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How The LinkedIn Algorithm Works [2024 Changes & Updates]

how-the-linkedin-algorithm-works-[2024-changes-&-updates]
How The LinkedIn Algorithm Works [2024 Changes & Updates]

LinkedIn bills itself as “the world’s largest professional network” — and they have the numbers to prove it.

LinkedIn is immensely popular and well-used with 1 billion members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. On top of the sheer size of the platform, nearly 25% of users are senior-level influencers; about 10 million are categorized as C-level executives, and LinkedIn classifies 63 million as “decision makers.”

If you’re a B2B marketer or brand, you probably already know this social media platform offers an excellent opportunity to reach your target demographic. However, seizing that opportunity is easier said than done since LinkedIn uses a unique algorithm to serve content to users.

LinkedIn’s algorithm emphasizes relevance and expertise, moving away from viral content. It evaluates a post’s value based on these factors, encouraging users to share content that helps career development. The focus nowadays is on fostering meaningful interactions and delivering substantial professional value.

In this article, we will walk through how the LinkedIn algorithm and LinkedIn scraper works in 2024, best practices for beating it with organic content, and how brands can elevate their presence on the platform.

What is the LinkedIn Algorithm?

The LinkedIn algorithm is a formula that determines which content gets seen by specific users on the platform. It’s designed to make each user’s newsfeed as relevant and exciting to them as possible to increase engagement and time spent on the forum. In this way, the LinkedIn algorithm is similar to the Facebook or TikTok algorithm, though LinkedIn’s is slightly more transparent (which is good news!).

LinkedIn itself is a good source for demystifying the algorithm and understanding what content is prioritized for members. But the general function of the LinkedIn algorithm is to review and assess billions of posts every day and position those most authentic, substantive, and relevant to each user at the top of their feeds.

How the algorithm achieves that function is a little more complex.

How the LinkedIn Algorithm Works in 2024

As we briefly mentioned, LinkedIn’s algorithm is undergoing a strategic shift, moving away from prioritizing “viral content” and steering towards promoting content from experts tailored to relevant audiences. This shift aligns with the platform’s mission to deliver the most relevant and helpful posts as its membership and engagement grow. LinkedIn has reported an impressive 42% year-over-year increase in content shared and a 27% increase in content viewed from 2021 to 2023.

Despite the historical emphasis on engagement as a cue for relevance, insiders revealed in a recent post that it will be deemphasized as a ranking signal in the coming years. Additionally, the non-chronological order of bases in users’ feeds, determined by the algorithm, may lead users to encounter older or more popular content before more recent posts, reflecting the platform’s commitment to delivering quality over recency.

Several factors influence the LinkedIn algorithm, and the factors change relatively often. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Assess and Categorize Content

Assessing and categorizing content plays a pivotal role in shaping the dynamics of the LinkedIn algorithm. When someone posts on LinkedIn, the algorithm determines whether it’s spam, low-quality, or high-quality content. High-quality content is cleared, low-quality content undergoes additional screening, and spam content is eliminated. Let’s break each down a bit further…

  • Spam – Content flagged as spam can have poor grammar, contain multiple links within the post, tag more than five people, use more than ten hashtags (or use expressly prescriptive hashtags like #follow, #like, and #comment), or be one of multiple postings from the same user within three hours.
  • Low-quality – Content categorized as low quality isn’t spam but is judged as not particularly relevant to the audience. These posts can be problematic to read, tag people who are unlikely to respond or interact, or deal with topics too broad to interest users.
  • High-quality – “Clear” content is easy to read, encourages engagement, incorporates strong keywords, uses three or fewer hashtags, and reserves outbound links to the comments. In other words, your audience will want to read or see and react to it.

LinkedIn places a premium on unique perspectives and insights, favoring content beyond generic information. The algorithm distinguishes between personal updates and industry-specific advice, ensuring the right content reaches the right audience. For example, posts about personal updates may predominantly be visible to immediate connections, while industry advice from a seasoned professional could reach a broader industry audience. The focus isn’t on reaching the widest audience but on delivering a relevant message to the most appropriate audience.

2. LinkedIn Assesses Your Expertise

LinkedIn’s algorithm places a significant emphasis on taking a deeper look at individual expertise, going beyond the content of a post. This means that your professional background is crucial in influencing how the algorithm evaluates and ranks your content.

For example, if you share insights related to the financial industry, LinkedIn expects you to have a corresponding level of expertise and experience in finance. This nuanced approach ensures that the platform considers the substance of your posts and factors in your personal and professional background.

3. Test Post Engagement with a Small Follower Group

Once a post has made it through the spam filter, the algorithm distributes it to a small subset of your followers and first-degree connections for a short time (about an hour) to test its ability to generate engagement. If this group of followers likes, comments, or shares the post within this “golden hour,” the LinkedIn algorithm will push it to more people. If, on the other hand, the center is ignored, or your followers choose to hide it from their feeds (or, worst of all, mark it as spam), the algorithm will not share it further.

Engagement on LinkedIn is not created equal, and the source matters. If you’re sharing marketing advice, interaction from experienced professionals in the industry significantly boosts visibility. On the other hand, likes from connections unrelated to your field may not have the same impact. LinkedIn’s algorithm prioritizes engagement from relevant users over general interactions.

4. Expand the Audience Based on Ranking Signals

If the algorithm decides your post is worthy of being sent to a broader audience, it will use a series of three ranking signals to determine exactly who sees it: personal connection, interest relevance and engagement probability. 

Personal Connections

LinkedIn prioritizes content from a user’s personal connections over mega influencers, focusing on who they work with or have interacted with on the platform. The feed showcases posts from frequent engagers, connections with shared interests and skills, emphasizing the importance of building a network that aligns with your professional background and interactions.

Interest Relevance

Relevance is a paramount ranking signal on LinkedIn, determined by explicit and implicit signals, including social connections and the Knowledge Graph. The interest graph measures user interest in specific topics, relationships between topics, and shared interests among connections. Crafting content aligned with your target audience’s interests and understanding the factors influencing interest relevance is crucial for maximizing post visibility.

Engagement Probability

LinkedIn employs machine learning to assess the probability of user interaction with a post. This involves evaluating a user’s likelihood to comment, share, or react based on past interactions and the speed at which a post garners engagement. Regular interaction in a user’s feed increases the likelihood of their content being seen, creating a positive feedback loop that enhances visibility across others’ feeds.

These signals boil down to the level of connection between you and the user who potentially sees the post, that user’s interest in the content’s topic and the likelihood of that user interacting with the content. We’ll break down exactly what these ranking signals are further in the post.

5. Continued Engagement Monitoring

Even after a post is pushed to a broader audience, the LinkedIn algorithm continues monitoring how users perceive it in terms of quality. If your content is marked as spam or entirely ignored by members of a relevant audience group, LinkedIn will stop showing it to those audiences. On the other hand, if your post resonates with new audiences, LinkedIn will keep the post in rotation. But how does LinkedIn know that this content is engaging? Keep the following in mind…

  • Meaningful comments are not just “congrats” or “agreed” but commenting on the actual content of your post
  • Are these meaningful comments coming from random people, or people in a user group relevant to your post?
  • LinkedIn knows if comments are relevant based on the groups, hashtags, pages, and people they follow. It can also look at the posts they write, like, or comment on in the past.

New Updates to the LinkedIn Algorithm

The recent updates to the LinkedIn algorithm mark a significant departure from its earlier iteration, prompted by the surge in professional users joining the platform in 2020. The initial algorithm, geared towards boosting engaging content, resulted in posts growing rapidly but lacked relevance to the professional community. Many viral posts during that period were deemed inappropriate for a platform centered on professional networking.

In response, LinkedIn has undergone substantial changes, with a commitment to surfacing knowledge and advice. The most recent announced updates in June 2023 reflect a continued effort to refine the algorithm. The primary focus now lies on sharing valuable insights, strengthening connections between first-degree connections, and fostering a more meaningful and professional environment on the platform.

LinkedIn has made substantial adjustments to its algorithm based on user feedback and preferences. Members expressed a need for more knowledge-based content and a stronger connection with their professional network. In response, LinkedIn has focused on surfacing content grounded in knowledge or advice while de-prioritizing humblebrags and personal updates from unknown connections. The changes aim to provide better reach to connections and followers, emphasizing content that shares insights and knowledge.

An Overview of Ranking Signals on LinkedIn’s Algorithm

As mentioned earlier, there are at least four ranking signals the LinkedIn algorithm uses to rank posts in a user’s feed:

  1. Personal connections
  2. Interest relevance
  3. Subject matter expertise
  4. Engagement with meaningful comments

And here’s how each signal impacts a post’s ranking:

Personal Connections

In 2019, LinkedIn began deprioritizing content from mega influencers (think Oprah and Richard Brandon) and instead began highlighting content from users’ personal connections. To determine a user’s connections, LinkedIn considers these two things:

  1. Who a user works with or has previously worked with
  2. Who a user has interacted with before on the platform

At the top of the feed, users now see posts by people they engage with often and by anyone who posts consistently. Users also see more posts from connections with whom they share interests and skills (according to their LinkedIn profiles).

That said, as of 2022, LinkedIn is also “creating more ways to follow people throughout the feed experience,” including thought leaders, industry experts, and creators that may be outside of a user’s network. So it’s important to remember that personal connection is just one factor influencing post ranking.

Interest Relevance

Relevance is another of the three ranking signals – and in many ways, the most important one. LinkedIn explains on its engineering blog: “We already have a strong set of explicit and implicit signals that provide context on what content a member may find interesting based on their social connections and the Knowledge Graph (e.g., a company that they follow, or news widely shared within their company).”

LinkedIn also uses what they call an “interest graph” that represents the relationships between users and a variety of topics. This lets the LinkedIn algorithm measure the following:

  • How interested users are in certain topics
  • How related are different topics to one another
  • Which connections share a user’s interests

The algorithm also considers the companies, people, hashtags, and topics mentioned in a post to predict interest. To maximize the interest relevance ranking, you have to understand your target audience and craft content that they’ll find relevant.

Subject Matter Expertise

Subject Matter Expertise (SME) serves as a significant signal in LinkedIn’s algorithm, reflecting the platform’s shift towards prioritizing high-quality information over low-effort content. LinkedIn aims to move away from being a space for inexpensive engagement through memes and towards a platform that delivers valuable and authoritative content to its users.

The algorithm considers individuals with substantial expertise and authority in a specific domain as valuable contributors. This determination is based on the information available on their LinkedIn profiles and their demonstrated authority within the platform. LinkedIn recognizes the importance of showcasing content from individuals who possess deep knowledge and experience in a particular subject area.

By leveraging Subject Matter Expertise as a signal, LinkedIn aims to enhance the overall quality of content displayed in users’ feeds. This approach aligns with the platform’s commitment to becoming a trusted source of high-quality professional information, fostering a more meaningful and insightful user experience.

Engagement Probability

Interaction plays a significant role in a post’s ranking on LinkedIn. The platform uses machine learning to rank interaction in two ways:

  1. How likely a user is to comment on, share, or react to a post based on the content and people they have interacted with
  2. How quickly a post starts receiving engagement after it’s published. The faster users interact with a post, the more likely it will appear at the top of others’ feeds

Users who regularly interact with others’ posts in their LinkedIn feed are more likely to see interactions on their content, which in turn means that they’ll be more likely to show up on other people’s feeds.

10 Best Practices to Improve the Reach of LinkedIn Posts

Understanding how the LinkedIn algorithm works is the first step to reaching more people on LinkedIn and ensuring your content is well-received and engaging. The next step is optimizing your content based on the factors the algorithm prioritizes to maximize its effect. This is where mastering the ranking signals comes into play.

Here are our top tips for crafting high-performing LinkedIn content:

1. Create Relevant and Original Content for Specific Audiences

Relevance is what the algorithm prizes above all other content qualities. For LinkedIn, relevance translates to engagement, which leads to more time spent on the platform, which results in more ad revenue and continued growth. Following this tip will win you points in the “interest relevance” and “engagement probability” ranking categories.

The entire LinkedIn ecosystem is set up to prioritize highly relevant content. To ensure your posts are relevant, create content focused on your niche and your audience’s specific needs and interests. As LinkedIn’s then-Director of Product Management Linda Leung explained in 2022, “we are continuously investing in the teams, tools, and technology to ensure that the content that you see on your feed adds value to your professional journey.”

Use customer research and analytics from other social media platforms to learn more about what your audience wants to know. Focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that helps professionals succeed in formats they prefer (for example, videos, which get three times the average engagement of text-only posts). But above all, posting content that is personal and has industry relevance is vital.

Utilizing keywords strategically is also key to improving your reach on the platform. This means incorporating terms relevant to your industry, making your content more discoverable. When it comes to hashtags, strike a balance by using only those directly related to your post and avoid overloading with excessive hashtags. Last but not least, try to steer clear of repurposing content and opt for originality when possible.

2. Schedule Posts at the Right Time

As with most things, timing is crucial for successful LinkedIn posts. It’s even more critical when considering the “golden hour” testing process integral to the algorithm’s rankings. Remember, how much interaction a post gets within the first hour after it’s published determines whether it gets pushed to a broader audience. That means posting at the optimal time when your followers are online and primed to respond is a central factor to success. Managing LinkedIn posts efficiently is essential to optimizing your social media strategy.

You are the best judge of when your top LinkedIn followers and people in your network are most likely to be on the platform and engaging with content. But for the general public, data suggests the best time to post is at 9:00 a.m. EST on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cross-reference these times with your own analytics and knowledge about your audience — like a common time zone, for example — to find the best time for your posts.

Hot tip: Weekdays are likely the best time to post as opposed to posting on weekends since there’s less activity.

3. Write About Your Expertise

Bill Nye’s wisdom, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t,” is a great reminder of the value each individual brings. In the professional realm, sharing unique insights is pivotal.

One way to ensure you’re adding something original to the conversation is to align your expertise with your audience. For that reason, someone like a B2B marketer will have an easier time reaching the other members of the B2B industry. At the same time, avoid offering advice outside your domain; for instance, a mechanical engineer providing B2B sales guidance may not reach the desired audience.

On platforms like LinkedIn, where your workplace, work history, and connections are visible, leverage this information to highlight your expertise effectively. Utilize the unique insights gained throughout your career to make informed statements and, most importantly, welcome feedback. This approach not only establishes credibility but also fosters meaningful professional exchanges.

4. Encourage Meaningful Engagement (Especially Comments)

Your post format can play a significant role in user engagement. The LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t explicitly prioritize videos over photo and text posts, but LinkedIn’s internal research has found video ads are five times more likely to start conversations compared to other types of promoted content.

Asking a question is another great way to encourage interaction with your post. If you’re sharing industry insights, open the conversation to commenters by asking them to share their opinions or experiences on the topic.

Keep in mind that meaningful engagement goes beyond a simple “Agreed!” While positive feedback is appreciated, strive for posts that spark open discussions and encourage a polite exchange of ideas within your industry. Cultivate meaningful interactions by responding thoughtfully to comments, fostering great discussions within your network. This not only enriches your professional connections but also increases the likelihood of LinkedIn expanding the reach of your post.

Additionally, tagging someone in your LinkedIn post can expand its reach, but only tag relevant users and people likely to engage with the post. You don’t automatically get in front of a celebrity’s entire following just because you tagged them. In fact, the algorithm’s spam filter can penalize your post for that. But when you tag someone relevant, the tagged person’s connections and followers will also see your post in their feeds.

5. Don’t Fish for Low Quality Engagement

The LinkedIn algorithm penalizes posts and hashtags that expressly ask for an engagement action like a follow or a comment. In an official blog post from May 2022, LinkedIn said that it “won’t be promoting” posts that “ask or encourage the community to engage with content via likes or reactions posted with the exclusive intent of boosting reach on the platform.” Essentially, content that begs for engagement is now considered low-quality and should be avoided.

6. Build a Strong Network with First-degree Connections

Building a vast network of first-degree connections on LinkedIn is a vital best practice for maximizing reach and engagement. These connections play a crucial role in determining your rank on the platform, making it essential to cultivate a substantial network. Aim for a minimum of 150 followers/connections, emphasizing quality over quantity – avoid buying connections and instead focus on strategic and organic growth.

To further boost your network, make sure your profile or page is complete, up-to-date, and public, incorporating keywords for easy discovery. Leverage the Invite button to encourage your personal connections to follow your page, and if representing a company, incentivize employees to follow and promote the company page.

In addition, we recommend actively engaging by joining relevant groups, participating, and connecting with professionals. Promote your profile/page outside LinkedIn and seek recommendations from past colleagues, endorsing your expertise. These practices not only enhance your visibility but also contribute to a strong and meaningful LinkedIn network.

7. Promote New posts on Non-LinkedIn Channels

LinkedIn doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither do its users. Content that gains traction in other channels can help boost LinkedIn posts and vice versa. Sharing posts on your website, other social media platforms, or with coworkers can spark the initial engagement required for a viral LinkedIn post. Promoting content on other channels can also encourage inactive LinkedIn users to re-engage with the platform, and that interaction will be interpreted as net new engagement for your post.

8. Keep Your Posts Professional

As the “professional social networking site,” LinkedIn has a well-honed identity that extends to the type of content it favors. Specifically, business-related content that users will find relevant and helpful to their careers or within their industry. This might seem common sense, but it can be tempting to think that content that earns lots of clicks or likes on other social media platforms will perform similarly when cross-posted on LinkedIn. Unfortunately (or fortunately), hilarious memes, TikTok dance clips and personal videos don’t resonate with the LinkedIn algorithm.

But also keep in mind, maintaining professionalism on LinkedIn doesn’t mean resorting to dull corporate speak. Instead, embrace authenticity, humanity, and a touch of humor to make your posts friendly and approachable. While professionalism encourages a sense of humor, avoid sharing memes for the sake of entertainment. Focus on delivering valuable and helpful information tailored to your audience. If you decide to incorporate a meme, ensure it enhances the overall usefulness of your post. For instance, as a marketer, sharing a meme that critiques a marketing campaign can serve as a starting point to discuss improvements. The key is to strike a balance between engaging content and delivering meaningful insights. By infusing your posts with authenticity and relevance, you can maintain a professional yet engaging presence on the platform.

9. Avoid Outbound Links    

The urge to include an outbound link in a LinkedIn post is real, especially for B2B marketers using LinkedIn to generate leads and traffic to their websites. But this is universally regarded as a tactic to avoid. LinkedIn wants to keep users on the platform and engaging; link-outs defeat that purpose. Therefore, the algorithm tends to downgrade content that includes an outbound link.

Posts without outbound links enjoyed six times more reach than posts containing links. Does that mean there’s no room for a link to your brand’s website or blog with additional resources? No. But the best practice is creating content that encourages a conversation and letting the audience request an outbound link. If you feel compelled to link to something off-platform, include that link in the comments.

10. Keep an Eye on SSI

LinkedIn has a proprietary metric called the Social Selling Index, which measures “how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.” Per LinkedIn, social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than those users with lower SSI scores.

A higher SSI boosts users’ posts closer to the top of their audience’s feeds. While this impacts post visibility for individual posters rather than brands and companies, it remains a significant influence on LinkedIn’s algorithm and is worth noting.

H2: Elevate Your Brand’s LinkedIn Presence

The LinkedIn algorithm can seem intimidating, but it really isn’t. It relies on a series of rules and ranking measures that can be understood and mastered to present users with content they find helpful in their professional lives.

Knowing that the algorithm prioritizes engagement, relevance and connection will help get your posts in front of more LinkedIn users and improve your overall performance on the platform. And by following the ten best practices outlined in this article, you’ll be able to keep your audience’s interest and create plenty of opportunities for them to engage with your content.

Tinuiti helps brands strengthen relationships with new and current customers through expert social media strategy and brilliant creative. Reach out to our Social media services team to learn how to start advancing your LinkedIn strategy today.

This originally appeared on the Tinuiti Blog and is available here for further discovery.
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