PART 1 LinkedIn and SEO
To attract customers you need two things (a) visibility and (b) credibility with your target audience. LinkedIn is unique in giving you the tools to do both on one platform.
When I was researching this article I read numerous articles about LinkedIn and SEO and had several conversations with SEO expert Nick Brown of the Accelerate-Agency. Nick explained to me that the top three ranking factors are: backlinks, brand, and speed. But it was what he said next that made me think again about LinkedIn and SEO. He told me how by focusing on BRAND his agency had significantly accelerated their visibility and their SEO site-wide, simply by connecting with people on LinkedIn and posting regularly. In only 4 months he had grown his network from 300 to 18,500 connections.
Building a strong presence on LinkedIn is one of the best things that small and mid-sized businesses can do to boost their SEO. Arguably, even more important than your visibility on Google, is the ability to create visibility with your own LinkedIn network. After all, these are people you have chosen to connect with because they have direct or indirect relevance to your business – a custom audience. For many businesses creating visibility with this audience is just as important, sometimes more so, than getting to page one on Google. For example, one of my construction industry clients with a 10 person sales team had 1.000 connections collectively when I started working with them, after 9 months that had increased to 30,000 and their LinkedIn posts were generating tens of thousands of pounds of orders every month.
Your LinkedIn profile is the shop window for both your business and your personal brand. If you get it right it will help you to stand out from the competition, achieve maximum visibility with your target audience and become a lead magnet. In PART 2 I will share with you my top tips on how to fine-tune your profile for maximum visibility.
PART 2 Optimising your Profile for search
Here are my top 12 practical tips for boosting your profile visibility on Google and on LinkedIn.
1. Complete your profile fully
LinkedIn gives your profile a ranking from Beginner to All-Star. You can see your ranking on the privacy dashboard of your profile. The LinkedIn algorithm treats profiles that aren’t All-Star as lower quality and is, therefore, less likely to surface them in a search. It should be a priority, therefore, to make sure to get an All-Star ranking. It’s not difficult. If you have added these items then LinkedIn will rank you All-Star:
- Current position
But don’t stop there, make sure you have filled out the profile fully, including the experience sections and added any extra sections that are relevant such as projects or courses completed.
2. Customise your URL
Your LinkedIn URL is your unique LinkedIn address. You can personalise this and make it easier for Google to find you. If you have a common name you may have to be a little creative e.g. use a middle initial or reverse your first and surname for example. Add this URL to your email signature and on all your social media profiles possible. Create backlinks to your profile e.g. by including it on guest articles you write.
3. Use a professional, friendly photo with anchor text
People underestimate the importance of the photo. It is a visual handshake. It helps to build trust. An unprofessional or unfriendly photo is a big turn off. Why fall at the first hurdle? To give your photo some extra SEO power use a description when you name it. For example, my photo is called: “Greg Cooper, LinkedIn Coach, LinkedIn Training, LinkedIn Expert.jpeg”
The same applies to naming your background image.
4. Adding anchor text to your weblinks in contact information
It’s a peculiarity of the contact information section design that if you choose “other” in the drop-down menu then LinkedIn gives you an extra line of description. This can be used for adding keywords or anchor text.
Fig 1: Adding descriptions to weblinks
5. Make full use of your headline
The line immediately under your photo is known as the professional headline and it defaults to your job title and company, but this is prime real estate. It’s one of the first things people see when they look at your profile or receive an invitation from you.
You can use a strapline approach as in Fig 2 below or adopt a simple keyword approach. I have done both. I currently use a keyword approach* (*link at bottom of the article). The headline is 120 characters, which is roughly twenty words.
Fig 2: Making good use of the professional headline
6. Make your Summary sizzle
Getting found is only the first step, your summary is the means by which you build trust and credibility in the reader’s mind and persuade them to take the next step. A compelling and relevant summary is essential. It should be written with your ideal customer in mind. For more help check out this article “How to Write a Business Winning LinkedIn Summary” ( *see links at end of article).
7. Add a keyword paragraph to your summary and experience sections
Keywords are super important on LinkedIn however if you try to stuff your text with keywords it becomes very hard to read. Adding a keyword paragraph titled “Specialities” at the end of these sections is an elegant way of including them without putting the reader off.
Specialities:LinkedIn training|LinkedIn Trainer|LinkedIn strategy|Lead generation|LinkedIn Coaching|LinkedIn Profile Optimisation|LinkedIn Search|LinkedIn Blog|LinkedIn Tips|LinkedIn In-house Training|Online training|LinkedIn for business|LinkedIn marketing|LinkedIn training courses|LinkedIn profile tips|How to use LinkedIn|LinkedIn company page|LinkedIn Sales Navigator|LinkedIn Expert
8. Expand your experience section
The experience section is often underused but it provides valuable extra space to showcase your expertise and build credibility. Just like the summary field, this section has a 2,000 character maximum and you can add documents, slideshows, video, pdf etc to add more depth. You can also add multiple current entries – for the same or different positions. In my own profile, I use separate entries for my public courses, my bespoke courses and the LinkedIn Local networking events I host. Each entry gives you an extra 2,000 characters of space!
Check out John Courtney’s profile* he has 17 separate current roles in the experience section.
9. Keyword optimise your job title
No-one says you have to use your formal job title on LinkedIn. Instead of listing myself simply as “Business Owner” I have used the title field to add extra keywords. You will notice also that the experience section, allows you to enter multiple locations.
Fig 3: Adding keywords to the title field
9. Add skills and gather endorsements and recommendations
It’s unclear whether adding skills has an SEO benefit or not. Let’s assume it does and make sure that we add relevant skills to our profile. From a jobs perspective, a relevant list of skills definitely does help because LinkedIn’s Recruiter package allows recruiters to search for people by skills; also skills is one of the targeting option available to advertisers.
The endorsements feature is often dismissed as being unimportant. Whether or not you feel that endorsements are important I can tell you that many buyers and potential customers WILL consider they are important. You are more likely to convert a profile visit into an enquiry if you have plenty of relevant endorsements.
Recommendations are your silent salespeople and are an extremely valuable way to build credibility and trust. Endorsements are useful but recommendations carry much more weight. It’s possible either now or in the future that the number and quality of your recommendations may influence how highly LinkedIn ranks your profile in a search result. Some SEO specialists recommend a minimum of 10.
10. Expand your network
I am not an advocate of linking with anybody and everybody but within reason, there is no doubt that
The bigger your network the more opportunities you will find and will find you.
According to Statista the breakdown of LinkedIn member’s 1st-degree connections look something like this:
Fig 4: How many LinkedIn connections?
Exactly how many connections you need to be effective will depend in part on your job role. A Chief Executive in a large corporate may be highly selective on who they connect to, whereas a recruiter will aim for a very large network in their niche to give them the biggest field of candidates. For the average user, I suggest aiming for 1,000 for a sales or business development role 3,000-5,000 should be the target.
11. Putting yourself in the algorithm’s place
We have already established that creating visibility with your custom LinkedIn audience is the priority for most business. When someone does a search for your service or checks their home feed it’s your profile and posts that you want them to see. LinkedIn’s algorithm is tasked with showing the most relevant i.e.personalised information to members. Outside of LinkedIn no-one knows exactly what criteria the algorithm uses but it’s going to be based on a mixture of the following: location, topic, completeness of profile, number of recommendations and endorsements (my speculation), popularity of profile, quality of network and importantly closeness of relationship – i.e. the degree of relationship (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and frequency of interactions.
12. Activating your Profile
It should be pretty clear by now that even a knock-out profile on its own is not enough. To activate your profile and drive more visibility you need to be actively posting and engaging on LinkedIn. That doesn’t necessarily have to take huge chunks of time. For most people 10-15 minutes a day is enough to keep in touch with their network. Anyone in a sales or business development role will spend more time.
I hope you found this post useful, do let me know in the comments below. I would also love to hear any examples of when your LinkedIn profile has brought you success.
Greg Cooper profile
How to Write a Business Winning LinkedIn Summary
John Courtney Profile
Google’s Top 200 ranking factors
Keyword finder tool
More about Greg
Greg Cooper is an independent LinkedIn consultant and trainer based in Bristol, UK. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing. For over twenty years Greg ran an award-winning direct marketing agency working with leading technology companies like IBM, SAP, and Siemens.
Today he helps SMEs to use LinkedIn more effectively to find, win and keep customers. He runs public and in-house courses including the LinkedIn Essentials Master Class, Sales Navigator, and Social Selling workshops, and Employee Advocacy training.
Greg is also the host for the Bristol LinkedIn Local – a pitch free networking event which focuses on building relationships with other LinkedIn members.