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LinkedIn – the Search People results are no longer “relevant”

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What happened?  I used to be #1 in the search results for Patrick O’Malley in LinkedIn, and now I’m not even in the top 90!  Did you check to see what happened to you?

This is basically a pointless rant.


I’m not very good looking, I can’t sing, and I couldn’t hit the curve ball.  However, I was always the #1 match in LinkedIn in a search for my own name, Patrick O’Malley, so my life was full.

That all changed recently, when I found out (during a Boston Globe interview with Scott Kirsner) that I was no longer #1, and dropped so far that it took 5 minutes and a silicon valley microscope to find my profile.

Here are the current attributes for top 3 search results for Patrick O’Malley:

Patrick O’Malley #1

  • 22 connections
  • Lives in Boston
  • Has no picture, which is a good thing, because if I saw him on the streets of Boston he’d be in trouble
  • No recommendations, and he certainly isn’t getting one from me
  • Works for a company called BigBad.  Is LinkedIn afraid of the BigBad Patrick O’Malley?

Patrick O’Malley #2

  • 20 connections
  • Has a picture, but he isn’t even as good looking as me

Patrick OMalley #3

  • Can’t spell his own name.  He put it in without the apostrophe.  He would have lost 200 points on the SATs because he didn’t remember how he’s supposed to spell it.  Or in his words, he didnt remember how hes supposed to …
  • ZERO connections.  That’s right.  Zero.  He has no friends, no business associates, he knows no one, except maybe the search engineers at LinkedIn who put him in 3rd place.  However, even they wouldn’t connect with him.

I show up on page 10, which means I am actually the 91st Patrick O’Malley out of 109 results.  Just to add insult to injury, page 9 actually has people named Pat Hawes and Pat Masterson that rank before me in a search for the name Patrick O’Malley.

For years, I had been the #1 match for my name out of more than 100 Patrick O’Malley’s, so students in my LinkedIn seminars occasionally asked how I got there.  More importantly, they wanted to know how they could rank higher for their own name.  I never knew for sure, but I had always assumed that the LinkedIn Search People function would order its search results based on some combination of

  • the age of the account
  • the number of connections
  • completeness of the profile (picture, recommendations, etc)
  • whether you are the first to get the Public Profile URL for your name

The values for my profile showed credibility and longevity, so I thought that was the reason I ranked #1.  I would advise them to increase their connections, add recommendations, add a picture, et cetera.  However, LinkedIn changed the order of the search results completely at some point in the last couple of months, and now there are 90 people that rank before me.  Now I have no idea what criteria they use.

Ironically, my new enemies have the same name as me.

I am now going to use the LinkedIn Search People function to find a lawyer, a senator and a mafia hitman to fight this travesty from every angle.

I am not the only victim.  My friend Mike O’Neil, with 24,000 connections, doesn’t even rank in the top 100 matches for his own name.  Misery loves company, so somehow this makes me feel better, although we both wish misery didn’t love our companies so much.

I can’t resolve why LinkedIn reshuffled the search results, just like I couldn’t resolve how to hit the curve ball.

Now I have to get better looking, or learn how to sing.

Are you the #1 match for your name?

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1 Chris Yetman { 08.27.09 at 11:02 am }

Boy is that strange. Yes, I am last on the list of Chris Yetman’s even though none of their profiles are as complete or have anywhere near the connections that mine does. I would hope it’s something they correct since the search, as you put it, should be relevant to the completeness of profile and connections/etc since if people are looking for Patrick O’Malley then you would be the likely one they are looking for (besides, is there really any other? I’ve always thought of the rest of them as cheap imitations.).

2 Robert Goldasich { 08.28.09 at 7:32 pm }

Hmmm – I guess there IS something to be said about having an unusual name like “Robert Goldasich”…my ranking hasn’t changed! Don’t worry though, you’re still the # 1 ranked “Patrick O’Malley” in our book! 😉

3 Kevin Mann { 09.02.09 at 11:23 am }

I haven’t seen a change. I’m always ranked first and tagged with “you.” If I search without logging in, I can’t tell the number of connections but the list seems to be alphabetical by city or major metro area. Why not start a Patrick O’Malley group and only allow people with derivatives of your name to join? This would put you in control.

4 Patrick OMalley { 09.03.09 at 1:00 am }

CY – 🙂
RG – thanks
KM – I just think the group idea sounds a little bit ego-centric, although I see the point. Maybe when a bunch of other people have done it, i’ll jump in the pool

5 Damian { 10.02.09 at 11:09 am }

Any feedback from linkedin?

6 Patrick OMalley { 10.02.09 at 11:44 am }

No feedback from LinkedIn, but I don’t think anyone expects any

7 C.K. Leverett { 10.04.09 at 2:15 pm }

Hmm… I’m first on my list… of course, I’m also the only… 🙂

8 Lorenzo Turco { 10.06.09 at 9:40 am }

Are you the #1 match for your name? YES I AM!!!

9 Lorenzo Turco { 10.06.09 at 9:44 am }

…that’s simply because I have no homonymous on LinkedIn! : )

10 Ralph Romano { 12.22.09 at 2:07 am }

Hello Everyone,

Linkin has chosen to go with a Google Search for the searches that you are doing. Google Searches utilizes a BTree Search and displays an unsorted approach appears to users like a warm and fuzzy search. That is why some people don’t share your name but are close. This search comes in after some (undetermined) amount of time has passed during the search. The BTree Search does not read information in any order but rather order that it pops up in the BTree Search engine. Many of the other qualities would require significantly more time and planning to produce. This equals substantially reduced profits and even slower searches (Just to be clear – They are too slow as it is).

I hope this helps.

Have a wonderful day,

11 Patrick OMalley { 12.22.09 at 7:12 am }


Where did you get your information? No offense but I have disagreements with a lot of what you’re saying, especially “Google Searches utilizes a BTree Search and displays an unsorted approach”.

It is well documented that Google uses hundreds of factors to sort results.

12 LinkedIn training tip - put the name of your city in text somewhere in your profile | Missing LinkedIn Tips for Sales, Jobs, Recruiting, HR, etc { 02.02.10 at 11:05 pm }

[…] I used to be the #1 match for Patrick O’Malley, and now I’m not in the first 10 pages.  If you want to see a funny blog entry on it, click… […]

13 Paul Furiga { 05.05.10 at 3:56 pm }

Patrick, perhaps you have shared this tip elsewhere, I am catching up on some of your older posts. As of today (May 2010) you can now sort results by connections and so now your “good works” on Linked In shine — when I sort by connections in the people search box, you pop up first (where you belong, of course). Since you wrote this, it seems Linked In has added the ability to sort results by relevance (whatever that means), relationship, relationship and recommendation, # of connections and “keyword.” These changes do seem to restore some of the luster you had earlier . . . if you know how to use them!

14 98Daniella { 12.28.16 at 2:41 am }

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