How To Master LinkedIn Search To Get Your Profile Found

Master LinkedIn Search

Have you ever wondered how LinkedIn search works? Why you see what you see?

Well, I don’t know about you but I have been using LinkedIn search for years. And in all that time I had no idea what influenced how the search results appeared to me.

If we search for the same thing or person do we all see the same results? Or, like Google, were they different for everyone?

I didn’t know and honestly, I had no reason to really care. Until now.

As I continue to do more and more LinkedIn training and coaching I am obviously being asked more and more questions about how specific parts of LinkedIn works. And I can tell you that the questions are getting more in depth and more detailed with every passing session so I thought that before someone asked me how LinkedIn search works perhaps I should make sure that I know exactly how it works.

Like Google and Facebook, and many platforms that have their own proprietary search algorithm, LinkedIn is very careful to protect its inner workings.

That is, until fairly recently when I came across a piece of marketing material produced by LinkedIn outlining how their search algorithm works.

And so, I thought I would share it with you as there are some very interesting take-aways once we understand how it works.

Have you ever wondered why you see what you see when you search for someone on LinkedIn? Would it surprise you to know that we do not all see the same results when we perform the same search? What?!!! How can that be possible? Well, let’s take a look and see what happens.

  1. How LinkedIn Ranks Search Results


When you search in LinkedIn the results that you are shown are sorted for you by relevance (“Relevance” appears to be code for “LinkedIn’s Proprietary Search Algorithm”).

And the relevance of the search takes the following into account, in this order of priority, to show you the results you actually see:

First Results You See

1st level connections with profiles that are 100% complete (or close to it) and have the most in-common connections with you and shared groups sorted in descending order.

  1. So the first results you will see are first level connections (people you are connected to) with the most complete profiles.

LESSON LEARNED – If you want to show up in more searches and get found more often then you MUST complete your profile. If you don’t, it is costing you opportunities.

Next Results You See

1st level connections with the fewest in-common connections and shared groups, ranked in descending order by profile completeness

LESSON LEARNED – See above lesson learned. 🙂

And Then These Results

2nd level connections (people connected to people you are connected to) ranked in descending order by profile completeness.

LESSON LEARNED – we appear to have a theme here relative to profile completeness. Nuff said.

Then these results

3rd level connections (people connected to people connected to people you are connected to) ranked in descending order by profile completeness


Then these results

Shared group members (outside of your network) ranked in descending order by profile completeness.

LESSON LEARNED – Join groups (You are allowed to join up to 50). It will give you a better chance of showing up in search results to people not part of your network.

And Finally

Everyone else (those outside your network), ranked in descending order by profile completeness.

So what does this all mean to you and I? Pretty simple. If you want to get found in more LinkedIn search results then.

  • be a 1st degree connection to as many people as possible and
  • have a profile that’s 100% complete.

This means including a profile picture, a professional headline, your last two jobs, etc.

And LinkedIn will even walk you through this process and let you know once your profile is 100% complete.

It certainly would appear that anything less than 100% completeness (or close to it) is not only hurting you from a LinkedIn search ranking perspective, it’s also less-than-impressive to anyone who happens to read your profile. 🙂

  1. Use Keywords In Your Profile….But Only In The Right Location

Keywords in your name, headline, company name, job title and skills will rank higher in the search results than keywords in other sections of your profile.

LESSON LEARNED – Use keywords in your headline, job title and skills whenever possible. And remember, the keywords should be words or phrases that when people are searching for them you would like your name to be found in the search results.

I know we are starting to sound like a broken record, but let’s repeat it one more time…..It is very important to have a 100% complete profile. If these fields are left blank or filled with generic terms, then you will not rank as highly as you should. Think about which search terms are most important and relevant for your business / career and then search LinkedIn for those keywords. If you don’t show up on the first page of results, update these sections (Headline, Job Title, Skills) to include those relevant terms. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this can improve your rankings!

  1. Use All Of Your Options

Use every field and option that LinkedIn makes available to you – Like joining 50 LinkedIn groups (the maximum you are currently allowed) – boosts your ranking.

LESSON LEARNED – LinkedIn is about networking and visibility and getting found. If you are serious about accomplishing these 3 things on LinkedIn then take maximum advantage of everything opportunity that LinkedIn provides.

Use all 120 characters available to you for your headline. Plus the 1000 characters available for your interests, you can list up to 50 skills and you have 2000 characters for your summary… use them! Make full use of the fields and sections to make your profile really work for you! And don’t be afraid to use other forms of content such as videos or SlideShare presentations. These will all help you in your rankings!

  1. Sometimes Keywords Don’t Help At All

Sorry, but according to LinkedIn placing keywords in your contact section does nothing since this section is not included in LinkedIn Search. However, you should use this section to tell people the best way to contact you (perhaps a phone number and email address if you REALLY want to be contacted…and why wouldn’t you want to be contacted? After all you are awesome, aren’t you?).

  1. Is Keyword Variety Good or Bad?

Should you use a variety of keywords and terms in describing what you do to show up in a wider variety of search results?

LESSON LEARNED – There are probably at least two schools of thought on this one.

(i) Stay narrow. use 2 or 3 keywords that are specific to one area of your offerings and use them extensively throughout your profile. Using this approach you may show up in fewer search results but you may show up very high for the 2 or 3 keywords that you are using.

(ii) Go wider. Use a greater variety of keywords to illustrate all of the products or services you offer and use them throughout your profile. Doing this may mean you show up in more search results but perhaps lessen your chance of ranking high in any one specific search. My suggestion. Test and Measure. Try both. But make sure you try them for a period of time so that you are able to measure any difference.

Whichever option you decide to go with make sure that you use these terms throughout your LinkedIn profile in meaningful sentences… Do NOT just stuff keywords into your profile in one big run-on sentence that means nothing. Use them in the proper context so that the terms are meaningful and won’t turn off your audience once they arrive at your profile. A spammy profile, even if it turns up at the top of search results, is never good for your brand. Nobody likes spam.

  1. Watch The Trends and Your Profile Views

Keep an eye on LinkedIn search trends and profile views. LinkedIn lets you see how many times you have shown up in search results and how many people have viewed your profile over the past three months. To see how many profile views you have had go to the main menu Profile > Who’s Viewed Your Profile or you can click on Who’s Viewed Your Profile in the right sidebar. You can also get some idea of what is trending on LinkedIn by going to their marketing solutions blog which can be found here  Monitor these results and then adjust your profile accordingly.

Remember success on LinkedIn is all about growing your network and optimizing your profile to improve your results in both of these categories – search results AND profile views!

  1. BONUS – Optimize Your Profile and Google Will Love You

Have you ever tried “googling” your own name? Of course you have, don’t lie. We all have. What did you discover?

Yes, your Linkedin profile will be either number one, two or three on the Google search results page! That is powerful. What would you pay to get your website found on page one of Google?

An optimized LinkedIn profile can have far-reaching effects beyond LinkedIn. Today, it has been found that LinkedIn is the social network MOST often appearing at the top of Google search results. This means that opportunities (job offers, clients, business deals, etc.) could be pouring in from both LinkedIn as well as external searches from the web.

Do yourself a favour and make sure that your profile is optimized to bring opportunities your way and to be sure that your audience likes what they see when they get there!

Examine your LinkedIn profile carefully and objectively. If you can’t then have a friend take a look. How does your profile YOU look? Are you easy to FIND?

Perhaps, the key question is “Does your profile represent you the way you want to be represented?”

You now have the knowledge to make the necessary changes and use LinkedIn’s powerful mojo to your full advantage!

Good Luck!

Optimize Yourself and Get Found and Prosper.


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