How to include links on LinkedIn posts without being penalised by the algorithm.
📚 This post is part of my business blogging guide.
Hold on a second!
The method below has worked well for me since 2018. BUT …
LinkedIn changed their algorithm some time between May and June 2020. My testing and feedback from others suggests strongly that links in posts are NOT currently being penalised.
Even though link posts aren’t penalised for now, the change might not be permanent. Either way, the method shown in the remainder of this post should still work.
If you place a link in a LinkedIn post, your post probably won’t be seen by most of your connections and followers.
LinkedIn’s algorithm treats external links in posts as though they’re Kryptonite. Why? Because external links are like exit signs: clicking them takes you away from the platform. And LinkedIn doesn’t want you to leave!
This is bad news if you’ve got web content to share.
But there’s always a workaround …
- What counts as an external link?
- How do I share links on LinkedIn without being penalised by the algorithm?
- The “write-post-edit” method for sharing links on LinkedIn
- Write the post without a link
- Publish the post
- Edit the post
- Add in the link
- Save the changes
- Why does the “write-post-edit” method work?
- Why is LinkedIn shortening my links?
- How to display link preview images in LinkedIn posts
- Is it best not to share any external links at all on LinkedIn?
- My link-sharing failures and successes
- Let’s wrap up
What counts as an external link?
An external link is anything that you can click that loads content hosted somewhere other than on LinkedIn. Things like this:
- links to a website or blog.
- links to apps, documents and file downloads.
- embedded videos from YouTube and other sources.
It even looks as though links to your own LinkedIn articles are treated as though they’re external links. (This doesn’t make sense, but that’s LinkedIn for you.)
How do I share links on LinkedIn without being penalised by the algorithm?
There are a few methods for sharing links without being penalised by the LinkedIn algorithm.
A common option (but not one I recommend) is to place the link in a comment rather than in the main post.
The issue with posting the link in the comments is that LinkedIn’s default algorithmic sorting means that the comment containing the link might end up as the 7th, 42nd or 253rd item in the list.
It really depends on how popular the post is. Even for something that’s moderately popular – say there are 20 unique commenters – it’s easy for the link-bearing comment to be lost in the undergrowth.
The write-post-edit method covered below lets you get around this by placing the link in a more visible place while mostly avoiding the algorithmic penalty associated with link-sharing.
The “write-post-edit” method for sharing links on LinkedIn.
Here’s the best way to share links in LinkedIn posts without affecting the reach of your posts:
Write your post as normal but DO NOT include the external link you want to share.
(You can add an image in step 1 if you wish. See How to display link preview images in LinkedIn posts.)
Click Post to publish the post.
Click Edit post in the ellipsis (…) menu in the top-right corner of the post.
(There’s no need to wait between steps 2 and 3.)
Type or paste in the external link you want to share.
Why does the “write-post-edit” method work?
Truthful answer: we can’t be sure. But here’s my best theory …
LinkedIn pays attention to the state of the post only when it’s first published. So, you’re saying “here’s a post with no links – please push it around the LinkedIn network.”
But when you edit the post and add the link in afterwards, LinkedIn doesn’t seem to update its understanding of the nature of the post, and so you sidestep the penalty associated with trying to take people away from the platform.
Why is LinkedIn shortening my links?
After you edit your post to add the external link, you’ll see the saved version displays the link exactly as you added it. Great.
If you go back and look at the post a few minutes later, you’ll see that the link has been shortened to use LinkedIn’s short URL format, lnkd.in.
Here’s an example:
The link still works as usual but there’s no longer an indication to readers about where the link will take them.
This is annoying and bad for brand awareness, because you can’t show off your own domain name.
Security-conscious readers might not wish to click a link when they’re not sure where it will take them. The text of your post ought to have made this clear but even so it doesn’t make for a great experience.
You can get around this by sharing your own shortened link from a service such as Bitly.
Only links longer than 26 characters are shortened to lnkd.in format.
If you remove the http:// or https:// protocol at the start of your link, perhaps it’ll fit into the 26-character limit and therefore avoid shortening. You can usually also remove the “www” part of most web addresses without breaking them.
Pro tip for checking shortened LinkedIn links.
If you want to know where an automatically shortened lnkd.in link will take you before you click it, you can copy the shortened link from the post and then paste it into this free website: getlinkinfo.com
The result will look like this:
If the “Effective URL” doesn’t look good, don’t go there! It’s unlikely that dodgy people will try to trick you with a shortened LinkedIn link, but I guess you never know.
How to display link preview images in LinkedIn posts.
You’ll notice that when you add links via the write-post-edit method, the result won’t include a preview image.
If you want to include such an image, you need to do it when writing the original post. You can’t add an image to a post that’s already been published.
The best image size for LinkedIn posts is
1200×630 pixels. This also works well for Twitter images.
Is it best not to share any external links at all on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn’s aim is to keep you on its platform for as long as possible, which is why the algorithm hates external links so much.
Think of LinkedIn like a party. If you show up and say “hey, come to my party instead and here’s a link to take you there” – well, LinkedIn’s bouncers (the suits on the door) are going to be escorting you out of the building pretty quickly.
That’s what happens when your posts include an external link: LinkedIn will not want to promote that sort of content.
What LinkedIn really want is for you to come to their party … and never leave!
The fix here is to try to create content that is consumed natively on LinkedIn, so that your audience don’t need to go to another place to read, watch or listen to your stuff.
So, for example, instead of pointing people to your latest blog post on your website, maybe you could summarise the points in a post. You could even create a document post if you wanted to dig into more detail without making people leave the platform.
Still, if there’s no option but to point people to an external resource (e.g. “go here to sign up to my webinar”) then it’s fine to share external links so long as you use the write-post-edit method.
My link-sharing failures and successes.
Before I realised that external links were killing my reach, I used to queue up my blog post links in Buffer. My schedule meant I’d share link posts at least a few times per week. I thought that was my social media done in 20 minutes. How clever of me …
Looking back, it’s no surprise that these LinkedIn posts rarely had more than 100 views. Likes and comments were rare, too.
Now that I know that normal link-sharing doesn’t work, I no longer schedule link posts. In fact, I don’t schedule anything any more.
Instead, I post manually and follow the write-post-edit method to share my external content.
Along with a few other changes in behaviour (see my LinkedIn engagement guide), my posts now regularly receive thousands of views.
As you can see, my LinkedIn presence has developed quite a bit since 2017. Changing the way I share links has definitely been part of that.
The most important factor has been being consistent and congruent in the way I show up. If you want to know more about that, check out my book:
Let’s wrap up.
Remember that external links are like Kryptonite when it comes to your organic reach on LinkedIn.
Use the write-post-edit method and you’ll be able to get the best of both worlds: good reach plus promotion of your external content.
You can learn lots more about LinkedIn in my LinkedIn Learner Lounge.
Continue the business blogging guide
This post is part of my definitive business blogging guide.
I had the chance to meet (connect) John Espirian, one of the most responsive and supportive professionals I've ever met.
Straight to the point in every topic, fast and effective, adding VALUE every single time I need.
John really deservers his headline 'The relentlessly helpful technical copywriter' and much more.
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