How to set up a LinkedIn professional profile

Setting up a professional profile on LinkedIn from Wordtracker the leading keyword research tool

The first step on the road to success on LinkedIn is creating a well-optimized LinkedIn professional profile. Blog marketing expert Kristi Hines explains how to set one up.

LinkedIn profiles generally rank on the first or second page of search results for your name, so you will want your profile to be complete if you want to make a good impression on those searching for you.

The information they see about you at the top of your profile will vary depending on whether they are logged in to LinkedIn

Beneath this, they get to read more about you based on the information you share in specific sections of your profile.

If you have already created your profile and you want to edit it, log in to your LinkedIn account and click on Edit Profile under the Profile menu option. Then click Edit next to the appropriate areas you want to modify.

Name and photo

LinkedIn’s user agreement specifically states that you should not publish inaccurate information in designated fields of your profile. This means you should just use your real first and last name in the name field - no keywords, symbols, email addresses, links, or other miscellaneous information. They also want you to use a head-shot photo for your profile image.

When it comes to your profile photo, you should use a professional image that preferably matches your other social profiles. Make sure that you allow your profile photo to be visible to everyone. This way, people you are connected to elsewhere will be able to easily identify you on LinkedIn.


Your headline is one of the most important parts of your profile. It comes up in a variety of places throughout LinkedIn including the following:

  • In search results on Google
  • In LinkedIn search results
  • In invitations to connect with other members
  • In suggestions for other people to follow
  • In the 'about you' snippet next to questions you answer
  • In the pop-up when someone hovers over your name

Each time you change your current job title, LinkedIn will suggest that you update your headline to match it. If your main focus is promoting your current job title and company, that is what you should do. But keep in mind that when people search for specific keywords, your headline holds a lot of weight in the network as to how you will rank in internal search results. I would suggest adding your targeted keywords in your headline instead of or in addition to your job title.


While they don’t have any SEO value, you can add up to three custom links to your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to add your websites using the 'Other' dropdown instead of 'Company Website', 'Personal Website', 'Blog', 'RSS Feed', or 'Portfolio.'

This way, you can use customized anchor text for your links. These will make them more appealing for visitors to click on. Instead of link juice, I like to consider custom anchor text on your LinkedIn profile conversion juice.


LinkedIn allows you to add multiple Twitter links to your LinkedIn profile which will show up beneath your website links.

You can also use one Twitter account to send updates to your LinkedIn profile. If you do not want every tweet coming across your LinkedIn profile as an update, check the box to share only tweets with a #in or #li hashtag.


Your summary is a section where you can write a paragraph or two about your overall professional experience. Consider it your elevator pitch. It’s what you would say if someone asked you what you do for a living. Think about the type of person you want to contact you (hiring manager, recruiter, business partner, or customer) and write like you were selling your expertise to them.


Current and past job titles also help in optimizing your LinkedIn profile for particular keywords since LinkedIn is built to allow people to search others by profession. Hence, if you want to have your profile come up for 'Real Estate', then be sure that you include Real Estate in at least one of your current and/or past job titles.

In my case, I want to be found in a search for 'Freelance Writer', so I have included that in both my headline and current job title. As far as the details for each job, some people like to do it resume/CV style with bullet points. Others will use a couple of sentences to summarize what they did in each position.


Add the schools you have attended as well as any additional details about your degree, field of study, activities, societies, and additional notes - especially if they relate to your industry.

Skills and expertise

This section allows you to add keywords for your professional skills to your profile. You can add up to 50 on your profile.

As you start typing in each skill, you will get a dropdown. Be sure to select the closest match from the dropdown.

This will give you the opportunity to further optimize your profile for particular keywords as well as be listed as one of the top professionals for a particular skillset.

Additional sections

If you have filled in all of the above, but you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile in a while, you might be missing out on the new sections they have added for even more professional details. When you edit your profile, look for the following link.

When you click on 'Add sections', you will get some additional section options for certifications, courses, publications, and more.

Be sure to use as many as are applicable. Some, such as the Publications section, will even allow you direct links to your publications such as e-books on your own website, books on Amazon, and so forth.

Beneath the additional sections you can add, you will also find a list of LinkedIn applications that you can add to your profile.

These applications allow you to extend your profile’s functionality even further. For example, if you have a WordPress blog, you can use the WordPress application to import your latest posts onto your LinkedIn profile.

You can also see more about applications by looking under the 'More' menu and selecting 'Get More Applications'. There are apps that allow you to add SlideShare presentations, lawyer ratings, polls, and other industry-related information to your profile. Applications are not shown as a part of your public profile - people will need to be logged in to LinkedIn and connected to you to view their content.

Personal information

If you want to share personal details such as your phone number, address, instant messaging handle, birth date, and marital status, be sure to enter them in the 'Personal Information' section. Phone numbers, IM, and address will be listed for everyone - your birth date and marital status can be shown publicly or only to your connections.

Contact preferences

Help others learn why you are on LinkedIn by editing your contact preferences.

Keep in mind that this area is shown publicly, so you will not want to include that you are searching for job inquiries if that might cause a conflict with your employer.

Public profile settings

Once you’ve completed your profile, be sure that you have it set to public by going to edit your profile and clicking on the 'Edit' link next to your 'Public Profile' link. In this area, you will want to customize your public profile URL so it can be vs or similar. You can also customize your profile settings as you would like them to appear in public search.

I suggest allowing as much information as possible to be publicly visible. This way, people can find your profile in regular search results and LinkedIn search results. They will also be able to learn more about you before they connect with you which should lead them to want to connect.

Keeping your profile active

Aside from participating in LinkedIn Groups and Answers, which we discuss in the next article in this series, you can keep your profile active by adding status updates. To do so, go to your account’s home page using the menu link and use the 'Share an update' box. You can also attach a link to your updates that pulls in a page’s title, meta description, and a few thumbnail images to choose from.

If you want to change the title or description of the URL entered, click on the 'Edit' link. Otherwise, simply enter an additional comment and click 'Share'. This will post your update in the news feed for your connections and on your profile itself.

Other articles in this series

How to find connections and get recommendations on LinkedIn
How to create a company page on LinkedIn
How to gain traffic and exposure using LinkedIn Groups and Answers

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