I am the Associate Editor of BlogBrain, a LinkedIn-based e-publication focused on technology, leadership, innovation, marketing, and the intersections of all four. I am also a writer. I know that when we write and publish online, we generally want attention and traction.
Some sites make that easier than others. On LinkedIn it can be particularly difficult, especially given recent revelations about their preferential algorithm and plans let legacy media companies pay-to-play. Many users are experiencing similar distresses post-Facebook-Instant-Articles. Their content just isn’t being put in front of people.
Money talks, no?
Nonetheless, LinkedIn is still an SEO-dominant publication, so there are two keys to getting traction without buying-in: writing substantial, thoughtful, and well-crafted content; and, learning how to game the algorithm. You may have apprehensions about this methodology, but the truth is that few people nowadays get noticed without some algorithmic savvy.
As an editor whose job is dependent on knowing how to spark and sustain traction, here are my pro-tips for LinkedIn. I listed them in order of apparent priority:
LinkedIn places a major emphasis on images. The algorithm was designed with a graphic-heavy mindset, presumably because conventional wisdom suggests that people are more drawn to compelling graphics than compelling language. If you can customize an image in high quality that meets their size recommendation (700 x 400 pixels) all the better. Think about the audience that you are writing for and the content. What would they want to see and what makes sense?
2. Backlink & Tags.
The algorithm crawls articles looking for specific signals—although few people know precisely what those are. One powerful signal is backlinks. When you include reputable links, the algorithm extrapolates that readers will consider the information more reliable. How many do you add? There is no optimal number. It depends on the content, on the length, on the recency, and various other variables. Use your discretion. Always ask yourself: Will others take this for granted? If the answer is no, then backlink. Current events especially demand backlinks.
As for tags, they are crucial. Use the tags offered by LinkedIn because that’s how they categorize content and make sure they relate to the industry or topic you want to target. Along those lines, include the keywords in the article itself.
I could write endlessly about titling. It’s an art. Much like copywriting, you want to say everything yet leave enough intrigue or ambiguity to make the reader clickthrough or hit the like or share button. In general I try to keep the title simple and descriptive. No heavy language or complicated grammar. The reader should know what to expect without easily inferring the main point. As an aside, some research suggests that using numbers is largely ineffective. My experience suggests that that isn’t quite true; not enough to discourage people from doing so.
Two points on this score. The first is that the content should be free of spelling and grammar errors, preferably strewn with some images that emphasize points or further the narrative, and, should oscillate between concrete examples and abstraction.
The second is that some people say it is best to write with an audience in mind; others say that it isn’t. I think it depends on what you want to accomplish and the subject matter. Some subjects are more ubiquitous so you don’t need to cater it to an audience, while others are more obviously industry specific. Make the determination and then decide how to best deliver the message.
You not only want to get people to comment and like your post, you should comment back and like their responses. Engage with the people who took the time to read and/or post on your article. They are the reason that you wrote it. This also helps boost the signals that beckon the algorithm. One way to encourage interaction is with prompts or questions at the end. They are invitations to participate.
6. Email List
Nothing boosts your likelihood of being featured more than people flocking to your site from outside the site. The algorithm goes nuts! If you have friends, family, or followers who’d be willing to receive a newsletter or repost your article, take advantage of that. It will do wonders for your performance.
7. Be Human.
The best tip I can give you is to treat each person and each post in the most human way possible. Be down to earth. Recognize that the people who interact with your content are real people with real opinions, and that all the content, the images, and the backlinks must not be a ploy to generate desirable marketing outcomes, but rather enrich the reader’s experience. Be human.