How To Use Keywords in LinkedIn To Boost Your Search Rankings

One of the most frequent questions I get is how to increase the frequency of recruiters or potential clients finding your profile through LinkedIn’s search feature. More than 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source candidates, so if you’re trying to be found, you need to make sure your profile is optimized with the keywords that will help your profile rise in the rankings.

Keywords in LinkedIn Are The Top Factor In Your Search Ranking

Before you can optimize your profile, you need to determine the top 3-5 keywords you wish to rank for.

Here are four ideas to help you create your list of keywords:

  1. Look for trending keywords in job postings
  2. Browse the profiles of people in positions you want
  3. Avoid broad terms such as “finance” or “marketing” that will be incredibly competitive
  4. Focus on technical terms that are widely used in your industry

Nobody except the folks at LinkedIn’s headquarters know the exact algorithm used to rank its users, so I won’t pretend to have the secret formula to guarantee the #1 spot for a keyword like “software developer”.

Rankings are often tied to location and connections within your network, but using simple best practices to include the right keywords in the right locations will certainly increase your chances of ranking higher up the list and enhancing your visibility with recruiters, colleagues and/or potential clients.

The three areas to strategically include keywords in your profile: headline, summary, and job titles.

1) Headline

The headline is the first thing people (and LinkedIn’s algorithm) see on your profile. The default headline is simply your most current job title, but if you want to get noticed, you need to think outside of the box.

You want a headline that will grab the reader’s attention and at the same time send a strong signal about what keywords you should rank for. LinkedIn gives you 120 characters for your titles and/or a description of your talent. Beyond the keywords, you also want to communicate your key differentiators.

Check out these examples:

TW LI Example

2) Summary

Here you have up to 2,000 characters to describe your background, and you want to get these keywords in here as much as possible. There are a number of various theories about how to do a profile and my overall philosophy is that it should NOT be the same as your resume. Rather, it should be enough to express your value proposition and whet their appetite so they will want to call you.

LinkedIn used to have a Specialties section that essentially served as a keyword bank of all your skills. Although it has largely been replaced by the new Skills section, you can still create your own Specialties section within your Summary.

LinkedIn Specialties


3) Job Titles

Job titles are the most forgotten places to slip in some keywords because most people think that there’s no room for improvisation. Not true, in my option. You only have 100 characters, but any keywords beyond your job title that you can use to describe your role will only help your rankings.

Repetition is your friend when it comes to keyword optimization. Repeating keywords in your job title that align with what you have in your headline and summary sections sends a positive signal to LinkedIn.

Bonus Tip: Include your top keyword in your vanity URL.


Ranking your profile for your targeted keywords is great, but it’s certainly not a make-or-break variable that will determine how much success you ultimately have on LinkedIn. Be strategic in how you use keywords throughout your profile, but be careful not to cross that line where you’re writing your content for LinkedIn’s algorithm rather than your human audience.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.