Face-lift, makeover & remodel – sounds like the description for a show on HGTV, right? Well the same can be said for LinkedIn, which has been undergoing a lot of “home improvement” renovations over the last thirty days. If you’ve been keeping score, there have been major changes rolled out to LinkedIn users in the last month:
- Profiles can now feature flashier, customizable hero images (take that, G+!)
- The oh-so-important activity feeds have returned (hooray!)
- Profile ranking among your connections is now available
However, none of these new changes may be more important to the platform than the recent introduction of Linkedin’s Publishing feature which allows members to contribute and share on Linkedin in a brand new way. Members now have the ability to post long form content, i.e. a blog post rather than a regular status update. By posting long form content, each post becomes part of your professional profile and will be displayed in the new “Posts” section of your LinkedIn profile. Your posts can be viewed by members both in and out of your network. If you’re an SEO, here is the best part… the long-form post is searchable both on AND off LinkedIn.
The fact that your content will show up in the SERPs can work for you — but it also can work against you. We have been performing analysis and testing to examine how others are approaching this new universe of LinkedIn. We’ve found some good, some bad and some downright ugly.
Context is the New King
At this point, I’m hopeful that we have all scraped the “Content Is King” bumper stickers off of our laptops, and have moved to a place where the context of our content defines us. Content is everywhere, so when creating a post on LinkedIn, keep in mind the importance of bringing value to your audience. The first step to separating yourself from the pack, and for any successful long-form publishing on LinkedIn, is to make sure the title of your post is well optimized. You are given a limited amount of characters for the title – and similar to any real estate in your LinkedIn profile – it’s important to take advantage of EVERY one of them. Abide by optimization best practices when creating titles and remember to write for the reader first.
Publishing Rights, Yours or LinkedIn’s?
Your post is written and you’re ready to press publish, now comes the important question: “Who owns this content, LinkedIn or me?” LinkedIn attempts to explain the answer in this help document, Best Practices for Long-Form Posts, however, the issue of content ownership that isn’t addressed. To answer this question, I went to LinkedIn’s own help center and came across Linkedin’s Rights and Responsibilities for Your Posts on Linkedin’s Publishing Platform. What I found is very interesting. “Content published on LinkedIn’s publishing platform remains your work. You own the rights to any posts you publish.” That seemed to clearly states that any original content you publish does in fact remain your own. You can also edit/delete any work that you may not want to appear in your profile. However, the next bulleted item stated the following: “LinkedIn may distribute your content, annotate your content (e.g., to highlight that your views may not be the views of LinkedIn), and sell advertising on pages where your content appears.” Hmmm…..
According to Linkedin’s Rights and Responsibilities for Your Posts on Linkedin’s Publishing Platform it clearly states:
“You can republish something that you have published somewhere else as long as it is your original content that you own the rights to.” Although the quote above does outline the legalities of publishing your own content to your LinkedIn profile (sort of), it DOES NOT speak about the SEO implications of doing so. Remember, your long form content can be found in the SERPs. In order to understand this, let’s backup a bit and review the canonical tag. According to my good buddy Jason White, canonical tags “tell search engines the original source of the content so that any equity a post, page or product has will be properly attributed to the original source and not counted as duplicate content.” The tag essentially tells search engine spiders what is the original source of a page or, in this case, a piece of content. Hopefully, your SEO is following best practices and you are already including this tag on any site or page or blog post you are creating. But what happens when you re-purpose that content onto your LinkedIn page? Nothing, right? Well, as outlined above, LinkedIn says you have the rights to do so, but think twice if you want your content to be served up in searches.
The Secrets to the LinkedIn Dupe Content Trap are in the Source Code
Marc Dixon, CEO of Regus, is cashing in on the current World Cup soccer craze. He created a post about Leadership and outlines five great soccer players who exhibit leadership both on and off the field. He published the post on Workplace, Regus’ blog. A quick Ctrl+U (mind your shortcuts!) uncovers the guts of Regus’ blog and the beautiful canonical tag we seek:
Jumping over to LinkedIn, we see Marc took the same blog post and copied that post directly to his LinkedIn page, word for word. Digging deeper, in the source code… another canonical tag! This one – which originates from the LinkedIn Publisher’s code is also telling the spiders that this piece of content originates here. No good!
This has virtually created a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war for the content. The two conflicting canonical tags could be confusing the Google spiders that are crawling both the blog and his LinkedIn page which, remember, is indexed. How will the Search Engines decide which version to display? Good question. It appears that the deciding factor comes down to two things: 1) where it was posted first and 2) which page/site has more authority. What does this all mean? Because LinkedIn uses canonical tagging:
- Your published posts can be viewed as a source in the eyes of the Search Engines, therefore, you can rank for the content you publish here. Up to this point, LinkedIn does not offer the ability to change the coding of any of your content. This would prevent you, the user, from pointing that great content that you posted on both your blog and your LinkedIn page back to your blog.
- By copy and pasting your latest blog post directly to your LinkedIn page, it may not help you and could possibly hurt you with regards to where your content ranks in the SERPS.
Although this proves to be fine line to walk, and LinkedIn publisher hasn’t been around long enough to really and truly impact search results, it is important to pay attention to how this ecosystem is affected. Will LinkedIn create dupe content issues? Although there hasn’t been mention of any on-going penalties, I can see the writing on the wall; this has all the symptoms of becoming a potential problem. When deciding whether or not to post your latest blog post on your LinkedIn page, keep this in mind. In the long run, keeping your content separated and unique to the original platform, you are doing two important things; first, you are completely bypassing any and all duplicate content questions that can be raised by canonical tagging, and more importantly, creating content in two separate spaces potentially improves your visibility in search results.
What do you think about the new LinkedIn Publisher? Share your thoughts in the comments below.