LinkedIn have always encouraged its users to complete as many sections of the LinkedIn Profile as possible. “Users with complete Profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn”.
LinkedIn do the encouragement bit pretty well. What they don’t do well is explain WHY having a complete Profile is a good thing for you professionally. Perhaps that’s the reason for the message not getting through? LinkedIn’s own statistics confirm the completion gap when they tell us that ”Only 50.5% of people have a 100% completed LinkedIn profile“. This is problematic not just for users but also for the platform as a whole. LinkedIn thrives on data and specifically the ability to ‘link’ that data. If only half of LinkedIn participants are providing complete data, half the network is in a permanent data shadow.
There are 5 levels to attain 100% Profile completion or ‘All-Star’.
(5) All Star
Though the graphic suggests there is another level beyond ‘All-Star’, it’s misleading. ‘All-Star’ currently equates to having a fully completed Profile. Here are the Profile Sections you need to complete to get to ‘All-Star’ (100%):
- Adding a profile photo
- Listing 2 or more positions you’ve held, along with descriptions of your roles
- Having 5 or more skills on your profile
- Writing a summary about yourself
- Filling out your industry and postal code
- Adding where you went to school
- Having 50 or more connections
VISIBILITY & SEARCH
The main reason to complete your Profile is to ensure that you will appear in LinkedIn search results. If someone searched on my last name and my Profile was incomplete i.e ‘Expert’, ‘Intermediate’ or ‘Beginner’, all of the other ‘All-Star’ Footes would rank higher and push me down the LinkedIn search rankings. LinkedIn’s search algorithm filters by relevance – it will also rank your search by Connections in Common, Connections by Degree (1st, 2nd then 3rd Degree Connections) and finally Groups in common. All searches conducted on LinkedIn are unique and relevant to you.
The search algorithm seeks and displays results in this order:
- Profile Completeness (100% only)
- Connections in Common (shared)
- Connections by Degree (1st Degree, then 2nd, then 3rd)
- Groups in Common (shared)
It’s important to understand that Profile Completeness is a trump card in the search game. If you don’t have a 100% complete Profile, your Connections or Groups don’t matter, you will be INVISIBLE when searched, game over.
Though the only person who can see Profile Completion (‘All-Star’ etc.) is you, the casual observer browsing your Profile will certainly notice if some Sections are missing key information (Photo, Past Positions, Education etc.). So it make sense to be an ‘All Star’ to present well to anyone who comes to your Profile without actually searching for it. Of course it’s possible the observer may not be ‘casual’ at all, they could be someone looking to fill an order, gap or role and your incomplete Profile just gave them a reason to keep looking. Unfortunately, you will never know how many opportunities you’ve missed because your LinkedIn Profile is incomplete.
Let’s try an experiment – google your name. Are you on the first page of Google’s search results? Has your LinkedIn Profile appeared first? If the answer to both questions is no, it’s probably because your LinkedIn Profile is incomplete. If you are not being found via LinkedIn searches, you are not being clicked and your LinkedIn Profile page stays comparatively dormant. That’s a problem when it comes to being indexed on the world-wide web. 1 Billion names are searched on Google every day. 94% of people only look at the first page of search results. LinkedIn ranks higher than all other profiles including social networks and website builders (http://mashable.com/2012/08/02/higher-google-search-results/). If you’re not being found, you’re lost and in limbo.
Google loves LinkedIn when it comes to PageRank. Apart from being an ‘All Star’, you can significantly boost your Google PageRank by doing the following:
- Create a Public Profile and select ‘Full View’ in your Profile Settings.
- Customize your Public Profile’s URL to be your actual name.
- Use your Customized Public Profile URL generously on the web (i.e blog comments, tweets etc.)
QUANTITY v QUALITY
Many LinkedIn Experts will encourage you to use all of the available space on your LinkedIn Profile and to ‘stuff’ your entire Profile with as many of your keywords as possible to rank in LinkedIn and Google searches. I think that’s bad advice. Keyword stuffing makes your Profile look bloated and insincere, far better to come across as a genuine and capable professional by effectively telling your story, not gaming the system. A stunningly good LinkedIn Summary lets you put your best foot forward and could also help you get it in the door. Roughly 70% of the Profiles I view on LinkedIn are via browsing, if I run a search I usually find who or what I’m looking for without paying much attention to ranking. If I see a Profile stuffed with keywords it leaves a bad impression. Now tell me again why keyword stuffing is a good thing?
Here are some great organic ways to improve your visibility on LinkedIn (without resorting to keyword stuffing):
- Join Groups, start and engage in great Discussions, be helpful to those communities.
- Create original content and share it with your connections.
- Share relevant content and thank others when they do the same.
- Recommend and Endorse your Connections.
- Build your network by commonality and community.
BE IN THE 1st PERCENT (NOT A WALLFLOWER)
A popular rule for internet participation holds that 1% create content, 9% edit that content and 90% read it. Though that last figure will fluctuate depending on the type of community and seems to be reducing as more people become accustomed to participating online, the 1-9-90 rule still represents an enormous opportunity for anyone who wishes to increase their web visibility, since the barrier to becoming noticed has been set so low. My advice: step out of the shadows and create (or edit) your future. Complete your LinkedIn Profile then give people multiple ways to find you and compelling reasons to engage with you.
Finally, don’t neglect your visual branding. Decision-makers will be paying close attention to your Photograph, Logos, Endorsement Tapestry, Rich Media and LinkedIn Publisher. I’ve got you covered, look at these: “5 Clever Ways To Market Yourself Visually On LinkedIn” – how many are you using?
If you liked this article, you’ll love my LinkedIn coaching. If you need help with your Summary, Profile or LinkedIn strategy, I can help.
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By Andy Foote