So LinkedIn’s had a redesign. In addition to a new minimalist look and feel that utilises more viewing space, they have balanced this positive step forward with a definite ‘two steps back’ approach by deciding to add profile URLs that include a country-specific subdomain.
Here’s what I mean. My old profile URL, which still works, is: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joannabutler
However, this is now appearing on profiles as the following:
Not only this, but other country codes are also working as @danbarker noticed:
All the above URLs have not been blocked through either robots.txt or a robots Meta tag. Only the canonical tag has been used on all URLs, except the ‘www’ and ‘home’ country. The tag specifies the ‘home’ country as the main URL as follows:
As Michael Gray eloquently put it, these tags are like an SEO band-aid and entrusting your entire site and its duplicate content issues with a single tag is a little risky, if not foolish should the effect of these tags change overnight. It is much better to choose one URL and 301 redirect all to it, or at least to use some simple pattern matching in the robots.txt file to block search engines from the duplicate URLs. Failing that, implementing a ‘noindex’ robots Meta tag would help avoid issues.
But, as it currently stands, there are two URLs per profile: ‘www’ and ‘UK’ for me.
So, what are the SEO implications for LinkedIn profiles?
Besides the fact having two URLs makes absolutely no sense, users are left wondering which URL is their ‘real’ profile and therefore which to link to. Two URLs could potentially mean half the number of inbound links as they’re split between profiles, and therefore link equity, reducing it’s authority.
Rebuilding your ego SERP
If LinkedIn axed the old URLs without 301 redirects, you will probably have to rebuild that equity for your new profile URL. The link to your nicely formatted career summary in the form of your LinkedIn profile page may well disappear out of your ego SERP.
If you are based in the UK, want to connect with people in the UK, and don’t ever consider moving countries, this update is for you! However, in today’s well-connected, online society this is highly unlikely. You are far more likely to fall into one or more of the following categories:
- You work for an international company
- You need to connect to people around the world
- You may emmigrate
Therefore, you will prefer to keep the original, location-independent URL.
Already there appears to be a redundant ‘in’ directory within profile URLs, but now we have to remember what country a person resides in in order to reference them.
What benefits are there, if any, of a country subdomain?
Your profile may well rank better in local searches. That is to say if someone searches for me in the UK, my UK profile should rank better than if they were searching from the US. [However, this may not be true due to the well publicised issues with the UK SERPs recently receiving unnaturally large amounts of foreign websites in local searches, but that's a whole other topic!]
Interestingly, LinkedIn haven’t changed the ‘lang’ attribute in the HTML or employed international language changes such as using ‘resume’ in US profiles and ‘CV’ in UK profiles.
In conclusion: this is a LinkedIn #FAIL
It makes absolutely no sense to adopt this new URL structure from an SEO, usability or recruitment/business standpoint. The only possible reasons they could be opting for this format are to free up more usernames or for unknown technical reasons.
It will be interesting to see what happens to LinkedIn profiles in SERPs over the coming days and weeks. If you have any insights or opinions on this, drop me a comment as I’d love to hear them. Let’s hope you haven’t had any expensive business cards etc. printed with your LinkedIn profile URL on…