You don’t have very long to make a good impression on a dating site. Many online daters have become so accustomed to swiping, screening, and sifting through profiles that they don’t spend more than a couple minutes looking at each one. In fact, a Tobii Technology study found women spend an average of 84 seconds viewing a profile, and men spend about 58 seconds looking dating profiles over.

That’s not a lot of time to win people over. Fortunately, we’ve done our homework to figure out what best practices can help online daters be more successful at attracting messages and dates. Below you’ll find our top eight tips for making your dating profile irresistible. Every second counts, so let’s get to it.

1. Add a Professional-Grade Profile Picture

On a dating profile, a picture is worth a thousand words. Single men place particular importance on the photos of a dating profile. When Tobii Technology researchers tracked the eye movements of online daters, they found that some men spend as much as 65% more time reviewing photos than women do.

You have to get this right. A blurry picture could sketch out potential dates, and a group shot could make people wonder which person you are. Ideally, you should post a photo that shows your face (no sunglasses) and depicts you doing something interesting (no bathroom selfies). If you don’t have a good photo of yourself, it might be worth hiring a professional company like Online Profile Pros to help you out.

Choose a photo that shows your best side, which might be your left side according to one study. That doesn’t necessarily mean making a cheesy grin. Online daters respond to authenticity, not fake smiles. In 2010, OkCupid broke down how users responded to 7,000 photos on the dating site. The blog concluded, “Men’s photos are most effective when they look away from the camera and don’t smile.” Meanwhile, women got the most positive responses when they flirted directly with the camera.

2. No Lists! Write in Full Sentences & Add Details

Creating a dating profile often involves answering a lot of questions about yourself, and it can be a tedious or time-consuming process. Many singles would rather skip the psychological assessment and get to the meeting-people part. When you’re filling out prompts like favorite movies or pet peeves, it’s tempting to quickly list out the answers and move on, but doing so isn’t going to impress very many date prospects. Sure, maybe someone out there is dying to date a guy who loves “The Goonies,” but, more often than not, singles are looking for a little more from the people they chat with online.

Instead of making a list, tell a story. Talk about when you first saw your favorite movie or what genre of movies you enjoy and why. You should always include the why behind your interests, hobbies, and personality quirks.

Photo of a woman on an iPad

No one wants to read a list of preferences, so remember to write what you like to do and who you’re looking for as well as the why.

Your profile should be a narrative that draws people in, not a list that their eyes skim over. According to Tobii Technology, “A profile that prominently displayed a list of traits was perceived as more businesslike.” It comes off as dry and lazy, which drives singles away. You didn’t put any effort into creating a dating profile, so why should someone put effort into messaging you?

However, respondents favorably viewed profiles that showcased personality at the top of the page. They said these profiles seemed more personal. Many singles sign up to a dating site because they’re looking for personal connections, so making yourself sound like a living, breathing, human person with interesting things to say is going to attract attention online.

3. Add Attractive Keywords Like Sweet, Funny, or Perceptive

Describing yourself is hard. The open-ended About Me section of a dating profile can leave some singles stumped because they don’t know which personality traits to highlight and which to downplay. You don’t want to sound pompous, but you do want to brag on yourself a little. So what descriptors strike a good balance between sincerity and self-confidence?

An eHarmony study found men whose dating profiles used adjectives like perceptive, physically fit, and intelligent attracted anywhere from 58% to 143% more interest from women. Meanwhile, words like quiet, energetic, and respectful hurt their chances of receiving a message or a like.

For women, the adjective quiet was also a turn-off. Their profiles did best when they described themselves as sweet, funny, ambitious, and thoughtful. Both men and women didn’t fare well when they boasted of their modesty, but passionate was a crowd-pleaser for both genders.

Additionally, a study of online daters on PlentyOfFish found those who used words like heart, children, romantic, and relationship were more likely to find love online, so don’t be shy about saying what you’re looking for on the dating site.

4. Drop the Sarcastic Jokes & Negative Comments

Pay attention to your tone when you’re writing your dating profile. The best profiles keep things light and have an upbeat tone. People want to be around a person who jokes around and enjoys life. They don’t want to be around someone who seems bitter, angry, or unhappy.

Judith Orloff, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, said it best when she wrote about the laws of attraction for Psychology Today. “The more positive energy we give off, the more we’ll receive. Ditto for negativity,” she said. “It works like this: Love attracts love. Grumpiness attracts grumpiness. Passion attracts passion.”

Photo of a rain cloud over a man's head

Negativity is a big turn-off to online daters. It’s OK to be sarcastic and a little cynical, but try to keep it somewhat light.

The numbers back up this theory. EliteSingles found that negativity was among the biggest turnoffs for online daters — 22% of surveyed singles ranked negativity as the worst trait to see on a dating profile. Worse even than sexual innuendo or insufficient description. According to this study, you might be better off following that old rule: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

“If a girl is making too many negative judgmental statements, I’m not going to be interested in her,” said Jack, a 26-year-old online dater, in an interview, “no matter what she looks like, especially if she uses the word hate.”

5. Upload More Photos (But Avoid Group Shots)

As we said before, your profile’s photos are extremely important and can make or break your online dating experience. Adding one photo likely isn’t going to be enough. A profile with only one photo might have people wondering “What’s this person hiding?” And it doesn’t help you show off multiple facets of your personality or appearance.

According to eHarmony, four photos works best for its members. The dating site recommends mixing up the content of the four photos, so you don’t have four nearly identical bathroom selfies on your profile. You can make your profile more appealing to online daters by adding one outdoor shot, one angled selfie, one full-body shot, and one smiling headshot. That way, people get a full sense of what you look like.

We recommend avoiding group shots, if you can, because you don’t want dates wondering which person is you or thinking your friends are more attractive than you are.

Your pictures should represent who you are. If you have a picture of yourself with a pet or on a trip, go ahead and add it. Wearing a sports jersey can also attract attention. According to Zoosk, users wearing a sports outfit received 32% more incoming messages than the average user. Those with a vacation picture received 6% more messages.

Ron Geraci, an online dating consultant, said posting more than five photos is overkill. It’s like information overload. You want to give people a glimpse into who you are and what you like — not a full family photo album. “Four photos works best in my experience,” Ron said. “You want multiple photos to give the reader reassurance that there’s truth in advertising here.”

6. Complete Every Section & Leave No Question Unanswered

The profile setup will differ from dating site to dating site. Some keep it simple and only offer biographical sections, while others have a lot of different and fun prompts about your interests, experiences, goals, and personality traits. You should fill in every section, even if it’s optional, to make a good impression on potential dates by giving them a full look at who you are.

Each prompt is an opportunity for you to attract a date and show off who you are — don’t let it pass you by. According to an eHarmony blog post, “If you can’t put the time into filling out a simple dating profile, why would an interested guy/gal assume you’d put the time investing into getting to know them?”

Photo of a blank computer screen

A half-empty or blank profile doesn’t do anyone any good — each component matters.

At the same time, you definitely don’t want to make your profile into a wall of text. Don’t go overboard with this. As the dating experts at eHarmony said, “If your profile is 10 times longer than everyone else’s, it won’t be given much attention.”

7. Make a Strong Call to Action

At the end of your profile, you should write a short sentence that prompts people to send you a message or like your profile. It doesn’t have to be the wittiest sentence you’ve ever typed. A simple “If you’d like to grab a cup of coffee and chat, send me a message” will do. This is your chance to flirt a little and let people know you’re serious about meeting someone. You can get flirty and creative with it by suggesting future date activities or boasting about your killer conversational skills.

Try to end on a confident note. For example, “I don’t get a lot of messages, so I’ll definitely respond if you send one” isn’t very persuasive, but “I like to exchange movie recommendations with people, so if you’ve seen something good, let me know!” is going to give movie buffs a compelling reason to send you a message.

The ideal call-to-action should give people a conversation starter, so they don’t have to work too hard to put together a first message, and an indication that you’re serious about meeting people, so they can feel confident you’ll answer.

8. Check Your Grammar

Before your profile goes live, you should proofread everything you’ve written for spelling or grammar errors. According a study conducted by Grammarly and eHarmony, men with two or more spelling errors in his profile are 14% less likely to receive a positive message from the average woman. So mind your Ps and Qs, gentlemen.

Your call to action is going to fall flat if it’s got a typo in it. Singles aren’t exactly dying to “send you a massage” or “lick your profile.” While you’re at it, you should probably also get rid of the netspeak in your profile. OkCupid found the four worst words to use in a first message are ur, r, u, and ya, and it’s reasonable to assume that singles won’t be impressed to see such slang on a profile either.

Be Authentic to Make Your Profile Stand Out

From the moment someone clicks on your dating profile, you’re on the clock. You have a couple precious minutes (sometimes less) to convince that person that you’re worth getting to know. You do that by packing your profile with detail, adding high-quality photos, and paying attention to your word choice and grammar.

Online daters have to avoid generic language and sum up who they are and what they want in a few concise and clear sentences. It’s not easy to know what to say, but studies can give us an idea what it takes to create a successful dating profile.

Hopefully, our research-based tips can set you in the right direction so you avoid common mistakes like adding pictures of yourself with sunglasses on or making negative comments on your profile. While there isn’t one right way to create a dating profile, you can learn from the overall trends and polish your profile so it sends the right messages to the right people.

It may be trite, but the best thing you can do when setting up your dating profile is to be true to who you are. Your sincerity and authenticity is ultimately what will make you stand out from the crowd and attract people who have similar interests and compatible personalities.

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