Yesterday, in the course of a presentation to a local group on using the business professional networking platform LinkedIn to help grow a business or career, I showed some figures for how my LinkedIn search ranking for some key terms had improved rather dramatically over the previous five days and a little of how I had achieved that.

It’s been suggested to me I should share that a bit more widely. So here goes, not in the interests so much of showing my current rankings in LinkedIn on specific search terms, but more to illustrate how some quiet work on our profiles can improve our “findability” on LinkedIn.

LinkedInfluence promo video from Lewis HowesBasically what I had done was to apply some of the lessons in an online course from Lewis Howes, author of two books on LinkedIn.

Lewis’ course, LinkedIn Strategies, is delivered via four modules. As regular readers of this blog will know, I have myself co-authored a book on LinkedIn and am founding moderator/manager of the LinkedIn Bloggers group: so while I knew perfectly well that I did not know everything about LinkedIn, to be honest I wondered whether I was going to learn much that was new or at least newly enough explained to hold my attention.

I put that to the test on Saturday last and over subsequent days. Having worked through the first module, I set to work applying what I had learned. I am happy to say I was, and am, impressed.

All I did then and in the few days following was to work on improving my LinkedIn profile page, first in terms of its search optimization, i.e. how well or easily people could be expected to find me when searching for people in my line of business and secondly, once they had found me, how effective or otherwise my profile might be in providing key information and encouraging business engagement with me.

I intend to make a video showing in more detail what I did and how.

In the meantime, the summary of the “before and after” search results is as follows:

I used five key search terms: Social Media Strategist, Social Media Strategy, Business Coach, Business Coaching, and PitchEngine. As I applied Lewis’ recommendations for layout and wording, I kept checking in. Movements in the order of my name in the search as a result of even adding a key phrase once or twice in a new place were quite instantaneous. I was amazed. I charted the changes over those five days.

So here are the numbers.

LinkedIn search results for Des Walsh March 18-23, 2011

LinkedIn search results on some key terms for Des Walsh March 18-23, 2011

Note that in the “before” searches and a couple of “after” searches I did not include the terms Business Coaching and PitchEngine.

The one I was most challenged by at first glance was being at the bottom of Page 5 for “Social Media Strategist”- 50th! With some attentive tweaking to profile details, that jumped to 17 on the same day. With a bit more work I have been able to move it up to 11. On that basis, one more jump and it will be on Page 1.

On those results, one more position jump would also take “Social Media Strategy”, which is similarly at position 11 on the chart here, to the front page. In fact, for that term my profile is today in 12th position – still better than 50th just a few days ago.

The right hand column above shows the positions when I used Advanced Search and specified results for Australia only. Those results were pretty satisfying – although if you check you’ll probably notice as I did that my PitchEngine ranking for Australia is as 1st of a group of 1 only!

By the way, the results I got are from searching from within Australia. People elsewhere may well get different results on the same terms. Believe it or not, I am not so much interested in where I stand in the pecking order as in the fact that we all have the capacity to improve our ranking in relative terms, just by a bit of focused work on our profiles.

Was all this easy? No, not really. And it was time consuming. I figured out later I may have spent somewhere between six and eight hours in all, working on this. Then again, it was not unduly complicated. As well as studying Lewis’ approach I had to do some thoughtful editing of my profile and some compression and re-adjustment of information: for example, there is a limit on the number of characters you can have in your Summary section. The content and layout of my Profile Summary and some other items have been very well worked over since last Friday.


I’ve also been through the other modules in the training program, although I haven’t really started on applying the lessons there yet. There are many insights and clues provided to help leverage any LinkedIn account, including some quite fascinating information about LinkedIn Groups and how to use those to good effect.

I have to say I have a more conservative policy towards inviting and accepting invitations to connect than Lewis does. If you also are conservative about that you might find Lewis’ approach a bit confronting. I did – then, thinking about all the stuff I liked and can see myself applying, I got over it. I’ve been a tad more flexible about the invitation side of things in the past few days as a result partly of what I’ve been learning, but I believe we all have to sift the advice we get and identify what’s right for us.

One extra little caveat. From a discussion thread I’ve been on I know that some people have found the promotional video a tad too enthusiastic. I didn’t. Lewis is an enthusiastic guy and he’s achieved a lot and helped a lot of people. Speaking personally I think he’s entitled to be enthusiastic.

Happy to answer to the best of my ability any questions you may have on this.

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