You’ve built your LinkedIn profile, updated your work experience and education and you’re all set to launch your job search, land new clients and/or grow your business. But how do you stand out from LinkedIn’s 200 Million other members? How do you make sure that people and opportunities can actually find you? It all comes down to knowing more about the search algorithm and optimizing your LinkedIn profile accordingly. Here are seven things you need to know about LinkedIn Search…
1. LinkedIn’s Search Algorithm likes connections and profile completeness.
When people search LinkedIn, the results are, by default, sorted by “Relevance” – which is code for “LinkedIn’s Proprietary Search Algorithm.” (Hat tip to Andy Headworth of Sirona Consulting for summing it up so beautifully.) “Relevance” sorts by the following criteria:
- 1st level connections with profiles that are 100% complete (or close to it) and have the most in-common connections / shared groups, ranked in descending order
- 1st level connections with the fewest in-common connections / shared groups, ranked in descending order by profile completeness
- 2nd level connections ranked in descending order by profile completeness
- 3nd level connections ranked in descending order by profile completeness
- Shared group members (outside of your network), ranked in descending order by profile completeness
- Everyone else (those outside your network), ranked in descending order by profile completeness
So what does this mean to you and me? Because this is the default for search results and the vast majority of people aren’t even aware that they can change it, it’s extra important to a) be a 1st degree connection to as many people as possible (i.e., grow that network!) and b) have a profile that’s 100% complete. This means including a profile picture, a professional headline, your last two jobs, etc. LinkedIn will walk you through the process and let you know once your profile is 100% complete. Anything less than 100% completeness is not only hurting you from a search ranking perspective, it’s also less-than-impressive to anyone who happens to read your profile.
2. Keywords in certain sections rank higher.
A LinkedIn profile has many different sections, but LinkedIn’s Search Algorithm likes some of them better than others. Keywords in your Name, Headline, Company Name, Job Title and Skills rank higher in the search results. This is why it’s so important to have a 100% complete profile. If these key fields are blank or filled with generic terms, then you fall to the bottom of the search rankings. Think about which search terms are most important and relevant for your business / career and then search LinkedIn for those keywords. If you don’t show up on the first page of results, update these key sections (Headline, Job Title, Skills) to include those relevant terms and then search again. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you shoot up the ranks! (Side note: LinkedIn allows you to choose up to 50 Skills. If you’ve selected anything less than 50, you’re putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage. Why give your competition a free head-start in the race?)
3. Using all fields/options available to you will give you an extra advantage.
Like Skills, you can join up to 50 groups (not counting subgroups!), so take advantage of every opportunity offered to you and use all 50 spots. You have 120 characters available to you for your headline. Use as many of them as possible to create a descriptive, interesting and keyword-rich headline that attracts lots of targets to view your profile. You have 2000 characters for your summary… use them! There are 1000 characters available for your interests… the list goes on. Make full use of the fields and sections available to you to paint a detailed picture, reinforce your brand and make your profile really work for you!
4. Keywords in the “Advice for Contacting So-And-So” section don’t rank at all.
Sorry, but placing keywords in your contact section does nothing since this section is excluded from LinkedIn Search. Use this space to tell people the best way to reach you (hint: definitely include a phone number and/or email address if you REALLY want to be contacted… why hide? You don’t leave it off of your resume or business card, do you?) and place those keywords elsewhere in your profile.
5. Using a variety of keywords that mean the same thing will help you be found.
Think about all of the different ways of saying the same thing and be varied in your language when writing your profile. Maybe you’re a recruiter… There are so many different ways of saying the same thing: recruiter, recruiting, recruitment, sourcer, sourcing, staffing, talent, search, headhunter, etc. If you’re not using a variety of terms and keywords, then you may not show up in search results. Use these terms throughout your LinkedIn profile in meaningful sentences… Do NOT just keyword stuff them into your profile in one big run-on sentence of nothingness. Use them in the correct context so that the terms are meaningful and won’t turn off your audience once they arrive at your profile. A spammy profile, even if it turns up at the top of search results, is never good for your personal or professional brand.
6. Search Trends can show you the effectiveness of your search strategies.
LinkedIn allows you to see your Search Trends - how many times you’ve shown up in search results and how many people have viewed your profile over the past three months. (Click on “Your Profile Has Been Viewed by x People” on your home page and look at the chart in the top right corner.) Take advantage of this information to make changes and monitor the results. Are you showing up a lot in search results but not being viewed much? Maybe it’s time to update that profile pic and/or professional headline to be more enticing (since that’s what people see in the search results before deciding whether or not to click on your profile to view it).
Make your profile interesting and compelling to attract more viewers. Maybe you’re showing up in lots of search results but you’re buried on Page 9 and that’s why people aren’t clicking on your profile to view it. Grow your network and optimize your profile to improve your results in both of these categories – search results AND profile views!
7. SEO benefits extend beyond LinkedIn.
An optimized LinkedIn profile can have far-reaching effects. BrandYourself recently analyzed 100,000 profiles and found that LinkedIn was the social network MOST often appearing at the top of Google search results. This means that opportunities (job offers, clients, business deals, etc.) could be pouring in from both LinkedIn as well as external searches from the web. Make sure that your profile is optimized to bring opportunities your way and to be sure that your audience likes what they see when they get there!
The amount and type of data stored by LinkedIn is mind-boggling when you really think about it and there are infinite ways to slice it and dice it. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer, client or future employer and search away… How do YOU look? Can they even FIND you? Now you’ve got the knowledge to make those changes and use LinkedIn’s powerful search tools to your full advantage!
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