Here's a question I get asked a lot: Do you do SEO on clients' LinkedIn profiles? The answer: Yes.

There are steps I take to increase the chances that profiles I work on turn up in Internet searches and LinkedIn searches, too. And you can use these strategies to optimize your own professional profile.  

1. Sprinkle keywords throughout your profile.

Think about the terms people would use to search for someone with your expertise. These are your keywords, and you should sprinkle them throughout your profile, starting with your headline.

With your headline think of the words that prospective clients and recruiters would use to find someone like you. Think job function, specialty and career tenure. For example, Marketing Director and Senior Communications Strategist conveys long established marketing and communications expertise. Marketing Director and Senior Financial Communications strategist adds another layer, specific industry experience. 

Make sure current and past titles and job descriptions -- those in the Experience section -- are likewise optimized.

In the About section, which is the bio section, I recommend using keywords but only to the degree that they don't interfere with telling a story. This section is less about stringing together industry words and more about telling a story that makes you stand out. Think of it as your "why" -- why you do what you do and how you got here -- versus a listing of accomplishments, which is what the Experience section is for.

2. Complete all sections of your profile.

Complete all sections of your profile and keep all sections up to date. LinkedIn has a new section right below your name, headline and city that allows you to list at a glance what kind of services your business offers. Fill out this section; it's prime keyword real estate.

A note on being current: I often see connections whom I know have changed jobs or moved to a new city forgetting to update their LinkedIn profiles. Say you are a wedding photographer who moved from Phoenix to Houston, you want to be found when people search "wedding photographer Houston" and not "wedding photographer Phoenix."

Also, make sure you link to the LinkedIn pages of past employers and colleges where you studied or graduated. For example, among my former employers is Wells Fargo. If someone wanted to search for Wells Fargo employees -- past or present -- who worked in Charlotte, North Carolina, I would appear in that search. You will know if you have linked to a company, university or group page if that organization's logo appears next to your entry, and you can click on that logo to go to that page. 

3. Use hashtags in your posts.

When you post to LinkedIn, use hashtags that correspond to your keywords. For example, when I share stories that I've read or written about LinkedIn or public relations, I include hashtags like #linkedin #linkedmakeover #publicrelations #PR.

I recently asked a LinkedIn makeover client who lives in New York how she found me. It was simple. She was searching on LinkedIn. This happens a lot. It works.

4. Get out there and be prolific.

If you never login to LinkedIn, you can't really wonder why nobody ever finds you there or why you don't get new business, new clients or new prospects from the professional networking platform. 

If you want your name to stay top of mind for your connections, get on your LinkedIn and do something. Congratulate connections on new jobs and promotions. Share articles you've read. I often share with clients articles that they should share on LinkedIn.

Heck, write your own articles that show off your subject matter expertise and contain all of your searchable keywords.

Think of LinkedIn as you would networking events. You have to pass out business cards, shake hands and meet people. You have to put yourself out there.

Published on: Jan 15, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.