LinkedIn Faceted Filters Make Search More Granular

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-12-17

LinkedIn has improved its search technology by adding new filters to make it easier for the professional networking site's more than 50 million users to find new contacts.

LinkedIn users need to be aware of these faceted search filters, which are generated on the fly based on users' query results and appear in the new Refine By module.

These filters help users whittle down their queries based on: current company and past company, location, relationship, location, industry, school, and profile languages.

"The filters are generated in real time for every query by parsing all matching results and extracting the most important attributes," said LinkedIn Senior Product Manager Esteban Kozak, who shepherds the company's search efforts. "We then present those to you in an intuitive interface that lets you select one or multiple filters per facet."

In a demonstration video, Kozak found experts in the oil exploration industry. He typed "drilling" into the search box, and saw 22,900 contacts. To narrow this down, he then chose Oil and Energy from the Industry facet, whittling the options down to 12,200 contacts.

He further pared the search to by location, picking Venezuela. Finally, he picked U.S. companies -- Halliburton and Chevron -- and got seven contacts, a much more manageable number.

This is a vast improvement over LinkedIn's previous search, helping users improve the needle-in-the-haystack factor of finding valuable contacts.

Faceted search filters come more than a year after LinkedIn rolled out its new people search technology, which let users search for contacts by name, company, school, language and other categories.

In his blog post, Kozak said this launch almost doubled overall search activity on LinkedIn. This is no surprise; search on LinkedIn was generally poor before Kozak and his team launched people search. Expect search to increase with these new filters.

Will faceted search bring new users to LinkedIn? No, but it will ensure the existing users have better opportunities for finding relevant, professional contacts.

The move also comes a month after LinkedIn inked a deal with Twitter to enable users to tweet their status from LinkedIn and pipe their Twitter tweets to LinkedIn from Twitter.

The company in November also formally launched its development platform to let software programmers put LinkedIn's profile content into their business applications and Web sites.

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