SEO or search engine optimization is a great way to give more visibility to a website and increase organic traffic. It is a long-term game, never a quick fix, but the combined effects of months of work will have such a huge snowball effect that you will not regret having spent so much time on it. And the best of all this? SEO is free! Instagram SEO is also a thing and you need to know about.
While you use SEO to help your website get more organic traffic, Instagram SEO can help you grow your profile organically, increase your reach and improve discoverability. In the end, it is all about making sure people you want to find you, actually do find you. It is thus important that you optimize your Instagram profile to make it more discoverable.
It is time to start seeing Instagram as a search engine and therefore employ SEO practices to push your profile and make sure your content is seen by the right people. Below are our top tips to increase discoverability with Instagram SEO.
Optimize your Instagram profile for search
If you want people to find your profile, the first thing you need to know is make sure it is public. Otherwise, your content will not show in hashtags and on the explore page.
You want your Instagram to show in the Explore page and in search suggestions. Both are a great way to get visibility. Suggestions on both will depend on who you are already following as well as keywords. If you tap the search icon on the app, you will see a search bar. You can then search for accounts, hashtags, places, etc.
Therefore, when people type in a search query that is relevant to your niche, you want to show up first or at least in the very top results. Since Instagram will filter through the million accounts on the app, you need to help it find you. Therefore, you need to make sure you use keywords related to your niche on your profile and in your bio.
If you are hoping to rank for a certain keyword, it is a good idea to incorporate it into your username as well as in your name. Indeed, both are searchable on Instagram. You can also add clickable hashtags in your bio. It will boost your chances of appearing both in search results as well as hashtags.
Then, you can optimize your bio further with other keywords and keyphrases related to your primary keyword. Not only is this good for Instagram SEO but it also sums up to your followers what your brand is about. Instagram does indeed “crawls” bios to gather more context and determine what an account is all about.
Instagram SEO Tip #2 – Hashtags are keywords
The app allows users to add up to 30 hashtags to each post. Therefore, you should use them all. If used appropriately, they can only increase your reach and discoverability. To make sure your content is discovered by new audiences and gets a lot of engagement, your hashtags must be relevant to your content.
The reason why you need to use hashtags as keywords is because the boost in discoverability they can provide your brand. It can indeed compare to how keywords can improve SEO for a website. If you are a sustainable fashion brand, you will want to reach people that are specifically interested in that niche.
Therefore, you will use hashtags that are relevant to sustainable fashion, assuming that your niche will be searching through and browsing those. Using the right hashtags will put you in front of the right audience. The one most likely to be interested in your product and most likely to become a customer.
Hashtags can be used beyond Instagram SEO. They are great to build a community, around a brand hashtag for example. They can also be used to source UGCs, run campaigns, research your audience, etc. Your Instagram strategy must be well-crafted to ensure you optimize each post for the highest engagement.
You can also use hashtags on your Instagram stories. They will then show in the stories for those specific hashtags. You can get up to 10 and they can really help boost visibility on the app as well as views.
Write keyword rich captions
Instagram SEO is indeed a thing and applying SEO tactics beyond your bio and hashtags is a great way to boost your discoverability. Did you know? Descriptive, long, keyword rich captions are also searchable on Instagram and can help you land on the Explore page!
Being on the Explore page is what you want. And the right keyword might get you on the explore page of your ideal audience. How does that work? Well, the algorithm is not all that different from your feed. It is constantly learning from your past behavior to determine what content you will enjoy most. For example, if you liked a lot of book pictures recently, your explore page will show you more book pictures.
Instagram uses machine learning to determine what content to display on the explore page. Therefore, when making content recommendations for a particular user, it focuses on identifying the most relevant accounts based on their individual interest. Instagram will identify those interests using a technique called “word embedding”.
Basically, Instagram looks at keywords used on accounts to determine how relevant they are to one another. Some of those keywords come from an account’s name, username, and bio (as we discussed earlier). They also come from the captions you write. When you write captions that are descriptive of your business or industry, Instagram will pick up on that and lump you in with topically similar accounts.
By using relevant, descriptive keywords in your Instagram captions, you’re more likely to appear on the Explore page for users who have previously expressed an interest in topics related to those keywords.
Add Alt-Text to your photos
When you add a photo to a blog post, you will add an alt-text describing what the photo is about, or what the blog post is about. The two are very often related. Optimizing images for SEO will help boost the chances of said images showing in Google Images search. Then, people may find your blog post thanks to your images.
When it comes to Instagram SEO, you can apply something similar. Instagram creates automatic alternative text to describe the images you post so users can hear the text through their screen reader. This feature uses object recognition technology. However, it is not always the most accurate.
This is why you should write your own Alt-Text on each of your posts. Before you post, below the social media sharing options, click on “advanced settings”. In “accessibility”, click on “write Alt-text”. Then, simply write a description of what your photo is about. If you need to add alt-text to a photo already published, click on the post, tap the ellipsis button, then “edit”, and “edit alt-text”.
The alt-text will give additional information to Instagram and the algorithm about your post and what it is about. It will confirm what Instagram will have guessed and will help to have your post showing in the Explore page for similar images.
Instagram SEO tip #5: Link your other social media
Instagram gives you the opportunity to link your other social media platforms so that when you post on the app, your link (Twitter) or image (Facebook), will be shared elsewhere. This will help you increase visibility as users of other social channels will have access to your Instagram via the share.
Be sure to add a caption and hashtags. Indeed, those will also be shared and on Twitter, which search is mostly based on hashtags, they will increase reach and discoverability. You can also share each post to Pinterest.
It often happens that your Twitter subscribers or Facebook followers are not following you on Instagram yet. Therefore, sharing your Instagram posts there will give them the opportunity to see what content you post and follow you there.
Use geo-location tags
Geo-location tags act like hashtags, the difference is, you can only use one. When you add your location to your Instagram post, you ensure that it shows in the results for that particular location. For example, if you live in Dumbo, in Brooklyn, you will add that location. If people search for pictures taking place in Dumbo, they are likely to see yours.
Be sure to be smart with geo-location tags. If you use “New York City” on your picture, you will only show in the New York City search results. However, if you use “Washington Street” for example, you will show in “Dumbo”, “Brooklyn” and “New York City”.
People are always searching for new locations to visit, places to travel too or spots to take photos at. Therefore, geo-tagging your street style or outdoor photos may make you show in more search results, and who knows, get more followers.
Instagram SEO tipe #7: Get your content shared
Tags and mentions are another factor that can influence your discoverability. Simply because they act as a vote of confidence to Instagram that your content is good, valuable and that people like it. The algorithm will therefore assume that more people could benefit from it and will show your content to more people, via the Explore page.
Tags and mentions are a bit like the backlinks of the web to Instagram. When someone shares your post to their story and tags you, they expose their audience to your content. Thus, they increase visibility and reach for you. If users like what they see, they will click on the image and land on your profile.
Having people share your content on your stories will help boost your profile visit. More people on your profile will send a signal to Instagram that again, your content is valuable and people want to see it. You will also quite likely see an increase in your follower count, which means that your future posts will be exposed to more people.
It may seem difficult to go around the Instagram algorithm and grow on the app. However, if you use Instagram SEO as part of your strategy, you increase discoverability. Therefore, you increase your chances that your content is seen by more people. Exposing your content to more users means an increase in follower count, which would also mean an increase in revenue.