If you want to gain visibility on Instagram, SEO is one way to go about it. Learn all about SEO for Instagram, which tools are best, how to leverage keywords to your advantage, and more.
- What is Instagram SEO?
- Why is SEO important for Instagram?
- Do hashtags help Instagram SEO?
- What counts as SEO on Instagram?
- How do you find keywords for Instagram?
- What are the best Instagram SEO tools?
- Instagram SEO tips for 2023
What is Instagram SEO?
Instagram SEO, or search engine optimization, is a technique used to enhance your content and profile’s performance. It feeds into search results and the Instagram algorithm, using specific criteria like keywords to target users who might be interested in your content.
If you become a pro, a darn master of SEO for Instagram, then your account or content will appear when people search for specific keywords in the Instagram search box, or on their Explore page.
The better your SEO game, the more likely the algorithm is to match users’ queries with your content, increasing the chance of discovery. Variables like usernames, hashtags, and locations all appear in the Instagram search results, which means they’re ripe for optimizing and jumping on with Instagram SEO. For more general SEO tips, head here.
Why is SEO important for Instagram?
Instagram SEO is more important than ever in 2023. Back in the day, people used to find new Instagram content via hashtags or the Explore page – it was a rickety, sometimes random affair, but it worked.
Nowadays, search results and intent are hyper-focused and more refined. People treat social media platforms more like search engines, especially hype- and trend-focused platforms like TikTok. People are more likely to search for specific keywords than hashtags, meaning the focus on Instagram keywords and general SEO health is crucial.
Do hashtags help Instagram SEO?
Yes, hashtags can help improve your SEO for Instagram. While they’re not the sole focus, if they tie into your topic and relate to your keywords, they can help the platform understand how to rank and place your content.
What counts as SEO on Instagram?
On the surface, SEO is all about finding the right keywords and matching them to an audience. That’s a part of it, sure, but there’s much more going on underneath the hood.
Let’s take a look at the different ranking factors you’ll need to consider for Instagram SEO:
- Search text: Anything and everything users type into the Instagram search bar is up for grabs. As we touched on before, this includes usernames, hashtags, and locations, as well as captions and even bios.
- User activity and preferences: A user’s likes, dislikes, and previous activity all play into the Instagram algorithm and how it affects SEO. Naturally, accounts and hashtags a user has interacted with before will rank higher than those with which they haven’t. Accounts and hashtags that are followed by mutual connections will also rank more favorably than those with no prior link to the user.
- Popularity: Buzzy content gets shared, therefore it’s in Instagram’s best interests to push it for all it’s worth. If you’re interested in cute pig videos, the hottest piggy tea party video is sure to come up in your search results or feed. In this respect, it’s similar to how SEO works for Google: popular, well-trusted content rises to the top. Clicks, likes, shares, and follows all play a part here.
How do you find keywords for Instagram?
You can figure out which keywords are popping off by researching a topic on Instagram. If you search for a specific keyword, you’ll see the most popular results at the top. This will give you a feel for what kind of content works best for the keyword in question.
However, this technique only scratches the surface. To get the freshest keywords, you’d be best using a dedicated tool for Instagram keyword research. Some of these are paid-for and others are free, but they’ll all provide an extra layer of insight you can’t get by using Instagram alone.
What are the best Instagram SEO tools?
So, you want to take your Instagram SEO one step further. Let’s dip a toe into the world of Instagram keyword tools – here are just a few you could consider:
- Keyword Tool: This is a pro-level tool, which works for more than just Instagram SEO. In fact, Keyword Tool helps you find the best keywords, related searches, and more for everything from Google to eBay, Pinterest to Amazon. Plans are priced between $69 and $159 per month, depending on the size of your team and which features you’d like to access.
- Semrush: While Semrush doesn’t have a specific Instagram SEO tool, it’s great for discovering trendy keywords and managing your social media accounts. You can start a free trial, but the paid plans range from $129.95 to $499.95 per month.
- Inflact: This is a broader Instagram marketing tool, and even though it doesn’t generate keywords, it does generate hashtags. These can inform your Instagram keyword research and help you make smart choices. You can try Inflact for a week for just €3, with monthly plans available between €49 and €79 (exchange rates may affect how cost-effective this tool is for you).
- Google Analytics: The trusty old search engine has a free SEO tool tucked away in Google Marketing Platform. You can use Google Analytics to see which keywords are driving traffic to your website, then apply that knowledge to how you approach Instagram SEO.
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Instagram SEO tips for 2023
Now that you know what Instagram SEO is, how it works, and what some of the more popular keyword tools look like, let’s wrap up with a list of Instagram SEO tips for 2023.
Build a consistent keyword presence
If you’re in the business of supplying the best pig videos on the market, the keywords you employ should reflect that across all touchpoints. Something to do with the keyword ‘pigs’ should appear in your handle, profile name, and bio. This creates a united digital footprint, tying everything together with your primary keywords.
Don’t go hog wild with your keywords
Sit down, do some keyword planning, and figure out what your core Instagram keywords and synonyms are, or what you’d like them to be. Don’t be tempted to chase tangentially linked keywords and topics – stick to your initial offering, at least to begin with. By zoning in on the essentials, you’ll let the Instagram algorithm know that you’re focused on a few select, specialist keywords – you’re not spamming anyone or trying to cheat the system.
Build topical authority
The most popular brands and influencers are discovered because they’re experts in a specific topic. Whether it’s a fitness instructor giving out early-morning workout tips or a business specializing in smoothie machines, their posts will all gear around that one topic.
The reasoning is twofold. One is for potential followers: if users see an account constantly posting about the same topic, they’re more likely to trust them than someone who posts about nine different topics in the space of a week.
The second reason is to gain topical authority. This is an SEO concept where the goal is to become an expert – or be the voice of authority – on a specific subject. It works on search engines and it works for Instagram. If you become a nerd on your topic, keep posting about it, and keep up engagement, Instagram will start considering you an expert. You’ll gain topical authority and climb up the rankings as a result.
Don’t use watermarked content on your Instagram Reels
You’ll often see content shared from other platforms pop up on Reels – TikTok content is usually the main culprit, given its shareability. If you’ve ever seen these videos shared on Reels, you’ll have noticed the TikTok watermark tacked onto the end.
Any watermarked content, whether that be from CapCut, TikTok, or somewhere else, will be ranked lower in Instagram search results. Original content is prioritized. You can still edit in a third-party video editing software or app, export, then upload to Instagram – just make sure it doesn’t include a watermark.
Use hashtags… but not too many
Hashtags are good for Instagram SEO because they help the platform contextualize your content – #pigparty is a clear, defined hashtag which tells Instagram what your content is and how it should be indexed.
Too many hashtags will muddy those waters, confuse the algorithm, and make your posts look a bit spammy. Aim to use between three and five hashtags per post. You can throw in a couple of broad ones, then a few specific, niche examples.
It’s also worth noting that trying to ‘hide’ hashtags in the comments no longer works. Remember to place them in your captions, ideally after your initial description.
Engage with accounts similar to yours
If you’re churning out pig-based content, you’d think the other Insta Pigs would be your sworn enemies, right? Wrong. Pretty Oinklets and Posh Little Oinklets follow one another, while everyone with their snout on the right way round is following Instapigsss.
Engaging with accounts similar to your own helps Instagram understand how you fit into the puzzle. If you’re following, commenting on, liking, and sharing content similar to yours – and those accounts are hopefully returning the favor – then the platform will rank you more kindly.
Collab with other accounts
You can go the extra mile by creating Instagram Collab posts with related accounts. If you collaborate with a bigger Instagrammer, all the better – the post will show up on both your and their feeds.
Not only are you reeling in potential views, followers, and other engagement from their audience, but you’re feeding the Instagram SEO principle of more popular = trustworthy, relevant content.
Remember to write alt text
Alt text is used to describe images or videos to people who access Instagram with a screen reader. Using them enriches your content twofold.
First of all, it improves your account’s accessibility, opening up your content to the millions of people out there who wouldn’t be able to see it without a screen reader. Second, it gives the platform even more information to contextualize and sort your content. If you write your alt text as a detailed description, keeping keywords in mind, you can hit both those marks.
You can access alt text by opening a specific post and going to ‘Advanced Settings.’ Head to the ‘Accessibility’ section, then scroll to ‘Write alt text.’ If you’d like the alt text to be more visible, you can do the same thing with Photo ID. The only difference is that alt text isn’t readily viewable, while Photo ID descriptions show up below your initial Instagram caption.
When you’re writing alt text, remember to quote any text from your content, and blend rather than force the keywords into your description.
Use subtitles and captions
While we’re talking about accessibility, subtitles and captions are easy ways to open your content up to more users. Instagram even has an auto-caption tool! If you use this, it’ll give the platform even more context, keywords, and reasons to rank you higher in the search results.
Post at the right time of day
The ‘right’ time of day seems so variable, especially given the differences in global audiences – one user’s bedtime is another’s scrollathon. It’s worth looking into where your core demographic is based, and where you’d like to target going forward.
Research suggests that there are specific times, hours, and days that prove more popular when posting. Here they are:
- Best times to post on Instagram: 9 am, 9:01 am, 7:59 pm, and 8 pm
- Best hours to post on Instagram: 8 am, 9 am, 10 am, noon, and 3 pm
- Best days to post on Instagram: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
Posting during these periods won’t guarantee an uptick in your Instagram’s SEO performance. However, they’re the most popular slots, which means there’s more potential for eyeballs on your content – and that'll help sway rankings your way.
Add locations to your posts and bio
Locations help Instagram serve content to people based on their local area, or if they’re looking for something in a particular town, city, or country. If you include locations in your posts, it’ll give Instagram the chance to rank your content in different locations.
If you’re running an Instagram Business account, you’ll be prompted to add a location to your bio. This works in a similar fashion to post locations, giving Instagram the go-ahead to sort your profile within other accounts, posts, and pieces of content from the same area. You can also make your account taggable, which puts it on Instagram’s searchable map.
Follow the Instagram Recommendations Guidelines
If you’re unaware of the Instagram Recommendations Guidelines, it’s worth reading up. They’re not as hardline as the Community Guidelines, meaning a breach won’t result in your content being removed.
However, breaking the Recommendations Guidelines will downrank your content in the overall Instagram SEO picture, making it tougher for users to find.
Some of the main violations include clickbait, untrue or exaggerated health claims, unoriginal content, and buying likes.
To double-check you’re on the right side of the rules, just head to your Instagram profile page. Then click the menu icon, ‘Settings,’ then ‘Preferences’ or ‘Account’ – whichever of these two you’re presented with. Next, hit ‘Account Status.’ You’ll be able to see if you’ve violated any guidelines, and if so, what you can do to resolve it.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of Instagram SEO in 2023, it’s time to start your journey. Learn which keyword tools are right for you, how accounts in your category – and beyond – approach SEO, and build yourself an online presence that ranks with the best of them.
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