Welcome to episode 208, this week I am revisiting the search algorithm. If you are a long term listener you will recall that I tested the search algorithm a year ago in episode 161 and I promised that I would conduct the same test every year to check if the algorithm had changed……..and guess what, it has!
More of that later, but first…
Interesting Stuff I Saw This Week
LinkedIn Turns 15
Shameless drug dealers using LINKEDIN to sell Class A narcotics. I’m afraid this is classic British tabloid sensationalism! The profile of Scott Bush has already been deactivated and I could find very little other drug selling activity.
LinkedIn is now rolling out suggested hashtags in posts as per this voicemail from Lynnaire Johnston.
Post of the Week
I just love the positivity of this brilliant post from Michael Spence
LinkedIn SEO 2018
How easy is it to find your profile in a LinkedIn Search?
The LinkedIn search algorithm is a complex and ever changing beast. Search results are highly personalised so how can you tell whether your profile is easy to find by the people who you wish to be found by?
This is why I carry out a test every year to check what is important to ensure that your profile is correctly optimised for search.
WARNING : It's not an exact science! Don't get me wrong, there will be an exact science to this but no-one knows what it is apart from a select group of 'higher beings' who reside in some dark room at LinkedIn's headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA.
This group are sworn to secrecy so we will never know the answer to this mystery.......but we can perform some practical tests to get a better 'sense' of what is important in a profile.
I used 4 accounts for this test (my own and 3 others I was kindly given access to).
Account 1 - 9900 connections, highly active, based in Warrington, Cheshire, UK
Account 2 - 5785 connections, inactive, based in Manchester, UK
Account 3 - 291 connections, moderately active, based in London, UK
Account 4 - 3 connections, inactive, based in Warrington, Cheshire, UK
I performed the following search from each of these accounts (within minutes of each other)
Keywords : copywriting OR copywriter and filtered by 'people'
Initially the results were analysed without any further filters.Initially the results were analysed without any further filters.
I assessed the importance of the following profile attributes for the top ten results (1st page) for each of the four results. Keywords in headline Keywords in current job title Keywords in Company name Keywords in Summary Keywords in experience (other than current job title) Total keywords throughout profile Network connection (1st, 2nd, 3rd tier or beyond) Shared connections Location Activity (Likes, Comments, Shares, Posts and Articles) Profile Strength Skills Endorsements Interests (number and mutuality)Then I added a location filter of London to all four searches and re-analysed the results.
Each result was also filtered to see how many 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier connections there were.
The ResultsThe first thing to note is that I performed the same analysis last year (more information here) and the results this time were significantly different. This shows how LinkedIn are constantly changing the search algorithm and/or it is adjusting itself (machine learning).
Out of the above 14 criteria, only 3 appeared consistently in the top 10 results of each of the 4 searches.
Keywords in headline Location Skills
All 40 profiles (top 10 in each search) had one or both of the keywords in the headline. The number of times the keyword appeared throughout the profile was not important and the keywords did not always appear in any of the other sections.Conclusion: Ensure your 120 character headline field is stuffed full of keywords and phrases
You would expect location to be an important factor when used as a filter but it was also key when no filters were applied. All of the top 10 results in each search were local to that account.Conclusion: Your location is critical in LinkedIn SEO. If you are a jobseeker you should change your postal code to where you believe the jobs are most likely to be.If you are using LinkedIn to win more clients, consider changing your postal code to where your prospects are based.
Whilst you can't search for skills (other than with a Recruiter account) it appears that skills are now a key factor in the search algorithm ranking. All 40 profiles had 'Copywriting' (copywriter isn't a skill) as a skill.Endorsements: Whilst the number of endorsements didn't seem to have an effect, it did seem important for the skill to have been endorsed at least once (the lowest number of endorsements I saw was 2 and they ranked pretty high).Conclusion: Ensure you have all your important keywords covered by your skills. The max number of skills is 50. I would advise starting with 20 and once they are all endorsed at least once, increase this number gradually to 50. A skill without an endorsement is pretty useless!
One more thing....This one really surprised me and is a major change from my previous tests.
First Tier Connections perform poorly in search results!
Much to my surprise I found that in each of the 4 results, first tier appeared almost nowhere! In the search on my account with 9900 connections, there were 712 first tier in the c1.7 million result yet the first one only appeared in 123rd position but it met very similar criteria to those who appeared in the top ten.The first page of results was almost always 2nd tier with an occasional appearance of a 3rd tier.
Conclusion: If you can identify someone who you think might be searching for someone like you (for instance a Recruiter in a company you wish to work for), consider following them rather than connecting.
How important is LinkedIn SEO?
If you are a jobseeker, it's extremely important. The vast majority of searches performed on LinkedIn are by Recruiters and you should optimise your profile in line with these results.
If however, you are using LinkedIn as a business development and social selling tool then it's significantly less important.
How many people use LinkedIn to find suppliers?...Not many in truth. People generally don't use LinkedIn search the way they use Google. That said, it is worth being mindful of how optimised your profile is.