By Michelle Danzig

After countless failed dates, author and digital strategist Amy Webb decided to try online dating in a whole new fashion. To better understand what makes an online dating profile attractive, Webb created an online dating profile disguised as a male. Then she created nine more.

In her book DATA, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match,’ Webb brings the expression “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” to an entirely new level. Dating can be hard enough without adding the pressure of creating an online dating profile that represents you at your best.

Using the data recovered from the multiple profiles and their different characteristics, Webb discovered what information is needed to help you boost your online profile, ultimately helping you get the most out of your experience. We had the opportunity to interview Webb about her new book, learning the dos and don’ts of online dating and how to make your online dating profile more appealing.

I find it so fascinating that you created a fake, male profile (actually 10 of them) to “game” the online dating system. Why did you take this approach? What surprised you most about your female competition?  

 My goal was to make the best possible profile that I could. In order to do that, I wanted to find out more about my competition, and the only way to figure that out was to sign up as a man. The first time I did that, it was really shocking to me to find this big of gap. I was looking for a very specific type of guy, a very specific type of relationship. So I created a profile that had all of the attributes of the type of guy that I wanted. I asked myself, “If these are the women attracted to the same men as me, how can I present myself better online so I can get the guy instead?” That’s what it was really about.

I was surprised to find out that people were lying about their height, although I think we all round our numbers a bit. Men are rounding up on their height; women are rounding down, which I also found interesting. I was always told that men are typically the ones making the first moves. What I realized was that people who are really great at online dating and seem to be really popular are the ones who aren’t afraid to make the first move, male or female. They were willing to reach out first, which was a happy surprise.

Related Link: 5 Low Profile Online Dating Strategies

You gathered a lot of data and uncovered specific characteristics that make an online profile “attractive.” What are some of the top characteristics?

Well, photos matter, but that’s common sense. It’s obvious when the photo is eight to ten years old. The photo should always be current and, of course, make you look great. Women should show some skin, and there should be no one else in the photo.

Keeping the profile shorter rather than longer is always a good thing. Creating an online profile is really branding and marketing yourself. You should always be optimistic in what you’re saying; try not to sound negative. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that the dating part doesn’t happen online; the dating part happens in real life.

What are some key characteristics that users should eliminate from their profile?

I’ve never dumbed down who I am, but one thing I learned is that you can’t list all your accomplishments. When you first meet somebody, you wouldn’t give them a five minute speech about your life (although we’ve all certainly met people like that), so why on earth would you do it online? Try to paint a picture for whoever is looking at your profile; make it seem like you’re approachable and like you’re a really fun person to be around.

After you analyzed your data, you went back and changed your personal profile based on what you learned. What changes did you make? 

I changed everything. I had to scratch the entire thing and start over again. From the photos to the description – everything.

Related Link: No More Excuses: 10 Ways to Ditch Bad Dating Habits

The majority of our visitors are single women looking for love. What advice can you give them for finding someone online or even offline? 

Figure out exactly what you want. I think a lot of people who are in unhappy relationships aren’t being honest with themselves. Everyone who is looking for someone should start off with his or her own list of attributes, and they should be very specific. Market yourself appropriately. Digitally, that means using the right information and presenting yourself the right way. However, in the real world, it’s the same thing. Make sure you look and feel your best. Have a lot of confidence and present yourself well when you meet people.

You can purchase a copy of  ‘DATA: A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match’ in bookstores and online from Amazon. For more information about Webb, please visit DATALoveStory.com or follow her on Twitter.