Andy Kelk

Digital Technology Leader


LinkedIn and the mystery of the visits that weren’t

I’m a fairly frequent user of LinkedIn and I often visit there to see what people in my network are doing or to connect with new people. A month or two back, LinkedIn rolled out a new “You Recently Visited” widget on the homepage which, at first glance, seemed to be a useful reminder of where I’d been.

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However, a few times I started to notice that I had “visited” people or companies when I hadn’t. In some cases, they were people I’d never even heard of. Thinking something was up, I did a bit of digging and found two different ways that it had happened.

LinkedIn follow buttons

The lightbulb moment here was when I visited our Opsview installation to check on the status of a server and then went to LinkedIn shortly afterwards; I noticed that LinkedIn now thought that I had recently visited the Opsview company page when, in actual fact, I didn’t even know they had one. Retracing my steps, I spotted that the login page for the Opsview product has a LinkedIn follow button (along with Facebook and Twitter buttons).

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So somewhere along the line, LinkedIn is counting the fact that I saw a follow button as a trigger that I “visited” the company which seems quite a stretch to me.

Google Chrome Prerendering

The other method came to me after a bit of mistyping. I was trying to type “connection” as part of a search term in the Google Chrome omnibox. Except that my fingers failed me and I ended up typing coneo and then hitting enter. A Google search results page came up to which I didn’t really pay any attention as I went about typing in my new query.

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When I visited LinkedIn later that day, I was surprised to see that I had “visited” a company called Coneo recently. That freaked me out. How did LinkedIn know what I’d been searching for on Google? It was only later that I remembered Chrome’s handy prerendering feature; if Chrome thinks it knows what you’re going to click on next, it’ll go ahead and start loading it in the background so that it’s ready and waiting for you. On a Google search results page with an exact match, that’s likely to be the top hit which, when you search for Coneo is that company’s LinkedIn profile page. So it’s explainable and not quite as creepy as I first thought. However, it could be a worry if you’re searching for someone’s name on Google and their LinkedIn profile page is the first hit – you may end up “visiting” them even when you didn’t.


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