Professional headlines sell: improve your LinkedIn search ranking

By Steve Martin
Your odds of getting introduced to a CEO on Linkedin increase dramatically when you use the platform correctly. So, in the professional network of more than 150 million, how do you get noticed? Here’s a tip that will improve your LinkedIn profile and make you more visible.

Make the most of your professional headline.

The professional headline is the area that most users just fill in with the title from their business cards. For example, “Vanilla Sales Associate,” or “Lukewarm Account Executive.” What should they really state there? The headline should reflect a person’s full business scope or capabilities; the savvy user goes beyond their title and shows their skill set. This is crucial because the professional headline is often the gatekeeper for someone clicking to find out more about you.

What should a professional headline look like?

My actual title at Copperfox Marketing is ‘Social Media Strategist,’ but I wear many hats, as most experienced professionals do. In order to increase my search ranking on LinkedIn while painting a more detailed picture of what I do, my professional headline says, “Social Media Strategist, New Media Trainer, Speaker, Digital Marketing Professional.”

How to change your professional headline.

It’s simple to change. While logged into LinkedIn, change your headline by going to Profile > Edit Profile and click the blue “edit” button next to your profile name. From here, just edit the text in your “Professional Headline.” You may want to list out some keywords that you feel describe your role. If you’re struggling, search some competitors and see what they use as inspiration.

The great part about my new headline is that it essentially provides the keywords that I try to echo throughout my profile, increasing my search ranking on LinkedIn.

The results of a headline profile change.

I had someone I know disconnect from me on LinkedIn and then perform a search around digital marketing before I added the term into my professional headline and after I added it in. The search parameters are a 10-mile radius from the zip code 45208, sorted by relevance, with the search term “digital marketing.”

Before

LinkedIn Digital Marketing

After

LinkedIn Digital Marketing

While the algorithm responsible for results in LinkedIn is highly relevance based and susceptible to vary greatly, I was still showing as a first page result as a second connection.

That said, I may not show up in your search as a page one result, but I have increased the likelihood of being on multiple searches by expanding my headline terms. It should be noted that the LinkedIn algorithm for search ranking provides preference to first connections, not-so-distant connections, and group affiliations in ranking. This is why growing your LinkedIn network is so critical, but that topic is for another day.

While most people just use their title, you now know an easy way to increase your search ranking on LinkedIn.

The professional headline test.

I encourage you to change your professional headline and run a few advanced searches to see where you rank. Do a before and after on the terms. I’d love to hear from you about the results you see. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Looking for more literature on the topic? Boolean Black Belt wrote a great article on LinkedIn SEO last year.

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