Use this simple, step-by-step guide to optimize your Instagram SEO for your page, posts and reels!
When Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram announced that the age of hashtags is over (relatively) and that your page and posts are searchable but did not explicitly state WHAT and
HOW it gets ranked, creators quickly turned to studying their explore feed and experimenting with keywords.
In fact, if you landed here after typing in ‘Instagram SEO’ or ‘Instagram SEO tips’ on Google Search, you know there are plenty of articles breaking down what you need to do.
But in this blog post, we’re going to take assumptions and theories out the window – we’re going to leave you with a solid understanding of what YOUR next steps need to be if you want to improve your reach and boost your business through Instagram in 2023.
Let’s dive in!
What is Instagram SEO?
Instagram SEO or Instagram Search engine optimization includes any activity you do to optimize your page, and posts (be it static, video, carousel, or reels) to increase its visibility to your target audience.
It is similar to how Google ranks and drums up relevant links to your search query. And just like Google, you can strengthen your chances of coming up as a search result on Instagram by using relevant keywords and building yourself as an authority on a subject or niche.
While appearing in search results is the main goal, implementing SEO on Instagram goes beyond just a well-thought primary or secondary keyword.
There are plenty of other factors that work WITH it that you need to remember to put in play so that your brand or business is able to drive more leads, skyrocket your follower count, and increase engagement.
We’ll get into each of them so you can supercharge your Instagram strategy for high growth!
Why is Instagram SEO important?
Instagram’s algorithm processes every piece of content, and collects information to determine who might find a post interesting.
While this process is automated, you can guide it in an optimized direction by following certain best practices.
Instagram’s search feature, which is part of its Explore page, acts as a comprehensive directory for every Instagram account.
Here’s where SEO plays a crucial role. It helps populate highly relevant posts — mainly from accounts users don’t follow yet.
Hootsuite ran an experiment to check the increasing relevance of SEO on Instagram. It revealed that SEO-optimized posts reached 30% more audiences and received twice as many likes compared to posts using only hashtags!
Instagram now is home to a large, active user base, a significant portion of which is younger, tech-savvy, and holds substantial buying power. An average user spends around 53 minutes per day on Instagram.
And if we’re being honest with ourselves, we all know that number is much higher.
If you follow tried and tested Instagram SEO tips for your business that we’ll list and explain below, your brand can reach out to these potential customers more effectively!
What are Instagram SEO Ranking factors?
Instagram’s search ranking relies on three crucial factors:
- Relevance to the search query
- User Activity
Relevance to the Search Query
Instagram’s algorithm matches search queries (what you type in the search bar) with top posts, relevant accounts, audio, tags, and locations.
Ensuring your username, profile bio, post captions, post and reel hashtags, and even the location of each content can affect your rankings. We’ll teach you how to optimize each of these later in the article.
Instagram prioritizes posts in search results based on the searcher’s previous activity on the app. This includes any interaction you’ve done with similar hashtags and accounts, posts viewed in the past, and even accounts mutually connected to you, the searcher.
When many relevant results exist for a search term, popularity comes into play.
Just like how Google will prioritize some results if they have more traffic, or get more backlinks and generally signal themselves as a well-sought authority on a subject, so will an account or post’s number of likes, shares, and follows can influence its ranking in the search results.
Instagram SEO Tips to Get Discovered
Now that you’ve understood what it means and why it’s essential that you implement Instagram SEO in your content strategy, let’s dive into a step-by-step checklist of what you need to add and change to drive results quickly.
Before you post, do these four things:
1. Finalize a Niche
Like Google, Instagram likes when a profile consistently posts about a few select topics and looks and sounds like it is an authority on that particular subject.
List down your interests and your expertise- and then jot down a few topics, industries, or niches that come up that match both.
For example, say you’re a content marketer. While that is a large topic in itself, maybe you find you have tips for creating content on Instagram or perhaps you want to share tips on how to be a successful freelancer – finalizing this and posting about them is a great way to signal to Instagram your unique area of interest – which the algorithm prizes over an account that posts about everything.
2. Engage with Similar Niche Accounts
Context is important for Instagram SEO.
Once you have drilled down and found your niche, take fifteen minutes out everyday and engage with similar creators or brands that also talk about common topics.
In fact, set notifications for your favorite pages in that niche – and comment thoughtfully and sincerely. Doing this signals to Instagram that your account too should be recommended along with those accounts for people who are interested in the same topic.
This will add up and increase your SEO score on Instagram!
2. Find your Keyword & Hashtag List
Once you have your niche, go to the explore page and enter a few relevant keyword phrases. See what comes up as suggestions.
For example, let’s search Instagram Marketing, which brings up Instagram Marketing Strategies, Instagram marketing ideas, Instagram marketing course, etc.
Select them one by one and observe what posts are recommended. Check each post – what keywords have they used in their caption and hashtags? How many hashtags did they use?
Do this a few times with short and long-term keyword phrases and soon you’ll notice a pattern in the top posts. Write these keywords down and save them to use in your posts, as we’ll explain below.
Also, take a look at the accounts that are suggested to you – what keyword or phrase have they used in their profile, in their bio? Also check their recent posts for hashtags, to see if your keywords match or you’re missing something.
Then do the below step!
3. Optimize Your Profile
Time for some tips on Instagram Bio SEO & Instagram Name SEO! Your bio and everything you write in it are searchable. So make use of this prime real estate properly.
From the previous step, finalize one primary keyword and one secondary keyword and add it to your username and Name.
For example, take a look at this bio below and see how the creator has optimized his profile with the search word.
Not only is the keyword mentioned in the handle (or username), but it’s also in the bio, along with another secondary keyword.
This sends a strong indication to Instagram’s SEO algorithm that you’re posting highly relevant content and it is a good match for the query.
4. Add Location to your Bio
Next, add your business location to your bio on your page. If you’re unable to do so, change your profile type to Business or Creator account, which will give you additional fields like location, contact email and phone number.
Which profile with tips would be more relevant to you- someone with the same country or city or someone whose primary language is from another location?
This way, optimizing your profile with the above collectively increases your ranking score to your target audience.
5. Use Instagram SEO Keywords in Your Captions
Incorporating primary and secondary keywords in your captions can improve your chances of showing up in relevant searches – up to 30% more reach, according to one experiment!
Not only can a user read it and get reassured you are talking about their interest, a strong keyword-optimized caption will also increase your SEO score.
6. Use SEO-Driven Hashtags
Use a combination of well-known, niche, and specific hashtags that are relevant in your post.
But remember, previously it was recommended to add up to 30 Instagram hashtags to each post. Now, 3-5 hashtags are enough – use the rest inside your caption.
7. Optimize Your Alt Text
As with Google, accessibility is an important factor Instagram considers and accordingly bumps up your profile and posts in search results.
Add alt text when you post a photo to provide a description that incorporates relevant keywords.
Can’t find it? Look for Advanced settings and you’ll be able to enter Alt Text.
8. Use Subtitles for Videos
Did you know Instagram’s algorithm reads the text inside reels? Subtitles for videos on Instagram are great for accessibility and increase watch time.
Include target keywords in the video and if possible, use Instagram’s own font options to add it in.
9. Follow the Recommendation & Community Guidelines
Instagram wants to make the app a safe space to be in – ensure you do not violate any of their guidelines as that can lead to your account getting shadow banned, leading to low reach.
Pro tip: there are some hashtags that have become controversial – try to avoid using them as those hashtag’s reach has been purposely limited by Instagram.
10. Track and Optimize
As with any strategy, try and experiment with these tips. See which keywords and hashtags get you more reach.
Measuring how your Instagram optimization efforts are paying off by conducting regular audits of your Instagram account is essential for your brand to keep growing.
Do hashtags help with Instagram SEO?
Hashtags have traditionally been a powerful tool for boosting visibility and reach on Instagram. While hashtags still have their place in the Instagram ecosystem, their importance is not what it once was.
As we mentioned earlier as well, one experiment found that SEO-focused posts garnered 30% more reach compared to posts that relied on hashtags. Those posts also generated higher engagement, consistently earning more likes!
To optimize your Instagram content you should now focus more on SEO tactics like keywords in captions rather than using a high number of hashtags.
Instagram SEO is a powerful tool that can boost your content’s visibility, increase your audience engagement, and amplify your brand’s online presence.
By understanding and leveraging Instagram’s SEO ranking factors, you can reach a larger audience and make the most out of this vibrant social media platform.
However, it’s not just about understanding SEO techniques, but also about delivering the right content that aligns with your audience’s preferences and needs.
This is where a social listening tool like Radarr proves to be invaluable. Radarr helps you monitor and identify what your audience is engaging with and why, allowing you to tailor your content and SEO strategy effectively.
Are you ready to tap into the power of Instagram SEO and audience insights to propel your brand forward?