Your LinkedIn profile is the hub of your LinkedIn account.
But what if no one is finding it or visiting it?
This is where optimizing your profile with the right keywords can make all the difference.
Updated: August 17, 2020
Before you can start getting leads and sales from LinkedIn, you’ll want to make sure your profile is optimized for Search – so the people who want and need to find you, can!
No idea how to find the best keywords to use in your LinkedIn profile? Or where to put them, once you’ve found them?
No problem! In this post, I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know including:
- The best words to use in your LinkedIn profile
- How to find these keywords
- Where to use these keywords in your profile
But first, it’s important to get a basic understanding of how Search works on LinkedIn.
How Does LinkedIn Search Work?
When people on LinkedIn want to find you or someone with your skills or job title, they’ll start by entering specific words or phrases into the LinkedIn search bar.
Once they finish typing and hit the magnifying glass icon, they’ll see a number of search results they can choose from.
LinkedIn then allows users to filter these search results into a number of different categories, including people, jobs, content, companies, schools, and groups.
These filters are so helpful! They allow you to really drill down to find exactly what you’re looking for.
As with all search tools (whether it’s Google Search, Facebook Search, Instagram Search, etc.), the results will be dictated by the platform’s search algorithm.
Fortunately, the powers-that-be at LinkedIn have given us some clues as to how these results are ranked.
The #1 thing to know about LinkedIn Search is that the results are specific to the person doing the search.The #1 thing to know about LinkedIn Search is that the results are specific to the person doing the search.Click To Tweet
For instance, one person may search for you and find you on page 7, while another person may find you on page 1 of the results.
Where you show up depends on a variety of factors, including the searcher’s profile, location, and search history.
That said, there are definitely ways you can boost your chances of being found…and we’ll cover these below!
What Types of Keywords Should I Use?
Before you start doing any research, it’s important to think about which types of LinkedIn profile optimization keywords you’ll be looking for. This will very much depend on what your goals are for using LinkedIn.
Are you trying to find employment? Hoping local companies will find you because of your location and skills?
Are you hoping your profile shows up #1 in Google for your name?
Are you looking for new clients, and want them to find your profile based on the services you offer?
As you can see, the keywords you’ll target will vary depending on your goals. However, here’s a general list of keyword categories you’ll probably want to choose from:
- Job titles
- Cities or regions
- Your name
- Name of your degree or field of study
- Industry-specific skills
- Services you offer
- Products you sell
- General industry keywords
Using this list will give you a good place to start as you begin your research. But, now the question is…
How do I Find Keywords to Use in My Profile?
Finding and using the right keywords in your profile will give you the best chance of getting found – both in LinkedIn Search and in Google.Finding and using the right keywords in your profile will give you the best chance of getting found – both in LinkedIn Search and in Google.Click To Tweet
While LinkedIn Search may be highly specific to the person doing the search, Google Search is less-so; and using popular and targeted keywords will be your best friend!
There are three main ways you can find keywords to use in your profile. I’ll cover each of these in detail below.
1. Use LinkedIn’s Search Bar.
Why not go straight to the source?
Start typing your keywords into the search bar, and see what pops up. For instance, if I type in “HR”, I immediately notice several people use the title “HRMD” (Human Resource Management and Development). This is a good indication this is a popular keyword in my network, so I’ll want to make sure I use it in my profile.
Run a number of different searches and gather as many relevant keywords as you can. You can immediately start using these keywords in your profile (more on this later), or use them as a starting point for further keyword research using other tools.
You’ll also notice that as you search for keywords, LinkedIn is paying close attention. If you clear your search bar, and you’ll notice a new list of suggestions (under “Try searching for”) below your recent search history.
LinkedIn has determined these keywords are related to the ones you’ve already searched for, so feel free to use these for your research as well!
2. Use Keyword Research Tools.
As far as I know, there are no dedicated LinkedIn keyword search tools out there (i.e. that let you identify popular keywords specific to LinkedIn). However, regular keyword research tools will work for LinkedIn too.
One of my favorite tools for doing keyword research is SEMRush.
Using their free plan, you can perform up to 10 searches per day, which will get you off to a good start.
Simply enter a keyword, and you’ll get a ton of information about it including:
- How many people search for that keyword in Google
- Variations of that word or phrase
- Related keywords
- How difficult it is to rank for that keyword
In general, you’ll want to choose keywords that are extremely relevant to what you do, that have a decent search volume, and that have a lower keyword difficulty.
Another great tool you can use for keyword research is the Google Keyword Planner. It will show you approximately how many searches happen each month for your keyword, as well as how much competition there is for that keyword (competition relates to advertising, but it can still give you a decent idea of how hard it will be to get found for that term). It will also suggest related keywords you could use.
3. Do Some Competitive Research
Finally, I strongly recommend visiting the LinkedIn profiles of other people in your niche to see what keywords they’re using.
Do a search for people with your same job title or role, then filter the results by “People”.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is showing you results based on your connections, search history, and past actions – so they aren’t “true” search results (i.e., every user will get different results).
You’ll also find that not all profiles will be public; but at the very least, you’ll be able to see which keywords people are using in their headlines. And these can be a great source of ideas and inspiration for other keywords you may want to use and test for yourself.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for SEO?
Once you’ve compiled a list of keywords you want to use, it’s time to optimize your profile.
Perhaps the most important optimization technique for LinkedIn is using these keywords in your profile. However, that alone isn’t enough!
Following are 6 ways to ensure your LinkedIn profile is fully optimized for search.
1. Use Your Keywords in Key Areas of Your Profile.
First and foremost, make sure you’re writing for other LinkedIn users, not for the search engines.
That said, you do want to make sure you’re using your chosen keywords when and where they make sense.
While LinkedIn doesn’t appear to punish profiles that use too many keywords (“keyword stuffing”), you’ll still want to be careful you’re not being spammy.
I recommend using them especially in your:
- Headline (the tagline right below your name)
- About section
- Experience section
It also helps to get recommendations from other LinkedIn users, as they will naturally use a variety of keywords in their text.
Finally, including your keywords in your profile picture name and background photo name may help as well (and at the very least, can’t hurt). When uploading your images to LinkedIn, make sure to rename them using descriptive words: for instance, your name, job title, or company name.
2. Make Sure Your Profile is Complete.
There is evidence that LinkedIn shows preference to profiles that are complete, so it’s super important to make sure you’ve completed every single section!
Fortunately, LinkedIn actually gives you a running update on what you still need to complete, right near the top of your profile:
They even provide tips and samples for how to complete different sections of your profile, based on the most recent best practices. So definitely take of advantage of the advice they offer!
3. List at Least 5 Skills.
Including relevant skills in your profile is great for SEO, as it gives you another place to use your keywords. According to LinkedIn’s own research, it’s important to make sure you’ve listed a minimum of 5 skills, as users that have at least 5 skills listed are 27X more likely to get found in searches by recruiters.According to LinkedIn’s own research, it’s important to make sure you’ve listed a minimum of 5 skills, as users that have at least 5 skills listed are 27X more likely to get found in searches by recruiters.Click To Tweet
When you add skills, it also gives other users an opportunity to endorse those skills: and we know that profiles that have more endorsements also rank higher in LinkedIn Search.
So adding skills is just a great move, all around!
4. Add Your Location to Your Profile… Even if You’re Not Confined to One Geographical Area.
With so many business owners now operating online businesses, there can be a tendency not to add their geographic location to their profile.
However, according to LinkedIn, adding your location makes you 23X more likely to be found in Search.According to LinkedIn, adding your location makes you 23X more likely to be found in Search.Click To Tweet
Be sure to add your city or state/province in your contact info and when referencing past work experience and education – even if that work or schooling was done online or wasn’t confined to a specific, physical location.
Also, be sure to add variations of your city name or region: for instance, nearby cities, districts, counties, as well abbreviations for these locations. You never know what people will be searching for!
5. Customize your LinkedIn URL.
Did you know you can change your LinkedIn URL to whatever you want? By default, your profile URL will be something like www.linkedin.com/in/your-name-2knsdf83. However, by clicking on the “Edit public profile & URL” link at the top right of your profile, you can change this to whatever you like.
Generally speaking, I recommend simply changing this to your full name, and nothing else. However, if you have a very common name, you may also want to throw in your job title or a really relevant industry keyword: for instance, “john smith-marketing-pro”.
6. Make More Connections.
As mentioned earlier in this post, LinkedIn Search is customized to each individual user. When people search, their results will depend on their search history and past actions; and most importantly, on who they are connected with.
The more closely you’re connected with someone, the more likely you are to show up in their search results. LinkedIn will list all your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-level connections in the search results first.
For instance, when I search for “engineer” in People, the results are all 2nd and 3rd connections:
Your results will be very different than mine, depending on who you’re connected with.
It stands to reason that the more people you’re connected with, the more often you’ll show up in relevant searches!
Even if the idea of keyword research and SEO strikes fear in your heart, you can do this!
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile and choosing the right keywords isn’t complicated, and shouldn’t take you a ton of time.
And once you’re done, you can feel confident knowing that the people who are looking for you are far more likely to actually find you!
Need more help with LinkedIn? Check out these helpful posts: