Refreshing your Instagram SEO skills can significantly improve your reach, findability, and engagement on Instagram.

The fact is that many of the techniques you use to optimize your SEO on the web can be used to improve the discovery of your content and profiles on Instagram!

From hashtags to alternative texts, we explain how to adopt an SEO mindset on Instagram and why this can help improve your findability.

instagram seo

Instagram SEO # 1: Optimize your Instagram profile for search

As part of the Explore the siteInstagram Search is the directory for every Instagram account in the app.

Just as you would enter a search term in Google, you can use the search bar at the top of the Explore page to find and discover accounts, hashtags, and locations.

Instagram search

But how does Instagram decide which search results to display?

According to InstagramThe search results shown are based on a number of factors, including the people you follow, who you are connected to, and which photos and videos you like on Instagram.

But they are also based on keywords!

Just like Google, Instagram searches millions of accounts when searching for a keyword on Instagram (e.g., "Social Media Scheduler") to find the most useful and relevant results for what you're looking for – also known as accounts that contain this keyword.

Instagram search

So it is quite possible to search for certain keywords in Instagram search! All you have to do is optimize your profile for these keywords. Here's how:

Your name and username

If you're hoping to rank for a keyword like "candle," it's a good idea to include that keyword in both your name and username. Both can be searched on Instagram.

Instagram search

Of course, this won't always work, especially when it comes to your username.

Take, for example, the candle company in female ownership Other country. Your username (@otherlandco) does not contain the "candle" keyword in the same way as Lululemons The username (@lululemon) does not contain the keyword "yoga pants".

instagram seo

Fortunately, the name field in your Instagram biography is also searchable and fully customizable, and separate from your username. So you can change it to words that highlight what your Instagram profile or store is about.

This is a great way to improve your chances of appearing in the top results when someone searches for your target keywords!

Just go over your profile and tap "Edit Profile" to change the "Name" field in your profile.

instagram seo

Check out how this happens later! Our username (@latermedia) does not contain the keyword "Social Media Scheduler", but our name does.

Instagram profile: later

Your Instagram bio

Just like your name field, your biography should be optimized with keywords for your brand and your company.

You can even add clickable hashtags to your bio to increase your chances of not only appearing in your account's search results, but also when someone searches for the hashtag!

See how health and beauty brand Gold added keywords such as "Superfood", "Health" and "Beauty" to the first line of her biography:

Instagram profile: Golde

This is not just a great way to let your new followers know what your brand is about. Instagram also "crawls" bios to gather more context and determine what an account is about.

Are you ready to learn what it takes to create a killer Instagram biography in 2020? Check out our ultimate guide!

Instagram SEO # 2: Treat hashtags like keywords

Using relevant, targeted hashtags for your posts and stories is still one of the best ways to be discovered by new target groups on Instagram. This can lead to more engagement, more followers and more customers for your company.

Instagram seo: hashtags

To make a comparison: The effect Instagram hashtags have on improving findability is largely similar to the question of how keywords can improve your SEO (search engine optimization).

If you try to rank for a keyword on Google (for example, "Best Acai Bowls" or "Toronto Salsa Class"), you need to create content on your blog or website that is optimized for that keyword. How else will people find you?

The same applies to Instagram hashtags.

If you have a public Instagram account and add a hashtag to a post, that post will appear on the results page of that hashtag.

And since hashtags are used to discover new content, you can reach your target group with the "right" hashtags, even if they have not yet connected to you.

Instagram seo: hashtags

But hashtags have many uses that go beyond making them easier to find. You can use them to build communities, acquire user-generated content (UGC), run campaigns, research your audience, and more.

This is why it is so important to have a clear and well-designed hashtag strategy. Without this strategy, you could miss the opportunity to optimize your account and encourage more engagement and followers.

On Later Instagram accountwe use hyper-relevant hashtags in all of our post subtitles and first commentsas well as our Instagram stories.

Instagram seo: hashtags

What you don't see is the behind-the-scenes work to organize and sort our hashtags, find new relevant hashtags, and track their performance. But that's one of the most important parts of your strategy!

Notice: Your Instagram hashtag strategy doesn't have to be too complex. Most importantly, test and track your efforts so you can see what's working and what's not.

Ready to start? Watch ours Video Here we share everything you need to know about Instagram hashtags in 2020.

Instagram SEO # 3: Write descriptive captions

While Instagram posts can only be searched using hashtags and location tags, there are other ways to improve the findability of your content on the website Instagram Explore page – as by writing relevant, descriptive captions.

Before we go into the topic, however, let's take a moment to talk about how the Explore page works.

As with your Instagram feed, Instagram has one Explore page algorithm This constantly learns from your behavior in the app (e.g. which accounts you follow and which posts you like and comment on) to determine which content you like best.

For this reason, your Explore page looks completely different than your Best Friend's Explore page. It is specifically tailored to what you are already interested in on Instagram (along with other factors such as the accounts you are following, your location, and recent content).

Instagram seo: explore page

How does that tie in with captions?

Well, Instagram has eaten recently Learn how to use machine learning to determine what content to display on the Explore page. Not surprisingly, when we deliver Explore content recommendations, we aim to identify "the most relevant accounts based on individual interests" rather than searching for individual posts.

In other words, if you have shown an interest in Latte Art, Instagram will take this as a hint to provide more content from accounts that often post through Latte Art.

But how does Instagram know when an account has to do with latte art? something-based?

According to InstagramThey are currently identifying similar accounts using a machine learning method known as “word embedding”.

Basically, this means that Instagram examines keywords that are used for accounts to determine how relevant they are to each other. While some of these keywords come from an account’s name, username, and biography (as mentioned earlier), they also come from the subtitles you wrote.

Instagram seo: explore page

In other words, when you write subtitles that describe your business or industry, Instagram picks it up and brings you up to date with similar accounts.

This is a somewhat simplified explanation of how Instagram uses AI to select content for your Explore page. The main point, however, is that if you use relevant, descriptive keywords in your Instagram subtitles, you'll be more likely to appear on the Explore page for users who have previously expressed interest in topics related to those keywords.

Are you looking for more tips on planning your Instagram content? Don't forget to sign up for our free workshop on creating an Instagram content plan with Puno!

Instagram SEO # 4: Create your own alternative text

Instagram alt text is a new function This way, you can write custom alternate text to add a more detailed description of your photos.

While the function was primarily developed for Instagram users with visual impairments, it can also be used for SEO.

Instagram is currently automatically creating alternative text so you can hear descriptions of photos through your screen reader.

The feature uses object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers so that when you browse the app you can hear a list of items that can contain photos.

But you can also create custom alternate text when you upload a photo to get a clearer description of what your post is about! Here's how:

View and edit alternative text for a photo before posting it on InstagramBefore posting, tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.

Instagram seo: alt text

Then tap Write old text.

Instagram seo: alt text

Now simply write your alternative text in the field and tap Done!

Instagram seo: alt text

How to change a photo's alternate text after you've already posted it on InstagramGo to the photo, tap the ellipsis button, and then tap Edit.

Instagram seo: alt text

Then tap Edit Alt Text at the bottom right.

Instagram seo: alt text

Now simply write the alternative text in the field and tap Done.

Instagram seo: alt text

Instagram SEO # 5: Get Tagged

So far we have discussed how you can optimize your Instagram profile and content for search and discovery. But there is another factor that can help discover your Instagram profile: tags and mentions.

Although tags and mentions on Instagram are much more difficult to control, they are similar to backlinks on the web.

If someone marks your account in one of their posts or stories, other users who see that post can click your profile. This is a great way to drive detection.

Instagram stories tagging

There are a few ways to improve your chances of being tagged in other people's posts. But by far the most effective is simply creating great content that others want to share!

For example, users are a popular trend in 2020 Share other users' Instagram posts to her Instagram Stories. Posts like these become clickable stickers and create a direct link back to the original Instagram post.

In addition, the user name of the original poster is clearly displayed. This is ideal to adequately appreciate the contributors User generated content (UGC).

Instagram stories tags

Tagging and mentioning is also like a vote of confidence – it tells Instagram that your content is valued and people are interested in it. So it could be beneficial how they appear on the Explore page or in people's home feeds.

If you find a way to get more tags and mentions on Instagram, you are well on your way to attract more visitors to your profile and content!

Instagram SEO # 6: Track Your Instagram Reach

Wondering if your Instagram SEO efforts are waning? Then you may want to check yours Instagram analysis!

Once you upgrade to a company profile or Creator account on InstagramInstagram Insights lets you learn more about your followers and the people who interact with your business on Instagram.

To view your Post Insights, open a post on Instagram and tap the View Insights button below it.

Instagram Post Insights

Now scroll down to the Discovery section.

Here is a range of information on how many people saw your content and where they found it, including their feed (if they are followers), hashtags, the explore page, and "others" (the "others"). Category includes shares, saves, tags, mentions and notifications).

Instagram Post Insights

You can use this data to quickly determine how optimized your content is for discovery.

Another place to check is your Instagram Insights, which you can access directly from your profile.

The Activity tab provides discovery data (including your total reach and last week’s impressions) and interactions that highlight the number of profile visits received.

Instagram insights

If you're looking for more insight, check out the later ones Instagram AnalyticsHere you will find all Instagram metrics that you know and love from the Instagram app, as well as other data in a user-friendly interface on your desktop!

Later also gives you an analysis of Instagram Stories worth up to 3 months instead of data worth just 2 weeks in the Instagram app.

This makes it much easier to spot trends in your content and in the discovery of your account!

Instagram analysis tools

Increase your engagement, optimize your stories, increase traffic and much more with Laters Instagram Analytics!

It can be very helpful to think about Instagram SEO when optimizing your account for discovery!

Many SEO concepts not only apply to Instagram (like keywords and profile optimization), but can also help you develop a more organized and well thought-out content strategy.

Let us know what you think about our Instagram SEO tips in the comments!

Are you ready to get organized and plan your Instagram content in advance? Start planning with Later, the leading Instagram marketing platform trusted by more than 2 million companies! Register now – for free!

Written by

Benjamin Chacon

Benjamin is a content marketing strategist at Later and recently performed a transplant from Toronto. You can follow his everyday life on Instagram @benjaminchacs.

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