2023 Instagram SEO: 10 Expert Tips for Better Reach

29th July 2023

Trying to stay ahead in the Instagram game feels a bit like running a race that never ends, doesn’t it? Constantly chasing the ever-changing algorithm can be exhausting. But what if there was a simpler way? A way to put your brand front and centre, reaching more people, creating more engagement, and converting more followers into customers? That’s exactly where mastering Instagram SEO comes into play.

It’s not about outsmarting an algorithm; it’s about making your brand the go-to spot for people who are actively seeking what you offer. Ready to get started? Our guide is packed with 10 expert strategies to help you shine up your Instagram profile and posts, giving your brand the boost it needs to really make its mark.


What is Instagram SEO?


Instagram Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of optimising your Instagram profile and content to boost its visibility on Instagram’s search function and conventional search engines like Google. More than just hashtags, Instagram SEO requires a comprehensive strategy to amplify your digital presence and ultimately, your business.


Why is Instagram SEO Important?


Instagram boasts over a billion active users, offering businesses a fantastic opportunity to connect with a diverse audience. Therefore, mastering Instagram SEO is crucial for businesses aiming to expand their reach, enhance engagement, and convert followers into customers.

Instagram’s algorithm favours content from accounts that users interact with frequently. Hence, an optimised Instagram account makes you more discoverable to new users and ensures your content consistently appears on the feeds of your existing followers.


Instagram SEO Ranking Factors


While no fixed formula guarantees a high ranking in Instagram’s search, three key factors influence Instagram SEO: search text, user activity, and popularity signals.


instagram search visibility


Search Text


Search text pertains to the keywords and phrases users enter into the search bar. Instagram uses these terms to deliver relevant search results, considering factors like usernames, bios, captions, hashtags, and locations.

For instance, if you own a vegan café in Leicestershire, using relevant keywords like “Vegan Leicestershire” in your username or bio would improve your chances of ranking higher when users search for these terms.


User Activity


User activity comprises the accounts and hashtags users follow and engage with, and the posts they’ve viewed, even from accounts they don’t follow. If a user regularly interacts with your content, Instagram is more likely to present your future posts to them.

Engaging with your followers through comments, direct messages, or following back can ensure they frequently interact with your account, enhancing your visibility on their feeds.


Popularity Signals


Popular content tends to rank higher in search results. Popularity is gauged by the number of clicks, likes, shares, and follows. By regularly posting engaging content that encourages user interaction, you can signal popularity to Instagram’s algorithm.


10 Instagram SEO Tactics to Increase Your Reach


Understanding Instagram SEO and its significance equips us to explore ten actionable tactics to boost your reach.


1. Optimise Your Instagram Profile


The first step to effective Instagram SEO is profile optimisation. Choose a profile picture that’s easily identifiable, like your company logo. If possible, include your primary keyword in your username. Fill your bio with relevant business information, including secondary keywords, to provide context to users and Instagram’s algorithm1.

For example, a vintage bookshop in Leicestershire could use the username “@VintageBooksLeicestershire” and include phrases like “classic literature, vintage books, Leicestershire bookstore” in their bio.


instagram bio optimisation


2. Leverage Keywords


In addition to incorporating your primary keyword (typically your brand or main product/service) in your username and bio, use secondary keywords related to your industry or niche to add depth to your SEO strategy.

For instance, a garden centre in Leicestershire could use “gardening” as their primary keyword, with “plant nursery,” “garden furniture,” and “flower arrangements” as secondary keywords in their posts and captions.


3. Utilise Hashtags Strategically


Hashtags function as Instagram’s version of keywords. They allow your content to be discovered by users who are interested in or searching for the topics you’re posting about. They can significantly enhance your content visibility, but it’s important to use them judiciously to avoid appearing spammy.

Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, but studies suggest that using between 5 and 10 hashtags is often the most effective approach.

There are various categories of hashtags you can use to maximise your reach:

  • Niche Hashtags

These are highly specific to your industry or the content of your post. For example, a restaurant in Leicestershire might use #LeicestershireEats or #UKFoodie.

  • Location Hashtags

Location-based hashtags are extremely effective for businesses that have a local customer base. Going back to our restaurant example, they could use hashtags such as #Leicestershire, #EastMidlands, or even #UK to tap into a larger audience.

  • Content-specific Hashtags

These tags are derived directly from the content of your post. For example, if the restaurant shares a photo of their signature dessert, they might use #DessertLovers or #SweetTreats.

By incorporating a strategic mix of niche, location, and content hashtags, you can reach a diverse audience – from locals to industry enthusiasts to people simply interested in the content you’re posting.

Furthermore, Instagram maintains a list of banned hashtags. Using these can lead to decreased visibility or even a shadowban, rendering your content undiscoverable. Regularly check Instagram’s list of banned hashtags to ensure none of your chosen hashtags are on the list.


4. Make the Most of Video Content and Subtitles


Instagram now auto-generates subtitles for videos, enhancing accessibility. More importantly, these subtitles can be used to include your target keywords, providing more context for Instagram’s algorithm and traditional search engines.


instagram video


For instance, a bakery in Leicestershire uploading a video about baking traditional British scones could mention “British scone recipe” in their dialogue, improving their chances of appearing in searches for these terms.


5. Harness Your Image Captions


Image captions provide an excellent opportunity to engage with users and showcase your keywords. Craft your captions to encourage users to interact and include a call-to-action (like asking a question or encouraging users to tag friends) to boost engagement.


6. Take Advantage of Instagram Alt Text


Alt text, short for alternative text, is a feature that lets you write descriptions for your images. This text helps search engine bots understand your image content, boosting your SEO.

When posting a photo, click on ‘Advanced Settings’ at the bottom of the screen and then select ‘Write Alt Text.’ Describe your photo in a way that includes your main keywords.


instagram alt text


7. Monitor Your Performance with Analytics


Tracking your Instagram performance with tools like Instagram Insights can help you better understand your audience and identify what type of content generates the most engagement.

Look for patterns in posts with high engagement and try to replicate their success in future content. This could involve posting at similar times, using similar language in your captions, or posting similar types of images or videos.


8. Avoid Black Hat Techniques


As with traditional SEO, Instagram SEO has its black hat techniques—practices that might offer short-term gains but could lead to penalties or decreased visibility over time. These include practices like keyword stuffing, using unrelated hashtags, and buying followers.

Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. You might not see results immediately, but consistently applying these strategies will gradually improve your reach, engagement, and hopefully, your customer base.


Need a Hand With Your Social Media Marketing?


Managing Instagram SEO and creating engaging content can be a handful. That’s where we come in. As a social media marketing agency based in Leicestershire, we’re all about helping businesses like yours shine on Instagram.

Let us take care of your online presence so you can focus on what you do best: running your business. Want to know more about how we can make your Instagram stand out? Let’s chat. Book a free, no-obligation consultation call with us today.


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