What You Didn’t Find While X-Raying LinkedIn

When using search engines to source for candidates on LinkedIn, it’s common practice to exclude the “dir” directory. Whether you do it with -dir OR -inurl:dir OR -inurl:pub/dir, the goal is to ensure you eliminate directory listings from showing up in the search results.

With that said, you are potentially missing out on some great talent by excluding the dir directory. So, lets take a look at what can be discovered if we target the dir directory and exclude everything else. The string below is simply an example for you to see the syntax needed to execute the search. The most important piece is: [ inurl:pub.dir (intitle:linkedin -intitle:profiles) ], otherwise run the search as you would any other.

Run this string: [ site:www.linkedin.com “current * software engineer” “greater seattle” inurl:pub.dir (intitle:linkedin -intitle:profiles) ]


You’ll notice that the profile is indexed in Google in the “dir” directory and not the traditional “pub” or “in” directories. Because this is not the URL of a profile, you’re taken to the directory listings page when you click the link out of Google.

Now, because of how you performed the search, LinkedIn assumes you know the person’s full name (sidebar populated with the first and last name). When you click to view the profile out of the directory, you’re given access to the full profile regardless of connection level.

Additionally, you can run the string in an a private browsing session in any browser or if your using Google Chrome, you can right-click the profile link in the Google search results and select to open the profile in incognito. You’ll find it interesting what happens when you click on a profile link in Google while in a private session or if you’re logged out of LinkedIn.

Occasionally, there will be a glitch in the Matrix, you’ll find profiles indexed in both pub and pub/dir if you run separate searches, but it’s rare and when Google realizes that it’s duplicate content, it will remove one from the index. I run the search periodically and notice new profiles show up and others drop so it’s worth checking from time to time.

Something else worth noting, many of the profiles may have limited information outside of there title and company and many more will have less than 500 connections. Perhaps this explains why they are indexed the way they are. Regardless, I highly recommend you cross-reference the noticeably less active profiles to verify the information is current and that you have an alternate way to contact them if needed.


  1. says

    Shane, nice post, but re: your “Google…will remove one from the index” comment, if you append the &filter=0 parameter to your Google URL, does the duplicate result also get returned?

  2. Shane Bowen says

    Hi Glenn and thanks. I think I understand your question so I’ll answer based on how I interpreted it.

    Because we are being very specific with the search by targeting the “dir” directory with the “inurl” operator, it would be impossible to return the duplicate content within the same set of search results. That’s why I made sure I prefaced it with “you’ll find profiles indexed in both pub and pub/dir if you run separate searches”

    This piece was probably not worth mentioning but because I found examples of this happening, I decided to include it.

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