LinkedIn Worst Practice – You’ve Got to Be Kidding

Funky IN LogoYou know I am a big proponent for anyone in business using LinkedIn. Like most things in life, if you invest the time to learn how to use it, you will enjoy the ubiquitous Return On Investment. You can also screw it up, preventing you from achieving your goals for LinkedIn and potentially destroying your reputation as well. What follows is an example of screwing it up.

Case in point:

Recently a social media friend of mine, Jeff Sheehan shared an observation about a growing number of people “keyword-stuffing” their LinkedIn profile. As I explored further with him on the phone, he shared example after example of LinkedIn Profiles that were stuffed with specific keywords over and over. I presume their goal in doing this is to rank high in LinkedIn search and even Google search.

Here is an example of what one of these Profiles looks like:

LinkedIn Stuffing Example 1

Notice the keyword that is being stuffed here: Accounting Manager.  Just reflects poorly on the individual. If he would have stopped there it probably would not have done anything other than reflect bad taste.

Now look at the Experience section of the Profile, and notice the Titles of each role, the dates of each role and the description of the work he did/is doing in this position:

LinkedIn Profile Stuffing Example 2

What is the possible good that can come from this action? If it is purely to rank #1 in LinkedIn search results for “accounting manager” he has succeeded. #1 in the world within LinkedIn under “accounting manager”. What has he done to his reputation, to the perception that others have of  him, his integrity and even his common sense? There are a large number of examples like this. Search “social media expert” and see how the #1 ranked Profile has built his profile.

If you were searching for an “accounting manager” to hire and open this Profile, what would you do? Call him? Probably not. Read further, not likely. Or would you remove him from consideration and possibly ridicule him for using such tactics? I suggest the last reaction is the one that most of us would have. What does his employer think of this?

It is not only hurting this individual. What about those that are further down the list whose Profiles are accurate, reflecting their expertise and work experience accurately? What about the overall value of LinkedIn search in general? Adding insult to injury, many of those using this practice are actively teaching it as a tactic to others. Fortune magazine actually has several of them ranked as “influencers” of social media!

Sadly, there are those that hold themselves out as experts in LinkedIn, training others that this is the way to LinkedIn fame and success.

What is my purpose of pointing this out? To let you know that if you are using LinkedIn Search in your business routine, double check the profile to make sure you are not being misled by this practice. Also I want to bring it into the discussion, to encourage you to flag it as “misrepresentation” to LinkedIn, and most importantly, to get you to think before you do things on LinkedIn or any other social platform that can damage all that you have worked so hard to achieve in your career. Just think!

Search the important keywords for you and your industry and discover if you are a victim of this practice. Let me know what you find. Let me know if you are OK with this practice.

  • CCelli73

    I agree with you, Austin. In the end, it may get them to show up in search, but their profile is unreadable. Not good.

  • YIKES!! I’ve read some of the advice to include keywords in your LinkedIn profiles, but I never even imagined someone would take it this far. This is worse than the old doorway pages SEO firms were doing 10 years ago.

    •  @Wittlake Is very similar isn’t it Eric. I am hopeful that the team at LinkedIn will address this practice directly with those using this approach rather than dramatically changing their search algorithm.  LinkedIn Search has been very helpful and easy to navigate for me in the past and would hate to see wholesale changes.

  • aldsaur

    Ouch! That profile gave me a headache.  Now I am going to look at Fortune’s list of influencers again. I still believe the promise of social on the web is to empower people. Not more gimmicks. This is a great example of a cheap trick being just plain embarrassing. 

    •  @aldsaur Allison, You will find at least two that are on the list that are using this tactic. I have reached out to a few of those that are doing this, but no one has been willing to talk. Oh well, at least the visibility has been raised.

  • SteveCassady

     @milesaustin ,That is like some of the Social Media Profiles I have read.  You may show up in search, but the profile is unreadable.  I bet the profile may have a few “he’s a nice guy” recommendations instead of substantial ones.  It would be nice if Linkedin’s search would evolve to discount this practice.  Key words are important, stuffing to the gills should be penalized more along the lines that Google does.
     
    I wonder if this person really gets any business, the profile is really unreadable.

    •  @SteveCassady Steve, I checked the profile used in the example and no recommendations were visible.  
       
      You bring up a point that I had not considered – what if someone had provided a recommendation for one of these positions earlier when it more of a typical format and then changed to it’s current state. Would you want to have your name and recommendation tied to someone with this approach. I would be pretty upset as the person providing the recommendation.

  • ReplytoAll

    Wow. Seriously doing it wrong. What’s most surprising is that this appears to be for someone who works at a large company (GE) vs. freelancer or small biz trying to get more visibility for their business.  That wouldn’t make it right but might explain things a bit.  I have no idea where he got the advice to do this but it is so wrong.

    •  @ReplytoAll Makes me wonder if it was done without understanding the way it comes across to others, or possibly it was completed by one of the Profile Farms that charge a couple hundred bucks to do it for you.
       
      I know of at least one of the “gurus’ that has been teaching this as well as implementing on her own profile.

  • Great example of what not to do.   A great observation and cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that a keyword dump is the way to go.  With the changes/updates to current search engine algorithms, the importance of your network – and being a part of the conversation –  is the key factor for awareness and positive response.  Puking keywords into your profile is yesterday’s news – it didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. I really like the idea of “career damage”  – that’s a powerful choice of words.

    •  @westfallonline Well said Chris. Thanks for highlighting the changes that are going on with search engine algorithms. If you approach these things only as a game, you are completely missing the point. Optimize your Profile to best reflect your talents, skills and experience-yes. “Puke keywords into your profile”-no.  
       
      I always appreciate you dropping by and sharing your thoughts and expertise.

  • ambrking

    Best example of what not to do. We get it, you have been an account manager for a number of companies. Stuffing your profile with keywords are a turn-off.

  • Well, Miles Austin, it is clear that Miles Austin has shown an excellent example of keyword stuffing. As Miles Austin would point out, Miles Austin would never such a thing simply to get Miles Austin higher the search results for Miles Austin.
     
    Great piece, Miles, I kid but Miles Austin appreciated the nods. 🙂

    •  @Kneale Mann Miles Austin likes your comments about Miles Austin!
      Thanks,
      Miles Austin
       
      p.s. I feel slimy doing this even when it is just in fun!

  • KeenanWellar

    These extreme examples are hilarious, but what do you think of the growing trend of LinkedIn users who simply spam their tweets to their LinkedIn profile? I have noticed many individuals who fancy themselves (and are fancied by others) as “social media experts” doing this. To me that is the most basic of social media offences – treating all social media communities as though they are just different billboards for spamming a message.

    •  @KeenanWellar Bad idea in my opinion Keenan. Each social platform has it’s purpose and it’s benefits. I recommend that you treat each platform differently as you are implying, to make sure that what you are doing is relevant, welcome and valued by your connections on that specific platform. Facebook is for my friends and family, photos of my grandson, etc. that none of my Twitter followers would have any interest in seeing. Conversely, my Facebook friends really don’t want to read my tweets about web tools, social selling thoughts, etc. 
       
      I say, use the update box on LinkedIn for your business facing activities and information, and uncheck the box that sends the same info out over Twitter.
       
      Your last sentence is a powerful reminder to all of us, “… most basic of social media offences – treating all social media communities as though they are just different billboards for spamming a message.”
       
      Thanks for your valuable contribution to this post!

      • KeenanWellar

        Thanks Miles, that is definitely one way to look it. I don’t have quite the same perspective in that I don’t necessarily categorize social media communities according to a particular aspect of my life. I use Facebook for personal as well as professional, and there is a lot of crossover. Same goes for Twitter. Less so for LinkedIn, only because it is a type of social media community that is clearly designed for a more professional and less personal purpose. But I have heard many people talk about Facebook as their living room, Twitter as a party, LinkedIn as a boardroom, or some other such analogies which always bring nods and laughs at social media conferences. Those are choices I certainly don’t have a problem with, but I do think they can be unecessarily limiting.
         
        To me some of the most successful (successful only in my opinion) social media users are those that have figured out how to be a genuine human being, sharing of the personal and professional in a way that engages but does not offend.So what I was getting at was more about the style of communication that fits with each social media community. Tweets are not a fit with Facebook, because, well, they look like Tweets! And most people don’t communicate on Facebook the way they do on Twitter, so it’s a bit like showing up for a bike race with an SUV, it stands out, and most people will find it odd in a negative way.
         
        And generally speaking, I find it looks lazy and spammy when people send exactly the same lines of text across multiple platforms. Personally, I might well share a post about the same topic on multiple platforms, but I’m going to compose them individually so they are communicated in a way that is a appropriate to each social media community context. Otherwise (to me) it’s like saying “Hey LinkedIn and Facebook users, I don’t really care to understand you, and I like Twitter, so what I’ve done is avoided your community entirely by just spamming my tweets to your preferred platform! Have a nice day, and please take the time to check out my latest tweet…er…update…as I need your business!”

  • Petra Fisher

    I’ve seen some similar Dutch profiles around. It confuses me. What does a person try to achieve? Do they truly believe that once they are found people will think they’ve found just the professional they are looking for? I love the keyword feature to search LinkedIn. I don’t mind if within this search more active people show up higher in the results. I do hope though, like was stated before, that the algorithms won’t change to dramatically.
     
    As for posting your Tweets to LinkedIn… that is one sure way to get people to hide your updates. But even if they don’t, you take away the ability from your connections to become your ambassador. A LinkedIn update that in fact is a tweet doesn’t have the options to ‘like’, ‘comment’ of (if a link is included) ‘share’. http://bit.ly/IWXK4X
     
    Thanks for this great post and especially the discussion that is taking place in the comments. Very interesting!

  • Thank you, Miles. Never would have guessed, never would have believed, never would have had a clue. I do now. 

  • ClareEvans

    It looks totally ridiculous and does nothing for the credibility of the individual.  LinkedIn is about connecting and building relationships – getting the basics right and presenting an interesting and relevant profile.  If anyone is actually teaching this as a technique it doesn’t say much about their credibility either.

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