indeed’s success doesn’t rely on Google search results, and that Indeed is simply smarter about recruitment marketing than Google. Maybe Indeed is right. Maybe not.

Either way, it’s a big gamble. High noon in Recruitment Marketing City. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the stunning conclusion.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Denise

    Take a look at the stock price comparison between Recruit Holding’s (Indeed) and Google/Alphabet since the announcement of Google4jobs in mid-May 2017. The market is showing it has more confidence in Indeed than Google. Google is taking a long time to reach Europe, and we know not everything Google touches turns to gold (connect with me on your Google + account LOL) I think Indeed have nothing to fear. Indeed execution is second to none.

  2. Jackson

    Indeed is making the right decision.

    To be the best in the industry, it’s important to stand on your own two feet. Google’s new service is a crutch for job boards with less traffic.

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