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Three Tips to Slam Dunk Keyword Optimization on LinkedIn

by Maggie Graham, MEd, CPCC

One of the main reasons to invest time in developing a LinkedIn profile is to be found by the right people, either recruiters and hiring managers (for job seekers) or potential clients (for business owners). The primary variable in being found is keyword optimization.

People often ask me to define keyword optimization because it’s a term that sometimes gets batted around without context. Keyword optimization is the strategic placement on your profile of terms that people will likely enter into LinkedIn’s search box to find candidates or businesses, and it takes into account the algorithm that LinkedIn uses to rank profiles in search results.

LinkedIn’s algorithm is mysterious, but we can make some solid guesses about what matters in elevating your presence on search results, including three primary qualities.


What are the terms that people are using to find talent like yours? If you can answer this question, you’ll know the language that you should be weaving into your LinkedIn profile. Some avenues to discovering what people might use to find you include:

  • Dive into job descriptions to identify keywords that appear over and over across positions that you’re considering. Tag Crowd and Wordle are great sites to use to uncover those words (see the attached video for instructions).
  • Imagine you’re shopping for someone with your skills and brainstorm lists of words that you might use to find someone like you.
  • Use autofill in the Skills and Endorsements section on LinkedIn to identify terms that are used on LinkedIn (also covered in the attached video).
  • Look at other people’s profiles on LinkedIn to find terms that are used successfully in your industry (see the attached video for instructions).


It’s important to repeat keywords in your LinkedIn profile. Don’t just use a critical keyword once. Frequency matters. If you’d like to learn more about this concept, look for articles that explain “keyword density,” which describes the number of times a keyword appears inside the total number of indexable words on a particular profile or website.

Here’s the bottomline: when a word appears frequently on your LinkedIn profile, that’s a positive factor how you’re ranked on search page results, but there’s a point at which you can overdo it. I’ve had clients try to game the system not on LinkedIn but inside a resume by copying and pasting a job description inside their resume and then making the font size very small and making the font color white so that that doesn’t show up in print (unless it backfires and actually does show up) but it’s picked up by the applicant tracking system – that doesn’t work – it’s too much.

There’s no magic number for how much is too much in terms of repeating a keyword on your LinkedIn profile, but if someone were to cringe when they read your profile because a keyword shows up awkwardly, then you’re over the line.


Your strategy for keyword optimization needs to include not just the number of times that you use a particular keyword but also where that keyword is located. Here are the areas on LinkedIn to emphasize:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Job Title (in Current Position under Experience)
  • Inside Recommendations (I explain in the attached video how to make a request of people who write recommendations for you that they include specific keywords)
  • Skills & Endorsements

Double check your work after you integrate these suggestions into your profile. Search LinkedIn for keywords that you’re hoping to be known for and see if your LinkedIn profile comes up at the top of your search results page. If it doesn’t, take a look at the profiles of the people ahead of you on the list. Sometimes they’ll outrank you because they have more connections, but it could also be due to keyword optimization so you might tweak that aspect further after viewing others’ profiles for ideas.