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Why customizing your LinkedIn Profile URL has little impact on your job search

Customizing LinkedIn Profile URL
Customizing LinkedIn Profile URL
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Trying to become more prominent or "findable" in employer LinkedIn searches?

Forget about customizing your LinkedIn Profile URL.

A common misconception among LinkedIn users (and even experts), changing your LinkedIn Profile URL doesn't affect your findability inside the site.

Repeat - it has NO effect on being found by a recruiter or user trolling LinkedIn for candidates with your skills. Why?

Simple: it's a web address, accessible only from OUTSIDE of LinkedIn. Therefore, it will help your search engine SEO, but not your LinkedIn SEO.

On the other hand, keyword strategy for your LinkedIn Headline, Job Titles, and other important sections can make a huge difference in being found inside the site by employers.

Here's some examples that illustrate this point:

Scenario 1:
John Smith, Operations Director in Canfield Ohio, fills in his Summary and Experience sections with descriptions of his jobs and expertise, sets his Profile URL to JohnSmithOperationsDirector (with the usual LinkedIn prefix, obviously), and makes his Profile public.

Result:

  • John receives traffic from OUTSIDE LinkedIn when recruiters Google for "John Smith LinkedIn Ohio," because Google will return a URL that says "View the profiles of professionals named John Smith on LinkedIn."
  • A Google search on "John Smith Operations Director" will show his LinkedIn Profile URL (probably in the #1 spot), because that's an exact match to his customized URL name, and because he made it public.
  • However, when a recruiter searches INSIDE LinkedIn for an Operations Director in his zip code, John's Profile comes up way down the list, perhaps on the 2nd to 3rd page of results. Why? Because he didn't add "Operations Director" in more than 1 or 2 places in the Profile, especially the Headline (ranked #2 in LinkedIn's SEO algorithm right after the Name field).
  • If a recruiter searches inside of LinkedIn for "John Smith Operations Director," he'll come up first. But... this isn't because of the public Profile URL. It's because the Name is LinkedIn's top indexed field, and he has "Operations Director" scattered 1 or 2 times in the Profile. Plus, the recruiter already knows he wants John Smith, Operations Director. And if a recruiter already wants you specifically, he or she will find you; your URL won't help or hurt this effort.

Scenario 2:

Mary Wilson, an Operations Director in San Diego, California, fills in her Headline as "Operations Director," adds "Operations Director" several times in her Summary, and uses it in her Job Title fields in the LinkedIn Experience sections. She leaves her Profile URL set to the (gasp!) default, and also makes it public.

Result:

  • Mary receives traffic from OUTSIDE LinkedIn when recruiters Google for "Mary Wilson California," because Google will return a URL that says "View the profiles of professionals named Mary Wilson on LinkedIn."
  • A Google search on "Mary Wilson Operations Director" will also show her LinkedIn Profile URL, but she didn't customize her Profile URL! So how does this happen? She added "Operations Director" in the Headline, and her LinkedIn page uses both her name and Headline as indexed fields.
  • However, when a recruiter searches INSIDE LinkedIn for an Operations Director in her zip code, Mary's Profile will be among the first (based on the keyword density of "Operations Director" in her content). That's right - she gets MORE hits INSIDE LinkedIn on an employer search - but John, with his customized Profile URL, doesn't, even though she has NO CUSTOMIZED LinkedIn URL.

The only exceptions you'll find are when a credential is used in the Name ("John Jones, CPA"). Again, this is because the Name is LinkedIn's #1 indexed field. (Don't get creative with the Name field, either, as this violates LinkedIn's Terms of Service and can get your account shut off.)

Bottom-line, if you want to be found for your skills and job title within the confines of LinkedIn searches, make keyword-optimized Profile content your priority (and realize your URL is only applicable outside the site).