[LinkedIn SEO] 5 Simple Steps to Outrank Your Competition on LinkedIn

Categories: Blog, Drive More Traffic, Increase Engagement

Is search engine optimization (SEO) important for your website?

I bet you just laughed at that question.

Everyone knows how important search engine optimization (SEO) is for your website. However…

Very few people know SEO is important on LinkedIn. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile can give you a huge competitive advantage.

LinkedIn is adding two new members every second. With over 330 million business professionals, LinkedIn is the fastest growing social network — growing faster than Facebook and Twitter combined.

Despite LinkedIn’s rapid growth, most LinkedIn members create an account, partially complete their profile, then rarely log in because they think LinkedIn is still just a place to post your resume.

Savvy LinkedIn members understand they have access to the world’s largest database of affluent business professionals. LinkedIn is a search engine just like Google, giving you access to millions of business decision-makers in seconds.

Knowing this, I teach my students the two primary purposes for LinkedIn.

1. To find your ideal clients

2. To get found by your ideal clients

LinkedIn SEO works the same way SEO works on your website. Strategically placed keywords throughout your profile helps you get found by the LinkedIn search algorithm and rank you at the top of search results.

Where do you place keywords to rank well in LinkedIn?

There are 5 magic hotspots and I’ll break down my LinkedIn profile to show you where they go and help you rank at the top of LinkedIn searches.

With that said…Let’s get you SEO’ed on LinkedIn.

1. Your Name Field


The first place LinkedIn looks for keywords is in your name field.

One of my target keywords is “LinkedIn coach” and I’m the top result on a simple LinkedIn search. My search ranking for “LinkedIn Coach” increased dramatically when I changed my last name to Prodromou, LinkedIn Coach.

While LinkedIn allows up to 40 characters in your last name field, I don’t recommend stuffing long keyword phrases into your last name field. Adding too many keywords and symbols looks unprofessional and can make it harder for people to find you when searching for your name.

Adding too many characters to your name field can also cut off your Professional Headline in the People You May Know sidebar widget. Notice how Carey Davidson’s profile is displayed below. Most of my LinkedIn profile views come from this widget so take advantage of this opportunity to grab the attention of LinkedIn members.


2. Your Professional Headline

The second place LinkedIn scans for keywords is in your professional headline.

At least 90% of LinkedIn members use their job title and where they work as their professional headline. This doesn’t help your search rankings because there could be thousands of LinkedIn members with the same job title as you.

I recommend using the Professional Headline field as a headline, just like you use in your online ads.

One of my target keyword phrases is “award-winning author” so my professional headline is “Best-selling, Award-winning author of Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business & Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business”. I rank number one for “award-winning author” and I receive tremendous exposure for my books by placing their titles in my Professional Headline.


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3. Your Summary

The Summary section of your profile is another key area to place your keyword phrases. Use keyword phrases naturally like you would on your website but don’t overuse them. From my experience, adding keyword phrases in your Summary helps your ranking but not as much as using them in your Name and Professional Headline.

Many LinkedIn experts suggest using your Summary as a sales page for your services, making it all about you. This approach can be very effective but I prefer to use the “WIIFM” approach.

Your prospects aren’t interested in you and your accomplishments. They are interested in solving their own problems. WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me” and my Summary works better when I focus on the prospect and their problems.


4. Your Experience

In the Experience section, using your keyword phrases as your job titles is the second most important factor in ranking well. Most people use their job title like President, Director or Owner. While it’s important to let people know your role in your business, it’s more important to rank well for your target keyword phrases.

One trick I use is to create many jobs within my own company. Each job happens to be one of my target keyword phrases. After I created multiple jobs within my company, I instantly ranked well for each keyword phrase!

Don’t forget to add your keyword phrases in each job description which will further improve your search ranking.


Notice how I also added Online Lead Generation to the beginning of my company name which also helps me rank well for Online Lead Generation.

5. Your Skills

The Skills section is a goldmine for your keyword phrases.

LinkedIn lets you add up to 50 skills so make sure you include all of your target keywords as Skills. After you enter your skills, reorder them by dragging them so you prioritize your keyword phrases.

LinkedIn will display your skills to other people and ask them if they want to Endorse you for these skills. The more endorsements you receive for each skill, the more it helps your search ranking.


Bonus – Your Interests

Last but not least, the Interests section is another hotspot for keyword phrases. Most people don’t know this and just add their hobbies. I add my business keyword phrases in addition to my hobbies and it works like magic!


Action Steps

1. Do some LinkedIn searches for your target keywords and track where you rank in a spreadsheet

2. See who ranks at the top of the search results and view their profile to see where they place their keywords

3. Add your keywords in the same places as the top search results and see if it improves your ranking

4. Add new connections every day. LinkedIn doesn’t tell us what factors help you rank well, but most LinkedIn experts agree that the more connections you have, the higher you rank.

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Have a question or a comment? Leave it below and let’s start a conversation!

About Ted Prodromou

Ted Prodromou is the best-selling, award-winning author of Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business and Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business (Entrepreneur Press). Ted is also frequent contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and Entrepreneur.com. Ted is an online advertising consultant generating leads for his clients using Google Adwords, Facebook ads, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms. He also teaches online and in-person classes on LinkedIn, Twitter, and online advertising. You can learn more about Ted here.
View all posts by Ted Prodromou ➞


  • dasdasd says:

    You actually make it appear so easy together with your presentation however I
    in finding this topic to be actually something which I believe I would by no means understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely extensive for me. I’m having a look forward to your
    subsequent submit, I’ll try to get the dangle of it!

  • Sasan says:

    hi Ted,

    Thank you for your article it is very informative.

    I have two question about your article related to summary. My profile is /sasannikookar
    1) when we have a business and a group of staff do we need to use “We” or “my team and I” or we should use “I” to explain about our services.

    2) when we have more than one business which are not related to each other. What is the best strategy?

    3) As I saw you started your summary with business and then your personal info. It means we should talk about our business first and then let them know about us. Am I right?

    Many thanks,

  • kalhor says:

    wow , so great post , I really like linkedin

  • This is a great article… because I’m still a bit disheveled when it comes to LinkedIn. It’s such a professional community, that I thought to myself, “Perhaps we should get the other social sites in order first… so that I can add in LinkedIn and strictly focus on it.

    Would you agree with these thoughts?

  • Stuart O'Neill says:

    Thank you for the information. I’m starting a new company that is focused on the new mobile Net in it’s many forms. These are practical steps that I’m sure will make a difference.

  • This was a great article. I never took Linkedin as seriously as other social media until I read this! I am getting to work on it now. Best wishes, Ted

  • David Walker says:

    Thanks, interesting article. I’ve tried to follow this through but I’m not showing up in the searches when I search for myself. Is the search linked to your connections in any way?

    • Hi David,

      I see numerous David Walker’s when I do a search but I don’t know which is you. Where are you located or what is your job title so I can take a look at your profile.

      Try selecting just a People search by changing the dropdown on the left side of the search box and see if you show up. Also try searching for your name and your location.

      Feel free to post your LinkedIn URL here and I’ll take a quick look at your profile to see what’s up because you should show up in your own searches.


      • David Walker says:

        Hi Ted. Great, thanks. My LinkedIn address is /davidwalkercfr

        • David,

          Try removing Debt Collection Solicitor from your last name field and see if you show up. My first impression when I saw your profile is it looked spammy because of the long keyword phrase in your name field. Try using something like “Helping SME’s get their unpaid invoices paid faster” to see if that improves your profile views. I would create a job under your current company and use Debt Collection Solicitor as the job title and it will help your rankings. Also use a professional headshot that is cropped closer unless your outfit is part of your job


          • David says:

            Hi Ted. Thanks for the comments. I only added “Debt Collection Solicitor” to my name as you suggested it! I’ll take it out again. Previously I wasn’t showing up in the search results either. Interesting that you think my profile looks a bit “spammy” – not at all what I want so I will give it a good overhaul. Thanks again, David

  • Janice Learmond-Criqui says:

    Hi Ted: Thank you for the insightful tips that you have provided. I am now getting into network marketing and online lead generation using social media and it is tips like yours that are helping me to gain a better understanding of how the system works. Based on some of the comments above, I can understand why it is that some people who are successful don’t share all of their secrets. I enjoyed reading your article and will certainly be paying close attend to your other tips.

    Now is the time to learn about using the internet for business from experts like yourself. Thank you for sharing. Appreciate it.

  • Great write up. Looking forward to implementing this immediately and seeing the results.

  • Scott says:

    Thank you very much Ted, I’m making the recommended changes.

    Question: In the Experience section, how do you BOLD each job title?

    Thank you,


  • I also think it could be a violation of TOS which states in the section on name field:-
    “We also discourage members from putting additional information in these fields”
    They say that acceptable information is suffixes or certifications.

    I believe it is possible that adding keywords here is a violation. However perhaps not many people are currently doing this.
    If this practice grows I believe LinkedIn may do something about it.
    It just doesn’t look right to me to add anything other than the name.

    I believe this could be a tactic which may work very well, but which could backfire and cause a suspension of the account.
    However each individual must judge whether this is a risk they are prepared to take.

    • Hi Sue,

      I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the past three years testing what works and what doesn’t work on
      LinkedIn while researching my books. My ultimate goal is to get as many people to view my profile as possible because the more profile views = more business for me.

      I’m constantly changing my profile to see if it increases my profile views. Coming from an SEO/online marketing background I love to test to see what works while avoiding black-hat techniques. Being a three-time author for Entrepreneur Press, it wouldn’t look good if my LinkedIn account was shut down with a new LinkedIn book coming out next month!

      From my experience, if you maintain a professional-looking profile, LinkedIn will leave you alone. If you are over-promotional by adding your phone number, website or symbols to your profile, it doesn’t look professional so LinkedIn may flag you. I’ve never heard of anyone being banned by LinkedIn for adding a title to their name field.

      Have you ever connected with someone who has lots of symbols in their profile? I usually don’t connect with these people because most of the time they are aggressive marketers. When you connect with them they start by sending a long self-promotional sales letter, followed by frequent solicitations. They spend no time building a relationship and they are the equivalent of an email spammer. These are the people LinkedIn is going after.

      LinkedIn will flag your account if you receive too many complaints for aggressive marketing/emailing, send too many connection requests that receive the dreaded IDK (I Don’t Know) or if you use external software to create profile views or scrape the site.

      If you don’t feel comfortable adding a short keyword phrase to your name field, then by all means don’t do it. I’m just sharing my results that when I do add keywords to that field I immediately rise in the search results and my profile views increase.

      If you skip the first step in my article and do the rest, you will rank better for your keyword phrases based on my experience and you won’t be testing their TOS.

      For the record, I removed LinkedIn Coach from my name field this morning to see if it affects my profile views. I’ll be glad to share the results.

      • Thanks Ted I appreciate you taking the time for such a comprehensive reply, and you make some great points, and I certainly respect your expertise and hours of testing.
        I guess on that basis it might be worth a try.
        Very interested to see your stats after you remove the keywords from your name too.
        Lots to think about!


      • Hazel says:

        Great reply.
        Real leaders never shy away from criticism, they face it, address it and progress, leading the way!
        Good job Ted 😉

  • dk says:

    5 Simple steps my butt! LOL. I spent about 5 hours following this. It was so helpful. We are starting to do linked in marketing and my profile looked like a ghost town. Not it’s pretty pimp! If anyone wants to connect on linked in, search LinkedIn for: David Klein tallbox.com, then friend me, and message me that you found me on digital marketer.

    I’m kind of a big deal.

    You can ask Ryan,

    Ryan? Hello. Ryan? ryan?

    Is this thing on?????…….

  • Sam says:

    This is good stuff Ted. All too often LinkedIn gets lost in the shuffle because of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube and so many people forget that LinkedIn is a powerful tool for getting more business done and building your career.

    • Sam,

      From my experience if you focus on sharing great information and answering questions for people, you will see better results from LinkedIn. Focus on building relationships not selling your products/services is the key to success


  • tim lambros says:

    thanks for the insight, especially the specifics!

  • Look like this…
    Prodromou, LinkedIn Coach

    Sorry, I put the name in greater and less than brackets and it didn’t display??

  • Thanks for the article Ted,
    Have already made some changes based on your advice :)
    The LinkedIn profile has two fields for a name; “First Name” and “Surname”. Does your “Surname” record look like this?…

    Wouldn’t that make it harder for people to find you if they searched for your actual name? It seems strange to me that LinkedIn would use your surname as a keyword reference??
    Cheers, James

    • James,

      The downside of adding phrases to your name field is that it can make it harder for people to search for your last name.

      Full Disclosure: I’ve always recommended to my students to leave their name field alone and focus on the other ranking factors. I just added LinkedIn Coach to my last name about a month ago and profile views increased 120% so I left it alone. Now that profile views leveled off, I removed it to see if that was the only factor that created my additional profile views.

      You have constantly monitor your profile views in the right sidebar and see what activities/profile updates generate more views. There is a direct correlation between my profile views and the amount of business I generate.


  • Jan Roos says:

    Great article Ted. I have been diving into this recently so it comes at a great time.

    Anyways – quick question on LinkedIn SEO. What is the LinkedIn equivalent of the google keyword tool? How do you determine search volume so you can select the highest volume keywords that are relevant to you?

  • Danielle says:

    Thank you! I had no idea about any of this! I’m going to rework my profile asap!
    Great post.

  • Ted – nice article with some interesting tactics. To be candid, your endorsements section looks odd with LinkedIn Coach first and only 4 endorsements. It makes your skill set look weak. You have so many other areas that are optimized for LinkedIn coach, why not leverage the strong skill sets you have by showing those first? The LinkedIn Coach will grow as your business does.

    • Hi Maria,

      I’ve been doing SEO, PPC and online marketing for 12 years and I’ve just transitioned to LinkedIn as my primary focus in the past year. I do need to beef up the LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements.


  • Hazel says:

    Having anything else, in addition to your name, like “linkedin coach” in your “name” field is a violation of LinkedIn TOS and makes you candidate for penalty temporary suspension or account termination.
    This is not a good advice at all.