A lot of people want to be top of the pile when it comes to being found on the LinkedIn platform, typically these folks are in sales or social media. For them, being either top of the list or on page one of the LinkedIn People search results is a commercial necessity. They know the difference between being top-ranked and eking out a living in the shadows. Being found first is the name of the game. Is there something that the rest of us can learn from them?
“Keyword Stuffing (or Loading)”
Exactly as it sounds: a method designed to ensure that a Profile liberally sprinkled with a key word (or words) will result in that Profile ranking higher in search than other profiles featuring the same key word but less frequently. For example:
‘Freelance Producer’ appearing 13 times throughout Bill’s Profile will rank higher than –
‘Freelance Producer’ appearing 3 times in Ted’s Profile.
You can add keywords to your headline, your current role, previous roles, specialties and on and on. BUT beware – when you do this a couple of things happen: (1) your Profile looks ridiculous and (2) everyone knows that you are trying to game the system. LinkedIn also got wise to this practice some time ago and changed their algorithm to combat it.
The LinkedIn Search Algorithm
The LinkedIn search algorithm is “proprietary” and is “constantly improving” according to LinkedIn.
Translation: we are not going to tell you exactly how it works and we will also be changing it regularly, to keep you guessing.
“We consider the searcher’s activity on LinkedIn, the Profiles returned by the query, and other members who have made similar searches in determining the sort order. These, along with other factors, combine to provide us with data to improve the overall quality of our members’ search results“.
Translation: the search that results is a combination of your search, the profiles that bubble up and what other folks have searched for. We’ve also added a dash of secret sauce, to keep you from guessing.
“More keywords aren’t always better. Our advice would be to only include the keywords (including repeated keywords) in your Profile that best reflect your expertise and experience. If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your Profile, you are likely showing up in a high number of searches. The question you need to ask yourself, however, is whether members consider your Profile relevant to their search. If not, their behavior as a collective group may be influencing the algorithm used to rank you in search results.”
Translation: don’t keyword stuff, it’s obvious and could backfire.
“There is no single rank for LinkedIn search. Unlike the standard search engines, LinkedIn people search generates its relevance score uniquely for each member.” Translation: The order of search rankings that you see are different from everybody else.
Other bloggers on this subject have opined that for Profiles to be broadly successful in LinkedIn search ranking terms, they need to have the following:
- Long Tail Keywords – 3 to 5 words that marketers know tend to bring more value in terms of quality traffic/conversions than normal keywords.
- Customized URL – ‘www.linkedin.com/in/andyfoote’ instead of ‘www.linkedin.com/in/andy.013422234gnn’.
- LinkedIn platform activity – some are convinced that activities elsewhere on the LinkedIn platform factor into your search rank, this is hard to prove.
My advice would be to ensure that your profile has a reasonable number of key words that you wish to be known for, professionally. If you can strike a balance between words which accurately describe you AND are suitably unique, you’ll be in good shape. By all means try to find a 3+ key word combo that makes you truly unique in the long-tail sense (i.e “Freelance Documentary Producer”) but you’re still relying on someone to actually run that search. A vanity url is a no-brainer and I’ve covered this in previous posts. For those of you determined to be on the first page of LinkedIn search results, consider what that will mean for the way you present on LinkedIn. You will almost certainly have to ‘keyword stuff’ and your Profile will look like it’s been ‘stuffed’. I’ve written about why I think the smart money is on views rather than searches.
Finally, here’s a sobering statistic: Each day, one billion names are Googled. Unfortunately for many, half of all people don’t find themselves in the first page of results when they Google their own name. Only 2% of individuals own the entire first page of their results. BrandYourself analyzed 100,000 profiles in August 2012 and found that LinkedIn was the social network MOST often appearing at the top of results.
It’s important to understand that your LinkedIn Profile is increasingly the first thing that appears when people search for your name on the web. How well you present in your Profile is crucial to your professional success. Opportunity could come knocking via the LinkedIn ecosystem OR the world wide web.The takeaway for me is that your LinkedIn Profile is far too important for gaming of any kind, think of it as an Ace not a Joker.
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That’s all from me for this week. Please take a few moments to share this article with your network. I read and respond to all comments.
By Andy Foote