The list goes on, and it gets longer with each passing year. In 2021, there are dozens of tactics you can use to grow your audience on Instagram. Cross-promotion, hashtagging, Stories, Reels, and more. But a more recent tactic is that of Instagram SEO. We’re familiar with the website and online listing aspects of SEO, but we must remember that social media platforms have widely-utilized search functions, too. And leveraging search as a way to grow your reach is a great way to get a leg up on your competition.
Let’s begin with your profile as a whole — we’re going to optimize your username and your bio. (Remember when we said not all optimizations carry the same weight? Well, your username and your bio are the heavy hitters; optimizing these two assets can make a huge impact). Your username is straightforward: You need to incorporate the keyword you consider most valuable. Clearly, the person who owns this profile wants to rank for “gardening ideas.”
As an example, if you wanted to further optimize the post that ranks for “gardening ideas,” you could add a second sentence to the main body of the caption: “Gorgeous rooftop garden in New York. Check out our profile for more gardening ideas!”
Instagram SEO is a no-cost, high-impact tactic for anyone who wants to grow their reach, increase traffic to their profile/website, and drive more conversions. It may not yield the same volume of results as paid advertising, but the potential ROI is staggering. If you’re committed to using social media as an engine of growth for your business, Instagram SEO is a no-brainer.
That’s all well and good, but there’s a crucial question we need to address: Do people actually use Instagram to interact with businesses in this fashion? Is it really worthwhile to optimize your content in order to rank higher in the search results?

your profile higher in the Instagram search results. And though it may not have the same appeal as live streams or carousel ads, it’s as worthy of your time as anything else. By following Instagram SEO best practices — which we’ll discuss shortly — you improve your chances of being discovered by users who are searching keywords related to your business.

Now that you know (1) which keywords you’re going to target and (2) how you’re going to track your ROI, it’s time to optimize both your profile as a whole and your individual posts.

small business — check out the link in the bio!
relevant keyword: “gardening ideas.” They did this, of course, because they know that users who search for this keyword are likely to be interested in their gardening-related products.

“I’m focused on producing short-form video content.”
We should also note that Instagram SEO is not exclusively about individual posts ranking for long-tail keywords (e.g., gardening ideas). Let’s take a second look at the suggestions we get when we simply type “gardening” into the search bar:
Now, before we go further, we should emphasize that buying ads on Instagram is an incredibly effective tactic for many businesses. As such, Instagram SEO should be used as a complement to Instagram advertising — not as a replacement for it.

content related to your business.

To set yourself up for success, make sure to establish a few key performance indicators (KPIs). With Instagram Insights — the native analytics tool that comes with your business profile — you can track KPIs such as these (both at the profile level and the individual post level):
Once you know which KPIs you’re going to track, you’ll be able to measure the impact yielded by your optimizations.
“I’m experimenting with different ad formats.”
To be fair, searching for specific keywords is only one of several ways that users discover new businesses. Instagram ads drive discovery, and the Explore tab does, too. Instagram SEO, in other words, is not the be-all and end-all.
(Pro tip: If you’re having trouble brainstorming keywords, simply open up the Instagram search bar and start typing words related to your business.)

driving more conversions? If it’s the former, you’re probably going to prioritize head terms over long-tail keywords. If it’s the latter, you’ll likely do the reverse.

Ask ten social media marketers how they’re growing their reach on Instagram and you may very well hear ten different answers:
As you can see, hashtagging played a role in getting this post to rank for “gardening ideas.” However, this clearly wasn’t the only keyword being targeted by the person behind the post.

2. Establish KPIs to measure impact

Yes and yes. According to AdEspresso, more than 200 million Instagram users visit a business profile on a daily basis. 66% of those visits come from users who do not yet follow the profiles they’re visiting. Plus, 60% of all Instagram users say they’ve learned about new products through the platform.
You could argue that these two objectives go hand-in-hand— i.e., you want to increase traffic to your profile in order to drive more conversions. It’s a fair point, and most of you will end up optimizing your profile/content for both head terms and long-tail keywords. As we’ll discuss shortly, however, not all optimizations carry the same weight — and that’s why it’s important to establish your priorities from the jump.

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Profile visits
  • Followers
  • Website clicks
Social Media Examiner.

Think of it this way: Each time a user types in a keyword that’s related to your business, you have an opportunity to make a positive impression and drive high-quality traffic to your profile (and your website). Instagram SEO is the key to capitalizing on these opportunities — the key to engaging prospective customers who are more likely than others to convert.

3. Optimize your profile (username & bio)

Let’s use gardening content as an example. Type “gardening” into the Instagram search bar and you’ll see this:
There’s one more question you need to answer before you start optimizing: How are you going to measure the impact of your Instagram SEO efforts? Measuring impact is an essential part of the process, as it enables you to determine which optimizations are (un)successful.

ecommerce business called Nellie’s and you were trying to rank for “winter hats,” your Instagram username could be “winterhatsbynellie” or “nellieswinterhats.”

In general, when you’re optimizing an individual post, you should:

optimize your captions, there’s no reason not to do it.

Evidently, many people — your prospects included — see Instagram as a way to discover new businesses, new brands, and new products.
“I’m trying to live stream as frequently as possible.”

  • Use the main body of the caption to target a specific high-value keyword
  • Use hashtags to reinforce that keyword and target ancillary keywords

That’s Instagram SEO in action!

Don’t neglect Instagram SEO!

Optimizing your Instagram bio is equally straightforward: This is your opportunity to target any high-value keywords that didn’t quite make the cut for your username. The owner of this profile, for example, wants to rank for “gardening tips.”

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