Instagram SEO: Benefits & Step-by-Step Process to Optimize It

Instagram has now become a more popular social media platform. It has more than one billion active monthly users. This means there are many opportunities for you to promote your brand and reach out to these users. But, how can you engage and attract these users to your brand? The answer is SEO for Instagram.
Let’s discuss in detail Instagram SEO and its benefits. And how to optimize your Instagram profile for better reach.

What is Instagram SEO

Instagram SEO helps you improve the traffic of your Instagram account. You can use most of the SEO techniques that you already use for websites.
Instagram has its search engine, just like a mini Google. Here you can enter keywords and hashtags to search for topics or can also search by interest.
The best way to market your business on Instagram is by increasing your following. For this, your business should get found on the platform. This is where Instagram SEO helps. It is a bit different from the regular SEO that you have been using. Apart from using keywords and hashtags, you need to represent your brand visually.
SEO for Instagram can help in promoting your brand and getting new followers. This helps in increasing the engagement rate and boosting sales.
Instagram ranks those pages higher that are well-optimized. This helps in attracting more followers, driving engagement, and improving the trust score. All this results in a higher ranking.

Benefits of Doing Instagram SEO

Here are some primary benefits of doing SEO for your Instagram account:

1. Get Brand Recognition and Awareness

As Instagram is a visual platform, it’s the best tool to increase your brand awareness. By using SEO tactics, your business will get more visual impressions. This means your target audience can easily identify your brand and engage with you.
You build followers organically, which helps you build a natural relationship with them. When a user follows your brand, they are showing interest in your brand. You can leverage this to start building a relationship with them. The more followers you will have, the more you will start following you.

2. Get More Traffic

The most important benefit of SEO for Instagram is increased traffic. While doing Instagram SEO, you will need to take into account two types of search engines:

  • The internal search option of Instagram
  • External search engines such as Google

For internal optimization, you need to focus on Instagram-specific aspects- hashtags and username. For external SEO, you need to optimize the text on your profile and posts. This can also include hidden Instagram hashtags.
Both the strategies will help you get your business Instagram page in front of more users. This will help you gain more followers.

3. Achieve Harmony with Other Strategies

You can use Instagram to promote posts on other marketing channels. You can use Instagram information and data across all your marketing channels. Traffic that you get on Instagram can be retargeted to other social media platforms.
This cross-promotion on marketing channels will extend your reach on all these channels. It will also allow your followers to identify your brand on other platforms easily. The more touchpoints you will have with your followers, the more they will remember you. And, they will start to prefer you over your competitors.

4. Increase Sales

One-third of Instagram users have purchased a product online through the app. This shows the sales power Instagram has. It’s essential to leverage this platform for your business as the next purchase of these users can be from you!
Also, 75% of users act after seeing the Instagram advertising post. They either visit your website or click on your CTA buttons- Shop Now or Contact Us. You can also retarget these users with Instagram ads if they do not purchase on the first click.
Instagram has advanced targeting options. You can create custom retargeting audiences based on their engagement, video views, etc.

5. Build a Strong Customer Base

As already mentioned, over 1 billion Instagram users are active once a day. And, 75% of them are purchasing via Instagram ads. You can easily reach these users if your business is on Instagram. Also, 50% of Instagram users visit a business profile every year. So you would be missing this opportunity if your business does not have an Instagram account.
The more visibility you will have, the more likely you will be able to reach potential customers. This will help create a strong customer base for your business.
Instagram helps you learn the likes and dislikes of your target audience. This information is valuable for your marketing strategy.

Instagram SEO vs. Normal SEO

Instagram SEO Normal SEO
Optimize your Instagram account Optimize your website
Optimizing Instagram search features. Search engine optimization of any kind, whether it’s Google or Bing.
Hashtags play an important role in getting found on Instagram. Although keywords still have some significance. Keywords play an important role in getting found on search engines such as Google.
Instagram search features are limited to Instagram only. Search engines search all websites that include your social media platforms.
You can use most of the normal SEO tricks for Instagram. There are some specific Instagram optimization techniques as well. You can use some SEO tricks to get your business on the first page of SERPs.

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Guide to Optimize Instagram Profile

Here are some best tips to optimize your profile and increase your reach on the platform:

1. Cover the Basics and Optimize the Profile

It’s essential to optimize your Instagram profile for the best user experience. Follow these basic tips to optimize your profile:

  • Make sure your profile is public
  • Have a colorful brand image
  • Ensure that your business name is easily searchable
  • Have a searchable and recognizable username
  • Register for a business account on Instagram
  • Add a trackable link in your profile bio
  • Create a few key phrases, keywords, hashtags that you can use regularly
  • Focus on representing your brand visually
  • Be more human, natural, and authentic

These steps may seem very basic. However, they are important for strong groundwork before moving to the technical steps.

2. Primary Keyword in Username & Display Name

As Instagram has its search engine, you need to work on the keywords to appear at the top of the search results. Use the primary keyword in your username and display name. This will help you show up in the search results if someone is looking for that term. It increases the likelihood of being picked up by the Instagram search algorithm.
Use important keywords that are related to your brand or business in your profile name. Include something your target audience will use to find your services. Try to include your passion/specialty/ industry in your username. Your username is an important keyword.

3. Include Secondary Keywords in Profile Bio

Secondary keywords are the topics or phrases related to your primary keyword. They are perfect for targeting those users that may not be searching for primary keywords. However, they may still be interested in your services/product. Secondary keywords tend to match the users’ search intent. Your bio is the best place to include these keywords.
Create an informative bio to describe your business. Include a few of your secondary keywords. Try to use the keywords naturally in your bio. Don’t forget to add clickable hashtags into your bio. This will help you show up first when someone searches for these terms or hashtags on Instagram.

4. Consider Hashtags as Your Keywords

Optimize your Instagram posts through a proper hashtag strategy. This should be an ongoing process. Users will find out you through a hashtag that you will use on your posts. You should treat these hashtags as your secondary keywords.
Instead of using the same hashtags on your every post, use a variety of post-specific hashtags. This will help you reach a wider and diverse audience. This, in turn, results in more engagement, followers, and customers for your business.
You can use up to 30 hashtags per post but use them wisely. Use hashtags that your ideal audience is using. Find new hashtags for your business, organize and sort them. Also, track their performance to see what’s working and what’s not.

5. Write Relevant and Descriptive Captions

Apart from hashtags and location tags, Instagram provides personalized content recommendations. This is based on your interests and interactions. This is where post captions help.
Writing descriptive captions will increase their discoverability on the Instagram Explore page. Instagram Explore page algorithm identifies accounts that are similar to each other. It uses the account embedding method, also known as word embedding.
Instagram uses the account’s keywords to check how relevant it is to a topic or interest. These keywords can be from your username, account name, bio, or captions you write. It’s important to use keywords in your captions.

6. Use Secondary Keywords in Image Captions

Create an engaging and compelling image caption to attract new followers. Optimize your caption with secondary keywords. The right caption with relevant keywords will help you appear in the search results. The use of keywords in image captions helps Instagram’s algorithm to rank you higher.
We treat image captions as meta descriptions. We should treat image captions as title tags. The title tags include these captions when Instagram creates a page for the posts.
Place the most important information at the beginning of your captions. It should be before your title tags are cut off. Your caption should also act as a call to action from the search results.

7. Make Use of Instagram Alt Text

Instagram alt text allows you to write captions for your photos. They have added this feature was to allow visually impaired users to improve their experience. However, it is used for SEO as well. If you do not enter alt text, Instagram will automatically create alt text for your photo. Therefore, make sure you enter alt text, and it matches what is in the photo.
To get alt text options, go to the screen before sharing your photo and click on “Advanced Settings.” After doing that, scroll to the bottom of the page and select the “write your alt text” tab. Here you can write your image description. After this, share your photo.

8. Create High-Quality, Engaging Content

Content is key in Instagram marketing. Without good content, you will not be able to connect with the target audience. Focus on creating high-quality content on your page that provides value. The more great content you create, the more brand awareness you will get.
Be consistent with your posts to improve your content visibility. Consider image quality and post timing to attract and engage your audience. Schedule your posts when your followers are most active and engaged.
As video-based content gets the most engagement, publish quality videos. Your videos should be landscape, not portrait. This will help you get more user attention.

9. Build an Appealing Brand Image

Your brand helps you stand apart from your competitors. The better your brand, the higher the engagement rate. Create an irresistible brand image so that users can easily connect with.
Your profile photo is important for branding. Use a professional headshot that attracts your followers. There are two photo slots. Use the other one to showcase your team or product/services. Your profile photos should be clear and high-quality.
Your image is affected if there is no consistency across the website and social profiles. Have a consistent brand identity across all your social and other marketing platforms. Be consistent with your brand tone, colors, and aesthetics.

10. Get Tagged

Mentions and tags can help your profile get discovered by your target audience. When someone tags your profile in their posts, other users can see that post and click on your profile.
Create quality content that other users may want to share. This is the best way of getting tagged in other user’s posts. You can also run giveaways or promotions that require people to tag your profile.
Getting mentions and tags helps Instagram know that your content is valuable. And, people want to read and share it. This may help you appear on home feeds or the Explore page. This, in turn, brings more traffic to your content and profile.

11. Encourage Engagement

Don’t force your product/service on your target audience. Provide something valuable to your audience and encourage engagement. Respond to their comments and reply to their direct messages. This will make your audience connect and engage with you faster.
Check what type of content gets more engagement and try to post more such content—research what your target audience would like. Use new ideas and things in your captions for more engagement.
You can tag relevant accounts in your Instagram posts. People may click on the post if it’s engaging and can start following you. Another way to foster engagement is by engaging with other accounts. You can comment on their posts to start a conversation. This will help people find you and also make the Instagram algorithm favor you.

12. Use Relevant Hashtags

An Instagram post with at least one hashtag gets 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. However, remember it’s not quantity but the quality you should focus on. Try to use relevant ones. Here are some tips that will help you increase engagement with hashtags:

  • Research and use topics relevant to your followers. Then, use hashtags and keywords to make the content visible to your target audience.
  • Optimize your hashtags for the local audience by specifying the location. You can include location in your caption or use it with other hashtags.
  • Hide your hashtags. After adding a caption, leave several lines before mentioning your hashtags.

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13. Don’t Use Black-hat SEO Techniques

You may be tempted to use some quick fixes to gain visibility. However, remember these are only temporary. They may hurt your strategy in the long run. Therefore, it’s recommended to gain genuine visibility even if it takes time and effort.
Google is not the only one that bans users for using black hat SEO techniques. Instagram has recently implemented a shadowban on accounts that use black hat SEO. Some common black hat SEO tactics you should avoid on Instagram are:

  • Copying content
  • Buying followers
  • Using bots
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Following many accounts too fast

Avoid these hacks if you want to build up your Instagram profile in the right way.

14. Track Your Instagram Strategy

It’s essential to track the performance of your Instagram strategy. This will help you see how the strategy is affecting your overall social media goals. Check Instagram Insights to learn about the users interacting with your business. To check your post insights, open the post and click on the tab – View Insights.
While Instagram has its in-built analytics feature, it has limited capabilities. It gives you data only for a certain date. There are many social media tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social. They provide data analytics tracking and advanced reports. They help you analyze the performance of your Instagram posts and campaigns. You can optimize your strategy accordingly.

Best Tools to Boost Organic Instagram Reach

Here are some useful tools that will help you get the most out of the Instagram platform:

1. SocialFox

SocialFox is an Instagram analytics tool that gives you real-time insights. It tracks key data points like engagement, follower growth, and click-through rates. It also provides details about your competitor accounts and hashtag activity.
You will get to know the most engaging posts, the best time to post, sources of the most engagement, and more. You can get insights into your total clicks, clicks from another source, and location. It also provides data like average clicks per post. It even gives you details of your followers– their age, gender, language, location, etc.

2. Buffer

Buffer is a scheduling tool that includes Instagram apart from other social platforms. It allows you to schedule the same or different content across various platforms. You can publish across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
With buffer, you can easily build your community by engaging with important comments. You can monitor the performance of your posts. Analyze engagement, clicks, and impressions of the posts.

3. Iconosquare

Iconosquare tells how your posting frequency is related to new or lost followers. It provides a Buffer-like tool that helps you post across different accounts at one time. You can even see comments and interactions on each post. It offers a library of content that you can use to create posts.
Iconosquare has an editorial calendar view, so you can schedule the posts in advance. You can also use it to search and compare influencers. It offers in-depth engagement insights as well.

4. Sprout Social

Sprout Social offers an Instagram analytics platform with content creation and management tools. You can schedule posts across different social media platforms through its editorial calendar. It has a social CRM feature that funnels conversations into a central inbox. This helps you boost conversions.
It offers a centralized media library with built-in editing tools. You can even check individual hashtags or location performance. It even allows you to compile all the insights into reports.

5. iFluenz

iFluenz is the ultimate Instagram marketing platform that offers many important features. You can post and schedule from your computer. Identify and organize your followers, and analyze followers’ engagement and growth.
This tool allows you to add your team to the dashboard without sharing your Instagram login. It provides important metrics that you can use to drive more growth from Instagram. You can get weekly and monthly email reports for your Instagram account.

6. Plann

Plann is a social media management tool that helps you create, post, and monitor campaigns. This helps you analyze whether your Instagram strategy is working or not. It integrates design tools such as Canva to help you create stunning designs.
This tool allows you to edit the Instagram grid as per your wish. You can organize, rearrange, crop, and schedule Instagram stories. Get statistics such as the best time to post, performing hashtags, color schemes, etc.

7. Hashtags for Likes

Hashtags for Likes is one of the best tools to research and find relevant and trending hashtags. It suggests the most popular hashtags in real-time. This helps you keep up with the trends, news and increase your followers.
You can create, curate, and save hashtag campaigns. Analyze your performance with the profile analyzer feature and even get competitor's insights. You can track the performance of your hashtags and use hashtags that give you results.

8. SocialRank

SocialRank gives detailed audience metrics and helps you identify follower patterns. This will help you customize your content according to your target audience. You can use this tool for local marketing by filtering the target audience by location.
Follower filters help you filter your audience into small segments. You can filter based on gender, no. of followers, and company. You can rank or prioritize them based on their popularity and engagement. You can even find out people who are located in a specific city or using specific hashtags.

Common Instagram Optimization Mistakes

Instagram SEO may seem to be easy. However, many people make common mistakes while optimizing their profile. Here are some common mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. You Don’t Create a Cohesive Feed

It’s essential to create a cohesive feed. Your Instagram posts should be consistent in hashtags, captions, timing, and visual concept. However, you can’t achieve consistency easily. You have to invest time and effort to check each caption. Also, you need to check posting frequency, grid layout style, and the relevancy of hashtags.
Try to have a consistent posting frequency. Post as often as you can. There is no ideal time to post. You can find out your perfect posting time. Test and see when your target audience is most active on the platform.
There are many tools you can use to create optimized captions and plan your Instagram posts. You can find relevant and trending hashtags and streamline the entire scheduling process.

2. Your Hashtags Are Not Relevant

The common mistake brands make is that they don’t use hashtags at all. And, if they do, they don’t use relevant ones.
Hashtags are important for page optimization and help increase your profile presence. They organize content on social media and help others find your page on Instagram. Here are some tips you can use to choose the right hashtags:

  • Research for hashtags and find the ones that reflect your brand.
  • Check hashtags your competitors are using or accounts with similar topics choose.
  • Don’t use popular hashtags as your post will disappear in the crowd.
  • Use branded hashtags so that people can easily search for them.
  • Don’t use the same hashtags for every post.

Many tools will help you find relevant hashtags for your business.

3. Your Instagram Username Is Not Searchable

As it is treated as a keyword, write your username in a language your target audience is likely to search. Help them understand what your username means. Make your username like a search query that your typical customer will use.
Your username should be distinctive, short, and readable. It should represent your brand. Don’t use irrelevant symbols in it. Keep it simple and easy to remember so that users can easily search for it.

4. You Don’t Select the Right Location Tags

Businesses that are online and offer worldwide shipping make this common mistake. They forget to change the location tags.
If your business is limited to a specific area, select the right location tag. Otherwise, you will attract the wrong audience. If your business is beyond a specific area, you can choose different location tags. If you want an audience from different cities or countries, you need to keep changing your tags.

5. You Don’t Include Alt Text

Another Instagram feature brands forget to utilize is alt text. This feature was initially made for visually impaired people. However, you can use it for image optimization. This alt text should include a description of what’s in the image. Don’t forget to include keywords in the alt text description.
The alt text description should be high-quality and relevant. This helps the Instagram algorithm know what the image means. The alt text feature is important. Instagram uses this to suggest your content to users searching for similar topics.

6. You Don’t Add Keywords to Bio and Captions

Your bio helps your followers or potential customers find you on Instagram. Optimizing it will help your page appear in the top search results. Use primary and secondary keywords in your bio. However, don’t spam it with too many keywords. Try to keep it simple and readable.
Don’t forget to add keywords in your captions. Again, don’t overwhelm it with many keywords. Put them in the text, as well as keep them next to your username as title tags. A username and then title tags- appear in the SERPs.
Effective Instagram SEO will drive visibility and boost brand awareness on the platform. Use the above tips to optimize your Instagram strategy and be a winning brand!
Looking for more Instagram SEO tips to expand your reach and grow engagement? Contact us.

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Joseph Schneider

He has spent more than 12 Years in strategising and executing SEO campaigns. He is interested to writing Digital-marketing, PPC and Social Media Marketing related topics.