How Linkedin Hacked Google And Grew Over 250%

Imagine a perfect world. Imagine all of the right things in all of the right places. No cell phone outages, no Kardashians, and employers that actually hire based on ability.

You sit at work for how many hours? 10? 12? And let me guess, you never ever go onto any social network from your desk, right?

I mean, that’s what our parents did when they were our age, they focused….for 10 hours straight…every day


Not so much. Learning, focus and productivity happens differently these days. I did a lecture at UCLA recently where I discussed this idea. It’s called “Go, stop, go”. Where we sit, work, collaborate, break and do other things in shorts bursts with lots of feedback.

Here’s a chart on how you make those decisions.



What does this have to do with LinkedIn growth hacking Google?

LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman realized the same idea in the early days during LinkedIn’s growth stage. We work differently today, with networking and communication about that work front and center.

When he saw that core behavior start changing, he knew if he aided the visual and digital manifestation of that, it would be big.

Here’s How The Hack Worked Against Google

Early on in LinkedIn days, Reid focused on getting 1 million users, this was his big goal. This caused the core team to focus on growth hacking, and trying to figure out how to scale visitors.

Right from the start, they knew that Google was the biggest traffic driver on the internet.

If they were going to get to 1 million users, they needed a way to get traffic from Google in a big way.


Since SEO controls the large majority of traffic for any niche, they knew that SEO would be where they focused their efforts.

What’s interesting, is that this strategy would take some very techincal solutions and ideas, and would never ever get a lot of press. The un-popular thinkers at the company would have to build the site’s pages in such a way, that the site quietly started getting lots of traffic.

So here’s what they did…

  1. They knew that each of their professional profiles would contain lots of great information that was previously only seen on a resume in the past.
  2. They wanted to offer a limited view of that information to the public and knew that Google would show this “fresh content” in the search results.
  3. They also knew, that nothing would compete in the search results like that since it’s was all new information that hadn’t been shared online yet.

The problem was, that one of the values of a social network was that the information on it is exclusive for members. so…

How do we share our information but not share out information?

Answer: Put Them Inside Of A Gated Paradise

In this ideology, you’ve got a cage so big and beautiful and luxurious that no one ever wants to wander out.

Remember The Truman Show?


In LinkedIn’s terms, that mean sharing a version of the professional profiles with Google, available to non-members. This way Google can scan and display the information when people searched for a particular person that had a LinkedIn profile.

They call these Public Profiles

Here’s what they look like. You’ve probably seen them when you’ve searched for someone online.


The hack that LinkedIn did, allowed a preview of every single professional profile to be searched by Google. So, when you search for anyone’s name, if they have a LinkedIn profile, they’ll show up.

This worked in a massive way, here’s why…

People constantly are searching for other people. Your name gets searched mostly for:


  1. Job application
  2. Friends searching friends
  3. New acquaintance search
  4. Business related purposes
  5. Dating purposes
  6. legal or financial reasons
  7. Background checks

Here’s what people are finding when they search for you…


Once Google started indexing these public profiles online, they started to show up in search results for people’s names. When that happened, the power of exponential was fully realized.

Traffic started pouring into LinkedIn’s site.

LinkedIn went from 2 million users to 200 million users from making the below profile types public in Google search.



Now that’s a great growth hack!

During my research I found a great resource for a large list of the best growth hacks. You can definitely learn something from these. Enjoy!