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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

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Daily News. Archived Weekly. Click Here For The Current Issue.


Week Ending April 20, 1996
April 20, 1996
You weave the foundation for your web enterprise from a series of links. We're very clear that the depth and quality of your inbound links constitute the commercial infrastructure, the playing field, of your enterprise. Since we're located within eyesight of the Golden Gate Bridge, it's hard to avoid the suspension metaphor. Links are the suspension and bridge that allow traffic into your site. By definition, the relationship has to be two way. You must offer some sort of outbound links as a part of your traffic development.

We think that there are several discrete types of inbound link. They vary in quality and effectiveness. Since, for all intents and purposes, your operation *begins* at the inbound link, we think that it's critical to manage them.

Imagine a matrix with one dimension being content and the other, context. Each scale runs from 0 to 9 (like the matrix management courses that I'm sure you've been exposed to).

The simplest and least effective link has neither content or context (0,0). It appears on a long list of links with no discriminating information. These are easy and inexpensive to arrange. The web is full of hot lists. We call them "Commodity Links". Like the mundane parts of a suspension bridge, you must have all of the commodity links you can get. They don't discriminate, they just keep you even.

The second type of link has content but little enduring context. (9,0). Think of reviews that run for a short while and then get lost in the review archives. They provide burst traffic with little sustained volume. The best example of this is being named as a "cool Site". The traffic spikes and your email baskets burst at the seams, little revenue emerges because the traffic source is more important than you as a destination. We call them "Feel Good Links".

The third type of link has context but little content. Yahoo! is our favorite example of this (0,9) type of link. The link endures and gets your operation identified as 1 of X businesses in the niche. We call them "Library Links".

Obviously, your ideal is to have all your inbound links well positioned with very positive reviews in an enduring place. It's why the Top 25 Recruiters list works so well as a traffic generator for the Websites on the list. These 9,9 links, which we call "Relationship Links", usually have some underlying reciprocal relationship. It can be as simple as a trade of links and a simple cross-promotion agreement to complex revenue sharing arrangements.

There are, equally obviously, many shades of link types inside the matrix. Nothing really fits solidly into any of the categories. There's also the question of the volume of traffic generated by the link. A relationship (9,9) link on a heavily trafficked site can make all of the difference to your business. The same link on a site that gets 10 visitors a week is not worth much effort.

Given the complexity of the Web in it's current form, we generally argue that the optimal approach is to create the largest number possible of inbound links. Then, we suggest that you mine that "pile" in search of the commodity links that are most easily converted into Relationship links. So, effectively, you continually refine your incoming traffic as a way of defining your demographic.

Finally, there is the question of site design and your inventory of content. On the web, you can get lots of traffic to a dumb destination. Converting that traffic into return visitors depends entirely on having changing and useful content that is easily accessible, relevant and understandable. In other words, success is dependent on both traffic and audience development.

April 19, 1996
We follow up on old favorites. Though Shawn's Internet Resume Center was never in any danger of making our Top 25 Recruiters List, we had a soft spot for its clarity of vision. You can tell that they're still growing...they now call it SIRC

On the Web, as in real estate, value is a function of location. SIRC was an early entrant to the game, beginning as a place to showcase Shawn's Resume. The earliest sites on the web are the ones that you see linked all over the place because they were the only resources available at the time. Since location is a sheer function of the number of inbound links to your site, the early players had a real advantage establishing a brand identity. If you look through the various job guides and online employment pointers, SIRC is often at the top of the list.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that they've expanded their services by creating something called InPursuit's Employment Network, sort of a mall for employment services. InPursuit's Employment Network "is unique in that only one company represents a given product, service, or geographical region." Essentially, you get a button and a writeup for $50/month. It's not a bad way to start building traffic.

April 18, 1996
Sometimes, simple things are the best answers. Take a look at the site map for Career Web, a nice, easy to execute, user oriented feature. We routinely get lost in complex sites and would love to see a simple straightforward guide like this on all sites with more than 10 pages. It shows a great deal of concern for the end user.

April 17, 1996
Net-Temps has a good idea. For a monthly fee of $395, the firm will deliver a Windows based database package, a home page, online job postings on that home page and automated distribution to the various Usenet Newsgroups. So, you end up with a local database of job postings and a reasonably automated website maintenance approach.

Certainly, competitors in this sort of market should take a close look at the features promised and or delivered by Net-Temps. Clearly, the best part of the idea is a local database for tracking Net job postings.

But, we're troubled. Net-Temps competes with and suffers the same tactical problems as D.I.C.E. and Contract Employment Weekly. A site offering a variety of agencies a "mall-like" presence in a larger site should have a very consistent interface for the job hunter. The Net-Temps database / search engine virtually guarantees that the job hunter will have a consistent string of "No Jobs Available Using Keyword XXXXX". It's easy to overlook the end user in systems that derive their income from search firms. No advice on using the search capabilities is offered by Net-Temps.

So what does a company actually get from an investment in an account with Net-Temps? Automated USENET postings and an ineffective website buried in a sea of related websites. If you post more than 30 listings per month to the newsgroups, it's an absolute bargain. But then, we wonder if anyone can find anything on USENET anymore.

To fully round out its offering, Net-Temps would do well to add a matching interface. In its current configuration, any recruiting firm using the service should plan on building a real website that ties to the marginally adequate presence provided with Net-Temps' monthly fee.

April 16, 1996
Do you know who your competition is? Are you sure you know what business you're in?

It may seem trite to hammer on these fundamental questions, but the Web is actively changing the rules of the game. Imagine a hip, irreverent magazine targeted at 20 to 30 year olds that features articles on the Joys of Getting Fired; the Virtues of Hugging Your Boss, or Street Smart Self Defense. Is this your competition? Are you in the same business?

The magazine is Tripod and, yes, they are in your business. Among Tripod's other features are online HTML resume development (from the Resume Doctor) and a list of the coolest places to work (including job listings). And these are just a few of the highpoints.

So, what do we mean when we say "They're in your business"? Tripod is just a very few, very logical steps away from having a clever intersection of a Resume Database and Job Listings. They're doing it by focusing on audience development. The steps are somewhat inevitable...build a network, collect a resume database, start offering job postings, start selling ads, begin doing actual placements. In this business model, placement fees are found money rather than necessary cash flow because the core income is derived from advertising rather than placement. It's potent, repeatable and worth following very, very closely.

When we talk to companies that use recruiting firms over time, they often talk about "exhausting the recruiter's database". The turnover in accounts is a function of having seen everything that the recruiter has to offer. When that point is reached (whether perceived or real), the account goes to a new firm. The Tripod model features an ever expanding database core and thus a solid buffer against a traditional pitfall in the recruiting business cycle.

April 15, 1996
Searching for contact information? Yahoo! appears to be expanding the definition of what an online directory service provides. They've very recently added an expansive and efficient People search capability. We found the last name lookup to be reasonably comprehensive for physical addresses and just ok for email.

Using the service, you can look up someone using their phone number only.

Phone: (###-###-####)

Bookmark the People search page. You'll use it.

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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