What Is Instagram SEO?

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What is Instagram SEO?
6 Instagram SEO Tips to Increase Your Reach

Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques help your content rank higher on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But they can also help your Instagram profile appear higher in the app’s search results.

In this article, we will look at how Instagram ranks profiles and content. We’ll also look at six ways to increase your overall visibility on the platform.

What is Instagram SEO?

Instagram SEO is the process of optimizing your account and content to rank higher in Instagram’s search results. Doing this can help you increase your reach and attract more followers and conversions to your account.

You can’t turn people who can’t find you into customers. If you know how to benefit from Instagram SEO, you can gain more visibility for your brand.

When someone types a search query on Instagram, SEO tactics help your posts appear in the top results. This can include the content you create, as well as audio, tags, and locations associated with it.

“Best” content is the content Instagram thinks is most relevant to the search term.

You need to optimize all parts of your profile and everything you post, from your Instagram bio to the small details in your content.

Although Instagram SEO has some similarities with regular SEO, it is platform specific and quite different from Google.

Why Should You Use SEO on Instagram?

Instagram SEO connects you with people who are actively searching for content related to your business. It can help you build an engaged following of potential customers who are more likely to convert.

Another reason to care about Instagram SEO? Social media isn’t going away anytime soon. There are over 2 billion monthly active users on Instagram that you can tap into.

Research shows that Instagram users want to interact with brands as part of their experience.

According to Instagram, there are more than 200 million business accounts that users visit every day.

Our account looks like this:

Nearly 50% of Instagram users say they discover new brands, products and services on the platform. Approximately 44% of users also purchase items from the platform on a weekly basis using tags and the Shopping feature.

Many users use Instagram to discover businesses, brands, services and products. That’s why it’s important to be as visible as possible on the platform.

Top Instagram Ranking Factors to Consider

The top three Instagram ranking factors relevant to marketers are search text, user activity, and popularity signals.

The platform says there is no single Instagram algorithm. Instead, there is a set of classifiers and processes personalized for each user.

Instagram adapts content based on how people use the app:

Feed and Stories: Latest posts from friends and family you follow
Discover: Content discovery and recommendations from accounts you don’t follow
Reels: Entertaining content, mostly from accounts you don’t follow
Search: Relevant content found by typing specific search terms

Now let’s look at how the platform decides what content users see first when browsing.

Search text

Like regular SEO, search text (the text a user types into the search bar) is the most important ranking factor on Instagram.

The search function is the primary way to navigate content on Instagram. When people use it, the search query they type indicates a specific intent.

The platform will also suggest phrases to get users started:

Based on the terms used, the Instagram search engine will find relevant biographies, captions, hashtags, and even usernames it deems fit for purpose.

Hashtags used to be the main way for users to find new content. But a recent study by Hootsuite found that keyword-rich captions get 30% more reach and twice as many likes as hashtags.

This doesn’t mean you should stop using hashtags (we’ll find out why soon), but using Instagram SEO to optimize all your content is the key to better reach.

User Activity

Instagram’s algorithms pay attention to content and accounts that users have interacted with recently. This helps the platform understand which posts are relevant to specific audiences.

If users watch a lot of fitness-related content, Instagram will likely recommend fitness influencer accounts:

The platform also determines the connection between the content creator and the audience. If a user follows your business page or has commented in the past,

They are more likely to see your content in its own flow.

Having reciprocal links also has a big impact on visibility. Friends of people who follow your business will see that your profile ranks higher than others in search results. This makes it easier for people in your target audience to find you.

Popularity Signals

Instagram will increase content that increases in popularity. This means more people will see it, even if it doesn’t exactly follow the normal content history.

For example, this post from Tom Holland recreating the famous Spider-Man meme was everywhere in 2022:

Instagram also takes into account information about the person posting content.

For example, an influencer

People who have engaged a lot in the past few weeks will likely rank higher than someone who has just joined the platform.

It’s important to note that these popularity signals have more impact on the Explore and Reels pages. More emphasis is given to individual user preference on the home page.

6 Instagram SEO Tactics to Increase Your Visibility

There is no surefire way to appear in the top results in Instagram searches or recommendations.

But these six Instagram SEO tips will help you increase your discoverability on the platform.

1. Use Specific Keywords to Help Your Instagram SEO Rankings

Every time an Instagram user searches for a keyword related to your business, you have a chance to drive high-quality traffic to your profile.

Your Instagram SEO strategy needs to use keywords like any other effective content marketing strategy.

According to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, the site looks at four things to make a profile meaningful when indexing content:

Your User Name
Your profile name
Your biography
Your subtitles

These are the most important points to add keywords that are relevant to your target audience.

Your username will most likely be your brand name, but you can use your profile name and bio to include keywords that apply to you.

For example, if you type “interior decorating,” you’ll see that top accounts have those keywords (or related versions) in their handles, profile names, and bios.

Another Instagram marketing tip for your bio is to add location tags next to keywords. This is especially important for location-specific small businesses.

Only business accounts can add tags, but this makes it easier for people in your area to find you.

Your captions also need to be descriptive and use target keywords. Use them to write engaging content to attract new followers while providing value to your existing audience.

Not sure what keywords to use? Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool can help you understand what your target audience is searching for from a database of 24 billion keywords.

For example, if you sell dog accessories, you can type “dog accessories” into the tool to get a list of relevant keywords.

The “Volume” column shows how many people searched for these terms on Google. The “Trend” column also shows how interest level changes over time (e.g., if seasonal).

Remember that search text is Instagram’s most important ranking factor. So make the most of it by using keywords in your account and content.

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2. Use 3-5 Relevant Hashtags in Your Captions

Tactical use of keywords provides better reach. But Instagram also recommends using hashtags in your captions to help the platform understand the context of your content.

Mosseri says hashtags won’t significantly change your reach. But it is still good practice to use them.

One study analyzed more than 75 million Instagram posts and confirmed that hashtags do not directly increase post views.

But hashtags help Instagram algorithms understand content and make it more discoverable for users.

According to a post from the Instagram creator community, Instagram captions with relevant hashtags add context to your post.

However, it is important to strike a balance. As Mosseri says in the video above, “don’t make a ton of hashtags.” They are not helpful and can look like spam.

Here’s an example of what not to do:

With that in mind, here are four tips for using Instagram hashtags meaningfully:

Use hashtags relevant to your target audience
Only use 3-5 per post (more than that won’t impact reach)
Mix well-known and niche hashtags to expand your discoverability
Use them in your title (not as comments)

Title and y for hashtags

The forum debate has been going on since Instagram existed.

But even Mosseri uses them in its subtitles:

3. Avoid Watermarks and Logos on Instagram Reels

Instagram is cracking down on users who recycle their content from other social media platforms.

Mosseri says Instagram will recommend Reels with watermarks and logos less to users than those without watermarks and logos.

This is especially important given the rise of TikTok and the competition between apps.

For example, here’s what a TikTok video shared on Instagram looks like:

They are usually lower quality and always have the TikTok logo and the user’s grip somewhere on the screen.

An Instagram spokesperson said that in 2021, the platform will de-emphasize watermarked content in recommendations.

Mosseri confirmed that using third-party tools to publish videos is still allowed. However, any type of logo added on top of the content will cause the content to rank lower.

To avoid being penalized, upload your content directly to Instagram rather than copying it from another social media platform.

4. Take Advantage of Instagram Alt Text

Writing keyword-rich alternative text (alt text) can help improve the performance of your posts.

Just like keywords in your profile and titles, Instagram uses this text to:

Understand what an image is about and serve it to relevant users.

Alt text is used to describe your images and videos to people who use screen readers to access Instagram. Adding detailed descriptions helps accessibility, and relevant keywords can help your SEO efforts.

To add alt text to the next photo you send, after typing a caption, scroll down and select “Advanced settings.”

Under Accessibility, click “Write alt text” and then add a photo description. Add relevant keywords if they fit naturally.

Click “Done” when you’re done.

Photo IDs do the same thing as alt text, but you add them as part of your captions (usually at the bottom).

Instead of reusing your alt text, find another way to describe the image and use keywords there too.

Here’s an example of Porter Airlines using photo ID:

You should include both alternative text and photo IDs wherever possible.

Here are six tips to get the most out of your alt text and photo IDs:

Include your keywords that fit naturally (don’t force it)
Be descriptive but clear
Make sure the description is relevant to the image
Quote any text in the image (e.g. if there is a mark or overlay)
Cut out introductory words like “a photo of” or “a video of”
Aim to stay under 100 characters
5. Find the Right Days and Times to Post

Viewer engagement is a key ranking factor on Instagram. Posting when your followers are most active will increase your organic reach and interaction.

According to original research by CoSchedule, the best times, hours, and days for B2C businesses to post on Instagram are (in order):

Top five times: 9:01, 19:59, 9:00, 20:00 and 19:59
Top five hours: 09:00, 08:00, 10:00, 12:00 and 15:00
The five worst hours: 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 23:00 and 05:00
Best three days: Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday
Three worst days: Sunday, Saturday and Thursday

B2B’s hours are similar; Most activities take place during lunch or after work.

This is a starting point, not a definitive formula. Fortunately, you can use Semrush’s Social Media Toolkit to eliminate the guesswork and get the results you want.

The Social Analytics tool shows you how your followers interact with your posts and when they are online.

This tool also gives you more information about your target audience’s demographics so you can deliver content to them.

You can compare your performance with competitors in Social Tracker. You can find follower counts, sharing schedules, and engagement statistics like hashtag usage and then use similar tactics for your account.

With Social Poster, you can access an interactive calendar to schedule Instagram posts for the entire year.

Set the dates and times your audience is active, create drafts, and create a plan of great content for your account.

Mosseri recommends that two editorial posts per week and two stories per day are ideal for building a following. But you may find that more (or less) works for your target audience.

Share valuable Instagram content consistently (and at the right times)

publishing) is crucial to successful social media management.

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6. Encourage Participation by Engaging Yourself

Engaging with other accounts in your niche helps Instagram understand where yours fits.

Similarly, engaging with your audience encourages them to engage again, which helps with popularity signals.

Engagement is one of the most important ranking factors for Instagram. And sticking to a niche is one of the best ways to build a dedicated following.

Micro and nano influencers are accounts with less than 60,000 and 10,000 followers, respectively. However, because they have a more personal connection with their followers, they have much higher engagement rates.

One study found that nano-influencers had engagement rates as high as 6% on average. This is 6x the rate of macro influencers.

This proves that more followers are not always necessary for better business. A small number of loyal customers can result in more consistent conversions.

Therefore, you should encourage all kinds of engagement on your posts (including comments, saves, likes, and shares) to build a community.

Here are a few tips to help you increase your engagement rate:

Research your target audience so you create the kind of social media content they’ll like
Create relatable memes and graphics with share potential
Ask questions in your captions and ask people to share their answers
Host giveaways or contests with relevant prizes to increase engagement
Track the reach and engagement rate of your content to understand what resonates and create similar posts

An important part of increasing engagement is making sure you respond to people who engage with your content. You can use the Social Media Toolkit to help you keep track of new comments and messages and respond quickly.

Use Instagram SEO to Grow Your Business

Remember, SEO for Instagram is not a quick fix to reach the target audience.

This is a long-term strategy, but these best practices will get you started.

Instagram is constantly updating its algorithms, which means everything will improve. Fortunately, the platform is upfront about updates.

Want to get ahead of the next update?

Sign up for a free Semrush account to find the best keywords for your Instagram SEO strategy today.