All You Need to Know About Instagram SEO: A Guide

Instagram SEO

SEO and Instagram? They seem like two words that belong to two different worlds, right? Search engines are for discoverability and that is where SEO belongs. Instagram is a social media platform. So why are we even discussing this?

Well, that is because nothing is permanent in the world of marketing. Primarily because marketing relies and models itself based on human behavior and that is in constant flux

While search engines were the prime destination for product queries and brand updates, they have now moved to social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and so on. 

But, out of all of them, it is Instagram that has enjoyed the most attention from brands and consumers looking for products, so naturally, SEO is here too. 

So before we tell you how to make the most of Instagram SEO, let us take a look at what makes SEO so special for Instagram users and business accounts. 

Do we even need SEO for Instagram?

As strange as it might sound Instagram SEO is actually something you should focus on. 

According to Instagram, the platform currently has one billion active users. And these users reportedly follow at least one business account. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform became a focus for small businesses looking to stay alive and brought social commerce to life. 

These events signaled to the platform that users are looking to discover, connect, engage, and shop with businesses via Instagram. Subsequently, we also saw Instagram launching a shop feature that allowed users to complete purchases even without leaving the app. 

For Instagram Shop to succeed, users have to discover their favorite stores easily on the platform. So in comes an updated and refined Instagram SEO algorithm. 

Another important reason for the evolved search algorithm is the growing popularity of TikTok as a search engine among Gen Z and Millennials. The younger generation has deemed Googling to be something their older peers did, while they turn to social media and other unique avenues to find brands they like. 

This means that without any update, Instagram stood to be in a position to lose active users to TikTok. 

We all know that is not happening, so you can trust that by working on SEO principles on Instagram, you can make your brand : 

How does Instagram SEO work? 

Every platform has a typical search algorithm and understanding that is extremely important for a brand to do SEO the right way. 

So what is the equivalent of any SERP‘s algorithm on Instagram? 

Well, for starters, it is important to understand that the search intent on Google vs Instagram is extremely different, so you have to model content accordingly. 

Instagram’s explore page works differently than a typical search engine’s result page would. The explore page is an opportunity for you to reach your target customer’s feed even without them actively looking for you, unlike Google’s SERP. 

If an Instagram user is looking for and engaging with topics that you also work in, and you have optimized your profile/posts for Instagram SEO, you can reach the explore page. 

But what does Instagram look for while choosing a profile or post to appear on the explore page? Or what makes a post or profile rank higher when a customer searches for a particular keyword? 

Search text 

Instagram SEO scans the text in your posts, profiles, and hashtags to match the search text so that the platform can show the relevant results to the user. While having the exact match is helpful, Instagram’s algorithm is evolving to match related keywords via captions and hashtags as well. 

User intent and previous activity 

So there must be thousands if not more accounts posting about the same topic, so how does the algorithm choose what to showcase and what not to? That is dictated by the search intent associated with the query and what the user has typically interacted and engaged with before. These factors play a huge role in choosing your ranking for a keyword. 

Trending content 

Trends are a thing on Instagram. In fact, the platform’s creator page puts out top trends and how to replicate them so that you can make hay while the sun shines. So if you are looking to boost your ranking for a particular keyword, associating with trends can go a long way. 

Instagram SEO: A guide 

Optimizing your Instagram profile for search has two major components: optimizing your profile and optimizing your posts. Both are equally important, so here is a quick guide on how to make that happen. 

Instagram Profile Optimization 

Instagram SEO has two components: explore page and search queries. Now, while your content helps you crack the explore page, your profile is extremely important to crack the secret to search queries.

Let us take a look at how you can boost your Instagram profile for faster results. 

Instagram Handle

Have you ever wondered what is the right way to choose an Instagram handle? Is it random or is it a formula that only creative people are aware of? Well, if you are running a business account on Instagram, you can’t leave it up to chance. 

Your Instagram handle or name plays a major role in your Instagram SEO efforts. Including your industry, relevant keywords, and niche can go a long way in showing up for search queries. Yes, you can use your name or brand name but if you want to optimize your profile, consider including the keywords as well. 

Instagram Bio

Once the handle is sorted, it is time to move on to a very significant item on the list. Your Instagram bio. Those words occupy the best prime real estate of your profile and also play a wide role in ensuring you show up when potential customers look for you. Every little character counts in the Bio section. So, make it work in favor of your page in the Instagram SEO. 

Profile Picture 

Updating a professional profile picture may not directly help in your SEO efforts but it will get you clicks signaling to the platform that you are what the customers want. So updating your profile picture is an important step in Instagram profile optimization for SEO. 

Location 

When the pandemic brought in travel restrictions, Google saw that the “near me” searches went up dramatically. On Instagram, this triggered a flurry of support for local business campaigns. So it must come as no shock that including your business’s location can help you see better results on the platform. 

In fact, geotagging is made available specifically for creators and professional accounts and plays a vital role in Instagram’s search algorithm. 

Instagram SEO: Posts Optimization 

Now that your profile is all spruced up and ready for customers to discover, let us see how you can take your profile to them instead of waiting for them to find you. Explore page is an essential part of the Instagram experience and users spend hundreds of hours per week scrolling on this. 

If you want your business to succeed, you need to be here and catch your audience’s attention.

For this, optimizing your Instagram posts for the search algorithm is important. Optimizing your posts can also help you deliver the content your audience is looking for when they look up a particular keyword. 

Let’s jump right in. 

Hashtags

What is Instagram without hashtags? META popularized the use of hashtags on social media and they still have a major role to play in Instagram SEO. 

Originally hashtags were popular on Twitter and now we see them on almost all social media platforms. And on Instagram, hashtags are particularly popular. 

This is the first ever proposition for the use of hashtags to group posts or topics on Twitter. 

https://twitter.com/chrismessina/status/223115412?s=20&t=j48CokV6TbZN73g6p6rqiA

Hashtags are also very important for SEO and can influence the visibility of your post. 

Including keywords in the hashtags you use for your posts can enhance visibility, help you reach your target audience, and boost the overall engagement of your posts.

So how do you choose the right hashtag? 

From a keyword-centric point of view, every business must use four types of hashtags in their content : 

Work on a combination of these and choose quality over quantity when it comes to hashtags. 

Keywords in description

On Instagram, many consider that captions are immaterial since the platform seems to be extremely media-centric. But ask any popular Instagram blogger and they will tell you both the platform and its users love reading captions. 

Using the relevant keywords in your captions helps Instagram’s search algorithm find your posts and display them to your target audience. 

Unlike Google SEO, keyword density may not play a large role here but all indications are that posting meaningful captions that solve your audience’s problem can aid SEO efforts. The algorithm is constantly learning, so even small interactions with the caption will win you points. 

Keywords in Alt text 

Sometimes, you may see that a post may rank higher for a keyword without even including it in the description or the hashtags. While it could be that it is because of the other two factors, there is a hidden secret that many do not know.

Instagram considers the Alt text you enter for the image in your SEO efforts as well.

For those who are not aware, Alt text is the description you can add to your posts and videos via the Advanced Settings feature on Instagram. This is available for screen readers and makes your content accessible to the disabled population. 

When you do not provide an Alt Text for your image, the platform auto-generates it for you. And that may not be the most accurate. So by including Alt text, you make the algorithm and devices read what you want them to. 

Include video content in your strategy 

When you search for a keyword, the results page has one thing consistently – Reels and video content. Instagram has been pushing for the growth of Reels and video content on the platform relentlessly. This means, just by adopting these formats, you can boost the reach of your content. 

Even if you do not have enough budget for video production you can always use animated videos, display loops., cinemagraphs, and other motion graphics to engage your audience.

Elevate your Instagram SEO strategies today 

Instagram SEO sounds like a tough thing at first but as you can see, a few careful steps are all it takes to ace this game. In addition to fine-tuning your profile and content for SEO, you should also have quality graphics that meet the expectations of visitors who stumble upon your page and come to check it out. Working with a graphic design company or with a DIY design tool, create consistent designs that strengthen your brand presence on Instagram. So, to make a clean sweep on Instagram, you need strong Instagram SEO strategies + catchy on-brand graphics. 

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