Instagram SEO in 2024: 7 Quick Fixes to Boost Your Visibility

Instagram SEO in 2024_ 7 Quick Fixes to Boost Your Visibility

Instagram SEO in 2024: 7 Quick Fixes to Boost Your Visibility

SEO isn’t a reserve of search engines only. Any platform with a search function can benefit from SEO, and Instagram is no exception. 

With over 2.35 billion monthly active users, this photo-sharing platform presents a massive opportunity for businesses and influencers to gain visibility, reach new audiences, and grow their brands. But with the platform’s ever-changing algorithm and increasing competition, how do you ensure your posts get the attention they deserve?

In this article, we analyse Instagram search and how it ranks profiles and posts to uncover the seven quick fixes you can implement to boost your visibility on the platform in 2023.

What’s Instagram SEO? 

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) refers to the process of optimising your content, website, or page to rank higher in search engine results pages. 

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Simply put, it’s a strategy that helps you increase organic traffic to your online platforms. Similarly, Instagram SEO involves optimising your profile and posts for higher visibility on Instagram’s search function.

It’s simple: your target customers won’t find you on Instagram if you don’t appear in their search results. Instagram SEO will help you rank higher in relevant searches, making it easier for potential customers to find and interact with your content.

Why Is Instagram SEO Important? 

Instagram SEO connects your content with the right audience, increasing your chances of converting them into followers or customers. With higher visibility, you also stand a better chance of getting featured on the Explore page and reaching even more users. 

But it’s not just about gaining followers and getting likes. With Instagram constantly updating its algorithm to prioritise content that users find relevant and engaging, optimising your posts for SEO can also help you increase your engagement rates and grow a loyal following.

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Also., don’t forget that over 200 million businesses are active on Instagram, making it a highly competitive platform for businesses. Implementing these quick fixes will give you an edge over your competitors and help you stand out in a crowded market.

Here are Some Stats to Convince You 

Still not convinced about the importance of Instagram SEO? These statistics just might change your mind:

How does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

Instagram has made it known that there isn’t just one Instagram algorithm but a personalised set of classifiers for each user’s timeline and explore page. These classifiers are trained to understand user behaviour and preferences.

In other words, Instagram tailors their content based on how people use the platform:

  • Stories and Feeds: Instagram will populate your feed and stories with recent posts from family and friends who follow you. 
  • Explore Page: This is where you discover new content, what’s trending, and posts from accounts Instagram thinks you’ll like based on your past interactions. The content will be from people you don’t follow. 
  • Reels: Instagram’s algorithm for Reels is based on what you watch, like, and share. If your content gets good engagement, it might be shared with new audiences. You don’t necessarily have to follow them to see their content.
  • Search: You enter keywords into the search bar, and Instagram will use those keywords to show you relevant content.

Instagram Bio SEO

Instagram bio is a critical part of your Instagram profile that many people overlook. First, it’s searchable, so it’s only natural that you’ll want to optimise it for SEO.

First, you want to ensure the bio includes relevant and searchable keywords for your brand or business. These could be words related to your niche, product, or service. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger, include keywords like “fashion,” “style,” and “blogger.” If you’re a small business selling handmade jewellery, use keywords like “handmade,” “jewellery” and “small business.”

You want to use your bio to provide content for both the Instagram function and human users interacting with your profile. That means keeping it short, sweet, and engaging while including relevant keywords.

Another tip for Instagram’s bio-SEO is to include a link to your website or landing page. This will not only provide a way for users to learn more about your brand, but it can also help improve your website’s SEO through backlinks.

Instagram Name SEO (Optional, only if time allows)

Your Instagram name, which appears at the top of your profile, is also searchable. As with your bio, you want to include relevant keywords describing your brand or business.

For example, if you’re a food blogger, you may want to include “foodie” or “food lover” in your Instagram name. That will help your profile appear in keyword searches and attract more followers interested in food content.

However, finding the right balance between using relevant keywords and keeping your name short and memorable can be challenging. You don’t want to sacrifice your brand’s identity for the sake of SEO, so make sure to choose keywords that accurately represent your brand and still sound appealing.

You don’t want to have a long, confusing name just for the sake of SEO.

For example, “SarahsFoodBlog” is a simple and memorable name that still includes relevant keywords for a food blogger. On the other hand, “SarahsDeliciousFoodAdventures” may be too long and cluttered for an Instagram name.

Instagram Alt Text SEO

Alt text on Instagram isn’t any different from alt text used on websites. It is a description that helps visually impaired users understand the content of an image. However, it also plays a role in Instagram SEO.

It helps search engines understand your content better and can even improve your ranking in image searches. So, when adding alt text to your Instagram posts, you want to ensure it accurately describes the image and includes relevant keywords.

Hashtags for Instagram SEO

Hashtags are crucial to Instagram SEO, making your content discoverable to a broader audience. When used strategically, hashtags can help you reach new followers and increase engagement on your posts.

Instagram SEO Ranking Factors

SEO is a science and an art. And Instagram SEO is no different. It requires a combination of technical factors and creative strategies to climb up the search rankings.

Plus, no formula guarantees the top spot on Instagram’s search results. However, there are three specific ranking factors that you should keep in mind when optimising your content for Instagram SEO.

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Search Text

When someone types a keyword into Instagram’s search bar, the app scours through profiles, bios, captions, and hashtags to find relevant content.

It’s only natural that Instagram would want to find the best and most relevant content to serve its users. They dig through usernames, captions, bios, locations, hashtags, and alt text to determine the relevancy of a post.

So, ensure your target keywords are included in all these different areas. For example, if you’re a travel blogger posting about your trip to Bali, use keywords like “#BaliTravel” or “Bali Blogger” in your hashtags and captions. That will increase the likelihood of your post being discovered by users searching for Bali-related travel content.

User Activity

Instagram is all about personalisation and showing users what they want to see. That means that the platform considers user activity when determining the relevancy of a post.

The algorithm will look at who the user has followed and engaged with in the past. Which post did they view, like, or save? How long did they spend viewing a post? All of these factors contribute to determining how relevant and engaging a post is to a particular user.

For this, you want to create content that resonates with your target audience. Pay attention to the type of posts they engage with and try to replicate that style or topic in your own posts. That will increase the chances of your content appearing on their feeds and being discovered by new users as well.

Popularity Signals

It’s simple: the more popular you are, the more you’re likely to appear on the Explore page and be discovered by new users. Popularity signals include the number of followers, likes, comments, and shares a post receives.

While these may seem out of your control, there are ways to improve your popularity signals. Engage with your followers by replying to comments and liking their posts. Collaborate with other popular accounts in your niche and cross-promote each other’s content. And most importantly, consistently create high-quality and engaging posts that naturally attract more likes and followers.

7 Instagram SEO Tactics for 2023

First off, nothing is guaranteed here. You can only increase your chances of appearing on the Explore page by implementing these 12 Instagram tactics.

#1. Optimise Your Instagram Account for Niche-specific Search Terms

Every time someone searches for a specific niche or topic on Instagram, the platform will recommend accounts that match those keywords.

That’s your opportunity to swoop in and optimise your account for keywords related to your niche. 

Think of Instagram SEO strategy as any other search engine optimisation strategy. Use relevant keywords in your username, bio, and captions to increase your chances of being discovered.

According to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, their algorithm has been designed to look at four things when analysing a profile for relevancy: 

  • Your handle (@username)
  • Your bio
  • Your captions and hashtags
  • Your name and profile picture

These are prime spots to strategically place keywords related to your niche.

You can use your brand name as your handle. However, you want to include your main keyword in your profile name. For example, if your brand is focused on vegan recipes and your brand name is “Green Eats,” your profile name should be something like “Green Eats | Vegan Recipes.”

Your bio is also a great place to include relevant keywords. Be creative and concise in describing your brand and what you offer. Include a link to your website or blog if applicable.

In terms of captions, you can use hashtags related to your niche and include relevant keywords in them. That will not only make your content more discoverable but also increase engagement.

#2. Use Location Tags Alongside Your Keywords

Another way to optimise your Instagram account for specific keywords is by using location tags. That’s especially important if your business or brand is location-specific.

Remember, you can only add a location tag on a business account. If you haven’t done it yet, switch to a business account by going to your settings and clicking on “Switch to Business Profile.” Once you have a business profile, you can add a location tag to your posts, stories, and bio.

Using location tags increases the chances of being discovered by people interested in your niche in that specific location. For example, if you have a vegan restaurant in New York City, adding “New York City” as a location tag will make it easier for people searching for vegan options in that area to find your account.

#3. Add Keywords to Your Captions and Comments

Your caption should be as descriptive and engaging as possible. You want to grab your audience’s attention and keep them interested in your content. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also optimise it for SEO.

Include relevant keywords in your captions, but make sure they flow naturally and don’t seem forced. You want to provide value to your audience while also making your content more discoverable through search.

Use a keyword research tool to find out what keywords your target audience is searching for and incorporate them into your captions.

Examples of tools you can use are Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs.

Here are some pointers you can use when researching keywords:

  • Search Volume: Look for keywords with a high search volume, meaning more people are searching for that word or phrase.
  • Competition: Check the competition level of each keyword. A competitive keyword means many accounts are already using it, so it might be harder to rank for it. You can check for competition by looking at keyword difficulty scores on keyword research tools. Aim for keywords with a lower difficulty score to increase your chances of ranking.
  • Relevance: Make sure the keywords you choose are relevant to your content. Don’t just add popular keywords that have nothing to do with what you’re posting about. That will only lead to a higher bounce rate and less engagement from your target audience.
  • Trend Column: On SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, the “Trend” column shows a keyword’s popularity over the past 12 months. It can help you see if a keyword is currently trending or not.

#4. Use Three to Five Hashtags in Your Captions

Hashtags are a powerful tool for increasing your reach and visibility on Instagram. They make your content discoverable to users interested in your topics.

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Instagram recommends you use hashtags in your captions. That’s because they can also help users understand the context of your post and what it’s about.

But how many hashtags should you use? While there is no definitive answer, using three to five relevant hashtags is a good rule of thumb. That will help you reach a wider audience without going overboard and potentially appearing spammy.

Remember to use hashtags that are relevant to your content and target audience. Using too many irrelevant hashtags can actually hurt your SEO efforts, as it may attract the wrong type of followers, decreasing engagement from your ideal audience.

Instagram CEO says hashtags won’t significantly increase your reach or visibility, but they can help attract the right audience to your content.

Social Insider even did a study on this. They analysed over 75 million Instagram posts between March 2021 and March the following year and confirmed that hashtags didn’t directly affect post views. However, hashtags made posts more discoverable.

The idea is to use hashtags to add context to your posts. That helps Instagram’s algorithm better understand your content and show it to interested users.

Using hashtags can also help you join relevant conversations and communities on Instagram. That can lead to more engagement, followers, and visibility for your account.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when using hashtags for Instagram SEO:

  • Use popular and relevant hashtags related to your industry or niche.
  • Limit the number of hashtags to three to five per post.
  • Mix up your hashtags – don’t use the same ones every time.
  • Use them in your captions, not in the comments section.

There has been a long-standing debate about whether hashtags should be used in a post’s captions or comments section.

Even Mosseri admittedly uses them in his captions, and the official Instagram Business account recommends using hashtags to drive context.

Here’s an example of how to use hashtags in a caption:

As a marketing company making a post about social media, the caption could be something like this:

“Ready to up your social media game? 💻📱 Here are our top tips for improving your Instagram SEO in 2023! 🚀 #SocialMediaMarketing #InstagramSEO #MediaOne #2023DigitalMarketingTips”

Remember, the key is to use relevant hashtags, not just popular ones. Popular hashtags may get you more views, but if they are not related to your post or industry, those views won’t translate into engagement or followers.

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#5. Avoid Adding Watermarks and Logos on Instagram Reels or Posts

Watermarks and logos may be helpful for branding, but they can hurt your Instagram visibility.

Mosseri says their algorithm has been designed to prioritise original and authentic content, and adding watermarks or logos is seen as a sign of recycled or repeated content.

With the rise of TikTok, many Instagram users just recycle their TikTok content on Reels and expect the same level of virality. Well, it doesn’t work like that with Instagram. 

Instagram is likelier to recommend your reels and posts to more users if they have no watermarks or logos.

An Instagram Spokesman in 2021 reported that they platform would deemphasise watermarked content in the future. So, if you want your content to reach a wider audience and increase visibility, avoid adding watermarks or logos on your posts or reels.

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Mosseri confirmed that using a third-party tool to post your video on Instagram is okay as long as the platform doesn’t superimpose its logo on your content.

Here’s what you should do:

Post your content directly to Instagram instead of posting it to another platform, downloading it, and reuploading it to Instagram. Keep your content authentic, original, and free of watermarks or logos for maximum visibility.

#6. Instagram Alt Texts: What They Are and How They Can Boost Your Visibility 

Alt texts, short for alternative texts, are descriptions of images on your Instagram posts. The visually impaired users rely on screen readers to read the alt texts and describe images to them.

But here’s how they can help boost your visibility:

  • First, by adding relevant keywords in your alt texts, you improve the chances of your posts being discovered through search. 
  • Secondly, if a user has their “Explore” page tailored to specific keywords or topics, your post is more likely to appear if the alt text contains those keywords. 
  • Lastly, using alt texts can also improve the accessibility of your content and make it more inclusive for visually impaired users.

So, how do you add alt texts to your Instagram posts? Simply upload a photo or video, and after you write your caption, scroll down, tap “Advanced Settings,” and under Accessibility, click “Write alt text,” and add your alt text. It’s as easy as that.

Here’s an example of an alt text for a photo of a beach:

“Beautiful sunny day at the beach with crystal clear blue water and palm trees in the background. #beachvacation #sunnysummerdays 🏖️🌴

Or, for a video of a dog playing fetch:

“Adorable golden retriever playing fetch in the park on a warm summer day. #dogsofinstagram #summerfun 🐶☀️

#7. Engage Users to Encourage Engagement

Simple: to get other accounts to engage with your content, you need to engage with theirs. It’s a give-and-take relationship on Instagram. 

One way to do this is by consistently liking and commenting on posts from accounts that align with your brand or target audience. That not only helps build relationships but also increases the chances of getting noticed by those accounts and their followers.

Engage with your followers, respond to their comments, and start conversations in the comments section. 

Additionally, hosting giveaways or contests can be fun to engage users and encourage them to interact with your content. Just follow Instagram’s promotion guidelines and collaborate with other accounts for even more reach.

Nano and micro-influencers, with less than 10,000 and 60,000 followers, respectively, have the highest engagement rates on Instagram. That’s because they have a more personal connection with their followers, which drives genuine engagement. 

So, don’t underestimate the power of collaborating with smaller influencers in your niche.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Social Media

Technology

Branding

Business

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