LinkedIn Takes Skills & Endorsements Very Seriously for Search Results

Two weeks ago I wrote a post noting that using a keyword, say 116 times, in your LinkedIn profile can push you to the top of a first level connection’s search results for that keyword.

I noticed this after I did a keyword search and got curious about how people achieved their search rankings.

LinkedIn SEO Research

The table below shows data for the profiles that came up in the top nine positions in search results for my test keyword.

Endorsements

As you can see, the person in the first position used my keyword 116 times in her profile.

But look at the person who came up in position 6. He only used my keyword five times. Slacker. I wonder how he made it to page one.

Do you think it had anything to do with his 625 endorsements for my keyword? I do.

First Level Connections

All of my page one results were people who are first level connections. So, if you want to come up on an early page of someone’s search results, it’s good to be a first level connection.

Keyword Stuffing

You only had to stuff my keyword into your profile an average of 73 times to get to page one.

BTW, I wrote this post in 2013. In my latest 2017 research, I’ve found that keyword stuffing doesn’t work nearly as well as it did in 2013.

If you A/B test it, you will find that after you stuff a keyword so many times, you get diminishing marginal returns. Thank goodness!

Recommendations

And recommendations, those more meaningful attestations of your awesomeness, it only took an average of 36 of those to get to page one.

LinkedIn SEO is a Numbers Game

Like it or not, getting yourself to a prominent place in LinkedIn search results appears to be mostly a numbers game. I say “mostly” because positions 4 and 5 somehow made it onto page one without much in the way of numbers.

If you want to drive traffic to your profile via your position in LinkedIn search results, it looks as though it’s smart to grab every meaningful and meaningless endorsement you can.

Note this argues for having a large network because people can only endorse you if they’re first level connections.

As always, you have to know what you want to accomplish by being on social media to make good decisions about how you manage your social media presence.

Let’s Connect on LinkedIn

Please don’t hesitate to invite me to connect on LinkedIn here. The more I know about my readers, the better I can make my blog.

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at donnasvei@gmail.com for more information.

Image: Fotolia.com/gaudilab
Updated June 2017

© 2013 – 2017, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

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Comments 17

  1. Donna, I was intrigued by, and appreciated, your research. Early next month I’m speaking at a national conference for career development professionals (NCDA) and the topic is related to using social media to move up in Google rankings. One sub-topic will be related to one’s individual rankings within Linkedin so your test is very helpful. I’d love to reference it, if you don’t mind?
    Thank you, Sabrina

    Hi Sabrina,

    Please feel free. Honored.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  2. Hey Donna

    Great article and I am a firm believer in Linkedin endorsements

    You are also correct that “padding or stuffing” your Linkedin with the keywords
    that you want to be found or rank works
    however this activity is violation of Linkedin’s TOS (Terms of Service)
    and will result in a warning from Linkedin and potentially having your profile shut down.

    However creativity in all areas of your Linkedin profile is something I suggest.
    If you want to rank for “Social Media” as an example
    creatively add Social Media to all of the sections of your Linkedin as possible.
    However do not have “Social Media | Social Media |” as an example
    any where in your profile.

    Endorsements and acceptable keyword usage, will improve your Linkedin search results
    and also your Google Search results.

    Cheers
    Bob

    Hi Bob,

    I’ve seen profiles that repeat the same key words key words key words key words key words just like that. I think the TOS go after those folks. In the cases I’m mentioning, the people have sprinkled, well poured, the key words into the narrative. Sadly, I don’t think LI is going to go after them.

    Thank you for your insights on both LI and Google!

    Donna

  3. @Donna You are clearly a believer that the number of Endorsements matters and are looking for evidence to support this claim. But you are completely ignoring evidence that it doesn’t matter at the same time.

    If you look at the above list and look at the number of Endorsements and Keywords only, it’s a random list. Nothing more, nothing less.

    If Endorsements REALLY matters, please explain why the person with the highest number of Endorsements is at #6 of you list? Or please explain why #3 scores higher than #8 while the latter has 2x as much Endorsements (with the same number of keywords).

    If I repeat your research, I don’t see a difference on rankings in the search results and it doesn’t matter if you have 0 or 99 endorsements. However, mentioning a Skill on your profile does matter for ranking higher in search results. This makes sense as what Recruiters are looking for relevant skills, not the number of Endorsements. LinkedIn invented Endorsements so people would complete their profiles with Skills. And they’ve had tremendous success with this (which is great for Recruiters like me).

    In my opinion Job seekers should focus on networking with relevant people and not on gathering as many Endorsements as possible.

    Hi Jacco,

    I was seeking to understand why someone with five mentions of the key word I was searching on came up on page one of my results. The endorsements seem to explain it. Random would explain it too. However, I’m disinclined to go with random because LinkedIn has to deliver enough value to paying advertisers and members to keep the cash flowing. It’s possible that the algorithm throws out some intentional results and some randoms. I don’t know.

    Thank you for chiming in.

    Donna

  4. @Donna, great information. If you want to get endorsed yourself, endorse a lot of people. I usually take 5-minutes in the morning and endorse people. Thanks, you have a new fan and follower.

    Helpful idea Brandon! Thank you, Donna

  5. This is all a blast from the past — circa 1999, SEO.

    Let’s be honest here: endorsements are stupid, because they’re not vetted in any way, and greatly reduce the value of LinkedIn. I get endorsed for things I’ve never done and wouldn’t pretend to do. I don’t even look at them when hiring, because I know how meaningless they are.

    For an illustrative example, check out http://www.linkedin.com/pub/smokeythe-bear/5b/992/508/
    Besides his current endorsement, LinkedIn suggests these:
    Microsoft Word
    Enforcement
    Government
    Risk Assessment
    Research
    Seriously? What a joke. And a shame. What next? Poking??

    That’s hilarious.

    However…

    Only YOU can prevent worthless endorsements. More here: 7 Steps to Make Your LinkedIn Endorsements Believable http://buff.ly/12wvUpN

    Thank you,

    Donna

  6. Thanks…I did go trim my endorsements to 10, which makes sense.

    So this COULD actually be useful, if:
    1) They didn’t make it a secret how to manage the suckers (and BTW, the instructions in that article didn’t really work–they seem to have rearranged stuff, so I had to hunt it down)
    2) They would STOP offering things that I’ve explicitly removed from my list. If I’ve said I don’t want “Hamsters” in my list, don’t offer it again!
    3) They offered an intelligent way to alias things. In paring mine, I had things like “Mainframe” and “IBM Mainframe”, and “z/OS” and “MVS”, and “VM” and “z/VM”. Each of those pairs is the same thing. But in keeping my list to 10 (or, if I’m insane, 50), I have to use two slots for them. That’s clearly borked.

    Hi,

    I just tested the instructions in the post. They still work on my profile. It can be frustrating for me to write “how to” instructions for using LinkedIn because they seem to always have more than version of their site out in the wild. I do my best. I’m glad you were able to hunt down what you needed.

    If y’all are ever stumped, try this community on G+ for answers: LinkedInExperts – Google+ http://buff.ly/14NXWvw. The members are very helpful.

    Donna

  7. Thank you for the good article. Do you know how to get some lesser endorsed skills and expertise key words served up to others to endorse?

    Hi Kurt,

    That is a terrific question. I don’t know how to get them “served up.” If anyone else does, I hope you will share! It’s OK to ask people you feel comfortable endorsing (and asking) if they would endorse you for those skills and offer to help them emphasize any skills they feel are underrepresented on their profiles.

    Donna

  8. Nice thought provoking article but I have to disagree with the suggestion to reduce or eliminate anything which reduces the chance of coming up on top of the search results. So long as you don’t pollute your profile in a very aggressive way with repetitive keywords which make it look bad it is always a good idea to be found provided your profile represents you adequately.

    To use the endorsements as an example does it really make them look credible if you reduce. Since everybody knows the limited value of the endorsements most people probably don’t consider the skills you are endorsed for. It just seems like you are not putting an effort into the endorsements and your profile which is a bad thing.

    I spend an hour plus per day on LI and have looked at countless profiles. I have high appreciation for well developed and maintained profiles. Most of the profiles with lower number of endorsements give the impression of neglect or lack understanding that in this age your online profile is really your first introduction opportunity. I am sure other people as well see the dedication required to present a completed professionally done profile with a large number of endorsements.

    Hi Mike,

    I hear what you’re saying. However, as a recruiter, I actually look at WHO has provided the endorsements. Are they credible endorsers? When I see “endorsement stuffing,” which I often do, I’m underwhelmed at best.

    I think the important thing is to be aware of the issues with skills endorsements and to find the balance that fits the individual.

    Thank you very much for sharing your perspective.

    Donna

  9. This is interesting.

    I look at the top 3-5 endorsements to get a sense of what:

    a) the person says that they can do, and b) what their community says that they can do.

    That makes a lot of sense Michael. Thank you, Donna

  10. Hi Donna, Nice article. Could it be that LI factors in the years of experience as well. 80% of LinkedIn users are above 35. This means that many users are not social media savvy and cannot gather tons of endorsements, because their colleagues are not active LI users. However, they have tons of relevant experience based on their added information. LI probably accommodates a percentage of first page users to be from this category. This is obviously a hypothesis, but maybe you can test it.

    Hi Govind, Thank you. In my experience, years of experience doesn’t come into play. Donna

  11. To use the endorsements as an example does it really make them look credible if you reduce. Since everybody knows the limited value of the endorsements most people probably don’t consider the skills you are endorsed for.

  12. Good question. Thank you for asking.

    I’d rather have 99+ endorsements for 10 skills than scattered endorsements for 50 skills. I think when you hit 99+ endorsements for a skill, then the people looking at your profile actually do take notice. You don’t see that many endorsements very often so they can set you apart.

  13. Early next month I’m speaking at a national conference for career development professionals (NCDA) and the topic is related to using social media to move up in Google rankings.

  14. Hi Chacara,

    Wishing you good luck with that! Be sure to get video/stills of yourself behind the podium to add to your LinkedIn profile.

    Donna

  15. I spend an hour plus per day on LI and have looked at countless profiles. I have high appreciation for well developed and maintained profiles. Most of the profiles with lower number of endorsements give the impression of neglect or lack understanding that in this age your online profile is really your first introduction opportunity.

  16. This was a great article and your background research really illustrates why it’s important to have endorsements! I just shared this on my facebook page so that my friends could understand the importance. You really laid it out well! Sometimes these things can be difficult to articulate – thanks!

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