Understanding Instagram SEO


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Understanding Instagram SEO

When we think of search engine optimization, or SEO, we often think about Google. This makes sense, considering that Google runs by far the most popular and widespread search engine. But many social media websites have their own search engines that operate within the site. These sites may have their own SEO that works differently than Google’s SEO. For instance, does the social media platform have an algorithm? What are the search functions?

Instagram can be an excellent social media platform for marketers, which is why it’s so essential to have an understanding of Instagram SEO. In this blog, we’ll break down the basics of what you need to know to prime your posts for engagement through Instagram’s search engine.

Does Instagram Have an Algorithm?

The first question is: does Instagram have an algorithm? And if so, what’s the code to cracking it? The answer is a little complicated. Instagram does not have one all-encompassing algorithm, but it does have algorithms for different types of content, including:

  • Stories – Instagram stories posted by your followed accounts
  • Reels – longer form content, mostly from accounts you don’t already follow
  • Explore – a tab specifically designed to find new posts and accounts to follow
  • Search – a tab of search results based on a keyword

Especially for reels, explore, and search, the first results you’re going to see will likely be from relevant accounts with high engagement. For instance, the explore tab might take into account your interests based on posts you make and other accounts you follow. As a marketer, you want to make your posts highly relevant to certain topics and to try to garner engagement.

SEO For Your Instagram Bio

Instagram’s search engine uses “keywords” that will lead the searcher to an explore page full of relevant posts, as well as top relevant user accounts. This means that your Instagram bio should be optimized as well as your posts. Make sure you use one or two keywords relevant to your brand in your Instagram bio, to make your account more visible. For instance, if you are a fitness trainer, add “Fitness Trainer” to your bio description, as well as a short description of what you offer on your account, such as: “Fitness tips for the average person.” Keep it short, clear, and optimized.

Optimized Instagram Handles

You can also optimize your Instagram handle. If you’ve already chosen your handle, don’t worry. You can change it. The most important thing is to use your brand name if you have a consistent brand name that you use across social media. But you may be able to add onto that. Instagram has a maximum length for usernames of 30 characters. If your brand name is shorter than that, consider adding a descriptive keyword onto the end, for instance: “[Your Brand Name]fitness.”

Hashtags or Descriptions?

Now we come to the meat of Instagram’s SEO: the post itself. Instagram is an image or video heavy site, but each post will include a description. By adding keywords where they fit naturally into your description, they can potentially show up in searches. But there’s another way to boost visibility for your post: hashtags. Sometimes Instagram users will search by a particular hashtag and only posts that include that tag will show up.

You can include up to 30 hashtags on Instagram. However, you want to use the most relevant hashtags first. Try to make sure that you don’t stuff your post full of too many keywords, as this can be a turnoff to users who find the post and might reduce your engagement — and thus your SEO. 3-5 hashtags are the recommended sweet spot.

The SEO of Alt Text

For images, Instagram includes the option to have alternate text which describes what’s being seen in the image. This text can be used by screen readers for those who are blind or visually impaired. Not only is it a way to make your post more accessible to your audience, but it can also help your SEO. Add a few relevant keywords into the alt text, which can then be picked up by Instagram’s search engine. This will tell Instagram that your post is especially relevant to those particular keywords and may lead to your post being moved closer to the top of the search.

Instagram’s SEO may function in a more nuanced and specific way than Google SEO. However, some of the basic principles still apply: know the topics that are relevant to your target audience and make sure you offer quality content relevant to those topics.

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