The Process Behind Creating the Best LinkedIn Headlines

By Nigel Cliffe

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*UPDATE* Since writing this blog post, the character count for LinkedIn headlines has now been extended from 120 characters to 220 characters (including spaces) but the tips shared in this blog post remain relevant.

A few weeks ago, I decided to change my LinkedIn headline.

It’s hard to get the message about what you do and how you can take your target market’s pain away across in just 120 characters.

What Makes the Best LinkedIn Headlines?

I figure the best LinkedIn headlines need to:

  1. Capture the words or phrases (think SEO keywords) you’d most like to be found for – preferably including these at the beginning of your headline.
  2. Be crystal clear to a visitor of your Profile how you can help them so free of jargon and anything that might be viewed as ambiguous or misconstrued.
  3. Be within the 120-character limit set by LinkedIn, so it doesn’t look silly when it is automatically cut off.

You get one chance to make a first impression – make it the best you can be.

Last year I published a video about the tale of Frank the accountant, giving an example of what a poor headline would look like for him and what a more interesting one would be like. You want to stand out. There’s bound to be lots of people out there on LinkedIn who do what you do but there’s only one you. So, get creative! Think attention-grabbing, whilst maintaining a clear and concise approach. For instance, I currently have emojis and capital letters in my LinkedIn headline, just to add a bit of colour and charisma (though only use the emojis if you feel it is appropriate, LinkedIn is still a professional business platform, after all, but that doesn’t mean to say your Profile and content should be devoid of personality).

Should Headlines Be Kept Even Shorter Than the 120 Character Limit?

Digital Strategist, Mark Longbottom made a valid point when I announced my LinkedIn headline change on LinkedIn. He highlighted that most of the people who commented on my LinkedIn headline post had headlines that were too long, in that they were cut off. He explained:

“You leave everyone with only part of what you want to tell them, sorry but none of the above are any good.

“I’ve not clicked on any profile to find out what you really do either, it’s waffle, just a load of waffle.”

Indeed, the view of headlines in conversations and comments on LinkedIn is clipped. However, the SEO value of having more content in the headline and a fuller description when viewing the full Profile makes up for taking full advantage and using all the allowed 120 characters for me.

Mark politely disagreed:

Personally, I still see it as too much and can’t imagine anyone reads it as it looks how can I say it, a tad self-centered and boring. As many people will view them on a phone it would seem worthy of getting to the point.

“Here’s a thought and question.

“Does everyone here rattle off these long descriptions when meeting face to face?

“I imagine the answer is no, which then begs the question of why in real life are these people able to say something short and sharp but here we get a lengthy piece of prose?

I’m sure there are better ways to heighten the likely chances of meeting and making contacts. It’s all a bit like Twitter where people add a load of jokey emojis and comedic terms about themselves.”

The Difference Between Creating Your LinkedIn Headline on Your Mobile and on Your Desktop

Motivational Speaker and Coach, Nikki Alderson, asked if you can be sneaky and add a few extra characters into your headline when changing it on mobile. The answer is yes, you can add more characters to your LinkedIn headline from your mobile device, but when you come to edit other parts of your Profile back on the desktop, it won’t allow the longer headline again! So, this becomes an annoyance every time you edit your Profile. You have to back to the device to edit it again – from scratch!

Either way, it seems that the best course of action is to keep your LinkedIn headline at least within the 120 character limit – Digital Marketer, Lee Kenny likens the LinkedIn headline to an email subject line – the best LinkedIn headlines stand out and make you sit up and take notice. They’re memorable and captivating.

My fellow LinkedIn Trainer and Profile Writer, Judy Parsons reckons the LinkedIn headline is one of the hardest parts of your Profile to nail because you have to be so succinct. With this in mind, I would advise trying to get your most important keywords at the beginning of the headline. The best LinkedIn headlines don’t beat around the bush – they get to the point quickly!

What are your views on the length of LinkedIn headlines? When did you last consider changing the best way to introduce yourself to your visiting audience?

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