Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Looking for constructive criticism of the idea of getting websites to have a /jobs redirect page

For background history see "New readers start here" below
My plan is to make it easier for people to find an organisation's job vacancies page on their website by persuading everyone to adopt a web address convention. I'll be contacting a number of companies and asking them if they could point their homepage + /jobs (eg to wherever their job vacancies page is (the page itself doesn't have to be located at the top level of the site - this is just a 'page redirect'. I made a start on this a couple of weeks ago by writing a blogpost outlining what it was I thought could be better regarding vacancies pages and so far I've had some really positive feedback and no negative feedback, which is nice. Now I'm looking for the negative feedback so that I can refine any ideas. Not too negative I hope.

Here is my list of companies / organisations that do already have this /jobs thing going on. It's mostly science communication but I'm keen to encourage any company to do this!

If I'm planning on asking companies to make this tweak to their site I'd like to know more about what it is that I'm asking them, and whether or not there might be good objections to my request that I should be aware of before I go annoying people.

1. Does having a page that's rarely updated 'hurt' SEO?
Loads of sites don't have job vacancies pages at all, some of these may be small companies who don't have a high turnover of jobs, or they might only use agencies to get vacancies filled. 

I'm asking organisations in this situation to add a page (so that people can bookmark the redirected URL) even if they only update it once a year if that.

Does having a 'dead' page like this have a negative effect on one's Google ranking? Possibly smaller organisations can't necessarily afford to buy Google keywords or whatever it is that people do, so I don't want to be asking anyone to do aything that actually reduces their ambient visitor number. Anyone know if it makes any difference? I get that keeping fresh content keeps the site lively and all that, but does one page matter much? Is it better, from an SEO perspective, not to have the page at all?

2. How difficult is it to create a redirect?
Assuming they've added a page or have one anyway how technically fiddly is it to set up a redirect? I've got some ideas on how to do this but couldn't just go off and do it. Is it something that most people running a website could do (I run a website, I don't know how to do it yet) or are there technical pitfalls? For example it might be helpful and speed things up a bit if I write a 'how to do this' guide. Seems fair!

3. Even if everyone does /jobs do site visitors know to find it themselves?
Non-techy folk use the internet in ways that are quite surprising to techier minded folk. For example I recently discovered that, according to a Google survey of users, 90 per cent of people didn't know about the Ctrl+F, Command F, F3 or the / key could be used to bring up the 'search this page' function (I was genuinely amazed, quite gormlessly unaware that "everyone" didn't know this). 

A few years ago I read Snyder Consulting's page on 'Seven tricks that web users don't know' which similarly surprised me (and this was back in 2007!). One of the items was that people hadn't twigged that the logo of a company's page often acts as a 'return to homepage' clickable icon.

So it's entirely possible that people won't even know about the /jobs thing even if it becomes commonly used.

I'm not sure that this matters though because if people are searching for jobs I think they're more likely to find it if there's a page on the site with that name.  

Any other criticisms?
One will undoubtedly occur to me on the bus to work tomorrow but I'll add in any others that people think of.

New readers start here
For the last two years I've been collecting job vacancies pages from organisations in London that look like they might employ science communicators of one type or another. Alongside this I periodically run a search of the pages and post any relevant jobs to the ScicommJobs Posterous (which pings them out to a Twitter bot called @ScicommJobs).

Finding the vacancies pages in the first place seemed quite a challenge. Assuming an organisation has such a page each of them might place it in a different section of their website, or call it something different from plain old 'jobs' (I think I've probably seen every synonym for that word) making it marginally harder to find. 

I know that most people who are looking for (or receptive to hearing about new) jobs probably keep an eye on things like Guardian Jobs and other online places. They'd also find them on the psci-com mailing list among others. But so many science communication jobs don't seem to make it onto psci-com perhaps because the organisation doesn't know about it or because they don't really think about it in terms of being science communication. One of the two  jobs I do was advertised (in 2003) in all the librarian and information professionals' networks but not on any science communication networks. I found it by accident from looking at the website (at that time I was using my list to find jobs for myself) and immediately spotted its potential. 

So I'm keen to find science communication jobs and release them into the wild and also to 'trap' their job descriptions so that people can easily refer to them - there are two years' worth at the blog, most effectively searched via Google - add your search keywords to

When looking at a new site with the intention of trying to collect its vacancies page the first thing I do is type /jobs at the end of the homepage address url. Quite often this brings up the relevant page (or it redirects to wherever the page is located which is also common) but sometimes I get a 'page not found', which means I have to try the 'About us' (one of the more common locations) or just get searching those synonyms. 

I'd like to encourage ALL organisations to (i) add a vacancies page to their site, (ii) make sure that their homepage url redirects to it using the style or and if they're feeling really kind (iii) add an RSS feed to it so that every time a job is added it's pushed to people who've subscribed to receive info about jobs from that organisation.


  1. 1. I'm by no means an expert on SEO, but I would imagine that having a single, mostly-static page on a website that probably contains at least tens of other pages (if not hundreds or thousands) will have negligible impact on a site's overall ranking. So I wouldn't worry about that.

    2. Redirects, in my experience, are spectacularly simple to implement.

    3. If you're *relying* on the user knowing to append /jobs to the domain URL, you might be wasting your time. Getting the word out and establishing such a convention *in end users' minds* would be no small undertaking.

    If, on the other hand, you're providing a page that uses the /jobs redirect to harvest information in the background and present that as a single, aggregated list of vacancies, then that page could be valuable to jobseekers. However, in that case, you'd be better off asking site owners to publish something like an RSS feed of vacancies that your page can more reliably aggregate and present.

  2. Thanks Mal - sorry for the delay in posting your comment, it was picked up by the spam filter and didn't alert me. I agree with everything you say - RSS feeds for all jobs pages would be brilliant.

    Fair point for (3), I suppose the end result would actually be that if people typed JOBS into a site's search (if it has one of course, although I often use the site:url search in Google) then they'll be taken to that page.

    There are plenty of sites that do have a vacancies page but searching for jobs doesn't always seem to bring stuff up.


Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).