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10 Ways to Optimize Your Instagram for SEO

April 2, 2021

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Instagram has established itself as the dominant social media platform when it comes to content marketing. Out of one billion active monthly users, 80% of Instagram’s users use the app to make purchasing decisions–making Instagram a powerful digital marketing platform. This means making sure that you’re searchable on Instagram is important if you’re an entrepreneur, influencer, blogger, or business owner. The best way to make that happen? Optimize your Instagram profile and content through SEO. If you’re looking to increase your discoverability and engagement on the platform, here are 10 ways to optimize your Instagram for SEO.

Christina brand shoot 2020 | 10 ways to optimize your Instagram for SEO

10 Ways to Optimize Your Instagram for SEO

There was a time when searchability on Instagram relied heavily on hashtags and the single keyword that you could insert in the name field of your Instagram bio. Your profile would also be searchable if your selected keyword appeared in your username. Those were the only ways in which people could search for your profile and content. However,  In mid-November of 2020, Instagram announced that English-speaking users in 6 countries (including the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland), will be able to search for content using keywords in addition to hashtags. This is similar to how blog posts are searchable on Google. 

Instagram SEO vs. Search Engine SEO

When you hear the term “SEO,” you might immediately think about optimizing blog posts and websites for search engines like Google. Similar to how your blog’s SEO works, optimizing your Instagram content for SEO will allow users to search for content based on specific keywords or phrases.

For example, if you’re searching for “flower arrangement” on Instagram, the first section that will pop up in the top search will include posts that are optimized with “flower arrangement” as the keyword.

Keep in mind that there’s a potential that Google will crawl your Instagram profile when you’re optimizing your Instagram posts for search results. If you’re ready to drive traffic to your Instagram account, here are 10 ways to optimize your Instagram for SEO.

Instagram SEO tip #1: Your Name Field, Bio, and Username

Instagram’s search feature acts as a directory to the app for users. If you type in a specific keyword in the search bar, Instagram will pull up a number of options from accounts, search results, and hashtags. To increase your chances of popping up in users’ search results, don’t forget to optimize your business profile through your name field, bio, or username. Say for instance that you’re a virtual assistant. You’ll want your primary keyword (virtual assistant) to show up in your name field, bio, and username if possible. This will help your Instagram account rank and appear in search results when somebody types in “virtual assistant.” 

Instagram SEO tip #2: Keyword-Rich Captions

Instagram’s explore page’s algorithm is constantly learning about your behaviors and interests. This is why your explore page will look completely different from someone else’s. To simply put, your explore page is a collection of posts that pertain to your interests or any relevant content. What does this have to do with your captions? Instagram identifies keywords used on some of your favorite accounts to determine your interests. Writing keyword-rich captions will help Instagram identify and categorize your content into its relevant niche, which will increase your chances of visibility amongst your target audience.

Example of secondary keywords in caption | 10 ways to optimize your instagram for SEO

Instagram SEO tip #3: Don’t Forget Secondary Keywords

Secondary keywords work in a similar way. In fact, using secondary keywords in your captions will make your captions sound a little more organic. Let’s face it, using a single keyword throughout your caption over and over again can sound robotic. Instead, use relevant and secondary keywords for a more organic and search engine optimized caption.

Instagram SEO tip #4: Alt-text

The Instagram alt-text feature was designed to aid users with visual impairments by describing the image it’s associated with. But just like the alt-text in your search engine optimization process for your blog, the alt-text is a great opportunity to optimize your Instagram post for SEO. To access this relatively new feature, click on “advanced settings” and make sure to use primary and secondary keywords to accurately describe your image.

Instagram SEO tip #5: Encourage Tags

Tags and mentions on Instagram work in a very similar way as backlinks on blog posts. When you’re tagged in a post or story, other Instagram users have the opportunity of clicking on a direct link to your profile. Best of all, if someone shares your post to their stories, that post then becomes a backlink to that specific post on your feed. You can do this by creating strategic, shareable content that your audience simply cannot resist but to share.

Instagram SEO tip #6: Hashtags

Hashtags aren’t new. In fact, they have always played an important role in your content and visibility strategy. However, the problem happens when you use the same group of hashtags for each post. Treat each hashtag as a keyword instead. Choose high-quality hashtags that are hyper-focused and relevant to each post by topic, location, or brand. Be mindful and intentional with your hashtags and be sure to customize each post with post-specific hashtags.

Instagram SEO tip #7: Avoid Black Hat SEO Techniques

There are great SEO practices and questionable SEO practices. Similar to search engine optimization for your blog, Instagram SEO is a long game, especially when you’re using it as a tool for effective content marketing. Set yourself up for success by avoiding black hat SEO techniques such as…

  • Stealing content
  • Using bots
  • Following too many accounts in a short amount of time
  • Buying followers
  • Spamming other accounts

These rules apply, SEO or not, if you want to grow a healthy community on Instagram.

Instagram SEO tip #8: Strategize and Research

Between your primary keywords, secondary keywords, and post-specific hashtags, creating strategic content for Instagram requires patience and research. Take your time and research the best hashtags for each post. And don’t forget to identify the primary keyword of your post before diving into your secondary keywords. No matter what, work ahead of time and give yourself ample room to create content, write your caption, and schedule out your Instagram posts.

Instagram SEO tip #9: Be Consistent

I’m sounding like a broken record at this point but consistency is key on Instagram. No amount of SEO techniques will matter if you aren’t consistently creating and posting content. The truth of the matter is you shouldn’t bother optimizing your Instagram marketing strategy through SEO if you haven’t nailed down consistency.

Instagram SEO tip #10: Track Your Analytics

Last but not least, track your analytics so you know what works and what doesn’t work. Analyzing your insights will let you know if your SEO techniques are working or if they aren’t. Upgrade your account from a personal Instagram profile to a business profile or creator profile. Then, access your insights regularly (either on a weekly or monthly basis) and track your reach, impressions, interactions, and the overall performance of your posts.

Create Intentional and Strategic Content

The ability to search for content on Instagram is a great opportunity for business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and influencers. Not only does it make your content more widely accessible, but it also emphasizes the importance of creating strategic, value-driven, and intentional content. To simply put, optimizing your content for Instagram means delivering focused value to your audience. Plus, if you’re adding high-quality alt-text to your images, you’re content will become more inclusive and accessible than ever. Use these 10 Instagram SEO tips to optimize your content for discoverability, searchability, and accessibility. Just don’t forget to get clear on who your target audiences are and how you can best serve them, and you’ll have a winning Instagram SEO strategy.

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xo Christina

Hey, nice to see you! I'm Christina, a luxury travel & lifestyle blogger and online educator teaching women how to build businesses as influencers online. If you found this post helpful or want to start a discussion, chime in in the comments below!

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