Hold up. There’s Instagram SEO? Well… Yes! As long as there’s a search bar, there’s always going to be room for search engine optimization. It’s not just a Google exclusive.
Instagram algorithm updates can be difficult to navigate. But with consistent strategies, you can edge out the competition by getting more visibility through Instagram SEO.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know.
What is Instagram SEO?
Just like Google, Instagram has its own search engine. This determines the content users are shown after entering a query or a “search”.
Optimizing your content for these queries is essentially what Instagram SEO is. Everything from hashtags, keywords, and other strategies improves search rankings and helps get more followers on Instagram.
You can use two types of SEO on Instagram:
- On-Page SEO – This refers to SEO strategies on your accounts. Common strategies include specific keywords, captions on your photos, your bio, and hashtags.
- Off-Page SEO – Everything done outside of your Instagram account such as link building from relevant websites is an example of Off-Page SEO.
How Important is Instagram SEO?
Instagram SEO is essential for two key reasons – visibility and discovery. Optimized accounts are tailored to help your target audience find your content through searches.
It also boosts your visibility on a user’s “suggested posts”, an area showing content from accounts you’re not following.
Solid Instagram SEO strategies help your content’s visibility in relevant search results, increase engagement, and have a higher chance of being featured on the Explore page. But before we optimize, we need to learn the different factors that affect rankings on Instagram.
Key Ranking Factors for Instagram SEO
Unlike Google, learning how Instagram’s search engine works don’t require you to go through walls of documentation. They’ve generously laid it out for us in their Instagram search breakdown.
In a nutshell, Instagram says the main ranking factors include the following:
Search Query Relevance
Instagram takes into account relevant keywords, usernames, bios, locations, hashtags, and more. To use this to its fullest potential, you have to look into
- Search queries people use to search for content similar to yours.
- Social media analytics.
- Monitoring tools.
There are free tools available for these such as Google Trends and Google Analytics. Once you’ve identified the trends in your niche, identify relevant keywords and optimize accordingly.
Instagram’s algorithm tries its best to personalize the content you see on the platform. It takes into account the profiles you’ve interacted with, the posts you’ve liked, and those you viewed.
Specific users can have specific content shown to them depending on their activity, the hashtags they’ve interacted with, and more.
If you have a history of following cooking accounts, Instagram is more likely to recommend you cooking-related content from other users. But if it’s your first time looking up cooking content, Instagram needs to use other signals such as engagement and popularity.
Engagement & Popularity Signals
If your account hasn’t had any engagement with a search result, Instagram is likely to rely on “Popularity Signals” instead. That’s because popular content is easier to rank.
Early engagement on posts signals that it’s popular. Instagram will use likes, shares, clicks, follows, and engagement to determine a post’s popularity.
5 Instagram SEO Tips to Boost Your Discoverability
Now that we know the ranking factors, it’s time for us to implement Instagram SEO best practices such as the following:
Optimize Your Instagram Bio
We can take examples from Local SEO tips when optimizing our bio. Local SEO best practices tell us that incorporating an important keyword in our brand name helps it rank higher (if it’s your legal business name).
This also applies to Instagram. But what if you already have a brand name and it doesn’t include important keywords? Instagram has you covered!
The platform allows you to differentiate between your legal business name and your user name. If you want to rank for “exotic plants” but your business name is “Jasper’s Garden” your Instagram username could be “exoticplantsbyjasper”.
Consistency is key if you want to stay relevant in your niche. That means consistently posting and being consistent with the content you post.
If you post a variety of content, your audience and the algorithm might get confused about what your brand is really about.
But having a consistent post schedule prevents your brand from losing followers thanks to fresh content. You also need to consider the best time to post on Instagram.
Use Relevant Hashtags
Using hashtags is the best method of finding relevant content. Users can enter hashtags on the search bar and it would show all the posts that include them in the captions.
The right hashtags can help your content reach your target audience. To optimize for hashtags, you’re going to need a good hashtag strategy. This helps visibility and increases engagement on Instagram.
Take note, hashtags in the bio don’t affect Instagram search rankings or make your profile visible on hashtag search results.
Use Keywords in Captions
Adding new posts to your account keeps it fresh. That in itself is a good signal to Instagram’s algorithm. But if you want to level up the visibility of your posts, you need to incorporate descriptive keywords in your captions.
Hootsuite says that Instagram specifically recommends using keywords in captions. This is thanks to Instagram changing keyword results to help smaller brands and businesses without looking up specific accounts.
Add Alt Text That Describes Your Images
If you’re familiar with SEO, you know that images can be optimized through alternative texts. This also applies to Instagram photos as well.
After uploading a photo, you’re going to be brought to the caption screen. From there, go to “Advanced Settings”. Afterward, find the “Accessibility” option and insert your alt text.
Implementing Instagram SEO strengthens a brand’s overall visibility on the platform. It’s an organic approach that can boost traffic, improve reach and engagement, and drive conversions.
When using Instagram SEO to help grow your business, consider the following:
- The main ranking factors in Instagram searches are query relevance, user activity, and popularity signals.
- Hashtags are one of the most effective organic strategies to help users find your content.
- Relevant niche keywords can be used in your username, captions, and bio.
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