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Instagram SEO: Tips to Boost Visibility, Organic Reach and Followers


Instagram SEO: Tips to Boost Visibility, Organic Reach and Followers

With billions of users, Instagram is one of the hottest social media channels around. Sounds like a great place to be, doesn’t it? I mean, if you’ve got a business to promote, there’s a good chance you’ll find an eager audience there.

But your prospects might need some help to find you among the crowd.

If you’re looking to improve your reach on Instagram, you need to start thinking about Instagram SEO. Just like with Google or any other search engine, there are specific tactics you can use to help improve your rankings and visibility.

In this piece, I’ll show you how to optimize your Instagram profile and content for better search engine visibility. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to reaching a larger audience on Instagram.

Key Takeaways     

  • Research shows Instagram has 23 percent more engagement than Facebook. 
  • Optimizing tags, implementing captions, and working with influencers are three main methods to boost your Instagram SEO.
  • Using SEO is important if you want to gain additional visibility and stand out on Instagram.
  • There are plenty of opportunities to add keywords to your Instagram profile, including in the bio, your handle, and alt text.
  • You can use tools from Content Studio, Headline Studio, and Iconosquare to help with Instagram SEO by generating hashtags and captions.

What Is Instagram SEO?

SEO for Instagram means optimizing your profile and content to increase your visibility in search engines. You can do this by using specific keywords, hashtags, and other strategies, which we’ll cover today. 

For effective marketing on Instagram, you’ll be focusing on live page optimizations versus behind the scenes ones, such as using keywords in your bio or captioning your photos with relevant hashtags. 

Instagram wants to provide relevant search content to users so it considers things like:

  • The words users type in
  • What accounts people visit
  • And what’s popular (clicks, likes, shares, hashtags, etc.)

That means if you’re using the right keywords and hashtags, etc, on your profile, you’re more likely to be near the top of results.

There are ample opportunities to optimize your profile, like:

  • Your bio
  • Alt text
  • Your handle or profile name
  • Captions

Once you figure out how to boost visibility on Instagram, you can start growing your following.

Why Is Instagram SEO Important?

As you’re spending time and effort creating your Instagram posts, you’ll want to get the most engagement and ROI on each of them. Your chances of doing that on Instagram are pretty good. 

According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing report:

  • In engagement terms, Instagram crushes Facebook with 23 percent more engagement.
  • Thirty-six percent of users liked, shared, or commented on branded posts.
  • Instagram Live takes the trophy with the best ROI compared with other features and it’s the best for snagging followers and shares.

The stats speak for themselves, don’t they? And they’re good news for anyone hungry for brand engagement.

Improving your Instagram for social SEO also gives you two other vital benefits:

  1. Reaching a larger audience: Ranking higher in the search engines allows you to engage with a wider, more targeted audience.
  2. Growing your following: When you reach a larger audience, you’re more likely to grow your following. The more people see your content, the more followers you’ll get.

If you want some inspiration about how to optimize an Instagram profile, here’s an example from Etsy:

Etsy's Instagram page.

9 Best Practices for Improving Your Instagram SEO

Let’s take a look at some best practices for improving your reach. Here are nine tips for improving your Instagram SEO.

*Note: You will notice that some of these strategies are similar to regular SEO tactics. That’s because they are! The same principles that apply to SEO also apply to Instagram SEO.

1. Optimize Your Instagram Profile

You want to learn how to optimize your Instagram profile, but where do you start? 

The first step in Instagram SEO is profile optimization, which involves including relevant keywords related to your products, niche, or audience in your bio and handle. 

And guess what? It’s not hard to figure out what users are looking for.

The images below show two ways a user can search by interest. The first image shows the top accounts based on the keyword, and the second shows the top posts for that keyword.

Search by interest on Instagram.
A search for "Photography" on Instagram.

In your bio:

  • Include relevant keywords that describe what you do and who you are. For example,  a photographer might use keywords like “photo tips.”
  • Add Instagram hashtags for targeting larger audiences. For example, a photographer using #professionalweddingphotographer could gain extra visibility.
  • Use generative AI. If you’re stuck, there are plenty of tools around, like HubSpot’s free bio generator.

2. Optimize Your Captions

Like your bio, your captions are another sweet spot to include relevant keywords on Instagram. Check out this example from the renowned conservationist and wildlife photographer Joel Sartore.

A post from Joel Sartore on instagram.

When you use keywords in your captions, you’re more likely to appear in the search results when people search for those keywords. Remember that captions help you tell stories, so include emojis to engage and add visual interest to your Instagram stories.

Reels are also a golden ticket for engagement, so include hashtags on these, but no more than four.

Finally, ask questions to spark a conversation and amplify engagement. Wrap it up with a CTA, asking them to follow, comment, or share your content.

If you need some help, use a generative AI tool to kick off with. And, yes, I do have a free tool you can use. My AIW social media tool generates SEO-optimized posts and captions in seconds. Just enter your keyword, the social media platform, and click “Generate Posts”, and you’re good to go!

3. Use Strategic Hashtags

If you’re wondering how to boost your visibility on Instagram, look no further than hashtags.

When you include relevant hashtags in your posts, you’re more likely to get visibility in the search results when users are actively searching. But there’s a knack to it. Let’s go back to that photographer example again.

If you’re using the hashtag #photography, you’ll be somewhere in the mix, but if millions are using the same hashtag, you can get lost in the crowd.

You can change that by clicking on your chosen hashtag and seeing what other users do. For example, Austin Johnson uses his various job titles, niches, and brand names in his tags.

A post from Austin Johnson on Instagram.

Instagram suggests keeping your hashtags to 3-5, and you can use generative AI if you need inspiration.

Another thing to consider is avoiding certain hashtags that could lead to a shadowban. This means your posts won’t show up if you use hashtags that are against Instagram’s community guidelines.

4. Add Your Location

Do you ever feel like your Instagram SEO strategy is missing something? Perhaps it’s your location. 

A while back, Instagram added its searchable map. Think of it like a treasure map for finding *** spots and filtering. For example, you could be looking for a nearby theater or a local artist.

When users engage with the searchable map, they’ll find details of nearby locations through tagged posts, stories, and guides. 

Users can sift through results under “places,” create custom locations, or click on the location field for more images of the same area. They can also use location tags included in Feeds and Stories. 

When using location tags:

  • Get specific. For instance, local artist (Your location)
  • Add multiple locations, if relevant
  • Keep an eye on what’s trending to spot popular local tags 
  • Don’t forget to tag your business location in posts, Stories, and Reels, like the geo-tags in this example from new_york_air:
A geotagged Instagram post fron New York Air.

5. Pump Up User Engagement

Instagram considers an account’s clicks, likes, shares, and follows when deciding which profiles it ranks. In other words, it’s looking for users driving engagement, which is an essential part of your Instagram SEO. 

And you know what? You can dial up engagement with user interaction. It’s a great way to build a bond with your followers, get the buzz going around your brand, reel in followers, and level up your business.

One way to do this is by running giveaways. Most people **** a giveaway, and they work especially well on social media. Take this example from glasshouseretreat:

An Instagram giveaway from Glasshouseretreat.

Next, there’s the power of polls. Use these to learn more about your users and what they want to see.

Here are some more ways to gain engagement:

  • Ask questions in your posts and comment on other profiles in your niche.
  • Encourage user-generated content and offer a small prize for the most shares or comments.
  • Post consistently and use short-form content like Reels for users on the go.
  • Work with influencers or collaborate with others in your niche to spread the word.
  • Lean into trends on Reels and cook up similar content. 

6. Write Your Own Alt Text

Alt text isn’t just for search engines. You can also use it to boost your Instagram SEO. 

And while Instagram can generate alt text, you might prefer to add your own. 

To add alt text to new images:

  • Go to the advanced settings and select “accessibility.” 
  • Choose “write text”, 
  • Click “done” when you’ve finished.

For published posts:

  • Go to the post, click on the three dots at the top, and choose the “edit” option.
  • A message in the bottom right-hand corner says, “Edit alt-text.” Add your description there. 
  • Click “Done” at the top right-hand corner to save and click again to finish.

Finally, make your alt text short (less than 100 characters), clear, and descriptive, and add relevant keywords.

Examples of accessbility text on Instagram.

7. Be Authentic and Consistent

When it comes to Instagram SEO, keeping it real and being true to yourself is key.

Whether you realize it, being genuine is a big deal on social media. Do not try to be something you’re not. Believe me, potential followers will spot when you’re faking it.  

Also, show up regularly. 

Consistency is vital to your Instagram growth; it’s important to post routinely and maintain a consistent posting schedule.

It’s also vital to maintain a consistent theme with your posts. For example, if you’re a photographer, all of your posts should be about photography. 

A set of Instagram posts from an Instagram influencer.

Finally, branding is essential when creating content for your Instagram account. Your posts should reflect your brand’s values and message and be visually consistent with your brand. 

8. Use Tools to Analyze and Optimize

There are a few tools you can use to improve your Instagram SEO. These tools will help you find the right keywords, monitor your growth, and assess your wins.

Here are just a few to get you started:

Iconosquare is a powerful scheduling tool that provides real-time analytics and competitor data. It also has reporting and publishing, collaboration, and AI caption generation tools. The first two weeks are free; then prices start at $49 monthly.

Iconosquare in action.

Content Studio’s Free Hashtag Tool: Enter your post topic in the search bar, click on “Generate Instagram Hashtags Now,” and you’ll see hashtag suggestions appear that also work as keywords.

Content Studio's Instagram Hashtag Generator tool.

Headline Studio: Create Instagram captions with this free tool. Enter your keywords or hashtags and click on “Generate Captions.”

Headline Studio's Tool for creating Instagram captions.

8. Experiment with Influencers and UGC

Adding user-generated content to your Instagram profile is a fabulous way to get in front of fresh eyes. It’s simple to produce, too. Just invite your regular followers to share content showing off your product or an example of how your service has changed their world. Once they’ve posted, your followers will surely share with their audience.

Another way to boost visibility on Instagram is by working with influencers. Fitness guru Pamela Reif, for instance, has 9.3 million Instagram followers and worked with 33 brands. It’s estimated the collaborations reached a whopping 2 billion views and raked in an average engagement of 3.9 percent. 

Here’s a post about her collaboration with sportswear company PUMA:

A collaboration between Puma and fitness influencer Pamela Reif.

You can find influencers by reaching out directly, or working through a specialist agency. Just make sure the influencers you work with are clear that you have a commercial relationship.

FAQs

How does Instagram SEO work?

By adding keywords to areas like captions, hashtags, alt text, and your profile, you make your profile more discoverable and more likely to attract followers. When you pick up more engagement, this can increase visibility, giving your SEO a solid boost. 

Do Instagram captions help with SEO?

Yes. Instagram’s Adam Mosseri says captions play a big role in what they look at when ranking content. They’re an ideal place to add keywords, but keep captions to five, max.

How do I add SEO to my Reels?

Include descriptive hashtags and brand-related hashtags. You can also sprinkle in keywords to your captions, titles, and Reels picture cover.

Do hashtags boost Instagram SEO?

They can indeed. Use hashtags in the same way you would keywords to help algorithms get what your content is about and make it easier for users to find it.

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Conclusion

Instagram SEO is a key part of your entire content strategy. In an ever-growing digital world, your marketing doesn’t stop with your website and your blog. 

Instagram and all other social media platforms you use consistently need to be part of your overall online strategy if you want to gain more loyal fans and achieve that all-important visibility.

Start integrating the tips in this piece today and see where it takes you.





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