The headline on your personal LinkedIn profile is the text that sits directly below your name in the top section, or introduction card.
If you do nothing to change or optimize this text, LinkedIn will automatically populate your headline with whatever you have added for your most recent job title in the Experience section of your profile.
Did you know that you can edit your profile headline?
If you want to attract more potential customers and compel them to reach out to you, customize your headline to your target audience and optimize it for LinkedIn's search engine.
The headline is one of the most important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and personal branding spots on your profile because:
- It's located at the top of the web page that houses your profile.
- It follows you everywhere on LinkedIn, popping up wherever you're active there – posting updates, publishing articles, commenting on others’ posts and articles, participating in LinkedIn Groups, etc.
- It tells people right away, as soon as they land on your profile, what you have to offer and, if crafted well, your unique value to them.
- Having a robust, compelling headline (and entire LinkedIn profile) indicates that you're social media savvy and in touch with the new world of doing business.
How do SEO and keywords work?
SEO is all about keywords, so the headline is where you want to pack your most important relevant keywords. The keywords people will search on LinkedIn when they're sourcing businesses like yours.
As I noted in How LinkedIn SEO Can Take Your Small Business to New Heights:
"Millions of LinkedIn members turn to the search engine right on the site to find businesses to fulfill their various needs. Or they happen on LinkedIn profiles that capture their attention as they go about their own business or personal marketing activities on LinkedIn.
Strategically placing the right keywords in the right places in your LinkedIn profile and activity will help potential customers find you on LinkedIn."
In my article LinkedIn for Business: 25 Things Every Owner Should Do, But Probably Doesn't, I advise that you'll need to spend time identifying the relevant keywords you'll use throughout your LinkedIn profile and all your other social media marketing:
"If you’ve done any work on your business marketing campaign, you’ve identified your target audience, researched them, and determined what differentiates your products and/or services from other providers. Your research will have uncovered the right keywords for you to use on LinkedIn."
What’s the Best LinkedIn Headline for Your Local Small Business?
The best headlines are ones that:
- Help your profile land higher in search results and
- Compel potential customers to want to know more about you and reach out to you.
Number 1 above speaks to keywords, number 2 is all about branding.
Your ultimate goal throughout your LinkedIn profile is to differentiate the value you offer over your competitors.
Help potential customers see that you understand their pain points and you're qualified to help them. Do your best to get some of this feel into your headline, which will be one of the first things people see when they land on your profile.
That said, if you do nothing more than pack your headline with your most important keywords, you’ll be way ahead of the competition. So few people take the time to do ANYTHING with their headlines.
Try to Balance Personal SEO with Personal Branding
Debate is ongoing whether to lean heavily or entirely on relevant keywords in the headline, or to hit hard with your personality or business humanity to generate chemistry.
I advise a mix of the two. Get a good number of your keywords into your headline, but try also for a little pizzazz.
The headline is not the spot for vague, anemic phrases like these:
“We get results,” or
“Our customers are always satisfied,” or
“We’ve got you covered.”
People are probably not searching any of those words when they’re looking for businesses like yours. Phrases like this have zero impact and misuse valuable real estate on your profile.
LinkedIn gives you 120 characters and spaces to noodle around with in the headline, more if you set it up via mobile. You can pack quite a punch with that much space.
For instance, Small Business Rainmaker Founder Andre Palko has a beautifully crafted headline that hits the mark with keywords, while generating chemistry.
Video Marketing and Small Business Process Improvement for Fast Sales Growth. Work Smart. De-Stress. Get More Free Time.
He took the time to consider the needs of his target audience and speak directly to those needs.
Examples of Poor LinkedIn Headlines
In an effort to find other juicy headline examples to share with you, I did LinkedIn searches for these local small business owners – restaurant managers, accountants, and chiropractors.
Scanning the first 6 or 7 pages of search results (60 or 70 results total for each kind of business) yielded about 95% of headlines with nothing more than:
"Restaurant Manager at XYZ restaurant"
"Accountant" or "CPA"
"Chiropractor at XYZ Chiropractic"
Pretty blah, aren't they? Such mediocre headlines do little-to-nothing to attract prospects OR to boost SEO.
All of these people are neglecting the relatively quick and easy way to boost profile views and increase brand awareness . . . get more keywords into your headline.
If you are a restaurant manager, accountant, or chiropractor, with even only a few more relevant keywords in your headline, imagine how much higher in search results your profile will land. Be aware that profiles with at least 500 connections land higher in search results. If you have fewer connections than that, you may have a hard time pushing your profile higher in search results.
Some Good LinkedIn Headlines
I went further with LinkedIn search to try to find some good examples of headlines for local small business owners. A search for "computer repair" and then "carpet cleaning" yielded mostly anemic headlines, like the ones above, but also some really good ones like these:
Computer Repair | Event Coordinator | Public Speaker | Franchise IT Setup & Troubleshooting Fix Slow Macbooks & PCs
Computer Hero Computer Repair Computer Technician Technical Director for the Small Business & Family
[The content is really good, but it would read better for humans if he added commas or something to separate the various phrases.]
Computer Network Support Specialist | Computer Service | Business Continuity | Computer Repair Expert | 53140
[He cleverly included his zip code here, to attract his local audience.]
Commercial & Residential Carpet Cleaning, Emergency Restoration, Carpet Repairs, Floor Maintenance, Upholstery Cleaning
[I’d like to see more personality in this one, but at least he did a good job with keywords.]
Get Moving on Optimizing Your LinkedIn Headline
If you know you need to work on your profile headline, a good way to start is to see what others like you have done with their headlines. Search LinkedIn for similar businesses and make note of the keywords they use.
Don’t even consider copying anyone else’s edited and optimized headline verbatim and using it for your own. Plagiarism is never a good idea for anyone involved. Be willing to do the work to create a dazzling headline.
If you already have a meaty keyword-rich tagline you always use in your marketing, it might be just right for your headline. Or, if you have a short but vibrant tagline, you can combine it with, or add to it, some hard-hitting keywords.
After you edit and optimize it, your new headline will immediately be indexed in LinkedIn’s search engine, available to searches for those keywords.
Once your LinkedIn profile is picked up by Google and other search engines, searches for “your name” should include your LinkedIn profile within the first page or two of results. (Unless you have an extremely common name competing for top search results.)
And a good portion of your profile headline will show up in the search engine result content itself.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you make changes to your most recent job title in the Experience section, or add a more recent job title, your professional headline may revert to that job title. Check to be sure. And it's a good idea to save a copy of your edited/optimized profile headline BEFORE making any changes in the Experience section.
Conversely, any changes you make to your profile headline will not impact any job titles in the Experience section.