You’d think with a name like “Aja Frost,” I wouldn’t have any competition in Google’s results.
But you’d be wrong.
For years, if you searched “Aja Frost,” Google would give you a full three pages of results for “Aja Frost (born July 14, 1963), an American former pornographic actress, adult film director, and exotic dancer.”
Fortunately, after I started writing more frequently, I was able to replace Aja the actress in the highest-ranking results.
But let’s say you’re not a writer and therefore, you can’t improve your search engine results that way. Do you just have to accept your rank? Nope. In fact, I have an innovative technique for making your LinkedIn page way easier to find in Google, no matter who you are or what you do. All it involves is knowing your name (easy!) and knowing what keyword someone might use to narrow down his or her Google search (a job-related term). For example, someone looking for me might search, “Aja Frost writer” or “Aja Frost social media marketing.”
Bonus: You can also use this strategy to rank higher on LinkedIn’s search results and see how you compare to your competitors.
If you have some SEO experience, this will be familiar to you. Basically, one of the ways Google (and other search engines) decides how high to put your page in the results is by comparing the “keywords” on your site to the terms of the actual search.
So, when I enter “Aja Frost writer,” Google looks through every website on the internet to find the sites that contain those words, and then ranks them in order of relevancy. (The ranking algorithm is complex and constantly changing—take a look at Neil Patel’s cheat sheet if you want to know more.)
Google AdWords 101
You know those sponsored ads that pop up at the top of some of your Google search results? They’re generated through Google AdWords.
For example, when I search “content strategy,” here’s the first result:
NewsCred.com has paid Google to show up every time someone searches “content strategy.” The reason is obvious: Content strategy is highly relevant to the services the business offers.
Here’s the key to my technique. If the relevant keywords principle works for companies and paid searches, there’s absolutely no reason it shouldn’t also work for individuals and organic searches.
Not only is this free, it’s also insanely quick and easy.
Figuring Out Your Keywords
First, I went to Google AdWords and created an account. On the first page, it asked me for my email and my website. I entered my LinkedIn URL.
I ignored everything on the next page except for the “Keywords” section. These are the words that Google thinks will be the most useful in bringing traffic to my page—which, in this case, is my LinkedIn profile. Google also tells me how popular each search term is.
For example, if I paid to appear in the results of “social media strategy,” Google estimates that would score me 12,100 clicks per month.
Look at the two big themes of my keywords: writing and social media. While I use “write,” “writing,” “writer,” and so on a lot on my LinkedIn account (after all, I’m a writer), I don’t focus on social media. This chart tells me I should definitely be emphasizing social media more on my page—if it’s helping me on Google now, it’ll help me even more when I increase the number of social-media-related terms!
And when I add those terms, I’ll use “social media strategy” more than “social media expert,” because according to Google, the former is more than six times as effective at driving traffic.
(P.S. Once you’ve saved your keywords, just exit out of the AdWords window. You’ll only have to enter billing info if you keep going with your campaign, actually set a budget, and follow through with the rest of the process.)
Analyzing the Competition
One of my inspirations is Shane Snow, an influential author, journalist, entrepreneur, and content strategist. I’d either like to work for Snow someday or be him—so I was super interested to see what Google thought were the keywords on his LinkedIn profile.
To do this, I made another Google AdWords account (this time, with the email I reserve for spam) and entered Snow’s LinkedIn URL in the “My Website” bar.
Do you see what I see? Even though Snow has had a much longer and more varied career than I have, his keywords are much more focused—and they’re all about social media.
I also wanted to check the results of other content strategists. First, I Googled “content strategist LinkedIn” to find the top 25 content strategy profiles.
Then, I performed the same steps on three of the top profiles as I’d done for my profile and Snow’s.
At this point, I wasn’t too surprised when “social media” figured highly in all three results.
Applying the Keywords
I wanted to highlight social media on my LinkedIn without stuffing it with keywords. After all, it doesn’t matter if I can get people to my profile if, once they’ve clicked, it doesn’t make a compelling case for my talents, qualifications, and accomplishments.
First, I looked at all of the places where I could change around the phrasing. For example, rather than listing all the social media platforms I used:
I used the phrase “social media” and got more specific:
Next, I joined several groups with “social media” in their titles. This kills two birds with one stone: Not only will my profile show up higher in searches, but staying up-to-date on social media trends and marketing techniques will definitely help me become a better content strategist.
To boost my Google rank even more, I added “social media” to my interests section and “Find me on social media!” to my summary section.
Basically, once you’ve figured out your keywords, look at your profile and find every way you can to naturally weave them in.
Emphasis on naturally. Google also said one of my keyword phrases was “article writing services,” but I ignored that one because I don’t offer article writing services. It’s important that you use the Google keywords to guide your profile, rather than dictate it—you never want to portray yourself as something you’re not in the job search!
If you try this, tweet your keywords at me for the chance to be included in a future article.