A Comprehensive Guide on Instagram SEO

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Sergey Aliokhin

Last Updated: May 24, 2021

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Did you know that over 1 billion people create and share visual content solely on Instagram?

The stats are quite impressive. And this is for a good reason. 

At first, Instagram was a photo and video-sharing social media app. It wasn’t expected that this social media app would create a buzz further. However, it’s turned into a powerful social media marketing platform to grow any kind of business.

There are dozens of services and products that businesses promote on Instagram. Consequently, it has become harder to compete and reach out to more people and convert them into customers. 

So, how do you stay ahead of your competitors on Instagram and attract more and more customers for your business? 

It’s simple, you need to apply Instagram SEO.

In this guide, you will find out seven Instagram SEO tips that will help you boost your website on the gram’. Let’s begin.

What Is Instagram SEO?

Instagram SEO is the process of applying the principles of SEO to your Instagram profile. The goal of Instagram SEO is to make your business profile (along with content) visible. Thus, people could find it organically. 

This approach is critically important in terms of promoting your business, and growing your target audience. Plus, SEO helps improve overall Instagram marketing and branding. 

If standard SEO deals with using keywords, Instagram SEO is all about hashtags. However, every hashtag implies keywords. Hence, keyword research skills will be appropriate here as well. 

As you already guessed, Instagram SEO is pretty hectic. And you will need some actionable tips on how to handle it.

Let’s review them one-by-one further. 

Instagram SEO Techniques 

1. Start With Optimizing Your Instagram Profile 

The way Instagram search functionality works is, you’ll have to use the search bar and a certain search term to find the account, hashtag, or location you need. 

search bar on Instagram

You might wonder how the Instagram algorithm chooses the results to display according to your request. It depends on different aspects. Some of them are what content you liked, what people you follow, and what queries you type on Instagram to find some information. 

Following this logic, you can optimize your Instagram business profile.This optimization will make your business profile visible to your target audience. Making it easier for users to be able to find your profile by typing queries related to your business.  

But how do you do this? 

Start with optimizing your name & username of the profile you’ve created. 

Let’s say your Instagram profile represents an online shop that sells watches. Your primary target keyword is “watch” and your purpose is to include this keyword in the name and username for your profile. Just like the example below:

accounts on Instagram that have watch in their name

As you can see, those people who search for the keyword “watch” will get a list of profiles that include this keyword in their name, username, or in both cases.

However, there are cases when you can’t include a target keyword in the profile’s username. It might happen if the name of your Instagram profile already includes the name of your company. Just like the example below. The owner of this Instagram uses the brand name of the company that sells watches. And there is no mention of a target keyword.

Tissot's Instagram bio

Fortunately, you can use this target keyword in the bio section of your profile, which is searchable as well. What’s more important, the Instagram bio section allows you to describe your business or product using the necessary keywords your target audience tends to apply. 

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2. Work On Writing Optimized Captions

If you want to increase content’s discoverability on Instagram, you should write relevant descriptive captions. What’s more important, this option will help you get your brand shown on Instagram Explore page as well. 

But first of all, let’s try to understand how the Explore pages work. 

The Instagram algorithm tracks user behavior and suggests the results based on this analysis. It draws attention to user’s likes, comments, followers (people a user follows) to identify what content users are willing to like. 

That’s why if you compare your Explore page with the Explore page of your friend – the difference will be self-evident.

To sum up, your Instagram business profile will appear on your target audience’s Explore page if these people had shown interest in products similar to your business before. 

That’s when descriptive captions enter the game. 

You need to know that Instagram Explore page algorithm uses a specific account embedding framework. This framework helps identify what accounts are similar to each other on a topic level. Plus, this framework takes into account related keywords that are used in names, usernames, bio sections of the profiles. 

Consequently, you must write great descriptive captions using target keywords to be on the radar of your target audience. These keywords in your post caption will be used by Instagram algorithm to identify the topics that would be related to your account. 

See the example below:

using a descriptive caption example on Instagram

3. Hashtags Equal Keywords 

Hashtags are widely used on Instagram. They’re comparable with keywords people use to find the information on search engines. Hence, when a person types some hashtag, Instagram suggests all the content that is tagged with this particular hashtag. 

Tagging your posts with hashtags is a great way to get discovered by new people on Instagram. As a result, you’ll get more engagement and more potential customers for your business.

What are the main rules of using hashtags?

First off, don’t overuse hashtags in captions. The maximum amount of hashtags allowed per post is 30. Keep space between hashtags and avoid mixing them visually. 

using hashtags in your caption example

Another thing that you should consider is the engagement your posts get. The posts that have the highest level of engagement will be shown up in Instagram search results per hashtags used. 

Don’t forget about the quality of images you post and post timing. These two factors play a significant part in content visibility. 

Other than that hashtags can be applied for sourcing UGC (user-generated content), building community, exploring your audience, and launching various campaigns. 

4. Optimize Instagram Alternative Text 

If you’ve ever optimized your website, you know that one of the SEO basics is optimizing alternative tags for your content. It helps search engines understand your images and video content and attract more traffic consequently. 

Instagram SEO is not an exception. You can write alt text for your photos as well. 

For this, there is a feature “alternative text” that allows you to create customized alt descriptions for your content. Similar to alt tags on websites, alternative text helps the Instagram algorithm to understand what images are about.

how to access the alt text feature on Instagram

Pro Tip: Note that each alt text should include a specific target keyword. 

5. Ask Your Audience To Tag Your Product

One more way to increase your business discoverability on Instagram is by asking people to tag your account. It works pretty simply – people tag your account in their posts or Instagram stories while other users can click through to your profile. 

tagging feature on Instagram

You can offer a so-called “tag swap” when you tag other people’s accounts in return. Alternatively, you can run different promotion campaigns or giveaways. This will bring you more tags because people like to participate in various contests to win a reward. 

6. Avoid Using Black Hat SEO Techniques

Any new Instagram profile lacks visibility. In other words, you don’t have tons of followers and users engaging with your content. You start thinking to apply some tricky techniques that would help you in this situation. 

What techniques? 

Black hat Instagram SEO tactics that can give you quick results in terms of growing account visibility. 

But you should better avoid using these tactics because it might lead to unforeseen consequences. Instagram can detect accounts that use bots to generate fake likes and fake followers. When your account is suspected it could get blocked. Instead focus on using the best Instagram tools that can help you create content that promotes your brand, or Instagram growth services that don’t use blackhat techniques.  

It’s up to you whether to use black hat Instagram SEO tactics or not but try to avoid it in your practice. Build your visibility along with reputation organically. 

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7. Track The Progress Of Your Instagram Engagement 

You can track your Instagram engagement performance just like you can review the stats on YouTube and Google Analytics. Instagram analytics is all about engagement. 

If you have a creator profile professional account, you’ll be able to see more advanced analytical statistics. 

What metrics can you analyze? 

  • Follows, reach, and impressions
  • How you managed to attract users (home, hashtags, profile, other)
Instagram insights

Final Thoughts

Instagram SEO isn’t as complicated as general SEO. It stands on the main principle of how optimized your profile is, and your posts’ engagement.

Instagram SEO doesn’t guarantee the results right off the bat. It needs time before your profile starts to get traction and engagement. Likely, the organic results will have a lasting effect.

Now that you’re familiar with these tips to help you optimize your Instagram account, you can apply them and boost your business forward. Use these pieces of advice and remember – SEO is a long-term game. 

Author Bio

Sergey Aliokhin headshot

Sergey Aliokhin is a Community Outreach Manager at Visme. When not at work, he likes to spend his time with family, read books on science-fiction, practice playing the bass, and visit the gym.

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