Instagram SEO is the process of optimising your profile and content to increase the chances of appearing in search results within the platform. There is no one size fits all approach to success on Instagram, a combination of efforts across the typical social media practices around engaging content, studying analytics, entertaining and informing, should be used alongside Instagram SEO practices to all work together.
There are some Instagram SEO fundamentals that can be applied to your business profile and your content help you gain visibility, reach both existing and new audiences – as with the algorithm that isn’t exactly guaranteed, and get your content in front of an audience that has intent, and that is searching out exactly what you have to offer.
Search Intent on Instagram
The way in which users behave on Instagram has changed dramatically over the years, it is no longer just an entertainment photography platform to mindlessly scroll. People are more conscious of their time spent on the app, and want to add value to the experience rather than consuming irrelevant never ending content.
It’s also a research tool, and according to Keyhole, 83% of people are now using instagram to discover new products and services. With users turning it as a research tool, it pays for your business to be the one that appears when people are doing their research at a top level, even if they haven’t searched out your brand name. Instagram can essentially help you find and benefit from potential new customers.
Image credit: Keyhole
This works across the board for a range of industries, products and services. How many times have you checked a hotel’s instagram when booking your holiday? Or maybe you’ve searched for restaurants, or new clothes or homeware for inspiration on instagram? The results that appear are down to a combination of triggers by Instagram, including how you interact on the platform and who you follow and engage with, but also how brands and businesses optimise their content.
Brands can already increase the likelihood of placing their products, and showcasing their services seamlessly into users’ feeds with their content, which is great for an already established audience that follows you, but the goal isn’t just to appear on follower feeds, or on the explore page anymore.
If you can deliver optimised content through Instagram SEO best practices, your images and reels are more likely to appear as results in specific user searches, which in turn has the potential to lead to people looking for further information, clicking through to your profile, clicking to your website, app or further content, and even making a purchase.
With the search feature updates that Instagram now offers, the search results essentially become a new ‘explore page’ in themselves, with an array of content that best suits the search term.
If the user has a history of activity around the topic, their results will be tailored based on who they follow and who they’ve engaged with, but if they’re a new searcher, then your content has the potential to be shown even if the user has no prior engagement with your brand, aided by the Instagram SEO optimisations you’ve applied.
Tips for Instagram SEO
So now we’ve established why Instagram SEO is such a necessity when creating your content, let’s look at what steps you need to take to achieve this, in order to gain visibility in instagram search results.
Optimise Your Bio
The first place you should start is to optimise your Instagram bio. Your main keyword should feature in your handle/username, or your name – ideally both. It isn’t always feasible to have a keyword in your username, so make sure it sits in your name instead.
Then update your description, with your prominent keywords featuring naturally into the text, and this should also reflect what users are going to see from your profile and content if they follow. Doing this reinforces your niche and your authority in this topic, so you’re telling Instagram this is where your expertise is.
Business profiles can add a location, which can be really useful if you have physical premises, shops or venues that people can visit. Even if you don’t it’s still worth putting this in, as you may have an ecommerce business that delivers within a certain radius, key areas to target, and if people are searching for your product or service within a location it increases your chances of appearing in the results.
Add Keywords To Your Captions
Your Instagram captions should always be natural, and depending on the content and your industry they should be informative, entertaining and/or descriptive. Previously, Instagram search results didn’t factor keywords in captions as prominently when curating results, but this is now the case.
This is a real opportunity to include your primary and secondary keywords where they will have a direct impact, providing they sound genuine. It also means that you could target multiple, related keywords all within the same caption, resulting in an increased chance of appearing on multiple results pages all with the same content.
For brands who aren’t as established compared to big names or stronger competitors, Instagram SEO in this capacity allows you to still appear and be featured, even to those who haven’t heard of you and your brand name before.
When choosing your keywords, start with the same keywords you use for your website content and your SEO activity, and take learnings from your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data. You can also do keyword research directly in instagram, by clicking the ‘tags’ tab when you search for a keyword and see what related keywords also appear.
It helps to see what content is already being shown high in the results for your keywords, and analyse the results to help inform your content strategy and creation. The scope for this is huge on Instagram, as you could target lifestyle situations for product placement, as well as direct keyword targeting.
Use Keyword Hashtags
When it comes to hashtags there are varied opinions and advice pieces out there on how to use them, depending on your goal. Instagram doesn’t share too much on their algorithm and how it works, so when they give advice it’s a good idea to apply it. Here’s some of their suggestions for hashtag use,
- Include hashtags in the post caption, not as the first comment
- Use a combination of well-known, niche, and specific hashtags for your topic or keyword to give a balance
- Limit hashtags to 3 to 5 per post.
- Don’t use irrelevant or overly generic hashtags like #explorepage
From the Instagram explore page, if you start to type a keyword, similar to Google related keywords will appear, and the same occurs if you type in a hashtag by adding the # at the start of your keyword. If the term is something you search for regularly, and is the type of content you engage with, save, like or share, or is in a location near to you, then the results will be more tailored to the accounts you usually follow and interact with.
If however this is something new you are searching, then the results are not entirely, but are more likely to be based on the hashtags used and the SEO of the posts. By using fewer hashtags, you can check the in platform analytics and build a picture of which hashtags work for you to build up a bank of hashtags that generate strong results for you.
Add Alt Text For Your Images
Similar to Alt text for imagery on your website or blog, you can add alt text to your Instagram photos to tell the platform exactly what your photo shows. The text description you provide should be as detailed as possible, and include your targeted keywords for that image. By giving Instagram this information, it will better understand your content and it will reinforce your niche and its relevance to search queries.
If you don’t do this manually, instagram will generate alt text automatically, so it’s better for your business if you take the time to do this to ensure it reflects exactly what you want it to. To add alt text, when uploading your imagery click ‘Advanced settings’ at the bottom and you can add it in here.
Use Geo Location
Adding locations in your individual posts is essential, as well as in your bio. As well as searching by keywords and hashtags, users increasingly are using the ‘Places’ tab to get inspiration on a local area they might be visiting. Adding the location on your content increases your chances of your content being shown.
Use Instagram SEO Alongside Other Best Practices
These five useful Instagram SEO tips will no doubt contribute to your success on Instagram in this way, but this alone won’t be enough. Due to so many other factors including the algorithm, differing user behaviour, new features always being released, and the simple nature of social media, these practices should be used alongside other best practices for Instagram.
Instagram SEO should undoubtedly be part of your social media strategy, but of course all the classic tips need to be applied. Post at the best times for your business and when your audience is online, create reels and use trending audio (see our blog on tips for creating reels here!), create original content in the app, add locations to your posts and so on.
Apply these Instagram SEO tips and see if they make a difference to your results, but remember this won’t happen overnight. Test different keywords, hashtags and content types to see what works for you.
Wriggle Social Media Services
If you require any support with your business Social Media presence, take a look at the Wriggle Social Media Services here and contact us to book a free consultation.