Lucy King* We’ve produced a bit of content to persuade you to use LinkedIn for personal branding, and for your professional services firm. So, by now, we hope you’d have your profile up-to-date, and that you have started to post regularly.
If this sounds like you, the next questions you might be asking are… Why aren’t my posts as successful as I want them to be? How do I get better cut-through in my followers newsfeeds? How do I get seen by the right people? And, how do I increase my engagement rates?
Like any platform, LinkedIn can seem fickle in it’s benefits, wavering between a highly successful lead generator… or a dull chore with little visible pay off.
Knowing how the LinkedIn algorithm works in 2023 can help to ensure your social media strategy and social selling efforts get the results you’re looking for.
Unpacking the LinkedIn Algorithm for 2023
Overall, the LinkedIn algorithm wants to bury spammy posts and only surface relevant, high-quality content.
This means, every time you post on LinkedIn, the algorithm will check a few things about your content to determine whether it’s worth showing to your audience.
Here’s what the algorithm does not want to see…
Spam: Anything that is poorly written (i.e., full of bad grammar and spelling mistakes), lots of outbound links, or content that seems to be written by a bot. You’ll also want to avoid hashtags such as #like, #comment, or #follow.
Low-quality content: This is not quite spam, but it’s posts that LinkedIn has decided won’t be useful to your audience.
What does the LinkedIn algorithm want to see?
Here’s how LinkedIn’s algorithm is evaluating posts in 2023.
1) Your post follows best practices
The best-performing LinkedIn posts have a formula which looks a bit like this:
Easy to read: Write your posts so that they are easy to read. Avoid giant paragraphs of text by keeping each point precise and simple to digest. Try using bullet points, a list, or break your message down to a numbered or lettered style structure to create a natural flow from one idea to the next.
Use around 3 hashtags: There is definitely some variance around this point. Some sources suggest limiting yourself to 3 hashtags, and others mentioned using 5 to 10. However, from our experience, using 3-4 hashtags works best. Your first hashtag could be more general and highly searched, with the others becoming more niche (e.g., #legalsector #deals #mergersandacqusitions).
Avoid outbound links: Outbound links send readers to other websites, and LinkedIn algorithm wants to keep readers on the platform as much as possible. That is why it will discourage outbound links in the text of your post! However, you can add these links in the comments section… This currently does not impact the performance of posts (provided they follow the other best practices).
Leverage key words: Using relevant key words is a sign of knowing your niche/specialty. For example, if you’re writing about legal recruitment, use words from this area in a logical and natural way. This tells the algorithm that the post is relevant to lawyers looking for roles, or lawyers advertising for roles, and recruiters.
2) Your post gets early user engagement
Drafting an outstanding/algorithm compliant post gets you halfway… But, from there, LinkedIn will check if it’s of interest to your audience.
The algorithm will push your new post to a few users in your network. If they engage positively by responding with likes, shares and comments, LinkedIn will push the post to more people. This is referred to as ‘golden hour,’ the first hour after you share your post.
If your post does well during this time, it’s much more likely to do well all day, week, or even all month. However, if nobody sees or reacts to your post….or, worse, if it gets a negative response like a ‘spam flag’… rest in peace! LinkedIn will stop it right there.
Here’s a few tactics to drive early engagement:
Post when your followers are online: You are aiming for visibility, so think about when your network reads LinkedIn and post at that time!
Ask questions: Asking a question, and communicating a clear call to action sparks a response from your followers and generates engagement.
Follow a consistent posting schedule: Set a regular cadence, and post at at the same time. That way, your followers will know when to check for your new content.
Respond to anyone who engages, and engage with others’ posts: Don’t just post and forget! Think of each post as if it’s a ‘micro-community.’ When someone asks a question or leaves a comment, you should respond quickly. It’s also important to interact with other posts whilst yours is in the first hour.
Avoid editing the post: Going back and editing your post can weaken it’s reach.
Only tag people who will respond: Unless you know they will respond within the hour, it’s best not to tag.
3) Your content is relevant to your audience (and their networks)
Once your post survives ‘golden hour’ and receives that all important early engagement, LinkedIn will start checking whether it should place it in more people’s newsfeeds.
This is how the algorithm extends your reach, based on three ranking signals:
Personal connections: LinkedIn will begin by showing your posts to those closest in your network. These tend to be people who work in the same organisation as you, or those you have worked with in the past. It will also include those who you have interacted with before (through comments etc.).
Interest relevance: The algorithm will evaluate which groups your audience are in, and the hashtags, people, and pages they follow. Your content will surface based on your audience’s interests – so if your post mentions topics or companies that align – the more exposure you should get via the LinkedIn algorithm.
According to LinkedIn’s Engineering blog, it also looks to a few other factors. These include the language of the post, and the companies, people and topics mentioned in it.
Likelihood of engagement: “Probability of engagement” is measured in two ways. Firstly, how likely is it that a user is going to engage with your post? This is based on their previous behaviour, and what they have engaged with on your past posts.
Secondly, how much engagement is the post receiving in general? If the post has taken off and is sparking lots of conversation, more people/other users are likely going to want to chime in too!
Don’t forget, it’s also important to react with other people’s posts daily! The more you interact with them, the more they will interact back.
Key take aways…
Your feed shows relevant posts from your network: At the top of your feed, you’ll see posts from people you engage with often, and people you follow/are connected with, all of whom post consistently (at least once a week).
Videos are no longer prioritised: LinkedIn will no longer choose video over text-only or photo-only based posts. In fact, text gets better results than anything on LinkedIn, as people silently read posts more often than they watch videos.
Dwell time: The amount of time someone spends looking/reading the content of your post is important (this is called dwell time). A quick glance tells the algorithm that your post isn’t important…whereas several minutes spent watching a video or reading a document will help boost it to the top.
Comments matter most: Comments have shown to be more important than reactions, and reactions are more important than ‘shares’ – as far as the LinkedIn algorithm is concerned. Shared content doesn’t show up twice for others, meaning it’s seen as redundant.
Use around three hashtags: Earlier LinkedIn algorithms gave preference to posts with exactly three hashtags. Now, the magic number seems to be more than three, but less than 10. Include both general/highly searched terms, as well as specific ones.
Short (native) videos work best: If you do post video, ensure it’s native (i.e., uploaded directly to LinkedIn) and not linked from somewhere else. Short clips, no longer than 3 minutes, work best. Subtitles also make them particularly accessible, and attractive to viewers (who mostly watch in silence).
As you would have gathered from the above, LinkedIn’s algorithm takes into account a range of factors to determine who sees what posts on the platform.
Overall, it aims to make each users newsfeed as interesting as possible for them. It’s ultimate goal is to prioritise relevant content, and promote engagement, so we get the most out of it on the daily!
We hope this article has given you some ideas to sharpen up your content, but if you’d like to ensure the success of your posts, check out our LinkedIn and Content Writing packages.
Lucy King is an impact-driven marketing professional with experience working in the legal and NFP/for-purpose sectors. She is the Marketing Executive for The BD Ladder. Lucy enjoys working with clients to find creative ways to strengthen their company or personal brands online.
Prior to joining The BD Ladder, Lucy began her career working in a start-up environment. Most recently, Lucy was the Engagement & Marketing Executive for a social-tech enterprise that connects decision-makers with information they can act on to grow their social impact.