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How “Search by Name” Became LinkedIn’s Hidden Growth Driver

Free Content

Googling, as in “to Google” someone or something, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006

It’s always been a popular method for finding information about famous and historical people. But as the internet grew, the search engine became more popular for digging up dirt on everyday people.

You’d “Google” everyone, from teachers and coworkers to doctors and potential dating partners.  In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, Googling someone might bring up a Facebook or even MySpace page.

Over a decade later, who takes up this seemingly invaluable online real estate? 


Launched in 2002, LinkedIn is the leading social network used by prospective employees, businesses, and recruiters. If you’re reading this, chances are you use it daily for everything from market research to networking with other marketers. 

And you’re not alone. 

LinkedIn currently boasts a user base of 875M members across 200 countries and territories, making it one of the biggest social platforms. 

Thanks to its widespread popularity,  Linkedin boasts some seriously impressive SEO stats:

  • 403 million backlinks (3.4 billion all-time) 
  • 4.2M+ referring domains
  • 95.2M organic visits a month
  • $57.3M in monthly organic traffic value

Not bad eh?

The massive search volume and value should be no surprise. 

As a professional social network, LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable tool for recruiting top talent. Global corporations, media giants, and tech institutions alike all use the platform to their advantage. From search by name to filtering jobs based on salary and remote accessibility, there’s a lot the platform offers. 

But for marketers, there’s one aspect that stands above the rest—it’s an engagement magnet. 

Just take a look at the 10 largest LinkedIn pages by number of followers

These company pages post content that generates millions in views, likes, and shares for LinkedIn every day. And billions of dollars in ad revenue to boot. 

The obvious drivers of LinkedIn’s growth are professional networking and paid advertising. 

But there’s a lesser-known phenomenon making a major behind-the-scenes contribution to LinkedIn’s online success. 

The user search feature. 

LinkedIn is the New “Search by Name” Giant

Before LinkedIn really took hold as a social platform, Googling someone would typically turn up one of a few results: 

  • A personal/professional blog
  • A business or organization site listing employees
  • A Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), or MySpace page

Back then, the majority of people fell into the latter category. 

Then people began changing their names or adjusting their account settings to keep their private life, well, private. Who wants potential employers scrolling through our pictures from college or vacations? 

But with LinkedIn, people actually want to be found by recruiters and prospective employers—and vice versa. 

These people want to expand their network of professional relationships. So, the company built out a powerful search engine that allows users to filter searches based on the range of different pages that exist on the platform—from companies and events to interest groups and even specific products.  

Leading the list of filters, and rightly so, is the “people” filter. 

It lets you search through the 875,000,000 LinkedIn users to zero in on the most relevant ones. In fact, if you navigate to the people section of the search page, Linkedin provides you with access to an estimated 872,000,000 distinct user pages:

Employers, recruiters, and curious professionals can search for anyone relevant to their professional network by name and apply a number of filters to refine results. It’s a key part of any social platform, particularly one targeted towards business.

But that’s not all. 

There’s a hidden SEO benefit to the LinkedIn search-by-name feature that often goes unnoticed. 


The Perfect Long Tail Strategy: Leverage the Unique Names of Your 875M Users

Digital marketers are well aware that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to search volume. Niche keywords and phrases are a key resource for companies and online entities that want to build their online presence across all relevant Google SERPs. 

Capturing the search traffic for unique keywords is a solid SEO strategy for companies within niche industries or dealing with complicated topics. Many media companies make a living off esoteric terms like Kubernetes in cloud computing or medical terminology for WebMD

No piece of online real estate can go to waste when it comes to capturing attention in an increasingly digital world.  Brands need to take advantage of any available space across social media platforms, search engines, and web properties to build an SEO moat that increases their SERP dominance. 

As a social platform, LinkedIn is designed with consistent engagement in mind. They don’t necessarily need a comprehensive SEO strategy to succeed. Still, companies need to grasp any opportunity to leverage available SERP space. 

And LinkedIn does just that. 

They take some of the least searched terms, at least in terms of monthly value, and turn them into a secondary growth driver.

These terms? The individual names of their 875 million users.


Unique Names are Perfect for SEO Moats 

On an individual level, full names tend to be near the very, very end of SEO’s long tail. With monthly search volumes often falling in the tens and even single digits.

With such a low volume, how does the search volume of these names benefit LinkedIn?  To answer that question, let’s take a look at the Google search results for a few of our Foundationite content specialists. 

After getting over the inherent icky-ness of Googling my own name, what’s the first result I come across in the SERPs? A link to my LinkedIn page. 

Now I’m not exactly the most active person on social media, so my LinkedIn page isn’t competing against my profiles from other social platforms. To get a more accurate representation, let’s do a quick Google search of Ross and Jessica as well.

If we search the full name of our content specialist Jessica, her LinkedIn page claims the second SERP, coming in just after her X profile. 

Ross’ LinkedIn page falls a few spots from the top in the Google search results, coming in at a respectable 3rd following his personal website and X profile. 

So, across 3 distinct names, LinkedIn claims a spot on the podium for each with a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd spot. Even when competing against optimized web pages and profiles from larger social platforms, LinkedIn reliably shows up in prime SERP real estate for individual names.

And remember, there are another 869,999,997 personal pages on the platform—each connected to a name that serves as a long-tail keyword. It’s highly likely that LinkedIn claims a top 5 spot for the majority of these names as well. 

Naturally, there will be some repetitions. Let’s say, conservatively, that there are 50 different LinkedIn profiles for a given name. That still means they have 17,400,000 opportunities to rank in the first position for that name (not to mention the rest of the spots on that same SERP page). 

What does this mean?

Incredibly low-volume keywords, when aggregated at scale, can make a massive impact on SEO performance.

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