What makes a good professional biography
A professional biography, also known as a "bio" or "professional profile," is a document that provides an overview of a person's professional background and accomplishments. Several important attributes should be included in a professional bio.
While the length of a biography differs, a professional bio should include a brief summary of the person's education and professional experience. This should include information about their degrees and certifications and any relevant work experience. It should also highlight any key accomplishments or notable positions in previous jobs.
A person's biography should also include information about his or her current role or profession. This should include information about the person's current job title, responsibilities, and any notable projects or initiatives they are currently working on. It should also highlight any specializations or areas of expertise.
Finally, a professional bio should also include information about the person's personal interests, volunteer work, awards, publications, and other achievements. This helps to give the reader a more complete picture of the person and can also serve to demonstrate their commitment to various causes or organizations. Additionally, if possible, it should include Person schema and a professional photo, giving a better sense of the person.
When creating multiple biographies, always create unique versions. Do not copy and paste the same biography to different pages or sites. This creates what is effectively duplicate content and will be, to a large extent, ignored by search engines.
Attributes of a great professional biography
A professional biography should have the following attributes:
The name of the person should be in the headline. For example, "Biography of John Smith". While this may seem obvious, there are a couple of reasons for it. First, it lets the reader immediately know who the biography is about. But the second reason is to let search engines know. Search engines weight information on a web page differently. The headline at the top of the biography is weighted at the higher end when compared to the body copy or other information near the end.
The ideal length of a professional biography
The ideal length for a professional biography for an executive varies depending on the context in which it will be used. But, as a general rule, a professional biography ought to be concise and to the point while still providing enough information to give the reader a clear understanding of the person's background, qualifications, and accomplishments.
For a professional bio that will be used on a company website or in a company directory, it is usually best to keep the bio between 200 and 300 words. This allows the reader to quickly read and understand the executive's background while also providing enough detail to give them a sense of the executive's experience and qualifications.
For a professional bio that will be used in a brochure, proposal or other marketing materials, it can be somewhat longer, up to around 500 words. This allows for more detail and context, and allows the executive to convey more information about their achievements and experience.
The About section of a LinkedIn profile can have up to 2,600 characters. 2,600 characters are somewhere between 370 and 650 words (that includes spaces). A professional biography should be between 300 and 500 words, according to Indeed.
If the biography is for people alone, the above advice holds true. But if the biography is also intended to rank well in search engines, we suggest staying near the higher word count. This is because the more words in a bio, the more opportunities to appear in various search results. Also, more words tend to reflect a more detailed and helpful biography. That doesn't mean a biography should be filled with fluff; it shouldn't. But when you're trying to rank an online professional bio for certain search phrases, more is generally better.
That said, it's important to bear in mind that the most important thing is the quality of the information, not the quantity. A well-written, concise bio highlighting the most important and relevant information will be more effective than a longer bio with unnecessary or irrelevant details.
Here is a summary of biography lengths for various purposes:
- Corporate executive biography page: 300 words
- LinkedIn About section: 500 words (can be more)
- Personal website: 500 - 700 words
- Charity website: 300 - 500 words (as a donor or board member)
Corporate executive biography stand-alone pages
At Reputation X we often see an About Us or Leadership section on the company website. All executives are mentioned on that page. While this is common, it is not the best way to do it. Ideally, each executive should have her or his own page for search engine visibility reasons. While the Leadership page can have the names and images of the executives, and even a sentence or two about them, those snippets should link to a page that is all about them. This makes it easier for the page to be considered an "authority" to search engines as the biographical information is not intermingled with that of other executives.
How to use keywords in a biography
We mentioned keywords above. What type of keywords should a bio have? Here is a list:
- First and last name. First and last name should be added a handful of times in the body copy, as well as the headline.
- Current title
- Important past titles
- Charitable organizations
- Location (city, state, etc.)
How embedded outbound links in a biography help other content rank
A bit further down, we will discuss how structured data, or "schema", helps a biography rank in search results. But schema is invisible to the person reading the page. If we want people to be able to easily learn more about an executive, we must add links to that content. It is generally a good idea to link various iterations of biographies between sites. This lets search engines know they all relate to the same person.
For example, the body text of a biography on the corporate site should have a hyperlink to the LinkedIn profile of the executive, as well as a link to the personal site of the executive. These two links tell Google the three sites are related.
How to use images in a person's biography
LinkedIn suggests using a 400 x 400-pixel image as a headshot. But other types of biography pages require other image sizes. For example, this post on various social media image sizes can give you an idea of how many there are. If an image is going to be used as a hero banner at the top of a page, such as on a corporate bio page, or personal site, the size should be 1200 x 628 pixels. Of course, the issue there is that most headshots are square or portrait rectangles. So creating landscape images to fit across a page can be challenging, or at least require Photoshop.
Facebook cover photos are 851 px wide by 315 px tall for desktop computers and 640 px by 360 px tall on mobile device screens. Your Facebook profile photo should be 170 px x 170 px high.
For Twitter, header photos should be 1500 px x 500 px high. The profile photo size for Twitter is 400 px x 400 px (recommended), but it can be as small as 200 px x 200 px. The character count for Twitter bios is 160 characters, which is about 20-40 words.
Photos should generally be formatted as JPG files with their file size as small as possible for the fastest loading.
Using schema on company biography pages to inform search
Executives often have biography pages on the company website. An executive biography page on a corporate website should include structured data, also known as schema, to help search engines understand the content and context of the page. This can help the page rank higher in search results and make the information more easily discoverable in search results. Schema is not visible on a web page, but it is in the code of the page.
The schema that should be included on an executive biography page on a corporate website would depend on the type of information presented on the page.
The one type of schema that should always be used is "Person" schema. Here is an example of Person schema with the SameAs attribute denoting social media and other profiles. The SameAs attribute in Person schema tells search engines about web pages and social media profiles that are related to the person.
Some types of schema that might be useful for an executive biography page include:
- Person: This is the basic type to use for executive biographies. This schema type is used to mark up information about a person, such as their name, job title, and contact information. It can also include information about their education and work experience.
- Organization: This schema type is used to mark up information about the organization the person works for. This might include the organization's name, contact information, and website. Organization schema is normally added to the home page of the corporate website and/or the About page.
Using the appropriate schema can help search engines understand the context and relationship of the different elements on the page, making it more likely to be presented in search results and also improving the visibility of the page.
Where to post biographical information
- Corporate site executive page (stand-alone page)
- LinkedIn (About section)
- Personal website (stand-alone page)
- Facebook (personal)
- Twitter ("X") bio (personal)
About the author
Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency. He has over 15 years of experience with SEO, Wikipedia editing, review management, and online reputation strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve the way they are seen online. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics.