The LinkedIn Algorithm: How it Works
By Joshua Boyd on December 13th 2018Read this article on our full site
Get full details on how the LinkedIn algorithm works and what you need to do to make it work for you.
LinkedIn is a great place to get your content seen by the right people. It’s a bit more serious than Facebook or Twitter, and its users are more receptive to topics around business, marketing, and all the rest.
But, you need to know how the LinkedIn algorithm works to make sure what you post does as well as it can.
In the past, there have been a few tips and tricks that ended up going round. One was ‘broetry‘ that was hugely popular across the platform. The thinking behind this was that the line breaks mean users had to click to see the whole post, thus increasing engagement.
That’s not something you can rely on anymore. LinkedIn is getting smarter. Luckily, the folks there have been pretty transparent on how they rank and display organic traffic in this blog post.
We’ve made our own version of their LinkedIn algorithm chart which you can see below. The content starts at the top and then flows through, sent off in different directions based on its quality, either decided by the algorithm or by actual human editors.
The key at the bottom will tell you what – or who – is deciding where the content ends up.
The LinkedIn Algorithm
Understandably, there’s a fair bit going on. There are a lot of different routes a piece of content could take. Ultimately, a post won’t just go viral instantly. It need to run the gamut and tick off all the right checkboxes as it goes.
To help you get your head around this, we’ve put together some examples and put them through the flowchart.
The Terrible Post
This post is clearly spam so the LinkedIn algorithm instantly filters it out, meaning it’s not shown to anyone at all. From there it’s also checked by a human editor in case there needs to be escalation, such as in the case of abuse or a scam.
And…that’s it. Nice and simple, this one. Post complete rubbish and it’ll get you nowhere.
The Slightly Better Post
Next up we have a post that again isn’t great, but would likely make it a bit further through the flowchart.
It’s a bit of self-promotion (and that’s what most LinkedIn posts are), but it’s lacking substance. It’s not linking off to anything nefarious though, and there’s nothing wrong with bigging up your business. Having said that, it probably flies quite close to be auto-filtered.
But we’ll say in this case it makes it past and the algorithm gets to work. It begins to be displayed into the poster’s connections’ feeds. Any engagement, or lack thereof, is noted. This includes clicks and likes, but also negative actions like users hiding the post.
This data is then used to decide if the post should be shown to more people or not. For this example, the post gets a few likes but that’s it. The algorithm gets a bit suspicious, so while it continues to display it, it gets demoted and shown to less people.
After tracking engagement again, it decides the content is low quality and should be checked by a human editor. The editor takes a look and sees its thin and received little engagement. They decide to filter it out.
The Good Post
Now we’re getting somewhere.
This post has some depth in the form of some thoughts and opinion, while it also asks a question. Questions get people talking and LinkedIn likes to see people talking. It gets displayed straight away.
Just like the last post, the engagement it gets will determine how many more people will see it. This post ends up getting lots of likes and, importantly, a bunch of people answering the question and debating in the comments. They tag relevant people in and the reach grows.
The engagement is analyzed and the algo is happy so it continues to be displayed to a wider group of people (instead of being demoted like the last post). This loop will continue as long as the post continues to get a decent level of engagement.
Eventually over time this will tail off, it will be shown to less people, and eventually it will be filtered out. All in all, a very successful post.
How to Write a Good LinkedIn Post
So you should have a good idea of how the algorithm works now. Thin posts and spammy stuff obviously won’t work. LinkedIn wants people to keep using and engaging with the platform, so they’ll only help push the content that encourages that.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Offer something of value.
Just talking about your business or product isn’t going to grab people’s attention too much, especially if there’s nothing to make you standout. Instead, talk about something of interest to your connections. Tell them something interesting that you’ve discovered, or offer up a thought-out opinion on the latest developments in your industry.
Remember to think about who you’re talking to. They’re often business questions so aim to make things of interest to them and not just yourself.
2. Get people talking.
As we mentioned, LinkedIn loves to see people talking underneath posts. The best way to do that is to pose questions to your audiences.
Try not to get too controversial as there are brand considerations when you’ve got a huge flame war going on in your comments. It’s also a good idea to tag some relevant people in, and even ask others to include people with specialist knowledge.
3. Posting external content might pose problems.
Of course a lot of us want to drive traffic from LinkedIn, and to do that you need to post your own content. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s worth remembering social platforms like you to stay on their site as much as possible.
While you won’t be demoted for posting an external link, it can be a lot harder for it to go ‘viral’. Native images, posts, and videos seem to be favored.
The best bet is to mix things up. Native posts can be great for building your audience so, when the time is right, you have people to get your future content or links in front of.