How to get to the top of LinkedIn search results

How to get to the top of LinkedIn search results

The no.1 question that I get asked about in relation to LinkedIn is: how do I get to the top of LinkedIn search results? Most people get that being at the top of the search results means that they will get found by people looking for someone with their knowledge, skills or experience, however, they can’t understand how they get there.

How LinkedIn search works

To start off with, someone has to enter their search criteria. This could be anything: a skill, an area of expertise, a job title, anything. Next, when you click on search LinkedIn looks at all the profiles (364+million at present) to see how many include those keywords. It then lists the profiles that includes those word/s.


If keywords are not in your profile, you won’t get found. 

Let’s take the example of a search for “project manager”. When I carry out this search, I get over 5 million people. LinkedIn has found 5 million people who have either project or manager or both in their profile. However, LinkedIn will only display 100 results for basic account holders, and up to 500 for premium account holders. So LinkedIn decide on the order in which the results are displayed? Well, to make the results relevant, LinkedIn prioritises the search results in terms of the person doing the search. When it looks at the results, it takes into account:

  • The type of connection you are to the person i.e. 1st degree connections are given top priority, then 2nd degree, then groups, then 3rd degree and everyone else. So to get found by someone specific for example a specialist recruitment agent, then you need to be in their network.
  • How connected you are to the person searching. This includes what locations, jobs, skills etc. that you have in common. The more you have in common with the person searching, the higher up in the search results you will appear. So for example, if the search results include 10 1st degree connections fitting the search criteria, then those most in common with you will be shown first.
  • The completeness of your profile. 100% complete (shown as all-star) profiles are given priority, as they are perceived to be of higher quality. If your profile is not 100% complete, then you are going to be way down in the search results! (LinkedIn states that “users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn”)
  • Where, and how often, the search criteria appear in the person’s profile.

For example, in my search for project manager, the top person:

  • is a first degree connection
  • has 4 skills, 6 causes, 1 group and 1 interest in common with me
  • has a compete profile
  • has project manager in their headline, and the words project or manager appear in all their job titles, their summary, job descriptions, education and skills.

Assessing your profile

Have you ever searched for yourself on LinkedIn? It’s a really great exercise, for the simple reason that since LinkedIn search works on the basis of providing the results most relevant to you, then you should be at the top of your own search results. If you haven’t, then we need to examine why this is. What I do first is search for the person by name.

How many people share your name and where do you appear in the search results?

When I search for my name, there are currently 3383 Karen Brown’s on LinkedIn, and I appear no. 1 in those results. If you aren’t no. 1 for your own name, then you have a real problem. Check how LinkedIn rates your profile. If it isn’t all-star, then this will affect where you appear in search results. To get an all-star profile you need:

  • A Profile Photo.
  • Your country and industry – you entered these when you set up your LinkedIn profile.
  • An up-to-date Current Position (with a description).
  • Two Past Positions (also with descriptions).
  • Your Education.
  • Your Skills (minimum of 3).
  • At least 50 Connections.


If your last name has an apostrophe e.g. O’Reilly, or begins with Mc or Mac, check that you have used exactly the spelling. McDonald is one word, Mc Donald is two.

It may seem like common sense, but I’ve had several clients that I’ve had trouble finding by name, simply because they have a space in their name where there shouldn’t be one.

In my experience, many people haven’t added descriptions to their work experience, and this has a major impact on where they appear in search results. Not only because it means their profiles are incomplete, but also, many of the keywords associated with what they do are simply missing.

Once you are no.1 for your name, then we can look at other search criteria.

What do you want to be found for?

What I mean is, what search criteria do you want a person to use to find you? This is really important, because you may have a range of skills and talents, but it could be difficult to get to the top of all those skills without risking it looking artificial.

Now, do a search using just one keyword, phrase or job title that you want to be found for. Where do you appear in the search results? If you’re not number 1, then take a look at the profile of the person who is no.1 and see where the keywords are in their profile, and how frequently they occur. For example, they may have published books, have certifications or have projects that include that keyword or words, in which case, you need to ask the question about how you compare in terms of that keyword? Could you tweak your profile to include the keyword/s ? Have a look at your headline, summary, job titles and job descriptions first. Once you’ve done a couple of tweaks, then run the search again. Has your ranking improved? Check that you’ve got the right keywords in your profile. Trainer and training are different words, as are resume and résumé and LinkedIn will only search for the exact works used in that search.

Once you have gotten to no. 1 with one search criteria, then consider repeating the exercise with another keyword, or a similar phrase for example after getting to no.1 with project manager, try project management and program manager.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’d like help getting to no.1 in your niche on LinkedIn, then I’m here to help:

  • if you’re happy optimizing your profile yourself, then I suggest that you work through the lessons in either my book 50 Shades of LinkedIn, or my e-learning course How to optimise your LinkedIn profile.
  • if you’d like some help, but don’t feel comfortable letting someone logon to your account, then I can do a full profile assessment with action plan. If you choose this option, you get email support from me for 1 month.
  • if you just want someone to go in and sort your profile out for you, then look no further. Check out what is included within this option.
  • if you are looking for a wider range of support, for example whilst you’re looking for a new job, then consider becoming a VIP client. I only take on 5 VIP clients a month, as I want to really support you through what is usually a very stressful period whilst you’re looking for a job and going for interviews. If you want to talk, book a free 30 minute discovery call.

Take care for now

Karen x


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