As a freelancer, LinkedIn SEO will improve your visibility on the most popular social networking site for professionals, but understanding how to get noticed on LinkedIn is an art form.
Don’t worry if your profile is a little behind the times – it’s easy to get started with some simple optimizations that will give you a boost. Or, if you want to save time, hire a professional to upgrade your profile as part of a resume-building package. Either way, let’s dive into learning more about LinkedIn SEO.
LinkedIn Optimization 101: Write A Good Linkedin Headline
Your LinkedIn headline is one of the most important elements of your profile. Just as recruitment agencies use LinkedIn to search for people in specific roles, marketing agencies and potential clients also make the most of LinkedIn to find new talent.
Use your LinkedIn headline to get specific about what you do. Example: If you’re a writer, what kind of writer are you? SEO? Long-form blog writer? Both? Do you have a specific industry niche like B2B SaaS that you work in?
Your headline is highly searchable and will appear in Google, so choose your words carefully. What keywords or keyphrases would someone use to find you? Use plain language such as “freelance writer” rather than “wizard with words” or “em dash lover.” Although these show personality, they’re better suited to your About section.
If you’re having trouble finding the right words for your headline, look at the profiles of other freelancers in your field (for inspiration only!) and see what words they’re using to attract their dream clients.
LinkedIn Headline Examples
The LinkedIn Headline allows you up to 220 characters (including spaces). Here’s how some freelancers are using theirs effectively:
Tracy Rawlinson describes the type of writing she does, the niche she works in, and her experience in this area.
“Freelance HR writer for B2B SaaS companies with 30+ years experience.”
Joel Klettke establishes his authority as the Founder of his case study business. His headline includes the keywords “case study,” “conversion copywriter,” and “B2B brands,” making it highly searchable. But he also throws in some personality for good measure.
“Founder @ Case Study Buddy. Also: conversion copywriter and consultant to a few lucky B2B brands. Bald and OK with it.”
Bani Kaur niches down according to industry and the length of content she produces. She also uses her headline to highlight a recent accolade.
“B2B SaaS and Fintech Freelance Writer| Longform Specialist| Blogs| Ebooks| Whitepapers| Pepper’s Top 30 Women in Content 2022”
Write A Good LinkedIn Summary (AKA About Section)
Once you’ve enticed prospects with your headline, they’ll jump to your About section. This is your chance to shine and show off your personality, skills, and experience. Some freelancers go wrong here. They make it all about themselves rather than using this space as an opportunity to explain you’re the perfect person to achieve X results for your client.
Clients are interested in evidence – awards, results, or testimonials from happy clients. So, if your content refresh project generated $5,000 worth of monthly organic traffic for a client, now’s the time to mention it. Or, if you’ve got a bragworthy byline for Business Insider, this is a must-include, too.
For example, freelance writer and career advisor Kat Boogaard writes:
“Some of my past and current clients include Trello, Loom, Atlassian, Wrike, GoSkills, QuickBooks, The Muse, Toggl, and more. Plus, my work has been published and/or syndicated by The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., Business Insider, TIME, Mashable, and LifeHacker, to name just a few.
*dusts shoulder off*
Not bad for a “blogger,” am I right?”
As with your headline, use keywords and key phrases throughout your About section to appear in relevant searches. You can also include links to your website or blog and any social media profiles you want to promote.
Tailor Your LinkedIn Experience Section For Search
Update your LinkedIn Experience section regularly to include your latest freelance gigs and any other relevant work experience. If you’re just starting as a freelancer and don’t have much (or any!) relevant paid work experience to show off yet, consider adding volunteering roles or internships – anything that will demonstrate the skills you want to be known for.
And keep thinking about those keywords – if you’re a Martech writer and you wrote for a Martech client last month, guess what needs adding to your experience section? You betcha!
Do Endorsements Matter On LinkedIn?
Freelancers often overlook endorsements to stand out on LinkedIn, but they can be super valuable in increasing visibility. You can add up to 50 skills to your profile, from which your 1st-degree connections can endorse you for them.
When someone endorses you for a skill, this strengthens your profile and increases the chance that prospects will discover you for these skills. To get endorsements:
- Ask current clients or colleagues to endorse you for relevant skills
- Reach out to past contacts and ask for their support
- Endorse people in your network and hope they’ll reciprocate the gesture
- Join relevant LinkedIn groups and participate in discussions to raise your profile and boost the chance that people will land on your profile and endorse you.
How To Ask For Skill Endorsements On LinkedIn
But how do you reach out and ask people to endorse you? If this is something you find a bit cringe, think about how to make it feel more natural by working it into a conversation. You could say something like:
“Hey, I just updated my LinkedIn profile, and I’d love to get your endorsement for my writing skills. Would you mind taking a quick look?”
Or, if you want to be more direct:
“I’m trying to improve my LinkedIn SEO, and I was wondering if you’d be able to endorse me for a few skills?”
The people you’re asking are likely to be busy, so make it as easy as possible for them by suggesting 1-3 specific skills that you would like them to endorse you for.
Remember: people are far more likely to endorse your skills if you’ve done this for them first. It’s great karma, after all! Pick a day to scroll through your feed, reach out to relevant people, and spread a little endorsement joy!
Ask For LinkedIn Recommendations Too!
One of the top reasons to ask for LinkedIn recommendations is the fantastic social proof they provide. I maximize the value of my testimonials by repurposing them on my website, in my Twitter posts, sometimes in my email signature, and frequently in job applications.
But if the cupboards are bare in your Recommendations section, how do you fill this up with impressive social proof? Here are some tips:
- Reach out to existing and current clients you have a strong working relationship with and ask for their support. LinkedIn offers a handy “Ask for a recommendation” tool to make this easier.
- Build LinkedIn recommendations into your project wrap-ups. Send a message to your client to say you’ve enjoyed working with them, then ask if they’d mind supporting you by giving you a recommendation. By listing the contents and results of the project in your request, you’re setting them up to write a home-run testimonial for you.
Improve Your LinkedIn SEO With Visibility Settings
The LinkedIn search algorithm is a bit of a mystery, but we know that your profile needs to be as complete as possible, with plenty of rich content, to give you the best chance of being found. Visibility settings control how easily your profile comes up in a LinkedIn search. Here are some quick wins for improving your LinkedIn SEO using these settings.
Make Your LinkedIn Profile Visible to Everyone
Head to the LinkedIn home page, then click on Me > Settings and Privacy > Visibility to adjust your profile visibility. Open it up to Everyone to increase the chances of potential clients finding you.
Update Your LinkedIn ‘Open to Work’ Section
The LinkedIn ‘Open to Work’ badge is a great way to signal that you’re actively looking for new opportunities without having to make too many changes to your profile. This adds a green #opentowork banner to your LinkedIn profile photo and makes you more approachable to clients.
To update your ‘Open to Work’ status: Go to the LinkedIn home page, click Me > View profile > Open to, and select your preferences.
How To Get Noticed on LinkedIn: Bonus Round [!]
So, we’ve optimized your profile for search, but the fun’s not over yet. There are even more ways to make a positive first impression on those who do land on your LinkedIn bio.
Use A Professional Photo For LinkedIn
Humans are visual creatures, and a profile photo is one of the first things people will notice when they land on your bio. What will they see when they land on yours – do you seem professional, approachable, experienced, etc.?
Worth knowing: LinkedIn research shows that members with a photo receive 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests than those without. Don’t be tempted to hide in the shadows without a pic, even if you’re a hardcore introvert like moi!
Pro tip: don’t forget to make your pic visible to everyone through your Visibility settings.
LinkedIn Photo Tips To Get You Noticed
Avoid a LinkedIn photo that’s too informal. You don’t want potential clients to see you smooching your other half or guzzling champagne at the club. This is a business platform, so your photo should reflect that with a simple, high-quality headshot.
And make sure it’s recent! People can spot an old LinkedIn photo from a mile away. If you’re not comfortable getting a professional headshot done (I get it, they can be pricey), ask a friend to snap a quick photo of you with a simple background. Follow these tips for the best results:
- Choose a high-res image of at least 400 x 400 pixels.
- Your face should fill at least 60% of the pic – crop your shoulders if necessary.
- Use soft, natural lighting
- Convey confidence with a natural smile and direct eye contact
- Wear professional clothing
- Use a LinkedIn filter to set the right mood
- Use a platform like PhotoFeeler, which lets you upload photos and get feedback from strangers on which ones make you look most likable, competent, and influential.
Bonus tip: if you’re using the same headshot across all your social platforms, make sure it’s one you’re happy with. First impressions count!
LinkedIn Optimization: Update Your LinkedIn Banner Image Too
Your LinkedIn banner image is like a giant business card at the top of your profile. It’s an opportunity to make your profile pop and get noticed on LinkedIn. Some people will use inspirational quotes on theirs (templates available on Canva if that’s your vibe); others understand this is a critical piece of real estate for their LinkedIn profile so use the space to promote their freelance business.
Your banner should:
- Be high quality and relevant to your field
- Include your website address or social media handle so people can easily find you elsewhere online
- Be sized at 1584 x 396 pixels for best results
- Be updated regularly, especially if you’re actively looking for new clients. A new banner signals that you’re open for business.
LinkedIn Cover Photo Ideas And Inspiration
B2B SaaS Writer and Award-Winning Blogger Elna Cain uses her LinkedIn cover photo to reiterate her freelance title, website, email address, and thousands of followers on other social platforms.
Freelance writer Komal Ahuja uses the space to plug the results that clients can expect from her: “Better search engine rankings, stronger authority, engaged readers, more product sign-ups, better targeted content.”
Update Your LinkedIn Featured Section
The LinkedIn featured section showcases your skills, highlights your work, and gets you noticed on LinkedIn. Curate projects, articles, videos, and presentations – be picky and add anything you’re proud of that will help promote your freelance business.
If you don’t have any content to feature yet, consider creating some. Link to a Medium article you wrote or a design project you worked on. If you’re just starting, even a simple PDF of your resume or list of skills will do.
The key is ensuring your featured content is high quality and relevant to your target clients. You want to show them that you’re the real deal and can provide value.
Improve Your LinkedIn Profile With A Relevant And Up-to-date Resume
Most freelancers (including me!) could be better at updating their resumes. But if you want to get noticed on LinkedIn, you’ll need an up-to-date resume relevant to the types of clients and projects you’re looking for.
Here are a few tips for updating your resume:
- Highlight your most relevant experience first
- Use keywords that will help you get found in searches
- Include quantifiable results whenever possible
- Make sure it’s well-written and free of typos and grammatical errors
Update Your Licenses And Certifications On LinkedIn
Add external certifications to your profile, or access the LinkedIn Learning program to gain new certifications. These can be pricey, but if you’re serious about marketing your freelance business on LinkedIn, they’re worth the investment. Try the LinkedIn course offerings out for size by signing up for a free month’s trial with LinkedIn Premium.
Another option is to pay for a learning program, and LinkedIn will often chuck a few freebie courses your way (be aware, there’s usually a limited time window to complete them!)
Take Relevant Skill Quizzes On LinkedIn
We’re nearly there, but here’s one for the road: LinkedIn skills quizzes. These short, multiple-choice quizzes test your knowledge in a particular area. For example, I have a skills badge for SEO! They’re a great way to show off your expertise, and they can help you get noticed by potential clients.
Don’t worry if you don’t pass a quiz – your profile won’t reflect this.
Now Go Nail Your LinkedIn SEO!
There you have everything you need to know about LinkedIn SEO and how to get noticed on LinkedIn as a freelancer. It all boils down to keeping your profile up-to-date and using the keywords and phrases you expect clients to use when searching for you.
Pretty common sense, really! Following these tips will optimize your profile for search engines and potential clients. But, don’t forget to turn on your visibility so people can find you, or everything else you’ve done will be in vain! Next steps? Take an honest look at your LinkedIn profile and start making those tweaks today!
Featured Image: FireJob
Rebecca Noori is a freelance writer crafting long-form blog articles on HR, careers, productivity, and leadership, with bylines in places like Insider, Zapier, Zavvy, Clever Girl Finance, and many more. When she's not writing, you'll find her helping beginner freelancers and raising her 3 kids (who are quite a handful). Connect with Rebecca on her website or LinkedIn.