Nowadays, many marketers and business owners tend to treat LinkedIn like nothing more than online resume, due to the unfortunate reputation its built over the years as a platform for spammy salespeople, stuffy CEOs and college students who made profiles as part of the career skills class.
People tend to just write a blurb about themselves, list their credentials and hope that someone will be intrigued enough to hire them, or network with them.
Many people don’t understand that LinkedIn is a powerful search engine that can drive high volumes of targeted traffic to your profile - traffic which can easily turn into professional relationships and new clients.
LinkedIn is not just a resume
LinkedIn optimization can help you to build connections with your industry’s best and brightest, and also help attract your ideal clients.
This guide will cover everything you will need to turn your LinkedIn profile into lead-generating, brand-building machine, from SEO and profile optimization to content and engagement.
Full-Throttle LinkedIn Optimization - More than SEO
Many of the currently available LinkedIn optimization guides begin and end with SEO - but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Just like a business website, inbound marketing success through LinkedIn depends on both traffic and conversion optimization.
Focusing all your efforts on SEO without fully optimizing your profile for conversions means you won’t be making the most of any traffic coming in.
To help you make the most of your LinkedIn profile, this guide, broken into three parts, will cover writing compelling copy, optimizing profile aesthetics and creating a lead funnel.
Part One of this LinkedIn Optimization Guide Will Cover:
We’ll also cover how to attract your ideal client, craft high-converting “welcome” messages for new connections and build authority with LinkedIn articles.
1. Spruce up your profile aesthetic
LinkedIn profiles offer a lot of real estate in terms of optimization. While the headline, experience and summary sections are the obvious ones, the profile photo and cover photo sections are also good elements to take advantage of.
This is what we mean when we talk about optimizing your “profile aesthetic.” Rather than adding keywords, you’re tailoring the look of your profile to your target audience.
While this may not seem that important, think about how important the design of a business website is, and how important it is for that design to appeal to customers.
Optimize your profile’s curb appeal
Optimizing your profile’s “curb appeal” means focusing on two features: the profile photo and the cover photo.
Everyone is familiar with the dull headshots LinkedIn profiles are known for, so if you want to take your branding seriously, dare to stand out.
Make use of high-quality, professional images which highlight your personality and that of your business - something that your clients will find approachable.
Use high-quality images
Get a close shot of your face
Add a simple background
Wear appropriate attire
The official LinkedIn suggestion is use an image in which your face takes up 60% of the frame.
The type of image you use will depend on your industry - for some you might need a corporate background and professional attire, while others might do better with a more casual approach. Appeal to your target audience by tailoring your profile to what they will be most familiar with within your industry.
Take, for example, Jessica Foster - an SEO content writer and content marketing strategist at Keys&Copy. While the clients she currently works with probably wouldn’t expect to see her in a corporate setting wearing a pants suit, she might go with a different aesthetic were she trying to land a high-ticket corporate consulting client, she might go with a different aesthetic.
Pro-tip: No selfies! Investing in a professional headshot is worth it in the long run
Your cover photo provides excellent real estate for telling visitors to your profile about what you and your business are all about - nearly seven inches of desktop space that is going to waste if you use LinkedIn’s default cover image.
Custom cover images can be easily made using Photoshop or Canva - preferably one that includes copy that appeals to your target audience and a professional background.
Best practices include:
Add a tagline telling profile visitors what you do and who you serve
Add your website URL and social media handles
Have an attractive backdrop image that draws in your target audience
Include a call-to-action, or otherwise let visitors know how to contact you
The above example show’s just what a LinkedIn cover photo can achieve - showing a photo of the business owner at an event, a clear CTA and a bold description of what he does.
Visitors to this profile will know, at a glance, exactly what he does and how to each him. They can join his email list or sign up for free training straight away, without without having to dig through his entire profile. By optimizing the look of your profile, you can give the best possible first impression, making it easier for potential customers to understand what your business is about and how best to reach you.
2. Write compelling profile copy
Though many people treat their profiles like a resume, LinkedIn is actually a great place to implement conversion copywriting. Built to provide a platform for professionals to connect, your profile isn’t doing what its meant to if it reads like the back of a fiber-cereal box.
Write with your target audience in mind
Rather than concise, but boring, copy - write your LinkedIn profile the way you would a dating profile, if a little more professional. Write to appeal to the type of person you want as a client. Some of the primary areas to focus on this include your summary, headline and experience section.
The text directly beneath your name on your profile, your LinkedIn headline provides 120 characters to tell visitors exactly what your business is about and what you offer.
Your headline should combine LinkedIn SEO keywords - which we’ll discuss in section three - and compelling copy, to both attract traffic and keep users engaged.
Be clear about what you do and avoid ‘witty’ taglines like “I rank it, you bank it!” or “Probably out fishin’”. These headlines may leave users confused about what exactly you do, and they include no keywords.
Get as many keywords into your headlines as possible, with a bit of finessing copy. If that’s not your speed, craft a compelling headline with conversion copywriting.
In the above example, the headline goes straight to the point by listing the business owner’s job title and the services she offers. This could work, as it includes proper keywords and could appeal to users that are looking for services like hers.
By contrast, this business headline focuses on appealing to people looking for “business success” through a “best-in-class” partnership, rather than just focussing on keywords.
Both examples fill up their headline with keywords and copy, with none of the space going to waste.
If you’re not a good writer, consider reaching out to a professional for help crafting the perfect message.
In the next part of this guide, we’ll discuss how to find LinkedIn SEO keywords to include in your profile.
The summary section on your profile is the largest space for keywords and compelling copy - over 100 words of space. You can’t afford not to optimize this section.
Visitors read this section to learn about both you and business, as well as the services you offer - similar to the about page on your website. Any copywriter worth their salt will tell you that the about page is about your audience, rather than you.
The summary needs to speak to what your target audience is looking for, rather than a place list your services and accomplishments. Ask yourself what your ideal audience would be looking for when when it comes to working with someone in your industry.
Market research can be useful here, and if you conducted some research when adding copy to your website, the same concepts can apply in your summary section. If you haven’t conducted any research, do that first to identify your audience’s pain points, struggles, needs and wants.
With market research in hand, writing a summary that appeals to your ideal client will be easy - simply address their main struggles and how you can help them overcome them.
In the above example, Jessica Foster addresses the primary struggles many SEO agencies have when outsourcing SEO content: writers’ lack of SEO knowledge and poor quality. She then explains how she does things differently, how to contact her and what to expect when working with her.
Your summary section should be targeted, concise and written with purpose. Avoid rambling, and get your message across as effectively and efficiency as possible, allowing visitors to move along the profile funnel without delay.
The experience section is where most business owners get lazy, treating their profile like a resume. The experience section is another great place for compelling copy and keywords, to convince users that you are the right fit for their needs.
This can be achieved by writing your experience in such a way that the results you achieved and what you took away from working with a company is highlighted.
The above example highlights how a LinkedIn user took advantage of the experience section to provide detailed summaries of her work with certain companies - including projects she was a part of and the results generated.
In your profile, mention things like how you increased a client’s business revenue, an uptick in conversions for a Facebook ads client or the percentage increase in traffic that you generated for an SEO client.
Highlighting these results shows visitors that you not only have experience, but also how you can replicate those results for them.
Natural writing is a better fit in this section than a bulleted list. Focus on the best examples of your work, and write them in a compelling way that speaks to potential clients who might be searching for connections in your industry - showing them how you can generate the results they want.
Include experience items for each of your top clients, along with a link to their company profile. Describe the work you did and the results you generated for them.
Use layman’s terms whenever possible, rather than assuming that your audience knows what “CTR,” “schema markup,” “KPIs,” “keyword cannibalization” or other industry terms mean.
Do not include experience examples which are irrelevant to the audience you aim to serve. For example, if you offer SEO services to law firms, don’t include you were a Boy Scout in sixth grade or party chair at your college fraternity.
Include references to any publications you write for or industry organizations you are a part of.
3. Gather recommendations, skills and endorsements
The skills, recommendation and endorsement sections provide another excellent area for adding SEO keywords, and though they may not provide any evidence of SEO improvement, they do improve conversion rates.
Essentially the ‘reviews’ of your profile, the recommendations section is where past clients and references can share the results they’ve had and their experiences working with you.
Clients will probably naturally include keywords here, though this may or may not affect your profile SEO. Should you be prompting your contacts for recommendations, you could suggest target keywords for them to include just in case.
Recommendations are excellent social proof, showing that you know what you are doing and that you achieve excellent results for your clients. Seeing positive recommendations on your profile could be the final push a potential client needs in order to hire you.
One essential area of your profile is your list of skills, which tells visitors what you are best at - another good area for adding your target keywords.
You can include three “top” skills, as well as a longer list of any other skills that you have. It is recommend that you list your primary skills in the top three section, as these are the most likely to get endorsed.
Other users can endorse you for the skills on your profile, which again serves as social proof that you have the skills you claim.
You can reach out to users on LinkedIn to endorse your skills in order to boost your numbers, as well as endorse other users for their skills, which could, in turn, prompt them to contact you or endorse you back.
It is better to have many endorsements for a few skills rather than a few endorsements for many different skills.
Stay tuned for part two where we will discuss LinkedIn SEO, the profile lead funnel and connections