SEO & Instagram: What You Need to Know

If you work in marketing, you will have heard of SEO, but if you haven’t here is a brief explanation: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines.

Organic traffic is traffic that comes to your site naturally. If someone searches for something online and they go to your website to find what they’re looking for, that’s an organic lead. You didn’t have to pay to have them come to your website.

Statistics show that organic search on Google is responsible for more than 59% of the world’s web traffic and 75% of people who search online never click past the first page of results. This shows the importance of a strong SEO strategy.

Website SEO is when you optimise your website for search engines to find and rank, this includes using keywords, meta descriptions and alt text – to name a few.

SEO for luxury brands is a must in order to thrive in the digital world. However what many people aren’t aware of is the importance of SEO on social media.

A strong Instagram SEO strategy is one of the best ways to increase your reach on the platform. SEO on Instagram is all about tailoring your content so that it appears in as many places as possible — from search results to suggested content feeds.

It’s an essential tactic for improving your discoverability – much like web SEO, the more people who discover your content, the greater chance you have at growing your following and building a strong Instagram community.


But how does Instagram SEO work?

Instagram’s algorithm processes every piece of content on the app, gathering information it can use to determine what the post is about — and by proxy, who might find it interesting.

With over one billion monthly active users on Instagram, SEO plays a significant role in both reach and discovery on the platform.

As part of the Explore page, Instagram search is the directory to every Instagram account on the app. Much like you would search a term into Google, you can use the search bar on the top of the Explore page to find and discover accounts, hashtags, and locations.

SEO also plays a major role in what populates on users’ suggested posts (now shown within a users home feed) — a space dedicated to displaying a collection of posts from accounts you don’t follow. And according to Instagram, these suggestions are, “based on posts from accounts like the ones you follow and posts similar to the ones you like or save.”

With a strong Instagram SEO strategy, you can ensure your posts are surfaced in relevant search results on the Explore page and in suggested content feeds.

Until recently you could only search in Instagram Explore via hashtags, location tags, usernames, and profile names, however, you can now search using keywords. That means writing relevant, descriptive captions using choice keywords can seriously impact your content’s discoverability.

Instagram Profile

Your Instagram profile (AKA your Instagram bio) is the best place to include relevant keywords and search terms.

Instagram bio SEO starts with Instagram name SEO. Choose a handle and profile name that’s relevant to your content. If you’re well known by your brand name, then that’s the best place to start. If there’s room for a keyword in your handle or name, include that too.


Long-form captions are becoming increasingly popular on Instagram, a study by Later and Fohr on influencer’s captions found that the more you share, the better your engagement rate. However, ensuring to utilise key words and a CTA will also enhance your reach.

Instagram Alt Text

Instagram alt text is a feature that allows you to write custom alternative text for a richer description of your photos. And while the feature was mainly designed to improve accessibility on the platform, it can also be used for SEO purposes. At the moment, Instagram automatically generates alt text so people can hear descriptions of content through a screen reader.


While it’s long been considered an insider trick to hide hashtags in comments – and with many scheduling platforms providing the option to automatically post a comment with hashtags – Instagram has now revealed that keywords and hashtags should appear directly in the caption to impact the search results. They have equally provided a few tips for maximising your reach and searchability through hashtags:

  • Use only relevant hashtags
  • Use a combination of well-known, niche, and specific (think branded or campaign-based) hashtags
  • Limit hashtags to 3 to 5 per post
  • Don’t use irrelevant or overly generic hashtags like #explorepage

[Sources: Instagram, Hootsuite, Later, Media Boom]



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