Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Search Engine Marketing and the Recession. Are ‘Jobs’ all the Rage?

by Roi A.

Since all that everybody seems to be talking about nowadays is the recession, does it follow that many Web sites, job-oriented ones especially, are putting out more than their usual budget for pay-per-click ads and SEO to lure in people looking for a job?

In lieu of this, we at KeywordSpy thought of getting into a timely mode scan the job-oriented Web sites are advertising jobs and actually bidding for the keyword “jobs” and other those like it. And by using the Time Machine function, we will attempt to see if there is indeed a trend—if more companies have actually paid more for the keywords.

Now, in the hunt for jobs, we are aware that there are many other keywords that are searched for. These include “jobs,” “job opportunities,” “job openings”, “hot jobs,” and so on. For this example though, we’re going to focus on the most common searched term of the lot, the short but straight to the point, “Jobs”. In doing so, we’d like to inform everyone that this would merely be a trial on our part, and in no way be a final word of the real trend when it comes to keyword bidding for jobs during the recession.

Conducting our keyword research on the first week on March (US only), we see that bid for the keyword “jobs” stands at $1.62. It’s a fairly high bid, but we’d like to have more than that information. In the paid competitors category we see that Monster.com ranks the highest, and having a keyword total of 51,025. At number two is 123FindJobs.com , whose total of paid keywords surprisingly trails that of Monster.com (17,550). Jobs.AOL.com, is at number 3, with a slightly higher paid keyword total (21,148).

Now let’s check out from these competitors how their strategies changed with the months of the recession. While the recession began as early as 2007, we’re going to check back from when it peaked in August 2008--after the Lehman Brothers and Fannie and Freddie fallouts—going up to the current month.

Here’s KeywordSpy.com’s Time Machine results for Monster.com:

As you can see, the paid keywords went as high as 101,387 in the second quarter. But then it plummets to 4,268 in July. It then rises for three months thereafter then goes down again drastically in November, falls down again for the next two months then regains ground in February.

Now how is it comparable to the number two paid competitor. Here’s a look at the Time Machine graph for 123FindJobs.com:

From KeywordSpy’s data, we find out that it has not been engaging in PPC for a long time before January (the last time was in April and it was only for 29 keywords). But since then they have bid for nearly 7000 times that amount, doubling in February and growing by 1,000 in March. From the looks of it, the demand for jobs has apparently made this domain step up its PPC campaign by a large notch.

Now we are going to go two notches lower in the chart for SnagaJob.com’s Time Machine results:

We now see here a reverse trend. From the second quarter last year, it had a high number of paid keywords in the 30,000’s. But then by September, it drops down to 14,822. It rises back up to 30,000, but falls down to half that amount in November and stays within that range up to the current day. We can then infer from this Time Machine data is that probably the Web site chose not to concentrate on its PPC campaign and chose to advertise its services through other means.

But what about the organic research results? How does “jobs” fare in the sites not resorting to paying as much (if not paying) for the keyword, but offering a similar service? Going back to KeywordSpy’s overview tab for “jobs”, here is what we get:

As you can see, Jobs.com leads KeywordSpy’s organic chart, and it may be because of the inclusion of the word “Jobs” in the Web site’s name. It is followed by Careerbuilder.com, who outnumbers jobs.com with a keyword total of 407, 780, but surprisingly still ranks behind jobs.com in the ranking for the word jobs. Monster in the meantime make a second appearance in this chart.

Now let’s again concentrate on the word “jobs” alone. We click on the Time Machine tab for “jobs”, and this is what we get:

Looking at this chart, the keyword “jobs” fared strongly in the last part of 2007, and has fluctuated between the 40s and 100s during the 1st half of 2008. This seems to be consistent with the demand for jobs. But in the latest years of the recession, the performance of the keyword “jobs” has gone down, averaging in the tens.

Now this could mean that, among other things, jobs may still be in demand, though not as much paid for by some companies, as doing so may prove more costly. Again, this is just merely an assumption; more data may be needed to expound on this research.

Now we go over to the summary tab of Time Machine for a visual representation:

We can see here that for the keyword “jobs”, the domain localjobsavailable.net is bidding most for the keyword “jobs”, with 191,592. At a far second is jobslocally.net, with 50,328 keywords. At third is the major player Jobs.AOL.com, with 35,520 keywords.

You will also notice the absence of paid competitor Monster.com in this chart. This is quite understandable, as the site has been synonymous with employment opportunities in America, and could afford not to go the extra mile in their PPC campaign.

From this, we can infer that the US recession would affect a lot of things, and the plethora of job searchers may be rising, but pay-per-click isn’t showing a synonymous trend in bidding for keywords that are related to jobs, with the trend for the word “jobs” actually going in the opposite direction of the recession.

Other companies realize that they could just as easily compensate by maximizing their SEO, and creating a lot of varieties for jobs such as “work from home,” “local jobs”, “employment” and the like. Plus, one keyword alone wouldn’t determine the whole trend; it takes a lot of other keywords to have a grasp of the whole situation. But with this KeywordSpy research, it is not bad to say that we’re off to a good start.

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