What is the Google Jobs Algorithm Update?

The Google Jobs Algorithm Update was implemented in mid-April of 2018. One of the more aggressive search updates in recent Google history, this change to the search engine’s algorithm will impose a manual penalty to sites who leave job postings on their pages that have already been filled already or have previously expired.

Knowledge graph analyst Aaron Bradley was the first to tweet about the new update for Google.

A notice was also posted on Google’s developer’s website:

Notice the alert signal and the red text. It’s kind of hard to ignore. Clearly, this most recent Google update is a serious one, and Google wants you to know it. Luckily, this algorithm update only affects a small number of websites.

What Is A Manual Penalty (or Manual Action) Anyway?

To understand the Google Jobs update, you first need to understand the concept of manual penalties.

Websites can be penalized by Google in two ways: either, the site is penalized organically by Google’s search algorithms or it is penalized manually by an actual human being at Google.

This latter penalty occurs separately from a typical algorithm assessment and is sometimes referred to by Google as a manual “action”.

In the case of a manual action or penalty, Google punishes a website that it has found to be in violation of the quality guidelines it has issued for webmasters. It’s a way of punishing sites that aren’t following the rules—kind of like a flag on a play, if you will.

So Why Does Google Impose Manual Penalties?

Aside from just throwing its weight around as the search engine has been known to do from time to time, there is a legitimate reason Google imposes these types of penalties.

Since the very beginning of the Internet and search engines, some website owners have engaged in deceptive practices designed to maneuver their way to the top of search engine results pages.

Google’s practice of imposing manual penalties helps deter these black-hat SEO techniques and punish the sites that dare to use them.

This fail-safe is put in place to protect legitimate websites just in case the phony sites slip under the radar of the search engine’s algorithms.  Google explains it best:

Reasons Sites Receive Manual Penalties from Google

As we’ve already mentioned above, websites receive manual penalties when they are found to be in violation of Google’s quality guidelines for webmasters.

But what are some of the most common violations that trigger penalties, aside from the new penalty for old job listings? Many manual actions are imposed as a result of the following tactics:

  • unnatural links
  • keyword stuffing
  • thin content
  • sneaky redirects
  • cloaking

It could be argued that some (if not all) of the above are much worse violations than an expired job listing, but hey—we don’t make the rules.

And keep in mind that these are just a few examples of violations

How Do I Know if I’ve Received a Manual Penalty from Google?

If your site has been penalized manually, you’ll receive a message from Google in the Search Console message center, and this action will be included in the Manual Actions report.

You may also see a reduction in traffic to your website as a result of the penalty. On the other hand, if there is no manual action against your website, you’ll see a green check mark at the top of the report instead.

Google will also let you know whether your entire website has been penalized or if the penalty only affects certain pages:

What to Do About a Manual Penalty

When your website receives a manual action from Google, it’s kind of a big deal. You’ll either see a significant ranking drop on SERPs or your site will be removed from these pages altogether. So it goes without saying that you’ll want to take action—and fast!

How to Remove Old Job Listings

If you receive a manual penalty for a filled or expired job listing, the first step towards fixing the problem and recovering your ranking is to remove the old job listing. Google provides specific instructions on exactly how to do this:


Submitting a Reconsideration Request

After you’ve removed the old job listing(s) from your site, you’ll need to submit a reconsideration request to Google in order to fully resolve the manual penalty and get your hard-earned ranking back. In this formal reconsideration request, you should do three things:

  1. Explain why you were penalized (i.e. you had filled or expired job listings on your site).
  2. Discuss what you did to fix the issue (i.e. removed the job listing).
  3. Discussed the results of the fix (i.e. the job listing is no longer on the site).

Below is a video explanation of what should be included in a manual action reconsideration request.

After you’ve submitted the request, you’ll receive an email confirmation that it has been received by Google and is being reviewed. This review process will take anywhere from a few days to a week.

If Google decides that you are no longer in violation of its quality guidelines (fingers crossed!), then the manual penalty will be removed.

Will There Be More Algorithm Updates Like the Jobs Update?

At the time it was rolled out, most analysts agreed that the Google Jobs algorithm update was harsh. No one was really expecting it, and some websites were caught unaware.

Although it seemed like an anomaly, we can’t guarantee there won’t be more of these kinds of penalty-related updates in the future.

Google is becoming increasingly obsessed with relevancy and now, the search engine is proving just how far it’s willing to go to insist that website owners comply with its demands for the most relevant content possible.

In order to stay afloat on SERPs, you must also embrace relevancy as the guiding force behind each and every decision you make regarding your site. Oh, and come back here often to check for Google updates and search news!