Having a strong Instagram SEO strategy is one of the best things you can do to increase your profile’s reach on the platform. Focusing on search engine optimization can make your account a lot more search-friendly as well as help build community.
What Is SEO on Instagram?
Before we get into how to improve your SEO, let’s talk about what it actually is. Instagram SEO is a little bit different than your usual search engine optimization. In short, it is about ensuring that your content appears in as many places as possible on Instagram. This could include search results and suggested content feeds. It is an extremely important way to increase your discoverability. You have a much greater chance of increasing your following when you have more people discovering your content!
How Does Instagram SEO Actually Work?
The Instagram algorithm indexes every piece of content that gets put on the app. In doing so, it gathers as much information as possible to help determine what the post is about. Once it has determined that, it can also determine who might find it interesting. While Instagram will do all of this automatically, there are certain things you can do to help Instagram better organize and categorize your content.
One of the places Instagram shares content is the Explore page. This is essentially the platform’s very own search engine and directory. Very similar to how you search for terms on Google, you can use Instagram’s search function to find accounts, hashtags, locations, and content.
However, Instagram also shows suggested posts on every users’ feed. This is another place where SEO comes in handy. These suggested posts are a place on a user’s feed that is dedicated to displaying posts from accounts that you don’t currently follow but Instagram has determined you might be interested in. According to Instagram, posts get included in these suggestions “based on posts from accounts like the ones you follow and posts similar to the ones you like or save.”
A solid Instagram SEO strategy can help you ensure that your posts get featured both for relevant search results and in the suggested content on users’ feeds.
Key Ranking Factors
As mentioned, there are some things you can do to improve your Instagram SEO. However, there are other things you don’t have control over. It’s important to know both so you can tailor your strategy accordingly.
According to Instagram itself, the most important ranking factors on its platform are:
- Relevance to the search query: The platform will try to match what users search for with top posts, accounts, audio, hashtags, and locations. Each of these categories will appear in separate tabs on the results page. This is the most important ranking factor.
- User activity: Instagram uses information about a searcher’s previous activity within the app to decide what they might be interested in. If it decides that someone might be more interested in one post, account, or hashtag over another, it will make that show up before other posts.
- Information about the search results: For searches in which there are a high volume of results, a little bit of a popularity contest takes place. Posts or accounts with the highest number of likes, shares, and follows will show up before other, less popular ones.
5 Ways to Improve Your Instagram SEO
Knowing these small ways to influence your account’s SEO with every post can help you skyrocket your account’s visibility.
Use Keywords in Your Captions
In the past, you could only use Instagram’s Explore feature with hashtags, locations, usernames, and profile names. Now, you can also use keywords. For example, someone looking for cupcakes can simply search “cupcakes” and see any post with that word in the location, account name, or caption! So, writing descriptive captions that include keywords can hugely impact a post’s discoverability.
Include Keywords in Your Profile Name
If there is a specific keyword you are hoping to rank for, one of the best places to use it is within your name or username. This is because both are searchable on Instagram. Using the cupcake example, you could include the term in your username or in the name section of your account. So if your bakery is called Mrs. Smith’s Bakery, but you want to focus on the cupcakes you sell, you could make your username @mrssmithsbakery and your name something like “Mrs. Smith’s Bakery: Cupcakes, Cookies, and More.”
Utilize Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are still one of the best ways to reach new audiences on Instagram. When you add a hashtag to a post, it becomes visible on that hashtag’s results page – if you have a public account. Having a well-thought-out hashtag strategy will help you ensure that you are using relevant hashtags on each post to better increase your chances of reaching your target audience.
Add Alt Text
Alt text allows you to write your own custom alternative text to describe your photos. This feature was originally designed to improve accessibility for people with vision impairments, but it can also be used for SEO purposes. After you create a post, you can manually update your alt text, adding extra detail and keywords.
Consistently Use These Tips
Perhaps one of the simplest way you can improve your discoverability on Instagram is to be consistent! The more you follow the above tips, the easier the algorithm will be able to learn what your account is about. Being consistent teaches Instagram important information about your account. It then uses that information to serve it up to users who might be interested in it.
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