Search market's underserved

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It was a lovely summer afternoon, exactly the kind that calls for a search industry cocktail party on a Manhattan rooftop lounge. The invitation came a bit out of the blue; there was no particular reason given for the event other than "Join us for drinks!" on the invitation. How could I resist?

The party was in full swing by 6:30. I quickly perused the crowd, noting the marquee nametags. SaksFifthAvenue. Not bad. Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, very interesting. A top tier search engine marketer representing a sizable account. The conversation flowed back and forth between organic rankings, paid placement, with the occasional pause to admire the view.

So exactly which engine threw this party, you ask? Google? Nope. Yahoo!? Guess again. MSN. Sorry. In fact, no one from any of these firms was in attendance at all. Our host was none other than Indeed.com, the job search engine best known for postings from thousands of Web sites.

For those who previously yawned at vertical search, the recent sale of Business.com for $345 million is a likely harbinger of things to come, and the online job sector is no exception.

I frequently credit career sites for teaching me the basics of search. By observing the language used in attractive job descriptions, I modified my own resume to reflect this same audience's likely search behavior. Despite my friends' disbelief in online job hunting, my HotJobs resume landed me a job in 2000. A few years later, I scored my first role in the search industry by replying to a Monster.com listing.

Last week, however, the intricacies of this market were cast in a different light. As partygoers discussed their current organic rankings on Indeed.com, I realized that human resources is perhaps the most overlooked group of advertisers. Chances are, the interactive marketing director doesn't include their needs in a position request for search engine marketing, and so HR is frequently left to its own devices.

In some regards, the hiring department seems to have surpassed their Internet Marketing colleagues. While search advertisers forever ponder pay per action, Indeed.com clients are experimenting with a PPA beta: pay-per-applicant, that is. Oh, and forget cost per acquisition, each firm has a very well-defined CPH, or cost-per-hire.

For those obsessed with the organic side of things, Indeed.com's policy is clear: "Our organic results remain entirely unpaid and ranked strictly by relevance." That being said, the firm has a helpful blog post regarding best practices, including how to set up an XML feed of job postings.

As with all industries, it is only a matter of time before an underserved market is met with a product. And in this case, one just might say that Indeed.com is this sector's Google.

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