7 Ways To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

I admit it. I Google myself. No, I’m not vain. Okay, maybe a little. Even so, I’m always curious to see the ranking Google gives sites I’m on, such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, Blog Talk Radio (yeah, I’m as surprised as you are), and LinkedIn.

I was even more surprised to find that my LinkedIn profile was at the top of the list of my Google search results. If you’re on LinkedIn, search yourself on Google and let me know where your LinkedIn profile ranks. I’m curious.

LinkedIn has been around longer than Twitter and Facebook, but that can’t be the only criteria Google used to give an advantage to LinkedIn profiles in their search results. More likely, it’s the professional nature of LinkedIn as opposed to the more personal, leisurely nature of the majority of Facebook posts and tweets.

Since Google favors LinkedIn when it comes to search results, keep that in mind if you’re networking or job hunting. If a potential employer considers you for a position, don’t think they aren’t Googling you too. If your LinkedIn profile comes up first, then you certainly want to make sure it’s up-to-date.

At the training company I work for, one of my social media management tasks is to counsel various departments on how to network properly on LinkedIn. Here are a few of those tips to help you improve your LinkedIn profile:

1. Give Good Face
The first impression anyone searching for a LinkedIn profile gets is from the photo that pops up with your profile headline. Make sure it’s a recent photo. Make sure it looks professional. That photo your frat brother took of you from the tailgating party last fall is awesome, but not for LinkedIn.

2. Think Headline
Most folks think your profile headline has to be your job title. That’s not necessarily true. I suggest you treat it like a headline, just like LinkedIn calls it. Can you get your elevator pitch down to eight words? If so, then you have your new LinkedIn profile headline. Instead of “East Coast Sales Manager,” there’s nothing wrong with ”IT Solutions Provider/Cloud Computing Expert“ or ”Assists Fortune 500 Companies with IT Solutions“ as long as it’s a true statement.

3. Back Up the Headline
You have your headline, now tell the story behind it. If you can’t boast about yourself, who will, right? But you don’t want to come off like a chest-pounder. Just state the facts clearly and concisely like a good news story. Include the Who, What, Where, When, and, most importantly, How. If you want to stand out, don’t simply list your job description. Make it compelling, yet truthful. Make me want to network with you or hire you.

4. Know Your Audience
If you’re a networker, then write your summary and job descriptions like a networker. If you’re looking for a job, then write your summary and job descriptions for potential employers. You can’t have it both ways.

5. Know Your Keywords
Keywords are the fuel for any search that you expect to go the distance. I deal with folks in the IT world, so terms like cloud computing, cybersecurity, malware, and virtualization show up often. Make sure you know the keywords in your industry, and make sure they appear in your summary and job descriptions. If that doesn’t help your Google search, at the least it will improve your LinkedIn search results. Last year, there were 2 billion LinkedIn people searches. If you haven’t updated your profile with keywords lately, now seems to be a perfect time.

6. Get Personal
LinkedIn instituted a personal update feed similar to Facebook and Twitter feeds. The LinkedIn personal update feed appears when folks first log in to LinkedIn, so make it good. My LinkedIn personal update is connected with my Twitter, so when I tweet, my LinkedIn update is, um, well it’s updated. One thing I love about the LinkedIn personal update is that when someone comments on it or “likes” it, the update appears at the top of the feed again, even if it’s days old. That’s another reason to make it good. Your LinkedIn personal update could be as simple as a piece of advice or a question of folks in your industry. If you really want to keep it simple, just say what you’re doing, like “Preparing my presentation for next week’s event in Orlando” or “Looking forward to meeting with Soandso Inc today.” You’ll be surprised how often folks will comment on your updates, especially if you travel to their city or mention their company.

7. You Dropped Something
Don’t be afraid to name drop. Early in my career, I worked on projects for RCA, Toshiba, Muzak, and ACE Hardware. Did I forget to mention those on my LinkedIn profile? No, I did not. Luckily, I work for a company that offers Cisco, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware training. Did I forget to connect with execs from those companies through my LinkedIn profile? No, I did not.

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16 comments

  1. Daniel E Jackson Reply

    It’s so weird, the only thing that pops up about me is my twitter, or my old twitter handle rather. I don’t see my Facebook or Linkedin.

    1. John Mark Ivey Reply

      I’m afraid the more common your name is – the harder it is to find your LinkedIn profile within Google search results. Probably a lot of Jacksons out there, but ultimately your increasing social media clout will improve those search results.

  2. Ingrid Jonsson Reply

    Just like you, my LinkedIn profile is at the top of the search results list when I “Google myself”. FYI… I do have a Google profile (I use gmail…) as well as Facebook & Twitter accounts. Other than that, my name appears on Wikipedia where I’m listed as a member of a Bay Area ska band (I was the original lead singer). All that said – LinkedIn ranks the highest for me too & is the first item listed in my search results.

  3. Claudia Guajardo-Yeo Reply

    Thank you for the very useful suggestions you give in your article.

    I wasn’t aware of the priority given by Google to the LinkedIn information for the search results. The last time I googled myself was quite a long time ago. They have certainly changed the approach for this kind of search. Thanks for bringing this up!

    One thing I’m curious about is when you mention that “If you’re a networker, then write your summary and job descriptions like a networker. If you’re looking for a job, then write your summary and job descriptions for potential employers.” What would the difference be in the summaries and job descriptions? That is something I never thought.

  4. John Mark Ivey Reply

    Hi Claudia. Thanks for the most excellent question. I felt your question deserved more of an answer than I could just put into a comment window, so I wrote a new post about it: http://blog.globalknowledge.com/headline/using-linkedin-to-better-network-and-find-a-better-job/

  5. Timothy Van Camp Reply

    Even with a name like Timothy Van Camp, I still got beat out by the scurge of social media – a Realtor®. But the Linkedin profiles of both me and Tim VanCamp showed up top.

  6. John Mark Ivey Reply

    Even though this post ran 5 months ago, it still holds true – my LinkedIn profile still tops my Google rankings. Surprisingly my new Google+ profile was at the bottom. Twitter and Facebook, came in second & third respectively, followed by my old Myspace profile and my new Quora profile.

  7. John Mark Ivey Reply

    So with the launch of Google+ into the social media world, guess what’s top now when I Google myself? You guessed it, my Google+ page which actually comes up first and fifth. At least my LinkedIn profile only fell to second, but my personal Twitter fell to fourth. And what’s pulling up the rear of the pack? My work and personal Facebook pages. Take that Facebook!

  8. Afreed Mistry Reply

    Yes, my LinkedIn profile is first followed by Twitter. Since I am not searable on Facebook, only a few posts of mine appear.

  9. Melanie Perry Reply

    Great tips, thank you.

    I’d like to add to the comment about headshots. I know that we are not all willing to have professional shots done. Even for someone who needs to use a headshot regularly (for article bylines, etc), the expense of having someone else do them may not seem worth it.

    But, one simple thing you can do… just erase your background. The shot of you is fine, it’s only small, but having trees or couches etc behind you doesn’t look very professional.

    My last headshot was taken on a shoddy back porch with a dirty alley in the background and I was crouched oddly so that I could get the evening sun to fall on my face (I couldn’t afford decent lights). But, using a free photo editor like paint.net to remove the background only took a minute and made it look so much more professional.

  10. Brent Green, Ph.D. Reply

    Nice summary. I suggest that one’s heading be no more than four words such as “VP of Organization Effectiveness” for example. More than four words may dilute searchability from recruiters….just a thought. Thanks for encouraging this dialogue.

    1. John Mark Ivey Reply

      Four words will be a challenge but very doable. Words like “management” and “organization” might get lost in the mix as well. I’d also suggest you experiment with updating the headline every few weeks to reach a slightly different audience.

  11. Lora Reply

    I’ll be making changes to my LinkedIn profile very soon. I’ll also be looking for more of your articles. Thanks!

  12. Yolanda Baker Reply

    Yikes! There are 233 Yolanda Bakers… And I was a pioneer!
    What can I do to make myself mor prominent?

  13. Julie Price Reply

    Interestingly enough, my Facebook profile came up first and LinkedIn came in second. I enjoyed your article tremendously and plan on taking a little of your advice.

    Thanks,
    Julie

  14. John Mark Ivey Reply

    Let me know if your LinkedIn profile ranks higher after your update based on my tips.