One of the most basic considerations for creating and editing our Professional Profile on LinkedIn is to ensure it is well stocked with the words and phrases we want to be found for - our ideal search terms.
By the way, for the benefit of anyone who hasn't so far delved into this area much, the jargon term is "keywords". I have to admit it took me quite a while to figure out that the term "key words and phrases" is more accurate and might be more quickly understood by people who are not search experts. "Coach" can be a keyword: so can "business coach" "sales and marketing coach", "Chicago business coach", and so on.
There are a couple of ways we can test for what we might call the "keyword effectiveness" of what we've done in setting up our LinkedIn profile.
One process I always recommend in my LinkedIn coaching is to set aside some time to do some searching on LinkedIn ourselves, using those search terms (keywords) we want to be found for, and seeing where our profiles come up in the results. The process is similar to what we might do with Google or other search engines - first page has top ten results etc - but with the difference that if we tweak the words in the profile the differences in ranking can come up pretty well immediately.
This can take some time and I find that it's more efficient when you don't have to stop in mid course to do something else. Which is why I suggest that it is something to do on the weekend if you can.
Turn off notifications
To save annoying our network with multiple notifications of changes we make while experimenting, it is a good idea to switch off those notifications before starting - Settings -> Privacy Controls - and then on again when we finish.
The testing process
The basic procedure I use for testing is as follows:
First set up a simple system for recording your changes and the results. I use a notepad like a legal pad, or (paper) notebook, and keep a running score, with times. You could use a spreadsheet if you prefer.
Before making any change, search for your preferred term under People (top right corner of your LinkedIn page), leaving the Relevance filter untouched. Search through the results and see where you come up in your network. As for Google, the ideal is to be in the top three, preferably number one, but the top ten is good too. Each page of results, as for Google, has ten results.
On your notepad or spreadsheet record where you come, which may be zero at this stage, and the time.
Then add in the search term you want to be found for. When you start to make changes, at first change one element at a time (later you can make a few changes at a time) and then test the result. I usually start with the Professional Headline (just under your name on your profile).
For example, if you want to be found for the term "Business Strategist", put that in your Professional Headline (without the quotation marks).
What I do then, having done a global search and recorded the result, is search with a location filter - Advanced Search, left hand sidebar - usually by country first, and sometimes then by a more specific location. (You can of course use other filters with, or besides, the location one.)
And then note those results.
Then make some more changes and test each of those. I usually go from the Professional Headline to the Summary, then to other elements of the profile.
What if you keep getting a zero result?
I hope that with some creative work on your profile you will start to rank much better. If that fails, then you might want to get help from me or another LinkedIn specialist.
If you don't want to do that but would like some more insight, why not join one of the LinkedIn Groups that focus on LinkedIn and how to use it more effectively? The LinkedIn Bloggers group, which I co-manage and which has been going since 2005, is a good place to ask questions and get help.
The LinkedIntelligence site, hosted by social media specialist Scott Allen, and for which I am about to start writing, is a rich - and freely available - source of information about LinkedIn and how to use it.
Next week I will share, as a demonstration, some results from my following the process as outlined above. I think you'll be surprised at how it turned out: I was gobsmacked! Till then, stay safe and get linking.
Image credit: LinkedIn pen, from The Seafarer (Sheila Scarborough) via Flickr, CC BY 2.0