How to share links on LinkedIn

How to share links on LinkedIn

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 like they’re Kryptonite.

This is bad news if you’ve got web content to share.

But there’s always a workaround …

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.)

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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.

Because LinkedIn orders comments based on what it thinks is most relevant, your comment containing the link probably won’t stay at the top of the list. If the post attracts several comments, yours may be lost in the noise.

I recommend the following write-post-edit method.

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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:

  1. Write your post as normal but do not include the external link you want to share.
  2. Publish the post.
  3. Edit the post. (No need to wait after publishing.)
  4. Add the external link you want to share.
  5. Save the edited post.

(You can add an image in step 1 if you wish. See How to display link preview images in LinkedIn posts.)

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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.

But wait.

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 bad for brand awareness (you can’t show off your own domain name) and some readers may 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 might think you could get around this by sharing your own shortened link from a service such as Bitly. But no, even shortened links will be changed to LinkedIn’s own format. Sorry!

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How to stop LinkedIn showing shortened URLs

If you don’t want LinkedIn to show the shortened lnkd.in format, omit the http:// or https:// part of the address when you add your link to your edited post.

When you do this, the original address will remain visible after you save the post.

Some bad news: the address is not shown as as a clickable link on LinkedIn desktop. Instead, it’s shown as normal black text. This means readers would need to copy and paste the link into their browser.

Better news: the address is shown as a clickable link on the LinkedIn mobile app.

Plain addresses become clickable on LinkedIn mobile

Plain addresses become clickable on LinkedIn mobile

Because LinkedIn mobile is popular, many or even most of your readers will see the nicely formatted link address on such posts.

🔍 Bonus tip for making ‘pretty’ addresses visible

If you omit the http:// or https:// part of the address but include www at the beginning, the link will be clickable even on LinkedIn desktop.

Note that some web addresses don’t work with this prefix but most do. Thanks to Tim Slatter for this find 👍🏻

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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 1024×576 pixels. This also works well for Twitter images.

If you share LinkedIn images via Buffer, make them 800×800 pixels.

Top tip for LinkedIn and Twitter image sizes

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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.

The best-performing posts tend to include text only. Most of my posts contain images and those are fine, too.

Now that LinkedIn supports native video (that’s video uploaded direct to LinkedIn rather than shared via a link to YouTube or elsewhere), these posts also perform well.

It’s fine to share external links so long as you use the write-post-edit method.

LinkedIn trainer Mark Williams has said on his Linkedinformed podcast that posts with links shared the right way achieve almost the same reach as posts without a link.

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My link-sharing failures before 2017

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.

Looking back, it’s no surprise that these LinkedIn posts rarely had more than 100 views. Likes and comments were rare, too.

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My link-sharing successes now

Now that I know that normal link-sharing doesn’t work, I no longer schedule link posts via Buffer.

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.

(I still use Buffer for sharing some text-only posts on LinkedIn and for most content for Twitter. It’s a fab free tool and well worth checking out.)

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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.

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Who wrote this?

John Espirian freelance technical copywriter

I'm John Espirian, the UK's #1 provider of technical writing services on Google. My blog provides writing tips and how-to guides on improving your online presence and marketing your business.

Hire a B2B copywriter like me if you need help explaining how your products, services and processes work. I've been in business since 2009 and am a former Microsoft Most Valuable Professional.

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