How To Rank Higher In LinkedIn Search Results


a search beamThe most important factor for ranking highly in search results isn’t the quality of your profile or your use of keywords. Those things will get you included in the search results, but not necessarily a high ranking.

What is the most important factor? Your relevancy to the searcher. So what does that mean? It means that you may show up on page two (that is somewhere between 11th and 20th) for one person and page seven (61st to 70th)  for another searching using the exact same keywords. And no one wants to be on page seven. When was the last time you googled something and closely examined the seventh page of results?  

Relevancy is a bit of a moving target. LinkedIn interprets relevancy based on an ever evolving algorithm which weighs things like the searcher’s prior activity on LinkedIn, similar searches other people have conducted in the past and the profiles that get selected by the query. Having the right keywords in your profile will get you included in the search results, but they probably won’t help too much, as everyone else who was included in the search results had those keywords too.

And let’s face it, you can’t do anything about a searcher’s prior history, or other similar searches to this one.  

The biggest factor for where you appear in search results is your relationship to the searcher. LinkedIn thinks that the closer the relationship, the higher the relevance. So Linkedin tends to list the search results by connection level – first degree connections first, seconds second , group members third and the third level / everyone else crowd last. And this makes sense. Say you are looking for someone to help with you build a WordPress based blog. You search for WordPress on LinkedIn, maybe adding your location to find someone local. LinkedIn shows that you have three first degree connections that qualify, then forty second degree connections, sixty group members, and two hundred third level / LinkedIn members. Based on what you asked for, doesn’t it make sense that LinkedIn lists the three people you can contact directly – your first level connections – first?

So what does this tell us? To appear higher in searches you should develop a big network. No, this doesn’t mean you should indiscriminately connect with anyone on LinkedIn.  But you should be connecting with people in, and affiliated with, your target audience (your target audience being the people you would like to be found by, whether that is prospective employers, prospective customers, or peers.) The more people you are connected with, the more likely you will show up as a “one” or a “two” in the search rankings. If you and I are in the same field, have similar experience and credentials, but you have two thousand connections and I have two hundred, who’s your money on for appearing higher in search results?

LinkedIn even says this (it’s in the LinkedIn help section):

The more connections you have, the more likely you will have a connection to the searcher. Closer connections, such as a 2nd-degree connection compared to a 3rd-degree connection, improve your ranking in searches.

There is a big difference between search engine optimization and Linkedin search results optimization. To optimize for LinkedIn search results, you need lots of relevant connections.


Group Member Search Returns! (just not the same group member search)


 If the old member search was a Tiger, the new search is a kitty cat

When LinkedIn overhauled the groups function a few months ago, one of the features that went away was the ability to search a group’s membership. After the expected hue and outcry, LinkedIn quietly “restored” search just before the end of the year.

The new member search utility is different from the old one in how you define “search”.  They both search the group membership, but for different things and in different ways. You used to be able to search a group’s membership for subsets of people that shared the same info on their profiles, such as people who were SEO experts, or the people that came from Kansas City. Now all you can do is search for a specific person by name.  

Here is how the new search of a LinkedIn Group’s members works:

1) Clicking on the number of group members brings up the search utility.

2) You can enter a name – first, last or both

3) The search utility will look for the name you entered and present people that you asked for.  

And now, the not so good part.

  • The search utility appears to search the name field only. So if you want to search for people who know SEO, the only people who will show up are those that have the term SEO in their name field. By the way, it is against the LinkedIn user agreement to put anything other than your name in the name field.
  • The search utility returns a maximum of ten results. So searching a large group for “David” will return a maximum of ten group members with the name David.
  • There is still no relationship indicator on the people in the results list. You can’t tell whether a person is a first level connection, a second or just a group member unless you click on their name to pull up their profile.
  • There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason behind how LinkedIn chooses which ten people to present to you.

So, what good is this new way of searching for Group members? It’s only good if you have done an Advanced Search and found someone you would like to send a free message to, in which case you search once using LinkedIn Advanced Search, and then you search again for that specific person within the Group.

Question for LinkedIn: why not just be able to send a message to the person directly from the search results?

LinkedIn has changed the nature of searching the group memberships from one where job titles, locations and keywords could be used, to one where you are searching for a specific person in order to send them one of your fifteen free monthly messages. The only possible rationale I can see for this change is further fights against the scrapers and browser extensions, by pushing the use of Advanced Search which is susceptible to the Commercial Search Limit.

4 Ways To Improve LinkedIn Advanced Search For Sales

iStock_000000785798XSmallToday’s post is all about location. Specifically the location filter in LinkedIn search. This filter is built with HR people in mind, not those of us in sales or marketing, small business or consulting. Here’s an example. Say I’m a recruiter looking to find a VP level person for Morgan Stanley in Manhattan. Where might that person live? New York City. Long Island. Northern New Jersey. Maybe just over the state border in Connecticut. So LinkedIn solves this problem for their human resources customers by making all of those areas part of the location they call “Greater New York City”.  This is a tremendous solution for human resources people.

Similarly, the lower half of New Jersey is considered by LinkedIn to be part of the greater Philadelphia area. So if you are a sales rep, and your sales territory is New Jersey, you are toast. Burnt toast. Your only option is to use zip codes and ask for anything within a radius of “x” miles of that zip code…which may include parts of Philadelphia or New York City.

My solution for this and the other issues I will discuss here are listed at the bottom of this post.

Problem number two is I have no clue where the demarcation point is in New Jersey where greater Philadelphia ends and greater New York City begins. It’s somewhere maybe halfway up New Jersey, but LinkedIn is not saying.

Here’s problem number three: LinkedIn won’t tell you what the possible locations are within a state. Quick, what locations does LinkedIn list for  Washington state? Typing in “Washington” in the “location” field will bring a dropdown list including Washington DC, Richland/Kennewick/Pasco, Spokane, Bellingham and Yakima. Okay, we can toss Washington DC, and the other four are the possible locations in Washington state. Except they aren’t. You have to know that Seattle is not listed under “Washington state” but under “Greater Seattle area”. And you also better know that Camas and Vancouver, Washington are not considered to be in Washington state by LinkedIn, but to be part of Portland Oregon. Oh.

Problem number four: Just when you think you have the hang of the idea that all the big cities fall under “Greater (city name here)” classification, you discover that this does not always work either. One of the biggest locations on LinkedIn is the “San Francisco Bay area”.  But you won’t find it by typing “California” or “Greater” in the location field.

If you search in Canada you don’t even get a pulldown list of places in a Province. It’s all guesswork. The Province of Quebec has 8 million people living there, or just more than Washington state. Well, I know that Washington state has five LinkedIn locations in it, but I can only find two – “Montreal” and “Quebec” for the Province of Quebec. Are there more? Who knows?

Problem number five: it’s awkward to search by state. If I want to search within California, I have to find and enter each of the thirteen LinkedIn locations one at a time. Ugh.

Problem number six: I am currently experimenting with a Sales Navigator premium account. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that LinkedIn defines  thirteen locations in California when using LinkedIn Advanced Search but only eight when you use Sales Navigator. What are the differences?

Four ideas that would fix all this mess:

1) Come up with a naming convention that is consistent. Either geography (“Florida panhandle”) or city (“the Miami area”) based.

2) Provide a master list of all locations for a given country. This would be an easy fix.

3) A map showing what actual geography a location covers. The example I cited about New York City is a good one. You could spend a lot of time searching Connecticut before you realized that a chunk of it was considered New York City.

4) Ability to select a search by state without having to enter all the sub-areas for that state.

This is about making LinkedIn Advanced Search more user friendly for a demographic LinkedIn wants: sales, marketing and small business. Showing that these constituents aren’t an afterthought to the HR crowd would go a long way.