Thursday, November 30, 2017

Are Keywords Still Important in a LinkedIn Profile?

The short answer is YES.

I received this question from a colleague who was wondering, since LinkedIn has changed its search functions with the 2017 update ("the new desktop experience"), relegating many of the higher-level search functions to paid accounts. With the vast majority of LinkedIn users still using the Free level, the question was: Are keywords still important in a LinkedIn profile?

Let's take a closer look at where keywords can be helpful.

Industry is still included as a field in the search filters -- even on Free level -- so it's helpful for SEO there (with the idea that the ultimate purpose of SEO is to be found). Although note that the "default" search categories are limited to fields similar to your own unless you type in an industry category ("+Add").


(Click on Industries):


There is also a Keywords-specific search box:



It's only been in the last two months that LinkedIn has updated their SEO algorithm for the "new desktop experience" -- you can see the latest details on this page:
https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/4447?query=keywords

Most relevant on that page is this quote:
"More keywords aren't always better. Our advice would be to avoid overfilling your profile with keywords and only include the keywords that best reflect your expertise and experience. If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your profile, it's likely that your profile will be filtered out by our spam detection algorithms, which will negatively impact your rank in search results."

Quality over quantity. "More keywords aren't always better."

That said, I think that it's premature to say that because LinkedIn has reduced the prominence of showing the Summary on both the desktop and mobile versions that SEO/keywords aren't as important. I saw an article a couple of months ago that addressed this (I don't know if I could find it again), but it said the Summary is now more like a cover letter for LinkedIn users -- instead of how we used to position it as an "executive summary" for clients. If you provide compelling content in those first few words/lines, they'll click to read through, but it's vital to put good information in the entire profile to be found by the search engines, but once you've been found, you have to compel the human reader too. (The more things change in job search -- and technology -- the more things stay the same!)

Like with the ATS, the keywords have to be in the content in order to appear in search results. But the best strategy for jobseekers remains to use LinkedIn to build their networks (and increase their visibility through LinkedIn Publishing and liking and commenting on content -- since this appears on your LinkedIn profile page) and keeping in contact with their LinkedIn connections.

So, in lengthy summary -- I wouldn't advise any change in strategy for content based on the new desktop experience.

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