LinkedIn has done very well to remain relevant in an online social world dominated by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and increasingly Instagram. It makes sense too, as a personal Facebook profile might not be what you want people to see while you go about your professional life. So, the chances are that you’ve got one, but are you making the most of it?
If you’re happy in your current job with no plans to move, or have all the clients you need and would have to turn new ones away, you potentially don’t need LinkedIn right now. However, if you need to network and want to use the platform for your personal development, you need to put it to work. One of the earliest and best things you can do is to optimise it, so you turn up in search results.
You might want clients or contacts, or you may secretly crave a new job. That means appearing in front of different people, but the search box doesn’t discriminate. If someone searches and you’re the right person for whatever they need, you need to ensure you give yourself every chance of showing up.
1. Start with Your Profile Picture and Headline
Optimising a LinkedIn profile for search is not the same as optimising a website, and you have a different opportunity to grab attention. When you search on the platform, results come back with a name, profile picture and headline. At this point, you have a couple of seconds to convince the searcher that you’re the result they’re looking for. Try to appear professional but approachable in the picture, and make the best use possible of the 120 characters in your title.
2. The Summary is the Next Step
So, you’ve got someone onto your profile – now you need to convert them. There is no better way than with the summary box. Fortunately, if they’re already on your page, you’ve got a few more seconds to seal the deal. Tell a story and cover your experience by all means. However, one part of a summary that most LinkedIn users forget is their contact details. They appear separately on your page so there should be no need for a copy elsewhere. However, your contact details only appear to those in your network. If you want unsolicited contact, make yourself easy to find.
3. Try to Remain Active and Relevant
For a casual LinkedIn user, news and events that warrant a LinkedIn share come around once a year, if that. You might be the same, but if you want to appear more, you need to contribute content. This doesn’t need to be anything more than a favourite quote or life event – just give the impression that if someone takes the time to get in touch, you’re likely to reply.
4. You Have 50 Available Group Memberships – Use Them
If you’re not in a LinkedIn group, you’re potentially missing out on one of the most valuable parts of the platform. This benefits search visibility as you’ll appear more prominently in results when other members of the same group carry out a search. You should also take this opportunity to add value – don’t lurk in a group if you’ve got something worthwhile to add. Any post can encourage people to get in touch.
5. Post Directly
LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, so nobody wants to see what you had for dinner or what happened in the latest episode of your favourite show. However, you can use the differences between the platforms to your advantage. Long-form content doesn’t work on Facebook. On LinkedIn, it is not only expected but encouraged and serves as a great way to build your authority and network in one fell swoop.
6. Mix It Up with Media
Not everyone wants to sit in front of a camera or talk on a podcast, but if you’ve got existing media content or the willingness to create some, they can make your profile pop. This is particularly handy if you want a new job, as potential employers can learn more about you, your tone and your demeanour in a 60-second video than in 5,000 words of written content.
7. Keep Building Your Network
If you’re not within three degrees of separation of someone in your network, you won’t appear in search results with a standard LinkedIn account, no matter what. The obvious way to overcome this is to make your network bigger. Professional people get a rush from a new network request – as long as it’s not spam. When networking or meeting for the first time, add them on LinkedIn. Even if you never speak to them again, your search reach just increased massively.
8. Pick Up the Best URL Available
Once LinkedIn considers your profile complete, you’ll receive the option to change the default web address. While these are commonly known as vanity URLs, they do serve a purpose. Why limit yourself to LinkedIn’s search when you can appear in other searches too? If someone Googles your name and LinkedIn, the vanity address stands every chance of propelling your profile to the top of the listings.
9. Go After Recommendations
The more recommendations you have, the better you’ll rank for specific search terms. If you’re lucky or exceptional, they’ll flow naturally. If your previous work had nothing to do with LinkedIn, you might need to put in the work. Think of anyone that might recommend your services and ask them to provide a testimonial directly through the platform.
10. If You Have Traditional SEO Skills, Put Them to Use
We mentioned earlier that profile optimisation is not the same as its webpage equivalent, but there is some crossover. LinkedIn’s internal search is nowhere near as sophisticated as Google’s equivalent, but it still uses keywords and formatting to aid in finding the right results. Don’t spam your job role 50 times, but do use it enough to let humans and search crawlers alike know when your page is relevant.