Deciphering The New LinkedIn “Weekly Search Appearances” Feature

There is a bar on your profile under your intro section and above your articles and activity section. It used to feature your profile strength, the number of people who had viewed your profile, and the number of views of your latest post or article.

Then last week I noticed that it had changed.

The profile strength has been truncated (that’s the blue star at the left end of the bar) and “Weekly Search Appearances” has been added.

Clicking on the number of search appearances results in this screen:

(the number of search appearances differs between my two screen caps as one was taken using last week’s numbers and the other for this week’s)

What this page appears to do is to provide you with some clues as to how well your LinkedIn profile is performing for you.

The statistics that LinkedIn provides show three things.

The number of times you showed in search results during any given week

While it is a nice ego boost to think I am showing up in a lot of searches, without any context I am not sure that knowing this number helps me much. That’s because LinkedIn quite helpfully does not tell us how a “search” is defined. Here’s a good example: if someone I know types my name in the search bar and hits enter, they find me. Does this constitute a search? And if so, should I be excited that I turned up in their search results?

And it would be nice to see how many of these search results that I showed up in actually translated into profile views. I am guessing not many because if the number was impressive, you would think LinkedIn would want us to know. I know my profile was viewed around 160 times in the past seven days…but how many of those came from searches as opposed to from posts and articles and other places?

And there appears to be a few bugs in the system. I took the screen capture at the top of this article on Wednesday afternoon, June 21st. It said I showed up in 867 searches for the week that ended June 20th. Later the same day (June 21st) I went back to check something and noticed I now had appeared in 940 searches for the week ended June 20th. How can that number still be going up today if the search period ended yesterday?

The statistics screen then lists the top places your searchers work

I am not sure what to make of this. Last week on my report there were three companies listed. This week there are two. Those two were both there last week too. WTF? (WTF of course, stands for “Wednesday, Thursday, Friday”). Apparently, over a two week period I landed in more searches performed by people at Oberlin College than anywhere else. How can that be? Does Oberlin College have a “Find Bruce Johnston on LinkedIn” course that I don’t know about?

Even if I put the nice people at Oberlin College aside, that leaves Intel as the next company. Now how can I use that information? Maybe I can send messages to my three connections at Intel asking if it was them. Or maybe I can send InMails to the 5,600 second degree connections I have at Intel.

So once again this information is interesting but not useful.

What your searchers do

Now this is data that helps. In my case, I show up in more corporate trainer’s searches than anyone else. And these are the type of people I want to meet so I know my profile is doing it’s job. If I was job hunting, I would hope to see Recruiters and Human Resources people as my top searchers.

What these statistics don’t do for you

They don’t tell you where you ranked in the results and that is a big deal. If you don’t rank highly in a set of search results then who cares? I regularly perform searches that get thousands of results. I don’t look at them all. When was the last time you performed a Google search and reviewed all the results? Okay then, when was the last time you performed a Google search and got even halfway down page one of the search results?

In a lot of ways, these statistics make me think of views you would get for a post on your LinkedIn Homepage screen.  A thousand views means it was on a thousand screens. But you don’t know how many people actually saw your post and then read it. In the same way, appearing in a thousand search results is nice. But it doesn’t tell you if the people searching even saw you in the search results, let alone clicked on and opened your profile.  

I just stopped writing for a moment, hopped on LinkedIn and did a search for people in North America. So congratulations, if you are a LinkedIn member and live in North America, you just showed up in my search results….with 118 million other people.

As it stands, “Weekly Search Appearances” gives us some useful clues, but not the whole story.

 

LinkedIn Search: What’s Changed In The Free Edition

I had a good look at the free version of Search under the new LinkedIn desktop user interface over the weekend, as it seems that while not totally eliminated, many of the bugs are at least known at this point. And while I am disappointed in a couple of the things that were lost or moved to Sales Navigator, the overall search “experience” is much better than I thought it would be, with one rather large caveat that I will get to later in this post.  

Here’s what’s new, what’s changed and what’s gone.

Types of searches

We used to be able to choose between: 

People

Jobs

Companies

Groups

Universities

Posts

Inbox

Changes:

“Inbox” has been lost, but the other six remain. However, as LinkedIn allows you to search your messages in your message center, losing Inbox search  isn’t a surprise.

Bugs:

I have heard from many users who seem to be missing one of the tabs, usually “Companies” or “Groups”.  

I like the new presentation where you enter your initial search term or name and then choose which type of search you want to perform.

Filters we have now and changes

We used to have these filters:

Keywords                       Title

Location                         Relationship

First name                     Last Name

Current Company        Past Company

Industry                        School

Profile Language          Non Profit Interests

Changes:

“Relationship” is now “Connections” as you now can only choose among 1st, 2nd and 3rd. No fellow group members.

“Keywords” now includes sub-fields for first name, last name, title, company and school.  This is a much more user friendly setup than the old search which had one general “Keywords” field and another specifically for “Title”.

“Location” hasn’t changed and this is too bad because locations kinda sucked in the old version of search (ie it still does). Search in the free version of LinkedIn is still set up for recruiters and not for salespeople. For example, I pity any salesperson who has New Jersey as their sales territory because New Jersey does not exist in free LinkedIn search. It does in Sales Navigator, so I know that LinkedIn is capable of locating New Jersey on a map.

“Industries” has changed minorly. There are 148 industries listed as of Friday March 3rd. By my count there were four new industries added in the last year: Construction, Music, Investment Management and Outsourcing/Offshoring.

What’s gone?

Location by zip or postal code

Location by proximity (number of miles or kilometers)

Groups was part of the “Relationship” filter along with 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections. The Relationship filter is now the “Connections” filter and allows filtering by 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections only (cue ominous music re: future of groups on LinkedIn).


The (evil) Commercial Search Limit  

Microsoft has asserted they can grow LinkedIn’s sales, and one way to do so is to get more Sales Navigator and Recruiter subscribers. And one way to do that is to limit how many searches a user can execute for free.

As the “old” commercial search limit was never publicly defined by LinkedIn, it is hard to tell if this has changed, but lowering the CSL would have a bigger impact on many LinkedIn users than all the more obvious changes to functionality. I tried an experiment last week,  sharing a screen with a colleague who has a free LinkedIn account and the new UI. He performed 53 searches, defined as entering a term of one type or another in the Search Bar and hitting the “Search” button. No problem. We even took a bunch of the searches and refined the results four or five times. No problem. While this is not conclusive evidence by any means, it seems to indicate that the commercial search limit has not been changed to  something awful like five or ten searches.

 

Saved searches

Once you perform a search, Saved Searches show up at the bottom of the filter column on the right.

 

You appear to get three Saved Searches.

Bug: some people don’t have Saved Searches yet.

 

Conclusions / Some closing thoughts on the new LinkedIn Search

  • The new Search is much easier to use and much more intuitive. I think LinkedIn users will be able to use this version more effectively than the old search.
  • We lost some functionality. People who made heavy use of searching by zip code or proximity are out of luck. But not as much functionality was lost as we were led to believe.
  • The marginalization of LinkedIn Groups continues
  • The wild card remains the Commercial Search Limit. If the CSL has been reduced again (and this certainly seems likely), a lot of users won’t really care about all the changes to functionality and the user interface.
  • If you are not getting the search results you are looking for, or you keep running into the Commercial Search Limit, you are either searching ineffectively or you need Sales Navigator. Know the difference, because if you are searching poorly it’s just going to cost you eighty bucks a month to get the same lousy results.  
  • In my experience – as teaching LinkedIn search and performing searches for clients is a lot of what I do – most LinkedIn members still use search inefficiently and ineffectively. They wind up with the wrong results, or too many results or too few. A lot of using LinkedIn Search still depends on you the user, so
    • Be clear about what results you want.
    • Understand how Boolean search works.
    • Define what information you have that will help narrow the search  down.
    • Use the filters for help. Check each filter to see if they will help narrow your results.
    • If you have important searches, do them early in the month before you risk hitting the CSL.
  • It is unclear if the weekly updates with new people found in your saved searches counts towards the CSL. It probably doesn’t. You get three saved searches. If you have a lot of repetitive searches, save them.

While everyone likes to call it the “professional social network”, LinkedIn is more accurately described as a database of 500 million people with the advanced search tools that can be used to search and make sense of that database. Know how to use those search tools to get the most out of LinkedIn.

 

Why Every B2B Salesperson Needs Sales Navigator

a-navigator

Here’s what LinkedIn really is:

“LinkedIn is a database of prospective customers with the means to sort and make sense of that database”

In the just released results (October 27, 2016) LinkedIn announced it had 467 million members. LinkedIn may not have everybody, but I would argue they have most of the people that matter.

To capitalize on sorting and making sense of that database, you need Sales Navigator. Here’s why:

  1. Sales Navigator gives you the ability to filter on multiple parts of profiles – like geography, industry, and company size – and Sales Nav also allows you to search by title and keyword and do Boolean searches (which is a really cool term for a group of search conditions like “AND” or “OR” ).
  1. You can take your search results and adjust or change the filters you are using and conduct the search again.
  1. You can save your searches. This is particularly important if you have put together some exotic searches ( see the example below) and want to make sure you can replicate it.  
  1. You are not limited on the number of searches you can make in a given month.

The bottom line is, if it is on someone’s LinkedIn profile, you can search for it and find that profile.

Here’s an example of a search you don’t see every day, but one that will illustrate what you can do with Sales Navigator:

I had a client looking for beta sites for their new software product. They needed banks. In the mid west. With a certain number of servers. Running a certain type of software. But not the banks that were running their direct competitor’s software.  So I developed a search that identified the people running the data centers at banks that met those criteria. Results: Eight prospect companies to call.  

With the data that LinkedIn users put on their profiles, you are only limited by your own imagination.

The LinkedIn business premium subscription also has similar capabilities as Sales Navigator, but not as many filters. And the free account has a small subset of Sales Navigator’s features…for now.

There are other features in Sales Navigator, both those important to social sellers (the ability to designate a LinkedIn user as a lead, and view their activity in a separate feed) and any sales person (the much maligned but still very effective InMail), but you have to find them before you can follow or contact them.

And yes, having all this ability doesn’t come cheap: Sales Navigator will will cost you five or six hundred bucks a year.

But as much as many people dislike LinkedIn, if it’s where your prospects are, it had better be where your are.