Are you looking for ways to reach new audiences on Instagram? Wondering whether adding a touch of SEO could get more people to discover your brand on the social network?

It’s fair to say that we, social media marketers, don’t have it too easy when it comes to getting our brands discovered. Take content marketing guys, for example. They have Google. They can optimize content for SEO.

Now, providing they’ve done it well, those pages will eventually start driving traffic from search engine results month over month.

But for us, well, we have to resort to word of mouth and rely on users to share our content with their networks.

Or have we?

As it turns out, we can do some SEO too and use that marketing strategy to attract new followers.

In this post, we’ll discuss Instagram SEO in detail. We’ll also cover some of the strategies to optimize your posts and social profiles for relevant keywords.

Before we get to that, let’s discuss how keyword search works on Instagram and how it has changed lately.

How Keyword Search Powers Instagram SEO

Instagram always supported keywords. Well, to some extend, at least.

Users were always able to use them to find other Instagram profiles. As long as an account included those keywords in the Instagram profile – name, username, bio, for example – or have used it in a hashtag – users were able to discover it in the search.

The social media platform has taken its SEO capabilities to the next level recently, though.

Now, I have to be upfront and let you know that, depending on where you live, you might not be able to use this feature yet. That’s because keyword Search is not available for everyone yet (but, most likely, soon will.)

That said, users in the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada can now use keywords to find content.

It means that Instagram’s search begins to work very much like a typical search engine. Of course, the type of results you get is different than what you see on Google. Still, being able to search (and be discovered) this way makes a massive difference to brands.

To avail of it, though, you must understand how the Instagram algorithm works and optimize the content for discoverability.

So, let’s tackle the algorithm first.

Much like search engines, we don’t know much about how Instagram determines which content to display in the search results. According to the social media platform, it considers several factors like the type of content, captions, and even when it was posted. It also claims to be using machine learning to find content.

I admit that the above does not reveal much about the SEO options on Instagram. However, it does tell us enough to realize, with some degree of certainty, what to do to make our content more discoverable.

And here it is.

How to Optimize Instagram Account and Content for SEO

Part I. Optimizing the Instagram Profile

Although Instagram SEO aims to make your content – posts, stories, photos, and videos discoverable, you have to begin by optimizing the profile.

There’s one more reason for that, besides making it discoverable – You need to ensure a good user experience to welcome new visitors and convert them into followers.

Here are some of the best ways to make it happen:

#1. Make your username searchable. It is the first thing the social platform will research against user’s keywords. So, make sure that your username is simple and contains the most relevant keyword relating to your brand or product category. Ideally, it also shouldn’t have any symbols that would confuse the audience.

#2. Include at least the essential keyword in your business name, if possible. Naturally, your brand name might not include any specific keywords. You can expand it on Instagram, though, and include additional terms beside the brand name.

We’ve done that with our account, adding our product’s category to the name.

Instagram SEO principles explained.

As a result, the product category also shows up in our profile’s title tag and hopefully increases our reach.

Optimizing title tag with primary keywords on Instagram.

#3. Finally, include a trackable link in your bio. This way, you’ll be able to monitor engagement on your profile.

Part II. Using Keywords Throughout Your Instagram Content

Instagram SEO is a lot about including the right keywords throughout your content. So, let’s see different options to enrich what you post with various phrases Instagram users might type into the search box.

The three most common places to include keywords on Instagram are:

  • Your bio,
  • Post captions, and
  • Hashtags.

Let’s quickly look at each of them in turn. We’ll also talk about including keywords in image alt tags to boost your Instagram SEO.

#1. Including Keywords in Instagram Bio

The primary target keyword – a phrase that describes your business or brand category the most – should go into your company name. We’ve covered that above.

But naturally, that’s not the only term you should be optimizing your profile for. And the best place to include those secondary keywords is in your bio.

Secondary keywords are phrases that compliment your primary keyword. They are related to it because they enrich and expand the meaning of the primary keyword.

Let’s use our profile as an example again.

Our primary keyword, as you can see, is the scheduling tool. That’s what Sked Social is, after all – a social media scheduler.

Our secondary keywords build upon that and reveal more about our brand and product. They give you more information about Sked and tell what social networks we’re working with. See:

Keywords on Instagram profile.

Here’s another example – A sports store.

In this case, the brand didn’t have to add the primary keyword to the name since it’s already in their brand. However, it cleverly included product categories in the bio, along with some selling points.

Another example of using keywords in profile to boost Instagram SEO.

#2. Including Keywords in Captions

Writing good Instagram captions is an art form in itself. But you can take your captions even further and ensure they help your content appear in the social platform’s search results.

There are two ways to do that:

If you’re posting something relating to your product or service, enrich the caption with secondary keywords.

However, if you’re promoting your content, include keywords related to its primary topic. In short, these would be secondary keywords of the phrase you’ve optimized the content for originally.

Here’s an example of how we’re doing it with our content:

Keywords in content.

#3. Including Keywords in Hashtags

Hashtags allow you to optimize your posts and add additional search-optimized keywords without expanding the caption.

The additional benefit of optimizing hashtags for SEO is that they allow you to include keywords and phrases that, possibly, wouldn’t fit naturally in a caption.

Take a look at the same post as above. There is no chance that we’d be able to include all those keywords in the caption. With hashtags, however, we can target them all easily.

Using keywords in hashtags on Instagram.

That’s the power of hashtags when it comes to SEO on Instagram. They give you that extra opportunity to be found for searches relevant to your content.

#4. Using Keywords in Image Alt Tags

When it comes to Instagram, the Alt Tag works pretty much like similar tags you see implemented on websites. The short snippet of text aims to help visually impaired users discover what’s on the image before them and fully experience the web.

But, just like with traditional SEO, you can use the tag to enrich your keyword targeting.

When adding a new photo to the social network, select the “write alt text” option to add your tag. Describe what’s on the image, and include at least the main secondary keyword. This will help Instagram understand the content of the post better and have it in relevant user searches.

And that’s it…

Instagram’s SEO capabilities aren’t as advanced as those of Google or other search engines. That said, it is still enough to help you boost the discoverability of your brand and content.

Good luck.

Read more: 5 Ways to Find Out What’s Wrong With Your SEO – And 3 Ways to Fix It