Brand awareness and loyalty

Instagram SEO: How to Optimize Instagram Account for SEO in 2021

  • 11 Minutes
Discover how to optimize Instagram accoung and content for SEO and boost your brand's discoverability

Are you looking for new ways to reach your target audience on Instagram? Did you know that adding a touch of SEO could get more people to discover your brand on the social network?

It’s fair to say that social media marketers don’t have the easiest job when it comes to getting brands discovered, compared to other marketing channels. Take content marketing experts, for example. They can easily optimize blog content for SEO to please the Google Gods. Providing they’ve done a good job applying the best SEO techniques, those pages will eventually start driving traffic from search engine results month after month.

But social media marketers often have to resort to word of mouth and rely on users to share and amplify our content with their networks.

Or do we?

As it turns out, we can do some search engine optimization of our own, even on Instagram! By carefully tweaking our Instagram marketing strategy and adding SEO techniques into our plan, we can optimize our Instagram business account, attract new followers, and, ultimately, make more sales.

All it takes is understanding the technical know-how and applying a few little tweaks here and there to our Instagram profile and any upcoming content.

In this post, we’ll discuss Instagram SEO in detail. We’ll also cover some of the top strategies social media marketers use to optimize Instagram posts and social media profiles with the relevant keywords.

But before we get to that, let’s discuss how keyword search actually works on Instagram and how it has changed lately.

How Keyword Search Powers Instagram SEO

Have you checked your Instagram analytics recently? Do they show fewer and fewer users visiting your page? If so, chances are that the discoverability of your Instagram profile may be lower than it could be. The good news? This can often be improved simply by making a few tweaks to your Instagram profile and posts.

Instagram has always supported keywords to some extent. If not, how else would users ever find what they’re looking for?

Instagram users have always been able to use the search bar to find other Instagram profiles using specific keywords. As long as an account included those keywords in their Instagram profile – within their name, username, or Instagram bio, or in a hashtag – users were able to discover that account by using the search bar.

The social media platform has taken its search engine optimization capabilities to the next level recently, though, as the Explore page gets more and more advanced.

Instagram keyword search allows Instagram users to use keywords and find content by entering terms into the search bar on the Explore page. The Instagram Explore page used to be called the Popular page and has become a great aid for discovery, particularly for new Instagram users. The Explore page is now custom-curated in real time based on a user’s interests.

For example, if an Instagram user commonly searched for and engaged with content about fashion, dogs, weddings, and homewares, their Instagram Explore page will serve them similar content, as in the example below.

Instagram Explore Page

If you can manage to get your Instagram posts on the Explore page, this is a great opportunity to be seen by your relevant target audience.

You can see how the Instagram search function begins to work very much like a typical search engine. Of course, the type of results you will get when you type in a term is different than what you see on Google. Still, being able to search (and, more importantly, be discovered) this way makes a massive difference to brands.

To take full advantage of the Instagram search function, however, you must understand how the Instagram algorithm works and optimize your content properly for discoverability.

So, let’s tackle the algorithm first.

Much like search engines, we don’t know much about how Instagram determines which content to display in the search results. According to the social media platform, it considers several factors like the type of content, captions, and even when it was posted. It also claims to use machine learning as a way of finding and optimizing content.

We’ll admit it: the above doesn’t reveal much about how to optimize your Instagram profile. That’s because no one really knows all the secrets of how the Instagram search algorithm works – we can only guess.

Yet, it does tell us enough to realize, with some degree of certainty, what to do to make our content more discoverable.

Keep reading to find out how!

How to Optimize Your Instagram Account for SEO

Part I. Optimizing Your Instagram Profile

Search engine optimization should form a key part of your social media marketing strategy. If not, keep reading to find out exactly how to optimize your Instagram profile and content on an ongoing basis.

Although Instagram SEO aims to make your content – as in, your Instagram posts and stories – discoverable, you need to start by optimizing your Instagram profile.

There’s one good reason for that, besides making it discoverable. Optimizing your Instagram profile shows users exactly what your page stands for, so they can quickly decide if it is relevant to them. You need to welcome new visitors to your page with a good user experience, so you can easily convert them into new followers.

Here are some of the best ways to optimize your Instagram profile and make that happen:

#1. Make your Instagram username searchable

Your username is the very first thing the social platform will check against a user’s keywords. So, make sure that your username is simple and contains the most relevant keyword relating to your brand or product category. Ideally, your username also shouldn’t have any symbols that would confuse your target audience.

#2. Include at least the essential keyword in your business name, if possible

Naturally, your brand name might not include any specific keywords relating to your product category. You can expand it on Instagram, though, and include additional terms besides the brand name.

We’ve done that with our account, adding our product’s category to the name – which is “scheduling tool”.

As a result, the product category also shows up in our profile’s title tag and (hopefully) increases our reach.

#3. Finally, include a trackable link in your bio

That way, you’ll be able to monitor engagement on your profile. Sked Link is a trackable Instagram bio link. It allows you to link out to a customizable menu that connects your Instagram users to multiple web pages at once. It also has advanced analytics capabilities, which help you track just how many Instagram users click on your link and then click out to different pages. Best of all? Sked Link is free for Sked Social users!

Sked Social Link in Bio Tool

Part II. Using Target Keywords Within Your Instagram Content

Instagram search engine optimization is about including relevant keywords within your content. So, let’s discuss how you can enrich your Instagram posts with specific keywords that users might type into the search bar.

The three most common places to include keywords on Instagram are:

  • Your bio,
  • Your post captions, and
  • Hashtags.

Let’s quickly look at each of these in turn. We’ll also show you how to use keywords in image alternative text tags to boost your Instagram SEO.

#1. Use Keywords in Your Instagram Bio

The primary target keyword – in other words, a phrase that describes your business or brand category the most – should always be added to the section including your company name. We’ve covered that above.

But one keyword isn’t enough! You also need to be optimizing your profile with secondary keywords. And the best place to include those keywords is in your Instagram bio.

Secondary keywords are phrases that complement your primary keyword. But how are they related? Well, ideally, they should enrich and expand the meaning of the primary keyword.

Let’s use our profile as an example again.

Our primary keyword, as you can see, is the scheduling tool. That’s what Sked Social is, after all – a social media scheduler.

Our secondary keywords build upon that and reveal more about our brand and product. They give you more information about Sked Social and tell users what social networks we’re working with. See:

Here’s another example – a sports store.

In this case, the brand, Sims Sports Store, didn’t have to add the primary keyword to the name since this keyword is already included in their brand name. However, it cleverly included product categories in the bio, along with some selling points.

#2. Use Keywords in Captions

Writing good Instagram captions is an art form in and of itself. But here’s how you can take your Instagram captions to the next level and ensure they help your content appear in the social platform’s search results.

If you’re posting something related to your product or service, enrich the caption with secondary keywords.

However, if your content is about a new topic or theme, include keywords related to that theme.

Here’s an example of how we’re doing that with our content:

#3. Use Keywords in Hashtags

An airtight Instagram hashtag strategy will allow you to optimize your posts and add additional search-optimized keywords without expanding the caption.

The additional benefit of optimizing your Instagram hashtags for SEO is that they allow you to include keywords and phrases that might not fit naturally in a caption.

Take a look at the same post as above. There is no chance that we’d be able to include all those keywords naturally within the caption. By using relevant hashtags, however, and adding them in the second comment underneath your caption, we can target them all easily.

That’s the power of Instagram hashtags when it comes to SEO. They give you that extra opportunity to be found for searches relevant to your content.

#4. Use Keywords in Image Alt Tags

When it comes to Instagram, alt text works pretty much like the tags you see implemented on websites. The short snippet of alt text is designed to help visually impaired users discover what’s on the image before them and fully experience the web. But in traditional SEO, it also helps Google to sort and rank your content.

And, like traditional SEO, you can use the power of Instagram alt text to enrich your keyword targeting. Here’s how:

  1. When adding a new photo to the social network, simply click “Advanced settings” down the bottom of the screen.
  2. Select the “write alt text” option to add your tag.
  3. Describe what’s on the image in just a few words, and include any relevant keywords that relate to that content.

And that’s it! This will help Instagram understand the content of the Instagram post better. That means it will include it in relevant user searches. Not to mention, it helps visually impaired Insta users understand your content, which will boost your reach naturally!

Want to make your Instagram profile more explorable than ever?

Instagram’s SEO capabilities aren’t as advanced as those of Google or other search engines. In some ways, this is good for time-poor social media marketers like ourselves, because it means there is less to learn and you’ll spend less time optimizing your page and Instagram posts! It means that adding any new Instagram posts should also be a far more streamlined process so you’re not agonizing over the alt text of each individual post you create.

That said, employing these few quick and easy Instagram SEO techniques can be enough to help you boost the discoverability of your brand and content. With any luck, your posts will end up in the top results for your key search terms.

Once you start implementing your new and improved search optimization strategy on Instagram, it might be worth using an analytics tool to track the success of your efforts. Just keep in mind that it may take a little time to see any meaningful results, but if you stay consistent and optimize your posts and profile cleverly, you’ll reap the rewards before long.

Good luck, and happy optimizing!

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