Just Who Is Visiting Your LinkedIn Profile? And Why?

“Did you check the Captain’s LinkedIn profile?”

 

Most people think their LinkedIn profile is something they can use so that whoever it is they want to have find them – suppliers, customers, potential business partners, possible future employers – can find them. 

But is that the case? 

In one word: No. In two words: Heck, no.

How do I know this? Well, I did some research. As most of you know, I have a Sales Navigator account. And with that account comes an expanded version of WHo Viewed Your Profile. I can see who viewed my profile for the past ninety days. When LinkedIn can identify where your individual profile viewers came from, they do so. You will see such things as: My Network, Homepage, Messaging and Search.

I was reviewing my profile viewers and one thing that struck me was hardly anyone seemed to be finding me via Search. So I went back and counted them all over the past ninety days. Out of all the people who had viewed my profile over the past ninety days, the percentage who came across my profile via search was….a smidgeon over one percent. 1.08% to be exact. 

Now, my LinkedIn profile is pretty good. I know my SEO basics and I know the keywords that should be there, and what people should be searching for to find someone like me. But one percent? That’s it?

So where was everyone else coming from? We’re talking about hundreds of people a month here. Well, some came from Messaging, which makes sense when you think about it. In a typical situation, you are trading messages, usually with a new connection, and you want to check something on their profile. But the vast majority of my viewers had either seen something I had written, or I was mentioned, or someone they knew had mentioned my name, or I had commented on something and that brought them to my profile. The bottom line was people were coming to my profile for one of two reasons. They are asking:

  • Just who is this guy?
  • Is he who he says he is?

What it amounts to is people are looking at my profile as a kind of reference check. They are curious about me and they want to know more, in my case, usually more about why I talk like I am an expert at using LinkedIn.

So what does this imply for you? 

Your profile does not have to be an SEO machine. There just are not that many people looking for you or what you do. 

Or if they are looking for someone like you, they are doing it through their network, not LinkedIn search.

What your profile has to be is a reference check. When someone comes to your profile they want to know why you are an expert in your field and the implied question they have is “What can this person do to help me?” 

And there you go. Those are the questions your profile needs to answer:

  • What can you do for your ideal reader?
  • What benefits can you provide?
  • What questions are you uniquely qualified to answer?

The idea that someone will find you via search is a myth. They will find you from your display of what you know, or from hearing about your from someone else. So what does your profile have to do? It’s not a showcase, it’s a reference check. 

 

Helping The LinkedIn Algorithm Figure Out The Content You Want To See

(what we all imagine the algorithm looks like)

The LinkedIn algorithm decides what you see in your feed. So if you understand how it works, you can use that information to your advantage and guide LinkedIn to present more of the content you want to see.

While you can express interest in topics and influencers (they are under the “My Network” tab), a big part of what the algorithm does is look at your recent interactions. It looks at whose posts you are interacting with and what topics you are researching. Then LinkedIn interprets this data and predicts what you would like to see more of. This is where the algorithm is really smart and really dumb at the same time.

If the algorithm sees me commenting on your posts, and especially if we trade a bunch of comments back and forth on that post, the algorithm interprets that as a high interest level on my behalf with regards to your posting. So LinkedIn will show me more of your posts.

The algorithm is very wise.

But the algorithm also sees someone come along who hates your post, acts like a troll, and wants to argue with you and call you names. Because the algorithm just looks at the back and forth and does not understand what is actually being said, the algorithm interprets these comments as a high level of interest on the troll’s behalf and LinkedIn will now show the troll a lot more of your posts.

The algorithm is kind of dumb.

Oh, and I said “looks at your recent interactions” because I went away on vacation for a week and when I came back the algorithm had effectively forgotten everything about me. It had to “discover me” and build its database of who I liked all over again.

So how do we take advantage of this? Well, aside from not commenting on idiot posts, the idea would be to consider all your interactions with other people on LinkedIn as an interest gauge. Especially comments. There is evidence which suggests that comments are weighted heavily by the algorithm. When you comment on LinkedIn you are not just commenting on the post in question, you are telling LinkedIn, “More like this please.”

You will find evidence of this in your feed all the time. For example, you haven’t interacted with someone in months, but then you commented on one of their posts. Over the next week, it seems like every time that person does something on LinkedIn, it shows up in your homepage feed.

So when you make lots of comments on content from people you would like to see more of, your feed will get better as the algo does less guessing as to who’s content you want to see.

When you understand how LinkedIn interprets your actions, you can act accordingly and help guide the content you actually want to see to your feed.

Got an idea for something I should write about? I am Open Profile so you can send me a free message on LinkedIn.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for LinkedIn. The only business relationship I have with LinkedIn is sending them money every month for my Sales Navigator account.

How To Rank Higher In LinkedIn Search Results

searching….searching…

 

This is an updated version of one of my “classic” LinkedIn articles. I wrote the first version of this in 2016. Since this was first written, LinkedIn has gotten a lot bigger, and the topic of this article has gotten much more important, though most LinkedIn users don’t realize it.

Let me illustrate this with a real world example. My early corporate customers were Printed Circuit Board manufacturers (and a lot of them still are). One of the first comprehensive LinkedIn searches I did back in 2011 was to see how many LinkedIn users had the term “PCB” in their profile. It was around 32,000 people worldwide. I did that search again in early December 2020. The number now? Over 440,000.

The conclusion is that showing up higher in search results is tougher now than it was nine years ago. Heck, it is tougher now than it was only one year ago.

So let’s take a trip into the weeds and figure out what we can do about it.

The most important factor for ranking higher 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 of the search results (that is somewhere between 11th and 20th) for one person and page seven (61st to 70th) for another person searching using the exact same keywords or search parameters. 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 degree / 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, the people you already know and can send messages to – first?

So what does this tell us? To appear higher in searches you should develop a big network. 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, suppliers, 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.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.

And the offer: Want more like this? I publish three weekly email newsletters on LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each is typically a two or three minute read, free, and and you can unsubscribe anytime. And I do not clobber my subscribers over the head with inane sales pitches. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/