Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Rank Higher on LinkedIn

Most of us who use the service, are well aware that in order for our LinkedIn profiles to rank higher, we must update them constantly and also provide as much information as possible.

Things such as education, skills, endorsements, and career highlights—for example—are the building blocks to a comprehensive and well-ranked profile.

Fair enough. But, apparently, that takes a bit too long for some individuals, especially those who are trying to target users who search LinkedIn for specific keywords.

So let's say you would like to find someone who can help you with search engine optimization, or SEO for short. You type SEO in the search field at the top of the page, and—since you know that LinkedIn is a network comprised of professionals—you feel all warm and fuzzy as you try to find an "expert" thanks to this resource. Certainly the results will be reliable and those individuals will be qualified to assist you.

Well, yes and no, but mostly NO!

Unlike Google and other large search engines, LinkedIn seems to be stuck in the late 1990s as far as how their algorithms process data, and this flaw (no other way to describe it), allows unscrupulous and opportunistic marketers to take advantage of these technical shortcomings, for their benefit.

I did a LinkedIn search for "SEO" since that industry has so many self-proclaimed experts, pros, and gurus who—I was certain—would milk the keyword-stuffing cow until it runs dry.

I was not disappointed. Results such as the ones shown below, clearly illustrate how easy it is to game LinkedIn.

And, as you can see, when you click on "more" at the end of all those repetitive keywords, there are even more! Why would some of these "experts" use but a few keywords when you can actually stuff a few hundred of them?

Some of the keyword stuffing takes place under the "Projects" section which can be pushed down the page as to keep it somewhat hidden, while others are a bit more obvious and spam sections such as "Experience," "Summary," and more.

But keyword stuffing is not limited only to SEO. Why would it?

Other terms such as LinkedIn Marketing, and LinkedIn Marketing Expert, just to name a couple, are also targeted by these "professionals."

Is this the right approach if you want to be found on LinkedIn?

Of course not. It is not only foolish but—more worrisome—unethical.

Would you hire someone after realizing that the only reason you came across their profile was because they stuffed thousands of keywords in it? I am going to guess that you wouldn't.

Do you think anyone would hire you if you used a similar approach? I doubt it. So don't use such schemes to make your LinkedIn profile rank higher. Instead, keep adding valuable content, images, and professional references in a natural way.

Having said that, I hope you understand the power that keywords still wield on LinkedIn. And I also hope  that you will use that knowledge in a judicious way, lest your professional profile makes you look like a damn fool.

I have no idea if LinkedIn engineers are working on a solution to this issue, but I hope they are. So there are no guarantees that this "loophole" will stay open for much longer. But, as long as it is, I am sure it will be abused to the max.