How to Write an SEO-Enhanced LinkedIn Profile

By Mary Southern January 17, 2023
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​Did you know that LinkedIn has officially passed 500 million users? That's a lot of people in one spot. So how do you get recruiters who are looking to hire someone with your experience and skill set to visit your LinkedIn profile? The answer is through search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

LinkedIn's search functionality is very similar to Google's in that it uses ranking measurements, with SEO being one of the most important. SEO is commonly defined as a set of practices designed to improve the positioning of webpages in organic search results, so the better the SEO, the more likely your profile is to be seen.

The key is understanding that you create your own unique webpage with each social media profile you establish. While LinkedIn is hosting your page on its website, you have access to update and highlight it. The same is true of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and others. Wherever you have a profile you can manipulate, that is your webpage.

Recruiters who visit LinkedIn to find candidates typically use the site's search function, where they input keywords to identify people who have a specific company, job, product, group, event, college and more within their profile. Of course, there are some things out of your control, such as location and connection level, that influence where your profile shows up in the search results. But we can at least aim for your listing to appear on the first page of results.

When creating your LinkedIn profile, you need to think about what recruiters are searching for. Do they seek an "experienced HR manager"? Or maybe a "compensation expert"? Or could it be a "human resources generalist"? While you don't know for certain, you can make an educated guess. Start by looking at job postings you're interested in, because they're filled with keywords you'll want to add to your profile.

Here is a snippet of a sample listing. See if you can identify which keywords someone searching on LinkedIn might use:

The HR Business Partner (HRBP) position is responsible for aligning business objectives with employees and management in designated business units. The position formulates partnerships across the HR function to deliver value-added service to management and employees that reflects the business objectives of the organization. The HRBP maintains an effective level of business literacy about the business unit's financial position, its midrange plans, its culture and its competition.

These are the keywords I picked out from this job description:

  • HR Business Partner.
  • HRBP.
  • HR Partner.

One to two of those SEO-rich keywords could be included in your headline and About section. There are other key phrases throughout the description that would be excellent to include in your Experience section, such as:

  • Aligning business objectives.
  • Employees.
  • Management.
  • Value-added service.
  • Business literacy.

And this was just from the first paragraph of the job description!

Once you're ready to start adding sections to your LinkedIn profile, here are five that are the most important to sprinkle SEO in.

Headline

This is the No. 1 spot where you should plant SEO-rich keywords. The headline is your current position with a few keywords listed after it. For example, if we're continuing to work with the example above, let's pretend you're an HR business partner. Here is what your headline could look like:

Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) – Business Objective Alignment – Employee Transformation – HR Guidance

You have 220 characters for this section, so feel free to go wild! You can also use fun characters in between keywords to spice up your profile and help you stand out. No worries about applicant tracking systems!

About

If you could go wild with 220 characters, you can go even wilder in this section with 2,600 characters available to you. The About section is more fun because you can be more personal, but you still want to include keywords and phrases throughout. This is a great spot to include some of the top achievements in your career history that are relevant to where you're hoping to head next.

There are many resources available offering different strategies on how to write your About section. Here is an article from LinkedIn giving 14 different examples.

Activity

The Activity section refers to where you create or share posts. There are three ways you can use SEO to optimize your activity:

  1. Create your own content. If you have a website and enjoy writing about all things HR, then create engaging content to be shared via your LinkedIn and other social media profiles. Or you can leverage other sites, such as Twitter, and include that in your LinkedIn content.
  2. Share others' content. Make a plan to share two to three articles or posts a day from other people, because you get SEO benefits from their content, too. Aim for articles relating to your position and future career. This is the easiest way to get SEO in your activity feed.
  3. Make simple posts. If you have a daily thought about being an HR professional, publish a quick post about it. The idea is to curate your page to be all things human resources. 

Experience 

This section is the easiest, assuming you've already written a keyword-rich resume. The Experience section is going to be your career history with the bullet points taken directly from your resume. For more information on how to write keyword-rich, achievement-based bullet points, reference this SHRM Online article that gives a breakdown of the challenge, action and result (CAR) method.

Skills 

You can have up to 50 skills listed in this section, and there is no harm or penalty if you include that many. What's most important are your top three.

For our sample HRBP professional, I would recommend that the top three attributes be:

  • Human Resources Business Partner experience.
  • Employee management.
  • Business alignment.

The skills section can also show endorsements. It's a good plan to reach out to your network connections who can validate your skill set, especially those skills in your top three.

It takes time and commitment to create a fully SEO-optimized LinkedIn profile, but in the end, it's worth it. Try a few of these changes today and see what happens when you get your LinkedIn search results e-mail next week.

Mary Southern is the founder of Resume Assassin in Austin, Texas. She offers more than 12 years of experience in resume writing, human resources, and career and academic advising. She has helped thousands of professionals across a variety of industries break into a wide range of leading companies. Learn more at www.resumeassassin.com and connect with Mary at www.linkedin.com/in/mary-southern.

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