How to include links on LinkedIn posts without being penalised by the algorithm
📚 This post is part of my business blogging guide.
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 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 before 2017
- My link-sharing successes now
- 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 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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 tool and well worth checking out.)
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.
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.
Continue the business blogging guide
This post is part of my definitive business blogging guide.
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