Instagram SEO: Simple Tips That Really Work

So, you want to learn how to improve your Instagram SEO? It’s a question asked by pretty much anyone with an Instagram account.
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After all, ranking on social media is extremely important – and it’s also challenging to help you expand your reach, we’ve put together a list of tips for using alt text, keywords, and Instagram search to your advantage.

How does Instagram SEO work?

Before we dive into those handy tips, a quick lowdown on what Instagram SEO actually is. The good news: SEO for social media isn’t all that different from regular SEO. So, you can use all the tricks you’ve already learned for optimizing website rankings to improve your reach on Instagram. All you need to do is incorporate your regular SEO elements (keywords, search intent, alt text, backlinks, etc.) in a slightly different format.

And for those about to ask if you really need to do Instagram SEO – well, yes, you do. While the legendary Instagram algorithm tends to place posts by accounts you regularly engage with higher in your feed, some strategic social media SEO can improve your reach by getting you discovered more often. Enhanced reach = more followers = hopefully more engagement. And, bingo!

Top tips for successful Instagram SEO

The first thing to remember when it comes to Instagram SEO is that the social media platform now allows you to search by keyword, not just hashtags. This is great news for anyone who wants to improve their reach, as your profile can now be found by keywords it contains. Read on for expert advice on how to make Instagram search work for you.

1. Optimize your Instagram profile

Instagram Search (also known as Instagram Explore) is where app users go to find content that matches their search intent. They’re likely going to search by tapping in a keyword, let’s say “dried flowers” or “sneakers.” If you sell either of these things and want to rank higher in the search results, you need these keywords to appear high in your profile. Consider incorporating them into your “@” username, or, if that’s not possible, in your name or bio.

And, while you’re at it, make a couple of extra tweaks to ensure as many people as possible can find you:

  • Make your Instagram profile public
  • Upload a catchy profile pic
  • Considering using an Instagram Business account
  • Add a link to your bio

Remember those keywords you were just using? Now it’s time to put them to work elsewhere.

2. Incorporate keywords into captions

The same as you would for regular SEO, you need to include primary and secondary keywords as often as possible in your Instagram content. Although you can’t search by keywords included in captions, your app learns about your interests and tailors the Instagram Explore page to them. It does this in various ways, including some AI that recognizes words embedded in captions. Just as you use keywords to teach a regular search engine like Google what your page is about, you can use them to teach Instagram Search and so get more users directed towards your content.

3. Use hashtags as you would keywords

Because posts CAN be searched by hashtags, you need to include your keywords in this form too. Adding hashtags within your caption, as well as underneath it and in the comments, can be a great way to boost your reach. Go for low-competition hashtags at first to avoid trying to outsmart the big accounts.

4. Let alt text be your friend

Alt text can be found in the “Advanced Settings” section when it comes to uploading a photo. Its primary use is for visually impaired users, but adding keywords here also helps teach Instagram what your posts are about. This is a quick but important step that can also improve your reach on voice search. And as Instagram will write your alt text automatically, it’s far better to do it yourself.

5. Tags are the backlinks of social media

This is tougher to achieve, just like backlinks in regular SEO. However, it improves your trustworthiness and authority, so can be worth the effort. You don’t want to fall foul of the algorithm, so be sure to do this organically. Engage with accounts you admire, create inspiring content, and share others’ posts through your Stories to encourage the same treatment in return.

And remember…

6. Don’t keyword stuff

Because Instagram SEO is essentially the same as regular SEO, the rules about bad behavior apply here as well. Don’t keyword stuff or engage in other underhand tactics. Google would penalize you for this, and Instagram Search will as well.

7. Do analyze your Instagram SEO

It’s an ever-changing game, so keep on top of it by analyzing your stats. Track keyword performance, add in new ones and keep an eye on your reach and engagement stats. A regular performance audit will help you see where you need to tighten up. An Instagram Business account helps with this by providing insights, or you could use a content scheduling tool like Later or Loomly.

It can feel like a struggle to improve your reach on Instagram, but these few tips can help push you in the right direction. Employ Instagram SEO strategically – and whatever else you do, don’t forget to keep posting creative content.

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