Top 11 LinkedIn SEO tips

How are people finding you on LinkedIn if they don’t know your name?  What keywords and/or titles are they using?

I have a LinkedIn premium account and can therefore see how people find me. 22% (up from 15% a few months ago) of the people who found my LinkedIn profile found me by my name, firstname and/or lastname.  The next largest hit was 4% (combined) for vendor names mentioned in my profile. However, finding me by those company names has zero value to me – I’ve since removed the vendor names and that 4% disappeared.

How do I want to be found on LinkedIn?  This started my research into LinkedIn SEO tips as LinkedIn provides virtually no help here except for one faq.

Your Unique Lense

LinkedIn’s Search results are based on your Profile content and activity.  However, one early and (now) seemingly obviously discovery is everyone searches LinkedIn through their own unique “lense”.  Your lense is the people in your network, your 1st, 2nd, 3rd level connections, group connections and your Industry.  Below is my part of my lense into the LinkedIn population – the 1st level connections.   Image underneath each dot is another cloud of connections (your 2nd level) then each of your 2nd level connections has a cloud of connections under them.  Those 3 layers of cloud connections is part of your unique lense. Because of each person’s unique network, virtually no two persons search results will be identical.

Consider that the value of LinkedIn is ensuring your search results are most relevant to you, delivering search results of people in your network.  If I’m searching for title “CEO” in location “Toronto”, I want my results to start with people in my network, people I have a good chance of knowing, or know someone in common, so I may rapidly connect with that CEO.  That’s the other power of LinkedIn, facilitating rapid connections.

Your unique lense also includes your Industry.  You set your Industry with your profile settings.  My Industry is Information Technology & Services.  Therefore, when I search “CEO” in location “Toronto”, I would expect the results to be of CEO in my industry, vs. CEO’s in the Fishery industry.

Your Profile

Before you embark of SEO Optimizing your LinkedIn profile you need to ask yourself a) how do you want to be found and b) by whom – what keywords / titles would they use?  There are two ways to search LinkedIn profiles, from within LinkedIn itself, and externally via a search engine as your #LI profile is indexed by search engines.

During my research I came upon the following results, from reputable sources.

11 LinkedIn SEO tips

  1. Customized Profile URL with your name.  Keywords in URL are search engine optimized.
  2. Change the standard names for the (up to) 3 website URLs (i.e. from “my company”) to customized names (e.g. Stomphorst.ca) for SEO passing authority. You may want to rename the site within LI to attract your target audience, vs. the actual url name.   BTW, don’t list your employer’s website.
  3. Repeat your professional specialty and keywords many times in your LI profile, however keep in mind LI says “More keywords aren’t always better”.   E.g. If you are a BI Specialist:
    1. Professional Headline: BI Specialist
    2. Summary: I’m a BI Specialist in the….
    3. Current & Past Titles (if/when applicable): BI Specialist
    4. Description within job: I was a BI Specialist ….
    5. Specialties: BI Specialist
    6. Skills & Expertise: BI, business intelligence, business intelligence tools. Insert all the keywords you want to be found from.
  4. Remove non-relevant keywords to eliminate false positives. E.g. I was receiving significant hits (relatively speaking) due to single mentions of “Rypple” and “Intelex” in my profile.  This adds zero value to my profile.  30-60 days after I removed mentions of “Rypple” and “Intelex” from my profile, those search words don’t appear in my “Top Search Keyword” (include screen capture)
  5. Set your profile to Display all information
  6. Set your Industry accordingly
  7. Participate in Group discussions – increases the number of internal links to your profile from within LI, thus strengthening your visibility in search engines.
  8. Answer questions on LI answers – increases the number of internal links to your profile from within LI, thus strengthening your visibility in search engines.
  9. Link to your LI profile on other social sites (i.e. link backs)
  10. Request Recommendations. Have at least 10. Elevates your profile within LI.
  11. Endorsements: LinkedIn isn’t weighing endorsements at this feature’s release in Sept 2012, “but will soon.”  “…the more endorsements for your skills and talents that you get, the more often you’ll appear in search results” according to Dave Kerpen.

Gaming the System

I classify the following suggestions as “gaming the system.”  They likely produce a positive impact, but I can’t corroborate their effectiveness. I don’t use them.

  1. Recognizing that LI users search through their “lense”,  LI will elevate results for connections within their network (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd level connections, groups). Therefore, to be in as many networks as possible and therefore found by as many people as possible, you need to be connected to as many people as possible.  Accept any and all connection requests (I’m breathing in a paper bag as I type this).
  2. Similar to above, this too seems seedy, join as many Groups as possible (50 max).  Join the groups with the largest memberships (where’d that paper bag go?).
  3. Add applications like WordPress to promote your blog and Slideshare.net to promote your slidedecks.
  4. List any media attention in the Honor & Awards section. Obviously include any other honors or awards.
  5. Use the Projects section to promote your whitepapers
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Messaging fellow LinkedIn Group members

LinkedIn is a great tool.  One of the changes LinkedIn recently rollled out made messaging to group members harder.   Namely, the ability to send messages to a fellow LinkedIn Group members is no longer at-your-fingertips. This function is now an obscure “button” , whereas it used to be available directly from the LinkedIn users profile.

The “Send Message” button is now replaced with the “Send InMail” option (see red box below).   The “send message” option was there as recent as April 7, 2011.

Click to enlarge

Hiding the “Send Message” button made made maneuvering within its groups similar to running a marathon in sand.  LindedIn Groups is a great tool to build communities, as we’re doing with Silicon Halton, and being able to easily connect with fellow group members is a primary piece of efficient functionality. Efficient, and safe, because it allows one to communicate with fellow LinkedIn members without having to expose your trusted connections to that member.  I value the connections I’ve made.

The workaround

The send message function still exists but is functionally buried. I’ve found two methods to send messages to group members.

1. Open the Send Message screen via the URL:  http://www.linkedin.com/msgToConns?displayCreate=&connId=XXX

Replace the XXX in the command line above with the view?id= value from the url when viewing the persons profile (shown in the URL in the image above). Doing so opens the Send Message window below.

2. Search for the user within the group, mouse-over the result, and the “Send Message” appears (red arrow below).

Both workarounds above require a bunch of extra clicks and cut&paste’s.  It was so much easier when the Send Message option was right there on the user profile (provided you shared a group with the user).  This “enhancement” certainly doesn’t enhance the LinkedIn group experience.

Computer Forensics 101

The following contains my summary of the Computer Forensics 101 presentation at the the 2010 Technology & Homeland Security Forum in Niagara Falls, NY.  First blog here.

This was a level 101 type presentation

  • 350 new HR related cased filed in the US every day.
  • 90% of all biz records today only exist in eformat.

Best Quote: Think of data as evidence

I learned that Computer Forensics as we know it started in the mid-90’s by police officers. The practice is now recognized by the scientific community.

The ex-NYC police officer who gave presentation provided examples of the gallons of information left on a personal computers that the police can uncover or recover during criminal investigations. Windows writes the status of seeming virtually everything all over the disk. Your browser is recording all your travels. It can be determined if you manually typed in a URL, or was opened via a link.

The ex-officer talked about the valuable metadata generated by Word. In a Word doc the (e.g.) last printed, last edited and by whom, and what the changes were made represent data that may be helpful in an investigation. He recommended never sharing a native file format, always share PDFs, to thereby reduce your metadata footprint.

To protect the employer for departing staff, he also recommended taking forensic copy of all hardware for departing employees, or employees over a certain level, for possible future needs. Consider this part of your employee exit and ediscovery procedures. If that departing employee start litigation against his former employer, or if the former employer discovers the ex-employee has broken the non-compete agreement, the employer will want to review all the ex-employees files to build it’s case.

Identity Theft

Best Quote: Convenience is the enemy of security

The following contains my summary of the Identify Theft presentation at the the 2010 Technology & Homeland Security Forum in Niagara Falls, NY.  First blog here.

I didn’t hear anything I hadn’t known.  What was worth repeating was to not freely disclose any more personal data than is absolutely necessary.   As your personal identifying information is exposed in more and more databases, the likelihood that some bad guy could gain access to it increases.  Question why an outfit needs (e.g.) your SIN number, bank account number or even your home address.  For example, does  your mechanic need your address?  Does your dentist need your SIN number?  Should your SIN number be part of your extended health benefits card?  Is your full birth date exposed on Facebook? The employees of organizations that store rich sets personal identifying information, have access to data that’s worth a lot of money on the outside.  Just sayin’.

Speaking of freely sharing personal data, the President of LifeLock.com, a company that provides identify theft protection and insurance, and whose TV commercial displays his Social insurance number, has had his identify stolen 13 times according to a Wired.com story.

Best Recommendations I heard:  Use a dedicated browser for dedicated function. Eg. IE for banking, Google Chrome for email.

Criminal Intrusion Trends

The following contains my summary of the Criminal Intrusion Trends Presented by FBI at the the 2010 Technology & Homeland Security Forum in Niagara Falls, NY.  First blog here.

This presentation was given by a Special Agent of the FBI, based in the Buffalo field office.  While the presented information was very general, it was obvious the Special Agent knew his stuff.

He recommended deploying multiple security rings or layers, each from a different vendor, to increase the probability of detecting a virus or intrusion.

I learned the FBI will come into your business to determine how your computer security was compromised.  Your business had to qualify for their help.  E.g. A key infrastructure facility (sorry Dominos).

He gave examples of sophisticated cyber crime rings and how they use several steps to extract funds from personal, business, NFP bank accounts to unknowing money-mules who transfer the funds to off-shore east-block countries. They’re often solicit these money-mule with very official looking job emails from reputable sources to “hire”.  If it sounds too good to be true, …

He showed some very convincing malware screens, intended to fool a person to unknowingly downloading and installing malware.  One example was an typical XP notice from the status bar to update MS antivirus.  I was fooled.

I learned that 61% of software exploits through Adobe Reader – the #1 target of attacks.  Second place, 78% of exploits are MS Office,  for versions three years out of patch updates.

There’s malware that posted on your friends Facebook pages “you look awesome in this video”.  People would open the video (which looks like youtube), but it would first download a plug-in, which is the infection.

A side introduction was given about Infraguard.  Launched and sponsored by the FBI, Infraguard is a not-for-profit community based cyber-threat aware association, 400k members with chapters throughout the US.  100 members in Buffalo alone. I was impressed.

They showed a neat tool from Virustotal.com,  where you can upload a suspected infected file. They will automatically scan with numerous / all available antivirus tools. However, the bad guys use this also.

2010 Technology & Homeland Security Forum, Niagara Falls NY, Part 2

In October I attended the 2010 Technology & Homeland Security Forum in Niagara Falls, NY. My first blog of the event can be found here.  I saw some great technology and learned more about security.

Netstation vendor – Sun Ray client
I had one of the most powerful hands-on demos in a long while.  The Sun Ray 3 client virtual desktop was being demoed.  While other vendors at the conference had VMware and Citrix virtual desktops on display, the Sun solution effectively provides a two-stage authentication, employing a token credit card.  The demo contained two Sun Ray 3 clients, a very small 6W device which provides KVM, USB, and network.  Plugged into it was the token credit card.  Open on station A was Word, IE, Outlook.  Unplugging the token credit card closed the desktop as expected. However, when I plugged the token credit card into the station B, my desktop instantly reappeared as-was.  That was cool and I immediately realized the benefits in an environment where security and convenience are equally important and you employ a high quantity of common desktops.

Presentations

I attended four presentations:

  • E-discovery  – (below)
  • Identity theft – blog
  • Computer forensics  – (blog)
  • Criminal Intrusion Trends, by the FBI  – blog

E-discovery

The presentation was given by a lawyer who actually had a personality.  I’ve been impacted by, and have experience with ediscovery in my previous lives, but have never heard first hand from a US lawyer the impacts.  While the presentation was long (I’m still unconsciously reciting legal Rule No.’s in my sleep), the presentation did not disappoint.  My key takeaways below, keep in mind this is US based.

Metadata is essential.  Discovery lawyers love the metadata of a document.  When was it created? Who opened it, who edited it, when was it edited last and by whom, what were the changes, to name a few.  This metadata has the potential to be used against you by the plaintiff lawyers.  For example, why was is the contract document filesystem date newer than the document’s physical signing date? Hmm.

Your home computer can be, and often is, subject to ediscovery at work.  Have you ever checked your work email from home?  Your home email from work?  Ever forwarded a file from work to your personal email or copied it to your personal thumb drive or iPod?  While your business email is common fair game to ediscovery, have you ever exchanged messages with your business associates via your personal gmail account, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook? These personal communication tools are also now commonly open to ediscovery rules.  Get it?  Do you want your personal email, Twitter and Facebook contents exposed?  Once you cross that business/personal line , the law does not draw a distinction between personal home technology, email, and social media and your work’s technology. All are available to ediscovery and the onerous rules about it (see below).  An interesting quote during the presentation, if a lawyer is not searching (e.g.) Facebook for entries from witnesses, employees or any litigation figures, they’re committing malpractice.

In light of this, businesses need to revisit their Computer Use policy.

85%+ of all computer records are now paper based.  If/when you suspect litigation will happen, you must  immediate start a process of preserving any and all data that may be subject to discovery.  What does that mean?  It’s a two pronged approach. 

Best quote I heard:  Start treating data as evidence.

  1. Stop destroying data.  Whether it’s auto-purging of email, voice messages, the normal rotation of tapes (resulting in tapes being overwritten), or any automated business processes of purging data, stop and stop immediately. 
  2. Start identifying then preserving all relevant files immediately.  Start. Make additional copies of any and all relevant data; hard drive images, email accounts, databases, application data, etc, etc, etc. 

Do you have data in an old format that can’t be read due to either outdated hardware technology, data format that is no longer understood, or applications that staff no longer know how to use?  Doesn’t matter.  Preserve the data, save that old 8in floppy diskette, and let the court know it’s preserved but don’t know how to read the data.  The lawyers can figure out who will pay to extract the data if it’s needed that badly for ediscovery.

Businesses have emerged to act as a container for the ediscovery data.  Access to the data is not free.  In one case according to the presentor, access to ediscovery data was $100k US/month.  One of the parties couldn’t even afford to access the data.

There are no laws/rules about preserving data prior to litigation, it’s the wild west.

Your ediscovery response processes cannot be adhoc in nature.  Apparently mistakes are not tolerated by the court.  Stating you had co-op student at the helm of your ediscovery request will not be looked up favourably by the court, to put it mildly. 

I’ve come to recognize that the process of ediscovery should be treated like Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Planning processes.  Today nobody at any significantly sized business could look the board in the eyes after a disaster and say “we never thought we need a DR or BCP plan” and still hope to retain their job.  Any business executive will tell you it’s not a matter of if you’ll be subject to litigation, but when.  In the USA today, more that 550 HR related cases are launched daily. 

When litigation starts (and “start” does not mean you have been legally served with some legal authorative notice, but rather “start” means  you simply believe litigation will be forthcoming)  and you do not immediately commence an ediscovery data preservation process, which results in data getting purged/deleted, the Judge will give a “negative jury inference”, meaning,  he/she will instruct the jury to assume every file you deleted would have helped the opposing party.   Additionally, if the opposing party wins, the Judge will now commonly award the plaintiff court costs, something apparently not practiced the US, but common in Canada.

You should seek legal advice.

I know what you read last night

Recently I discovered of a number of privacy issues with the Oakville Public Library (OPL) web site:

  1. Your book borrowing history is publicly available on the OPL web site.
  2. Your book borrowing history is publicly available on many other North American Library web sites. 
  3. OPL patrons could be “following” my book borrowing history.  I cannot stop this, opt out, or determine who is following me or prevent them from messaging me.
  4. Posting a book review is cross- posted on other library sites without informing me.
  5. Viewing any particular title via OPL website allows me to see who else has borrowed that title.  The “who else” could be me.
  6. While viewing a title from seemingly any North American on-line Library (which uses the same library book-lending software as OPL), you can see who, from any other library branch (including OPL) has borrowed that title.   

In today’s heightened awareness on personal privacy, it was surprising to discover that my loved local public and well regarded institution is slammed the book on privacy.

Let’s start by declaring that Libraries are great institutions that played a significant role in educating the nation in the early 20th century by making hugely diverse plethora of books freely available to the masses.  Our society is now reaping the benefits.  While that early mandate has been accomplished, the library’s primary role in removing barriers to printed material is still very valuable to Canada.  In a world of 7×24 access to information and Google Books, Libraries still freely provide a huge inventory of books at your disposal.  However, in our “instant access to everything” world, do you want your potential or current employer, your parents, or the government, to have open access to your borrowing history?  Isn’t your book borrowing history private?

I know what you read last night

1st Recently a Google Alert uncovered some of my book borrowing history from my local library, the Oakville Public Library (OPL), is freely available on the OPL web site.   Of the 58 books in my private Recently Returned page, only a portion of that list is publicly listed.  It’s possible that my whole book borrowing history is openly available online and that I simply haven’t uncovered it.  For example, I easily found fellow OPL patron and Oakvillian ttomasino borrowing history of 208 books, Randalljay 123 items or Kmancuso 245 items (note you can also see when they checked out the item).

You can uncover your book borrowing history by Googling
     “<username> site:bibliocommons.com” or
     “<Name> site:bibliocommons.com”.
You can determine your username or Name from your OPL Account Settings page.
After digging deeper, I discovered numerous other incidents of privacy concerns… 

2nd I found my borrowing history is also freely available on many other library sites in Canada and USA, library web sites were I don’t have a library card nor have ever visited.  For example, Googling “kmancuso site:bibliocommons.com” uncovered 5,410 hits from across many diferent librarys of books OPL patron kmancuso has borrowed.

Examples of non-OPL library sites openly exposing my book borrowing history (click to enlarge):

Evidently, these libraries are using the same software vendor’s back-end social discovery library software.

3rd I can “follow” fellow library patrons, presumably to follow their book borrowing history, or conversely, for them to follow my book borrowing history.  Do I want others following my book borrowing history? Do I know who is following me?  Can I opt out? No. The library’s policy states “…who you choose to follow is private to you. They won’t know, unless you send them a message to tell them what you think!”  Similarly, I can send a message to other OPL patrons simply because I found which book they borrowed.  “Hi, I see you checked out Sex, Sex, and more Sex.  Did you like it?”

4th While I expected a posted book review to be public, I was surprised to learn that my book review posts are not contained to the Oakville Library public site in which it was posted, but are cross-posted on other Canadian & USA library sites, for example California’s Santa Clara County library here or Ottawa’s Library there.  I assumed (yes, I know what that means) the book reviews I was reading were from trusted resources, my fellow Oakvillians.  With the advent of social library tools, our community library has lost its “community” aspect.

5th While viewing any particular title, you can see who else has borrowed that title.  That “who else” could be you.

6th Patrons of other libraries viewing any particular title on their library site, can see if you in Oakville borrowed that book.  For example, while searching Outlier’s on the Santa Clara Community Library in California, I found I’ve read this book.

The Smoking Gun
The most probable source of the privacy holes are with OPL software vendor who provides social discovery software for libraries such as OPL and many others.  The default privacy setting for the book borrowing history may be enabled (no privacy) or that exposing a users’ borrowing history is a configuration item available to OPL IT staff, and therefore a training issue.   Lastly, the library patron has some or complete control over this by disabling the “Enable Recently Returned” setting found in a users Privacy Settings.  I haven’t yet experimented with disabling this to determine if all the privacy volitions are rectified.

The back-end system hosting the library’s book reservation on-line web application is used by approximately 35 other libraries in Canada, USA and Australia.   For a list of libraries where your book borrowing history is potentially exposed see here, then select the library from the drop-down list.