Keyword research forms the basis of every type of online marketing activity from Search Engines to pay Per click, email marketing and, of course, the elements of social networking and social search that we are interested in here. The keywords and, most commonly, keyword phrases, that result from this research will dictate to a large degree how we get found and whether we are getting found for the right products, skills and expertise or not.
How you use the keyword phrases is important but let’s take a step back for a second … even more important is finding the right ones or else all your effort using them after that point will be time wasted. If you are focusing your attention on being found for one phrase but your prospective clients are using a totally different one as they search for potential suppliers then we have a mismatch – and unfortunately you are going to be the loser in this.
Why bother with LinkedIn?
When we search for people to connect with on LinkedIn, we tend to do so for a variety of different reasons. Two of the main ones are that we are looking for a particular person, in which case we type in their name and then filter from there, or we are looking for a particular skill or service in which case that will form the basis of what we type in and search for.
And those words are exactly the keywords or keyword phrases that we want to identify and be found for.
If you work in the legal sector, for example, then you will probably want to consider terms such as ‘lawyer’, ‘law firm’, ‘legal services’ or ‘solicitor’ as a general start point, but then also focus in on the areas of specialism such as ‘employment law’, ‘company law’, ‘family law’ etc as well as a geographic element if you work and want to be found for your town or county.
All of these keywords and their variations can and should be woven into your Personal Profile so that they make it easier for you to be found within LinkedIn’s search and then contacted for the services you can provide. There are other elements such as location and “closeness” (in terms of connection level to the person who is doing the search) which are woven into the algorithm, but the words used will form a bit part of that.
How to carry out Keyword Research
When we look at researching the right keywords to include then it is all too easy to get sucked into our own little world and just look at it from our own perspective – let’s face it, all of our industries have their own internal vocabulary which we use on a daily basis but may mean little to those outside of it who we want to talk to.
Some ways of identifying the best keyword phrases that you can then look at building into your LinkedIn profile or indeed your LinkedIn Company pages as well should include:
- Think about what your product or service does or more importantly what benefits it offers, and also consider different ways to express that;
- Talk to clients and partner organisations and ask them what words they feel best describes what you do – getting as wide a range as possible gives you the best possible start point;
- Use your own experience as to what triggers a positive response when you are talking to people face to face – what works there is also likely to work in search as well because that’s what is memorable to them;
- Use some of the tools available to help find what words are commonly searched on and what other words and phrases are similar to them – Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a good start point – I also look at the good old thesaurus to help as well!;
- Examine your direct competitors’ sites and their online campaigns and see what words they are focusing on – are they approaching a similar audience and could those words be useful?
We can also use LinkedIn itself to do the same:
- Check the profiles of people who work in the same areas as you or offer similar services: see which words show up the most frequently on their profile;
- Type in a keyword or keyword phrase that you would like to be found for (use inverted commas to make this more specific if you like) and see which of your competitors rank most highly and identify where they have placed them;
- With these same highly ranked competitors, use an “iterative search” process that recruiters use. In other words, when you look at their profiles, don’t focus on the words that are highlighted by LinkedIn (the ones you’ve searched for) – instead look at the ones next to them and see whether these are good ways to express what you do and build into your own profile as well;
- Take a look at any special sections they have created outlining certain skills or expertise – perhaps they have added a list designed to highlight keyword phrases;
- Check out their Skills and Endorsements section – what keywords have they added there to highlight what they do? Are you missing any of those?
Inbound search is only one of the ways in which you might get found on LinkedIn – sharing content, being active in Groups, interacting on people’s posts, commenting on other activities and many others may be more effective for you, but search and conveying the right message will always be a useful addition as well.
However, don’t lose sight of the end goal. If you load your profile with keywords and this negatively impacts the person reading it – in other words, it comes across as keyword stuffed – then this will still get people to your profile but will not result in the all important contact afterwards. It will also lose coherence in terms of the message you are trying to convey. We ultimately want to talk to people not the search engine – that is merely the intermediary.
Remember: it is how you are perceived by others that is the important point to remember and not necessarily how you believe that you are perceived. Work from that standpoint and you are much more likely to achieve success!