Wednesday, March 14, 2012

LinkedIn: Why your profile never gets views, and how you can fix it (case study)


Summary: Do you ever wonder why your finely-crafted LinkedIn profile never yields results or views? In this post, I explain exactly why this happens and what you can do to start seeing real results on LinkedIn.

Recently, I’ve set my sights on LinkedIn to study a little more in-depth how their search algorithm works, and what I’ve found so far is a bit disappointing: it’s simply not enough to have a well-put-together profile. If you hope to come up in someone’s search for keywords related to your profile, you either need to essentially spam your profile with those keywords, be in a LinkedIn group related to those keywords, or you had better be connected with someone the person searching is connected to. Long story short, LinkedIn appears to favor networks of connected people, LinkedIn groups, and profiles chock-full of the same keyword(s). If you’re not engaging in one or more of those facets, then you can count on your profile almost never being seen in LinkedIn searches, no matter how qualified you are.
First and foremost, what I’ve found thus far has convinced me to start being proactive with adding anyone and everyone I can — even if they’re people in completely unrelated industries to me who I would have no reason to otherwise connect with. Also, I will soon be revising my profile (again) and seeking out (over the course of time; not immediately) as many LinkedIn groups as I can to join.
On one hand, favoritism of networked people is a great thing. I mean, if someone you know happens to know someone else that fits the bill for what you’re searching for in a job candidate, then you can inquire about the candidate with the person you’re directly connected to who knows them. On the other hand, what if they don’t know them at all? What if there are other FAR more qualified candidates who are connected to no one you know? The problem there is that LinkedIn (like any custom-built search solution) uses an algorithm to determine relevance, but how does an algorithm determine who is “better” than someone else in the same market? The answer to that for LinkedIn is simple: it doesn’t. Sure, initial search results are filtered by something they call “relevance,” but there is simply no accounting for human logic, deduction, and reasoning — especially with something like searching for the right candidate for a job (be it an employee or employer you’re seeking).
Instead of using crazy parameters and algorithmic magic to produce the “most qualified” candidate(s), LinkedIn favors networks of people. That is a completely logical thing to do for the type of site they are, but it’s not the most evenhanded or apparent. On top of that, LinkedIn favors high keyword density (keyword stuffing, basically). That means that currently, it’s REALLY EASY to game LinkedIn by stuffing your profile full of the same keyword(s) you want to show up in search results for. If you want a prime example of this working, fire up LinkedIn right now, log in to your profile, then do a search for “sports” (without the quotes). Most likely, you’re going to see this guy on the first page of results — if not right at the top.
As it happens, that guy has a whole course about how to take advantage of LinkedIn and rank at the top of keyword searches. The proof is painfully obvious by the fact that he ranks as high as he does for all the people I’ve had search for “sports.” But what are his qualifications? Why is he the best result for “sports?”

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