Google’s big, new tech launch had lots of SEO #fails
Google's new recruiting management tool, Hire, has a beautifully designed website. But columnist Nate Dame points out that they don't seem to be following their own SEO best practices.
Available to SMBs, Hire adds an organizational layer into G Suite applications, allowing hiring managers and HR professionals across an organization to manage candidate communications, access historical applicant data, and schedule interviews from one central platform.
Many interesting things have been said about Hire in the days since its official launch. Some say Google is taking on LinkedIn and recruiting software providers. Others believe Hire may be the foundation for an invasion of many other verticals (and they’re probably right).
While these are all important topics, the most interesting thing about Hire may be its hilariously atrocious technical SEO…
8 ways Google Hire fails at basic SEO
Hire is a lovely site. The design is clean, landing page text is clear and benefit-driven, the site is mobile-friendly, and it loads quickly.
Hire provides a great initial user experience. But if you look just a little deeper, there are serious issues.
1. Six of Hire’s seven indexed pages all have the same page title. Evidently, Google is not concerned about crafting engaging SERP snippets to increase organic click-through rates… or, they’re really confident in the power of their brand recognition and authority.
2. One meta description is “TODO add description.” While it’s good to know Google hasn’t completely abandoned meta descriptions, page code might not be the best place for a to-do list. Or did the new intern get in a copy-and-paste routine plugging in meta descriptions and not notice? #happenstothebestofus
3. Another meta description is 11 characters long. It just says, “Latest news.” Meta descriptions — when not to-do lists — should be… well, descriptive.
Perhaps Google is experimenting with super short meta descriptions? Let’s hope not.
4. The homepage meta description, on the other hand, is 358 characters long. Google managed to make this one descriptive, but it went a little overboard. Meta descriptions should be descriptive, but succinct — 160 characters or less.
And while I wouldn’t necessarily put it past Google to make an exception for its own site — they don’t. This one gets truncated in the SERP like every other overzealous meta description.
5. No site pages have canonicals. Canonical tags that point to the same page that the tag is on aren’t absolutely required, but they’re considered SEO best practice. Canonicals on every page ensure any scraped or dynamically duplicated content is attributed back to the original source.
6. Some of the code is stressful to look at. Google — always the advocate for clean code — may need to have someone do a code review on Hire.
7. There’s no robots.txt file. From Google’s Webmaster Guidelines: “Use the robots.txt file on your web server to manage your crawling budget by preventing crawling of infinite spaces such as search result pages.” Fail.
8. The 404 page is not customized and not helpful. Google’s best practices clearly state that 404 pages should help users find what they’re looking for and provide ways to keep visitors on the site. Hire’s 404 page doesn’t even use the site’s branding.
Why is Hire’s SEO so awful?
One of Google’s catchphrases is, “Make pages primarily for users, not search engines.” Maybe this is the principle the company held to when building Hire? But the reality is that generic 404 pages and nondescript page titles/meta descriptions don’t provide the best user experience.
It’s also possible that this version of Hire is just a minimum viable product release. But Hire’s announcement said Google has been testing the product for a year—which seems like an ample amount of time to check “TODO add description” off a task list.
In the end, most of these issues come across as just lazy. Modern SEO is hard, Google, but these things have easy fixes, but it seems no one cared enough to take an hour to perform a few basic tasks.
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