Why Keywords are Essential in Your LinkedIn Headline and Summary

key words LinkedIn Professional Headline SummaryHave you looked at your LinkedIn Profile lately?

If the blurb next to your photo (and you DO have a photo, right?) is simply your title and company, then you have some work to do. If the summary of your experience isn’t compelling enough to entice visitors to want to connect with you, then you need to ensure that the summary includes the keywords they’re searching.

Use Keywords to be Found

The most important components of your Linked Profile are your Professional Headline and Summary so you want them to be rich in keywords.

“Vice President” is not a keyword. It’s a job title. Clients, prospects and other members looking to connect don’t search by job titles; they search for particular skills, services and products – otherwise known as keywords.

The headline should summarize your personal brand and include key words that members type in the search box when they are looking for a connection. Note that I said the words that others use to search. There is a disconnect if you aren’t using those words to describe your offerings.

Look at your competitors. What keywords are they using? What keywords do the companies you’re targeting use in their company profiles, on social media networks and on their websites? What words do they use in job descriptions? They are the clues to the skills that are important to them.

Google AdWords: Keyword Tool

Another essential tool is Google AdWords: Keyword Tool. If you’re not using it already, start now. Try to be as specific as you can. There are 1.5 million monthly searches for “website designer” in the U.S. It would be awfully hard to get picked out of that crowd.

But suppose you narrow it down to “website designer New York.” True, there are only 8,100 searches but those are the exact targets you want. Fewer, but more targeted prospects.

Select the two or three keywords that will help people find you on LinkedIn. Use them in your Professional Headline and Summary.

Your Summary is essentially your brand statement. It summarizes the benefits you provide supported by evidence such as prior job experience, successful projects you’ve undertaken and your areas of specialization. The Summary tells visitors to your Profile “what’s in it for them.” It describes the benefits you offer if they connect with you.

Find Other People

By the same token, you can use key words to find people you want to connect with. Once you’ve identified them, send an invitation to connect. NEVER use the default LinkedIn invitation: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Why should that person connect with you? You haven’t explained why connecting would benefit him. Send a personalized invitation. Many LinkedIn members automatically delete the default invitation. It’s impersonal and unprofessional.

I delivered this presentation on Free Webinar Wednesdays this week. In it, I expand on these ideas and describe how to connect and be found by other members. I hope you find it helpful.

Leave a Reply


  1. I just had a conversation about this with a newbie to LinkedIn. There are numerous ways to include key world in your profile and it so easy to really determine what they are when you use the tools you mentioned. I have found it fascinating to see how people do find me and what words they used to land on my profile. Some have surprised me.

    • Susan — of course, key words are important throughout your profile, but especially important in the professional headline and summary. Even you didn’t need to worry about SEO, if someone happened upon your profile you’d want to grab them right up front with the key words that describe you and your business. I’m guessing that most visitors never get much beyond that.

  2. Yes Jeannette, keywords are important in our Linkedin profiles.

    It gets a bit more tricky thouth when you are dealing with 2 different languages. In my case English and Swedish.

    If you tried using Google Adword’s Keyword tool for Swedish keywords you would understand what I mean. If you use the keywords they come up with in a pay per click advert it would get really expensive. An abundance of job seekers would visit your site.

    Keywords for my company page on Linkedin is also a tricky business. They only let you use English keywords when in fact now in the beginning I need Swedish keywords. Why would a Swedish company use English keywords when they search? They don’t because the majority of Swedes have written their profiles in Swedish. Mine is in English and it should be because I’m so international. But the negative aspect of that is that Swedish users using Linkedin in Swedish get my profile badly translated. Most likely Linkedin use Google Translate or a similar imperfect system.

    You may have noticed that the title I use on my profile is International Businesswoman & Writer. Started using it on my blog and then on Linkedin for the reasons you mention here.

    But Linkedin is like online advertising. You get a lot of attention, 50 invites to connect a week and an abundance of business proposals from people who would take you to the cleaners. How about this one: “I would like to use your connections in Saudi Arabia”. Why on earth would I let him do that?

    As far as I’m concerned our Linkedin profiles are just like online ads i.e. they give us exposure but it will not close any deals for us:-) Provided of course we are not keen on getting ripped off:-)

    • Catarina — No doubt LinkedIn is much more user-friendly for members in English-speaking countries and I’m sure Google Translator doesn’t get everything right. I’m not as popular as you, obviously, as I don’t receive that many invites. But I agree that some of the invites I do receive are pure sales pitches which I immediately delete. Spam is a growing problem for email and social media. WordPress, for example, is under constant brute force attacks and WP can barely keep up with guarding the doors.

  3. Cheryl — My webinar was recorded. I just looked and it’s not in the archive yet but it should in the next couple of days, so you could tune in. But the week before someone else also spoke about LinkedIn and that webinar is available for viewing http://bit.ly/17FGIqd.

  4. I’ve re-visited my profile a few times this year, and one of those times was when you wrote the post about adding contact information. Now I’ll take another look at the keywords I’ve used in my headline and summary, though I think I cleaned it up quite a bit in my last re-write. It’s interesting that this post comes now as I just got done with a PowerPoint presentation that touched on keywords for blogging and using Google AdWords. The advent of writing for the web has significantly impacted the writing process, though mostly in good ways, because focusing on keywords is a good thing. High school students are not really taught too many of these types of tips and they should be.

    • Jeri — I’m so glad my posts about LinkedIn have been helpful to you. It’s sad, but true, if no one is searching for the key words you use then in essence you don’t exist! On the other hand, if you’re in business then it’s essential to be using a common vocabulary with your customers and be communicating with the words they use.

    • Thanks, Doreen. I’m glad the post encouraged you to polish your LinkedIn profile. Don’t forget to add chocolate!

  5. Great tips here Jeannette. Yes, I’m always tweaking that profile for key words. And I love that idea to look at what competitors are using – that will be on my next tweak. Thanks for the chuckle when you said, “Vice President is not a key word.” Too funny.

    I’m finding there are SO many new people on LinkedIn who likely don’t understand belly to belly networking let alone LinkedIn.

    • Hi Pat — well I’m not surprised you tweak your profile, based on our work together on elevator speeches and personal branding. I was serious about “Vice President.” Just scan a bunch of profiles and see how often it comes up! But it is worth a chuckle, too.

  6. Good tips Jeannette and I must admit I haven’t updated or refined my profile in ages. It has been on my to do list and I guess it is time to fix it. The one thing I find funny are those profiles that you know have been written solely for the keywords. It is like those who keyword stuff their blog articles.

    • Susan — I agree that it’s possible to get overly ambitious with key words throughout a LinkedIn profile. But I do think it’s important to get those key words in your professional headline and summary. That’s how you’ll get found.

  7. Great information Jeannette. LinkedIn is the kind of thing that once done is easy to ignore, but like anything online, there’s always a need for regular upgrades. I’ve gotten into the habit of updating my resume on a regular basis, because I realized there was no way I’d recall what I’d been up to months or years later, so now it’s a question of doing the same with LinkedIn.

    • Debra — Glad the post was helpful. I agree, it’s important to update your professional information, whether it’s your resume, LinkedIn profile or website. That’s a reminder to me, too, to look at my static pages to see if they need updating. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Diane — it makes me happy that you were able to gain insights into improving your LinkedIn profile and headline. I just looked at your headline and I like it!

  8. Dear Jeannette,

    Your article ” Why Keywords are Essential in Your LinkedIn Headline and Summary” was so insightful. I’m taking few tips from the slides and the article on linkedIn. Stay connected!

    Best Regards,

    • Kanchi — I’m glad that you got some tips from my post. Look forward to seeing your new headline and summary.

  9. Bruno — so glad that my post was helpful. Bravo for not using the default LinkedIn invitation anymore!