Linkedin search algorithm has changed once again

Linkedin's notorious search algorithm has changed once again.


Here's what you need to know.


A couple of weeks ago the search results to some of my frequently conducted searches started to change significantly.


I first assumed Linkedin was doing another one of their server updates, that I've seen sometimes affecting the search results. Usually the search results change back to normal in a matter of hours.


So when the results seemed to remain changed, I started investigating the changes.


I've had for years a constant test loop in place to see what seems to have changed what comes to especially the personal profile SEO.


During recent years, Linkedin has evolved the algorithm towards a more complex and multi-datapoint setup.


Some years ago, it was enough to fill out your profile with a multitude of repeated keywords in 7-8  sections of your profile, and you ranked close to the top with any of your chosen keywords. Strangely enough, even the Summary field wasn't part of the instances the algorithm used in ranking people. The secondary part of the current Summary section, an instance called Specialties, then again was part of the algorithm.


This resulted in some people understanding the algorithm ranking in the top with just about anything they wanted to.


The next step was to add all of the text fields in the profile to have some influence in your "searchability". This resulted in some people spamming their profiles with tens of thousands of keywords all across the profile, enabling it to ranking high, but horrible to read or even understand.


One significant part of Linkedin search engine optimization was and still is one's network size and levels.


In the previous "version", the network size was a major factor, network level had major impact in one's ranking. Being at first level to a person running a search, enabled you to automatically rank fairly high with just about any word typed in your profile.


Your top search results were easily filled with 1st level contacts, as Linkedin considered knowing someone a major opportunity to have common business interests as well. 2nd level contacts followed, then 3rd, and then the rest (long story short). Now, the first level has lost much of it's importance, meaning that level 2 people will rank much higher than previously, and even the 3rd level connections have a good chance of being found.


The other major factors were keywork quantity - searched words counted altogether - and quality, evaluating where in your profile the searched keywords had been used. Some sections in one's profile having much more weight than others.


The latest change seems to have significantly changed the importance of network size and level, and putting even more weight on keywords, but also adding a major part of "other relevancy factors" which earlier were a minor factor.


Also the weight of individual profile sections seems to have changed quite a lot. "Skills and endorsements" has gained most value, and the Accomplishments have lots a lot of it.


The skills matter a lot even if the searched keyword is not in the top 3 skills, but in the latter part of the section, the one that's behind the extra click to open it.


People have given each other well over 10 billion endorsements, often without thinking or even knowing a person, and thus endorsements not being a very credible showcase of one's skills, which to me seems an odd equation to have given it so much weight in the search algorithm.


I'm still working on understanding the exact weight of each section of the profile, and what are the relevancy parts outside of profiles, but some have remained strong; Title, Summary, Job titles, Education, and even the Job description seems to have held its position.


Just remember one thing. Keyword SEO is not everything, nor is open networking. Both have impact, sure, but the most important thing in Linkedin is discussions. Once you open your "mouth", good things happen to good people. Even if your profile is not in a tip-top shape.


LinkedInTom Laine2 Comments