The Secret Benefit of LinkedIn Endorsements

Mike Allton
Mike Allton Internet Marketing Consultant, The Social Media Hat

Posted on February 20th 2013

The Secret Benefit of LinkedIn Endorsements
The Secret Benefit of LinkedIn Endorsements

A little while ago, LinkedIn began allowing members to endorse each other. Unlike recommendations, endorsements were simply a way for one member to confirm that another member has a particular skill. Because LinkedIn made it extremely easy to quickly endorse people for multiple skills, and because there is no verification required at all, many observers questioned the validity or use of the feature, myself among them.

Of course, it's nice to have a great list of skills on your profile, and having tons of endorsements for your skills is certainly more impressive than none at all. Furthermore, each time you endorse a potential partner or prospect, that person gets a nice email telling them that you thought they deserved to be endorsed for some skill.

If you thought that was all there was to LinkedIn Endorsements, then you might not have noticed the Skills & Expertise section.

Skills & Expertise

Like the old LinkedIn Answers, Skills & Expertise is hidden within the More drop down. If you can find it, you'll be rewarded with a great-looking landing page that announces that Skills & Expertise is there to help you "Discover the skills you need to succeed. Learn what you need to know from the thousands of hot, up-and-coming skills we're tracking." According to LinkedIn, this feature is still in beta.

LinkedIn Skills and Expertise

The top of the page features a search bar where you can begin typing in a skill. It can be for someone you wish to hire, or something you want to learn about and are looking for someone whose blogs you might want to read. Or, more interesting, do a search on one of your own skills to see where you stack up.

Below is a summary of a couple of specific skills. For me, iPhone was the first "skill" listed, and the summary included cities, related skills, and featured professionals.

Skill Details

If you search on a skill and select it, you'll see the full Skill Details page. The left side lets you search for a different skill or take a look at related skills. We'll get back to the importance of related skills in a moment.

In the middle, you'll see your selected skill and a nice box that details the industry the skill is typically associated with, whether or not you current list that skill, and a button to see suggested skills. You'll also see a percentage followed by y/y, which stands for year over year. We'll talk about the importance of this metric as well in a moment.

Below the info box will be a list of professionals who list that skill. You might think that these professionals are ranked according to the number of times they've been endorsed for that skill, but that isn't the case. The top ranked professional for "Social MediaMarketing" only has 33 endorsements for that skill, while the #2 individual had 99+. So getting ranked isn't solely based on the sheer number of endorsements.

At the bottom is a list of LinkedIn Groups that are associated with that skill.

Along the right side you'll find buttons to share the skill, charts for relative growth, size and age, related companies, related jobs, and related locations.

Using Skills & Expertise

First of all, getting yourself listed as a Featured Professional within a specific skill could potentially result in a significant number of new leads. If LinkedIn members begin using this feature to contact and hire professionals, you're definitely going to want to be listed.

Or, on the other hand, if you're looking for an expert in a particular field or industry, this might be a great place to start looking!

One of the suggestions I've given people in the past is to seek out leaders and mentors in their field and learn from them. What better way to find an industry leader than to check on LinkedIn's Skills & Expertise? You can identify one or more individuals you might be interested in learning from and take a look at their profile, follow their updates, and subscribe to their blog.

Those are all fun, but there's one more use for Skills & Expertise that could be a game changer for you.

Social SEO

I'm sure you know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to making your website as attractive to search engines and their users as possible. You identify keywords that your potential customers are using in searches and find ways to increase the frequency and prominence of those keywords in your site code and text. But what about social media? How do we help social network users find our profiles? That is where Social SEO comes in.

All of the major social networks include internal search capability, and that's a feature that is continuing to be refined and improved (like with Facebook's Graph Search). And while targeting keywords like we do in traditional SEO plays a role, optimizing your social media profile for social search has some differences.

On LinkedIn, for instance, your profile lists your previous jobs and job titles, and includes a summary. Many people fail to take advantage of those fields. LinkedIn allows you to be as descriptive as you want, so power users take advantage of that and go into detail about where they've worked and what they've accomplished.

Now, thanks to Skills & Expertise (and Endorsements), we have a great way to monitor, adjust and improve our Social SEO for LinkedIn. Here's how it works.

Go back to Skills & Expertise and look up one of the skills you already have on your profile. Take note of its Relative Growth, Size and Age. Also make sure that the skill is growing compared to last year, and how much. Now, check out some of the related skills. What you're looking for are potential skills that will be even better for you to list on your profile.

You're limited to 50 total skills, so add any that apply to your profession until you reach your max. At that point, it's time to prioritize. You will want to look for skills that are growing, but aren't used by absolutely everyone. Like a long-tail keyword, a more specialized and less-common skill will make you more competitive.

Include up to 50 skills on your LinkedIn profile.

Once you've refined your skill list and you're happy with them, it's time to fill up your endorsements! I am not a big fan of emailing LinkedIn users and asking for endorsements. Instead, sift through your own connections and start endorsing the people you know. They will get a notification and many will reciprocate.

Take the time to check out this LinkedIn feature, and you might get some real value out of it. I know we've covered a lot here, but I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below. 

Image courtesy of val.pearl, Flickr.

Mike Allton

Mike Allton

Internet Marketing Consultant, The Social Media Hat

I love to help small businesses and organizations that are interested in using the Internet more effectively. I provide a comprehensive set of consulting services, which include Social Media, Blogging, website development, SEO and Internet marketing.

I started my own website design firm in 2007 when I moved to St. Louis. Though I had been designing websites for years, it was always side jobs and part time gigs until I started my own firm. I now provide professional web development and Internet consulting full time.

For most clients and projects, we start with a new website. The new site is based on the Drupal Content Management System (CMS) platform so that the client may log into their site and add or edit content any time they need to. Each CMS includes a built-in Blog and other content types like FAQs and Testimonials. The CMS also includes a full compliment of SEO and Social Media integration options so that every time they create a new blog entry, that post is automatically shared with search engines like Google and Bing, and can be easily posted to social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Once we have a great new website in place, I provide my business clients with ongoing marketing advice and assistance. I can tell them exactly what they need to do, or just do it for them, depending on how involved they wish to be. These ongoing activities can include blogging, creating and updating social network profiles, interacting with followers and readers, and managing online advertising campaigns.

I am the editor at The Social Media Hat (http://www.TheSocialMediaHat.com) where I regularly share articles discussing Social Media, SEO, Blogging, Writing, Internet Marketing and Business Technology.

My goal is to ensure that businesses are able to leverage the power and connectivity of the Internet to promote and grow their business. How can I help you with your own business today?

See Full Profile >

Comments

Sergey
Posted on February 21st 2013 at 9:55AM

Great manual on how to take advantage of LinkedIn! Even though it's a rather popular network, some people do not know how to use the most of it. And the concept of Social SEO can be realy valuable while LinkedIn is about the best social tool to improve it. All in all, great manual, thank you, Mike!

Mike Allton
Posted on February 25th 2013 at 3:34PM

Thanks Sergey!

Kent Ong
Posted on February 21st 2013 at 5:11PM

Hi Mike, sorry to tell that I received a lot of endorsements from the people that I never worked with before. I don't know. Maybe it just happens on me (so unlucky), but I did read a lot of blogs say that endorsement is useless.

Mike Allton
Posted on February 25th 2013 at 3:34PM

Thanks Kent!

Flyn Penoyer
Posted on February 22nd 2013 at 9:05PM

It is quite true there are some things here that you can do.

However, I would suggest that your time is far better spent getting high quality, powerful, an compelling recommedations that carry real weight with readers.

Recommendations are traded like Pokey Man cards and have literally no "real" value or meaning. I haved been endorsed by hundreds of people who have no clue what my real value or skills are.

I cannot imagine any serious prospect looking at the endorsements with anything but a curious eye.

However, they will read your recommendations and take them seriously (If you do them right.)

Mike Allton
Posted on February 25th 2013 at 3:34PM

Thanks Flyn!

IncomeTrue
Posted on February 25th 2013 at 1:46AM

Linkedin is Finally Giving SEO Weight to Skill Endorsements:

I'm not quite sure how this works yet, but Linkedin is beginning to give some SEO weight to skill endorsement keywords now. 

For example, I went to "people" on my Linkedin home page and typed in "System Testing." David Carpin (open endorser) came up #3 on the first page of Linkedin's people search for "System Testing," yet those words are not listed anywhere else on his profile, except as a skill.

I did the same for "Property & Casualty Insurance" using Linkedin's people search. Open endorser, "Mary (Wassink) Ganis" comes up #6. for "Property & Casualty Insurance." These keywords are listed as one of her skills, yet those words do not appear anywhere else on her profile.

Also what I found interesting, is that listing skills that are not listed as Linkedin skills per se, are still found as well. This could be very helpful if something is a popular keyword at Google Adwords, but isn't yet listed as a skill using Linkedin's Skill & Expertise tool.

I listed "Meaningful Specifics" as a skill and my profile comes up number one, although I did not find that skill using Linkedin's Skill & Expertise tool, so use Google's ad word tool to look for keywords also.

Kind regards,

Ed Brophy
Open Endorser Group

"Open Endorsers are Open Networkers...only they have more skills."

Mike Allton
Posted on February 25th 2013 at 3:34PM

Thanks Ed!