Get found: how to align your professional keywords with your LinkedIn profile

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 11.21.17I spend quite a lot of time fiddling with my LinkedIn profile.

It is the link I elect to include in many of my social media presences.

It features prominently in sites that I use to promote my services.

For me, the reason that it is worth the time investment is clear: LinkedIn is a traffic-driving monster on the Internet, with a global ranking of 12. It is the best, most visible, always-on means of advertising my professional services that is available to me – and it is free.

LinkedIn results feature prominently in Google search as a consequence of the fact that this professional network has become the digital Rolodex on everyone’s virtual desktop, and is used exhaustively by potential clients and recruiters alike.

It is worth remembering that LinkedIn’s default ‘People’ search crawls its user records for keywords as well as names, and that searches for leading global service providers or candidates in, for example, social health are only going to encounter those profiles that feature the keywords in question.

Just as in any other search-related context, you should be aiming to appear on the first page of LinkedIn results for the keywords that are important to you professionally. Not everyone can be on the first page, of course; but then not everyone is optimising their LinkedIn profile to ensure that they are aligned with the terms of reference that are important to them professionally.

Here is a simple method to test and tune the strength of the connection between your professional keywords and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Take a few moments to define three to five keywords that you consider to best describe your professional interests. For example, mine include ‘health’, ‘digital’, ‘pharma’, and ‘social’
  • Enter them as strings in the default ‘People‘ search bar at the top right of the LinkedIn homepage for global results or in the ‘Keywords’ field of the ‘Advanced People Search‘ which can be accessed by clicking the ‘Advanced’ link to its right. For example, the image above shows the current top results for an Advanced People Search on ‘social health’ restricted to the UK
  • Identify which results produce strong (top 10/first page) results for you, and which deliver weaker outcomes.
  • Assess the ranked performance of the search results on the keyword strings you enter relative to the importance of the terms to your professional practice
  • Revise your LinkedIn profile to include additional references to the terms that you wish to promote up the search rankings.
  • Restest your results over the coming days and weeks

The prevalence of the keywords in your profile influences the ranking of your search results, but discretion is required.

It is self-evident when users ‘game’ their LinkedIn profiles in order to manufacture results, and far better that you should find cogent, interesting ways to describe your work using the keywords that are important to you.

Cutting and pasting a keyword string 50 times in your profile may get you on the first page of results, but it would also make for rather alarming viewing and may lead observers to form an adverse opinion of your professional standing.

Get found: be creative, exercise good judgment in the way that you present yourself and deploy your keywords, and keep testing and tuning.

If the frequency with which you receive inquiries prefaced by the comment ‘I saw your profile on LinkedIn’ increases, then you’re doing the right thing.

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