Shoot for four to six photos of yourself. While you may think this means picking the most flattering photos for your online dating profile, Schreffler says that isn't the case. "You want to have a little bit of everything in there," she advises. "You want to have yourself done up really well so that whoever is looking at your picture will see that you can look really great, and you want to have yourself looking natural. You want to show yourself in the most realistic way possible."
Show your worst angle. Okay, well, maybe not your worst, but let potential suitors know about your imperfections. The key to online dating profiles is showing your true self, not creating a caricature of what you think works best. "For best online dating profile results, feature both your best physical assets and your not-so-favorite physical ones," Karsten says. "This allows the opportunity for a real admirer to genuinely connect and feel the chemistry."
Use current photos. It may seem like a no-brainer, but using a picture of yourself five years ago or 10 pounds ago will only let you down in the long run. It's okay to upload your favorite vacation pic if it's a few years old, but be sure that the majority of your pictures are within the last six months. "If you get a guy to go on a date with you based on old pictures and then he shows up on the date and sees you looking differently, he's going to be disappointed, and that's going to make you feel awful," Schreffler says.
Keep updating your profile photos. "Creating the perfect online dating profile is about posting PG-rated selfies weekly. Refreshing online dating profiles with new photos is a must," Karsten says.
Put down your cat. No, don't actually put down your cat, just set Professor McFluffles down for the picture. We know it's a ridiculous double standard and an awful spinster stereotype, but Schreffler says that in her research most men ignored women who had a picture with their cat on a dating site.
Selfies are okay. "It's the weirdest thing ever, but men tend to like selfies," Schreffler says. "They tend to like those shots a lot when you're angling the camera down instead of the posed pictures, mostly because it shows a realistic view of who you are, and that's what they're going to end up liking anyway."
Be mindful of your headline. "You should tend to write things that are a little bit cheeky or cute or clever," Schreffler advises. "You don't want to overthink it or make yourself sound desperate." Avoid desperate-sounding tag lines like "Looking for Prince Charming" or "Seeking the One," and aim for something more approachable – in Schreffler's research, men responded best when she used a quote from the Will Ferrell comedy "Anchorman." Pick a headline that makes you laugh, and you're bound to attract someone with a similar sense of humor.
Avoid tacky usernames. Your username isn't as noticeable as your headline, but it's best to steer clear of dating clichés. "If your username is Looking4Love101 or ImAPrettyGurl462, those kinds of things are turn-offs," Schreffler says.
"Be transparent," Karsten says. "Singles that experience the best online dating success are the ones that express themselves authentically." You should be honest in all aspects of your profile, not just photos. "You don't want anyone that's not going to accept you as you are," Schreffler says. "If you smoke, put that on there. If you have pets, put that on there. If you have kids, you have to put that on there." If anything in your life is non-negotiable, it's best to mention it immediately. Even if your feline friend isn't in your profile pic, it's important to mention any person, pet, or habit that's with you for the long haul.
"Reveal your dimensionality," says Karsten. "Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually." Show as many sides of yourself as possible, and let your many traits shine through. Photos may be the first thing people see, but once conversation starts flowing with your online dating matches, physical looks pale in comparison to the power of personality.
Be yourself. "The best way I can sum it up is an Oscar Wilde quote," Schreffler explains."He said, 'Be yourself, everyone else is already taken,' and that's true of online dating. You have to be genuine, and if you're really yourself, your voice comes through. When somebody meets you in person, they're going to say 'Wow, okay. This girl is genuine. She's exactly who she says she is.' You want that."
Check out our panel's advice for writing the perfect online profile: