LinkedIn overhauls its search platform

Social network for business users aims to make it easier to find specific people on its site

The LinkedIn business social network this week rolled out an overhauled search platform that it says will let users more easily find who they are looking for on the site.

The new search engine uses what Esteban Kozak, a senior product manager at LinkedIn, called a personalized relevance algorithm to pick out the most relevant users in the 31 million-member LinkedIn community.

In a blog post , Kozak noted that the searcher's network is a key factor in ranking search results. Therefore, every matching search result is evaluated based on who is executing the search. "The end result is a personalized relevance algorithm that places the professionals that are most likely to be of interest at the top of the first search results page. We synthesized over a thousand pieces of feedback and analyzed data from over a billion search queries" in creating the engine, he said.

New features include an "In Common" field, which lets users find what connections and groups he or she shares with the users listed in search results. In addition, users can customize their views of results. Thus, users can add or remove fields based on their own needs.

"We also saw in the data that many of you use search to get to your connections quickly," Kozak noted. "In order to make it more efficient, we developed a type-ahead widget that recommends connections as you type from any people search box."

Jason Kincaid, a blogger at TechCrunch, noted that the company is looking for the revamped search engine to streamline the most often used features on the network by the LinkedIn community of business users.

"The engine also streamlines advanced search by presenting options in a more accessible menu (some of the features were previously available, but buried so that most users never found them)," he added. " Most of the new features revolve around people-search ... and while there isn't anything particularly exciting from the user's perspective the changes make the engine significantly more convenient (and will hopefully help the recently unemployed get back on their feet that much faster)."

One of the search engine's most powerful new features, he added, is persistent search, which allows users to set up alerts notifying them when a company hires an executive, or when a potential job candidate may be available for hire. "Before now there have been a few ways to create similar notifications but this is the first time that LinkedIn has integrated this functionality," Kincaid noted.

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Heather Havenstein

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