How can you get to the top of the list?

That’s a really important place to be isn’t it? The corporate recruiter has only so much time and it’s better to be the first candidate the search returns than the last.

The venture guys are looking for a company within the sustainable agriculture sector to invest in.  They’ll take the time to check into the results on the first page. But if you’re on the second page, they might not click over…

Today we’re going to take on the topic of optimizing your profile’s position within search results on LinkedIn.  I’ve called it “LinkedIn Profile Search Optimization” because the acronym LIPSO sounds cool…

Page Rank, SEO, and LinkedIn search

Just the other day I brought in the concept of improving a web page’s rank with the use of links from your LinkedIn profile.

Now we’re turning our attention to getting a higher placement within LinkedIn when other people search.

Factors to consider

Your LinkedIn profile has only so much information in it – there’s the textual information within your profile, the connections and relationships you’ve established, and possibly some recommendations added on top.

So there isn’t a lot to go with – the LinkedIn system knows what you have and makes judgments based on it.

Sorting preferences

LinkedIn allows you to filter on a number of items – but at the end of the search, it still has to show results in some order.  But which?

The search result window has a drop-down thal allows you to select one of several:

  • Relationship
  • Relationship + Recommendations
  • Connections
  • Relevance, Keywords

Relationship suggests that those closest to you – 1st degree connections – will come out on top, then 2nd, then 3rd.  But how about sorting among all of those 2nd level connections?  It isn’t stated, but experience suggests that it is by relevance.

Adding recommendations to relationships allows one more level of sorting within the 2nd level connections for example.

Connections is just that – who has the most.

I’m going to mention keywords for just a moment before we turn to relevance – keywords would suggest the relevance of the specific keyword search box.  Performing a search with only keywords has the same effect on either setting.

So really – what is relevance?


In my experience, LinkedIn is judging profile A and profile B on some sort of scale and deciding which one is “better” than the other.

And you’d like to be the better one, right?-)

Numbers count

I’m conducting my own experiment to get some actual numbers – so let’s consider a search for “Six Sigma” (quotes included) to find all of the people that use that term anywhere in their profile.

And here’s the first concept – if Profile A mentions “Six Sigma” once, and profile B mentions it three times, which profile is “better?

If you said profile B – you’re probably right!

So if you want to be found (near the top of the list) for a certain keyword within LinkedIn, you might want to find a way to mention it more than once…

Location, Location, Location

But what if profile C mentions “Six Sigma” in the headline and job titles, and profile D includes it within the summary section?

That’s right – words within those important places probably mean more!

Checking on this…

So yes – both of these rules appear to be supported by the system.

In order to limit the search results, I selected “Six Sigma” as a keyword, filtered results to those within 10 miles of my zip code, asked for 2nd degree connections only, and then only those profiles within the management consulting industry – and got all the way down to 20.

When sorted on relevance, the top profile included the term “Six Sigma” in his headline and several job titles. He had it within the profile more often than any other.

Following down through the list of 20 names, the frequency and significance both played a factor until the last handful of profiles simply mentioned the term within their summary or inside a job description.

Diluting the water

I’m going to finish this off with one additional concept – too much of a good thing.

Which profile is better – profile E that mentions “Six Sigma” ten times within a profile that includes 5,000 words, or profile F that mentions it four times within a 500 word profile?

It’s worth considering the “density” of the key word – more is good, but only if it maintains a relative position within all of the other content.


At the end of the search your profile must still be readable – so keep that in mind before you start stuffing “Six Sigma” into every corner of your profile;-)

And with that, I’ll let you get back to finishing off the year properly – see you in 2010!

Happy New Year – and I wish you continued success,


Steven Tylock