LinkedIn Opens Groups to Search Engines

LinkedIn LogoLinkedIn groups have been a great resource for some meaty discussions and the ability to connect with business professionals in your industry. As a business platform, LinkedIn while making strides to be more interactive and has had great success with the sharing tool unveiled in April, the voting buttons to discussions and most recently adding user permissions to groups to help group administrators avoid spammers, the groups were still not seen outside of LinkedIn. The discussions and conversations on LinkedIn are very focused and useful not only for job seekers but for those who are looking for answers, a different POV and also connection with a targeted audience to grow their business. LinkedIn has added the functionality for group administrators to open groups to be indexed by the search engines.

LinkedIn Opens Groups

LinkedIn group discussions are contained within the confines of the LinkedIn platform and only available to LinkedIn members and group members. While this did increase the time LinkedIn members spent on the site, the discussions were only shared if a member of the group opted to tweet the link or share the link on Facebook. We know that generally the same group members participate and while this did provide an opportunity to build relationships with these group members, it was still limiting. In addition to be limiting in the members who participated, the maximum amount of groups members were allowed to join was 50. While this seems like a large number, it is challenging for very active LinkedIn users who were looking to be a member of diverse groups or who were looking to be able to find some targeted discussions, to grow their network, resources and knowledge base. The open groups is not limited to LinkedIn members nor do you have to be a member of the group to view the discussion.  The search engines will be able to crawl and index the open LinkedIn groups and share them in the search results.

How do Open Groups Work?

LinkedIn open groups are housed on LinkedIn as they always have been and will appear in search results as a url to the discussion. Members and non members of LinkedIn will be able to click the link from the search engine and have the discussion available to view.

Performing a very detailed search (to ensure I would find a LI open group) you can see that this search yielded an open group result that was ranked in the #1 spot. Many times the LinkedIn groups discussions (or at least the ones that I have observed) are users asking questions or are posting blog articles that spark a sensational conversation. These conversations are very targeted to answering the question or to commenting on an article. Search queries that are very targeted as the one below would provide the LinkedIn open group result as it is an exact match to the search query.

linkedin open groups on search engines

A search query that is not as targeted to the LinkedIn open group as you can see did not yield the same results:

LinkedIn Open Group search results

How does A Group Become an Open Group

LinkedIn will be contacting (if they have not do so already) all group administrators to give them the option to open their group. If a group is opened, all members will be notified and only the discussions from that point on will be open. The previous discussions will be only available to members of that group in the members only archive. In addition, while the content will be able to be viewed by anyone online, if they wish to participate in the discussion, they must become a LinkedIn member.

Sharing Open Group Discussions

LinkedIn has also added the functionality of being able to share the open group discussion from the web to your LinkedIn status update, on Twitter and also Facebook.

sharing discussions for open groups

LinkedIn Open Groups and Personal Brand

Your personal brand is important. Trying to develop and garner positive results in the search results is not always so easy, especially with a common name. We know that LinkedIn will rank well as our profiles rank well already. Participating in an open group discussion(s) will definitely at some point be associated with your name in the search results. That helps your personal brand as people see  you are active online and also with a common name, you will be able to distinguish yourself from others.

What are your thoughts on the open groups? Would you me be apt to join an open group and participate or a closed group that is not indexed and ranked? Will this change the way that you use LinkedIn?

photo credit: LI logo: Mario Sundar, LI sharing: LinkedIn Blog

  • That’s a sort of revolution Suzanne, and a very smart move from LinkedIn. I can safely assume groups participation will go skyhigh with this change, I am actually surprised it took them so long to think about it. Not that I blame them, I didn’t think about it either, but I am glad it happened.
    So many changes in LinkedIn lately, uh?

    • Gabriele

      It is a good move so long as group admins make the change. I have not seen many thus far but as it becomes more popular and I think that it will, especially from group members wanting it opened, we will see more and more opened.

      There are more changes that I have in the can to write about. LinkedIn is slowly but surely creating a platform that meets the demands of how we interact on other platforms but yet also keeping it as a professional platform.

      One part that I did not cover in this article is the advertising on LI and open groups. That will be in another article as I do some research on it but from an advertiser will we see where they can choose to advertise in an open group or a closed. Have to wonder how LI will handle that and also the pricing structure.

  • Anonymous

    LinkedIn is a great business tool if users are actively engaged, know how to find the groups they could or should care about, and then join the discussion. Open groups will serve to accelerate a user’s ability to show their interests, expertise and personality by being indexable by Google, and open to viewing from non-members of the group. I think this is a very good step.

    • Nancy

      Thank you for reading and also commenting. There are many advantages to open groups; not only for users but also for advertisers. I see this as a plus in so many different areas, should there be control from admins to watch the spam.

  • Love this info. I so easily overlook LinkedIn in the social networking landscape. And yet, it has proven time and time again to be the most useful. I’m eager to see just where these open groups are a year from now in terms of adoption, spamming, etc.

    bd
    @bdunc1

    • Brett

      I am curious too. I was looking over the changes LI has implemented over the past year and each one of them has been pretty much adopted by users without any glitches. The spammers, well that is not something that we can ever abolish however it seems the group admin seem to do a good job with getting rid of them.

  • Clydd

    finally! they opened it up. I was perplexed at why Linkedin was a Walled Garden of knowledge.
    I’d asked this question 2 years ago:
    http://www.linkedin.com/answers/using-linkedIn/ULI/455211-26185359

    Regards
    Clyde

    • Clydd

      It is a great new feature however there are many groups that are not taking advantage of this. I am not sure why as it not only is exposure, it is also bringing in more opportunity for discussion and connections. I guess the view is that if you want to participate, you have to be a part of the group. Sort of like exclusivity. That thinking to me as it relates to LI is kinda of archaic.

      • Colleen Aylward

        I think the reason many Groups are staying “closed” is that they don’t want the world to see their discussions. Many groups have small memberships on purpose since they want to discuss business issues or ask questions within a trusted fellowship. Just a thought.

        • Colleen

          I see that as a very valid point. I also see the community on LI wanting it to stay there and not venture out onto the search engines as Facebook has. I see more questions asked in the question and answer section than I do in the discussions (for the groups I am in at least). I have some groups that are open and some that have remained closed and there is no difference in the interaction of the groups. Kinda of a short lived buzz I guess.