Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Better Search Results
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on February 3, 2013. It has been updated for accuracy and to reflect current data.
With more than 450 million registered users, LinkedIn is surpassing other platforms as the premier social media outlet for businesses. Nine out of 10 recruiters use LinkedIn to find eligible job candidates, and more than half of B2B companies are finding customers through LinkedIn, which makes it even more critical for your profile to be found.
Just as it is crucial for a website to be optimized for search results to increase traffic, the same goes for your LinkedIn profile. Implementing these 13 tips will help you boost your search rankings on both LinkedIn and Google.
1. Use Anchor Text in Links
Every LinkedIn profile "Contact Info" section can list up to three links. Default options include "Company Website" and "Blog," but these aren't very attention-grabbing or SEO-friendly. Instead, boost clicks by selecting the "Other" option in the drop-down menu. If you want to link to your blog, use a keyword-rich title that explains what your blog is about, i.e. "My Inbound Marketing Blog." Access the Contact Info section by clicking Profile > Contact Info, and clicking the pencil icon next to Websites.
2. Finish Your Profile
This one is almost a no-brainer, but far too many of us haven’t taken the time to fully flesh out our LinkedIn profiles. Complete every single section. Upload a professional-looking profile photo, ask for and give recommendations, fill out and polish your job descriptions, and include samples or links to your work. Use LinkedIn's help and the "Profile Strength" tool to guide your profile to completion.
3. Keyword-Optimize Your Job Titles
We’re definitely not recommending you describe your last position as “Management” when it was more of an administrative role, but tweaking your job titles to include a few keywords can be really beneficial. Instead of “Blog Manager,” bait search engines by changing it to “Inbound Marketing Strategy Blog Manager."
4. Maximize Your Group Membership
Joining and participating in relevant groups won’t just expand your network; it can improve your profile’s SEO performance, too. Since the group names appear on your profile, search engines have no choice but to crawl the titles and share who you are and what you do. Joining local groups like "Nashville Marketing Professionals" can help with geo-targeted SEO.
5. Aggressively Expand Your Network
If your LinkedIn network is one-fourth the size of your Facebook connections, it might be time to search your email contacts. Plus, it’s the perfect platform for connecting with colleagues while maintaining a semblance of work-life separation on social media. Entrepreneur Rick Stomphorst writes: “[LinkedIn search results] elevate results for connections within a network (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd level connections, groups). Therefore...you need to be connected to as many people as possible.”
6. Optimize Your Job Descriptions
Instead of writing out full paragraphs detailing your duties, use bullet-pointed lists that incorporate a variety of relevant keywords. Formatting your descriptions with bullet points also makes your profile more readable.
7. Claim Your Vanity URL
The fundamental SEO benefits of claiming your vanity URL may be minimal, but doing so is just good business. Connecting your LinkedIn profile to your name will allow you to be found more easily by real-life connections. A clean, custom URL is also much more attractive on business cards.
8. Don’t Keyword Stuff
While you never want to hide what it is that you do from search engines, repeating the same keyword ad nauseam throughout your profile isn’t going to give you much in terms of search benefit. Keyword stuffing also makes your profile a less compelling read. Take the approach of optimizing around secondary keywords that are still relevant and descriptive of your skill set.
9. Promote Your LinkedIn Profile Elsewhere
Include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature, your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ accounts, and any other websites you maintain to create inbound links.
10. Be Vigilant About Building Recommendations
Turns out, recommendations may have more benefits than just making you look likable to potential employers. Stomphorst believes 10 or more recommendations will elevate your profile’s search ranking.
11. Leave No Field Blank
Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t leave too much to the imagination. Fully optimize your Honors & Awards, Languages, Skills, and Education. Again, a professional-looking, high-quality photo and samples of your work are extremely important components of a complete profile.
12. Shamelessly Self-Promote
There’s little hard-and-fast evidence that promoting your latest e-book or high-performing blog content in the projects section of your profile will improve your SEO, but some believe it works to your benefit. Besides, being able to increase the visibility of your latest content marketing project certainly can’t hurt, can it?
13. Keep Collecting Endorsements
Skill endorsements are a great way to recognize your connections' strengths and have your connection validate your own skills and strengths as well. Endorsements increase the strength of your profile and help keep you connected to your network. While these may not carry as much weight as other elements of your profile, endorsements help add to the overall value of your professional profile.
Want to learn more? Check out our LinkedIn Infographic!