Instagram SEO tips for discoverability

Contrary to popular belief, mastering Instagram SEO does not mean pleasing the algorithm. Instagram and many social media platforms are taking a turn to provide a more personalized user experience. They want to support accounts tailoring their content to specific audiences, not trying to please the masses. This is where SEO optimization comes in. 

Instagram SEO is about getting the platform to show your content to the right people. Mastering social media optimization techniques that build authentic engagement will result in more long-term growth for your brand and create more loyal subscribers compared to short spikes from viral moments. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how this platform decides to push out content and cover some Instagram SEO tips you can implement to reach the loyal followers every brand wants. Let’s go!

Discoverability on Instagram

Implementing Instagram SEO aims to increase discoverability. You want the platform to push your content to the users who will most enjoy it. However, it’s equally important to make your content accessible to those who may already be searching for it. 

The best test of whether or not your Instagram page is optimized is to utilize the platform’s search bar. Do descriptions show up when you search for related terms? If not, how can you get it there? 

Instagram uses three factors to determine who to push your content out to: 

  • User activity: Instagram cares about what its users like and will use their activity to determine the next steps for content distribution. Hashtags, interactions, mutual connections, and account-based activity all help measure overall user activity. The more engagement your overall account has, the higher it will rank in searchability.
  • Search text: When users type in something they want to explore, Instagram search results will display relevant accounts, audio, hashtags, places, reels, and other content. If you have effectively keyworded your account, the platform will highlight your page in these categories.
  • Content ranking signals: Content ranking signals measure the popularity of individual pieces of content rather than accounts as a whole. Popularity rankings include likes, shares, clicks, and follows. Content-specific rankings focus more on the particular types of content, such as Instagram reels, photos, stories, etc. 

Instagram SEO tips for publishers

There are probably more places on your Instagram to implement SEO techniques than you think. The trick is not to overload your content and make your page seem bot-like or scamish. Optimization must be done tastefully to leverage Instagram and boost your digital presence.

Here’s where you can start:

Instagram Bio

Your bio may not always be the first place someone sees your content, but it’s certainly the first impression of your brand. Users will look at your bio to get a quick idea of what your brand is about, and the algorithm does the same when looking for what to do with your content. 

Instagram gives you 150 characters to optimize; use these to your advantage. Include who you are, the content you provide, and some keywords to help people find your brand—as well as the ones the search engine will detect. If you need more help, use the Instagram search bar to find Explore pages. These keywords and phrases have an eyeglass next to them and are popular terms people are searching. 

Location in bio 

Don’t forget to add your location in your bio if you have one! Instagram will use your location as another ranking signal to push your content toward locals and visitors to your area. It’s one of the simple InsIt’sam SEO tips you can do once without addressing it again.

Alt text 

Alternate text is a commonly overlooked SEO technique that is just as effective on social media as on websites. Alt text is the description given to your content that helps make online content more accessible to users with disabilities and impairments. If your content does not have alt text, Instagram cannot easily match it with searched keywords, even if you are spot on in other areas.

You can allow Instagram to generate alt text automatically or use Advanced Settings to enter your description and keywords. 

Account name 

Major brands on social media may only need to use their names to get attention online. However, smaller brands can use Instagram names and handles to include keywords for increased discoverability. If you’re going to include keywords in your handle, ensure they are the ones users are searching for. Again, try not to sound too scammy. 

Subtitles and captions

You may not expect video text and captions to be on a list of Instagram SEO tips, but it can make a world of difference. Studies show that 50% of Americans regularly use subtitles to view content–don’t skip them! If you don’t know how to turn on Instagram subtitles and captions, you can choose Android or iPhone help here to get started. 

Post copy 

The copy of an Instagram post is usually the first spot you would think to optimize, and it remains just as important to getting your content categorized in the platform’s search engine. Platforms use both keywords and quality text to draw your audience in while you are optimizing. Never sacrifice the quality of your text here for an abundance of keywords. 


Relevant hashtags will probably always be one of the most important Instagram SEO tips until they disappear one day…if that ever happens! Use a mix of popular and niche-specific hashtags to widen your brand reach. Again, don’t overload your post, and avoid using generic hashtags. Use about 3 to 5 quality hashtags, and always ensure they are relevant. Note: Instagram no longer favors hiding hashtags in the comments. Put them in the main caption for the best search results. 

Engage with others 

Lastly, Instagram SEO will not work if you are ghost-posting or silent. Instagram promotes social interactions, and it wants brands to engage with each other. In addition to engaging with your audience, try to interact with other accounts and brands that share your keywords. This will help Instagram better understand your niche and group your content with similar brands.

True Anthem helps with Instagram SEO

The optimization process can be a lot of work. This is where True Anthem’s tool comes in. Request a demo today to see how our social media management tool can help you optimize and consistently grow online traffic.

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