I have tracked how much LinkedIn Skills matter for profile SEO for years.
LinkedIn Skills & Endorsements — Way Back
Early on (2013), I tested several skills keywords. My research found 4 factors that propelled profiles to page 1 of my search results:
- Connection level (1st was best)
- Keyword listed as a skill + number of endorsements
- Number of times keyword appeared on the profile
- Number of recommendations the person had
These were the counts for the profiles displayed on page 1 of my search results for one of the keywords I tested:
As you can see, it was hard to hit page 1 without acing those 4 factors.
LinkedIn Skills — What Has Changed?
But in 2022, we have a different LinkedIn.
It’s critical to know that LinkedIn segments its members into “Non-Premium” and “Premium” categories.
It further segments Premium members by the products they use.
Let’s talk about recruiters. Among other choices, they can buy the Recruiter Lite or Recruiter products.
Thus, a recruiter might be searching for candidates using one of several memberships. That matters because each membership comes with a different set of search filters.
My latest research (2022) found that skills and endorsements don’t impact non-Recruiter searches.
LinkedIn Skills — Recruiter & Recruiter Lite
However, skills do impact search results for Recruiter and Recruiter Lite users.
Look at this video to see how Recruiter users search LinkedIn profiles for skills:
LinkedIn makes it easy for recruiters to add skills to candidate searches.
Further, 2022 LinkedIn data shows that 40% of recruiters use skills searches:
Knowing that, don’t you think it’s a good idea to add skills to your profile? And keep them updated!
LinkedIn Skills Assessments
By the way, LinkedIn will also assess you for certain skills.
If the platform offers an assessment for a skill you have, take it. I’m sure the algorithm uses certifications as a ranking factor.
Bill Benoist tells you how to find and take assessments here:
How to Enable LinkedIn Skills Endorsements
Now, back to endorsements. To get endorsed, you have to enable Endorsements:
- Go to your profile.
- Scroll down to Featured Skills & Endorsements.
- Click the edit pencil.
- Click the 3 dots to the right of “Take skill quiz,” then click “Endorsement settings.”
- Look at the screenshot below.
- Click the first 2 boxes.
- I also click the 3rd box.
- As you receive endorsements, be sure to thank people for giving them.
Step 5 looks like this:
Use Standard LinkedIn Skills
One more pro-tip:
LinkedIn wants to create a global skills library. They call it the Economic Graph. It shows
Microsoft employers where they can find specific skills.
Because of that, when you add skills to your profile, it will suggest completions as you type. It will also offer a list of similar skills.
To the extent you can, use LinkedIn’s standardized language. Why? Because recruiters get the same suggestions and often use them.
Here’s what LinkedIn tells Recruiter users about its Skills filter:
“The Skills filter allows you to type a skill or select skills from a list of common skills for the job title you entered.
The filter looks for specific skills that candidates have explicitly listed in the Skills section of their profile as well as keywords included in relevant sections of their profile where skills are most likely to be listed.”
Thus, LinkedIn nudges both parties into aligned language, which helps recruiters find you. So go with it when you can!
You Might Like
Check Out This LinkedIn Recommendation Generator
Updated May 2022
© 2013 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
Let her expertise inform your job search strategy and decision-making.
Contact Donna here to learn more about her resume and LinkedIn profile services and fee structure.
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
Please feel free. Honored.
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.
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, 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
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Wishing you good luck with that! Be sure to get video/stills of yourself behind the podium to add to your LinkedIn profile.
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.
Terrific point! Thank you for commenting.
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!
Susan, Thank you. Donna