how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for SEO

Did you know that search engine optimization can help you land a new job? No, I’m not talking about optimizing your business or even your personal site, rather optimizing your LinkedIn page. LinkedIn, if you’re not familiar with it, is the most powerful platform on the Internet for business professionals and people that are looking for work. College students, recent grads, displaced professionals and anyone looking for a better opportunity can connect with people to find a new job. SEO, LinkedIn and your job search can easily be tied together — read on and I’ll show you just how.

1. It starts with your page — To make use of LinkedIn you need register an account first. Navigate your web browser and go to LinkedIn.com where you can begin the registration process. This process is quick, easy and free. Add in your first name, your last name, your email address and create a password of six characters or more. Click on the “Join LinkedIn” button and a confirming link will be sent to your email inbox. Click on that link and you are registered. There are paid upgrade packages available, but we won’t discuss those here. Consider this a primer to get you started; upgrades can and should be weighed carefully by each user to see what benefits are available.

2. It continues with your profile — Now that you’re registered with LinkedIn, you should immediately begin working on your profile. Sure, there is lots more to do, but completing your profile is of critical importance. The information you provide here is picked up by the search engines, so make good use of the right keywords as you fill out your profile. In a few days when you google your name, your LinkedIn account should be on page one of the search engine results pages (SERPs), at or near the top. If not, you have some tweaking to do. The remaining steps will help you improve your profile.

3. And it peaks with URL customization — Certainly, you can use LinkedIn’s generated URL when you create your profile. However, why do this when you’re given the option to use your own name? Your name is your brand and you should take full advantage of who you are when completing your profile. This move will help your name appear higher in the SERPs, making it easier for recruiters to find you.

4. Branding you –– Exactly who are you? If you’re a career professional, you know who you are and what you do. After all, you have been working as an actuarial analyst for decades. That title goes with your name and should follow your name in your LinkedIn profile. For young workers and college students, you may not know for certain what job you will hold after college. You don’t want to limit yourself here, but if you’re a business student with a concentration in accounting it is entirely appropriate that your brand appear as follows: Your Name, Business and Accounting. The keywords are business and accounting, so make use of these. And, yes, make use of your college name — alumni of USC, for example, love to help current USC students and future grads. The same can be said about your school.

5. Work on your job history — This section of your LinkedIn page is what employers will scrutinize to find out if they should contact you. Again, make good use of keywords including those commonly used for your industry. One way to do this is to visit the OnetOnline.org site and plug in your job title to retrieve a summary report. In the example of actuarial analyst previously mentioned, the sample of reported job titles is: Actuary, Actuarial Analyst, Pricing Actuary, Product Development Actuary, Actuarial Assistant, Actuarial Associate, Actuarial Consultant, Consulting Actuary, Health Actuary, Pricing Analyst. Carefully using at least some of these words in your job history can help your page be found within LinkedIn.

6. Connect with others — Once your profile has gone live, you’ll begin to find that people want to connect with you. Suddenly, you’re a really popular guy! Well, maybe not — or maybe you are, but not for the reasons you think. Your excellent use of keywords has gotten the attention of other LinkedIn users and they see the value of your profile. Unless the person has an incomplete or suspect profile, you should connect with them. The more connections you have, the easier it is to connect with people that can help you get a job. With LinkedIn, numbers count, therefore welcome and seek new connections. Join LinkedIn groups that are related to your field.

7. Get recommendations — Your LinkedIn page has more value when you receive legitimate recommendations from people that know you. These people include current and former employers, associates and customers. For college students, a recommendation from a professor or faculty member can help too. That internship or summer job can lead to a recommendation as well. Find out if a recommendation source is on LinkedIn and ask this individual to recommend you. Hint: Top LinkedIn users generally expect serious users to have at least 10 recommendations. Don’t let a low number dissuade you — you have to start somewhere.

SEO Considerations

You can make a list of keywords and use these in your profile. If you need help or are looking for variants of the same, visit Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to find these yourself. Create a free account for easy tracking of your top keywords. You can also find keywords by visiting the LinkedIn profiles of people that connect with you. Read each profile carefully to discover what they’re doing. You can measure a profile’s success by checking its Google PageRank too. Yes, Google assigns PageRank to LinkedIn profiles and does so generously.

Will LinkedIn help you find a job? It can, but it begins with nailing down your profile and presenting your professional self for recruiters and connectors to find.

Resources

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com

Rusty Brick: Why I Get So Many Job Offers — http://www.rustybrick.com/linkedin-seo.html

ZDNet: LinkedIn: Why your profile never gets views, and how you can fix it (case study) — http://www.zdnet.com/blog/seo/linkedin-why-your-profile-never-gets-views-and-how-you-can-fix-it-case-study/4866

Google: AdWords Keywords Tool — https://adwords.google.com/

Glass Door: SEO Your LinkedIn Profile For Greater Exposure — http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/seo-linkedin-profile-greater-exposure/