SEO: Optimizing Your Instagram

Published on 2019-11-18


Instagram recently reached 1 billion active monthly users making it an undeniably useful tool to promote your business or brand. However, many businesses are not using the social media platform to its fullest potential and are missing out on plenty of opportunities to boost their brand.  

While SEO for Instagram may seem unusual, certain SEO techniques fit perfectly within Instagram’s framework. Understanding the correct practices will undoubtedly help you take your Instagram to the next level. 

Optimize your profile  

Driving traffic towards your profile will not lead to anything if your profile isn’t laid out for the best user experience. The following tips will explain the best ways to optimize your Instagram

Set your profile to public

Ensure your Instagram profile is set to public. This can be done through opening your Instagram Settings - Privacy - Account Privacy and then switching Private Account option off. You want to draw new people to your business and this can't be done when new users can't see or share your content.

Colourful on-brand image  

Use a bright logo that makes it easy for users to quickly recognize your brand as they're scrolling their feed.


Recognizable and searchable @username  

Ideally, you’ll want to use your business name to avoid users' mistagging you. If your business name is unavailable use a related keyword alongside it. For example, a clothing brand could add the word ‘clothing’ after their business name ensuring a relevant username and including a primary keyword. Including keywords increases the chance of your Instagram profile being found through Instagram’s search engine. Instagram is its self-contained search engine, to rank highly in searches you need to use relevant terms and work with the app to optimize your profile.   

Easily searchable business name  

Your business name is another area where you can include primary keywords. Pinpoint what your primary keyword may be through extensive keyword research.   

Register for a business account  

To access the full potential of having an Instagram account for your business you must register for a business profile. An Instagram business profile allows you to access business features and Instagram Insights. These tools can help you understand who is engaging with your business on Instagram.  

Track your bio link

Instagram only allows you one link on your profile, so it is important to monitor the clicks that this link gets over time. You can view website clicks through your Insights and this shows the clicks from the current week and the change from the previous.   

Use secondary keywords in bio  

Secondary keywords are the phrases and topics that orbit your primary keyword. If you are an up-market women's clothing brand, your primary keyword may be ‘clothing’ and your secondary keywords may be something like ‘women’, ‘fashion’, ‘high-end’, etc. Including these into your bio is a useful way to increase your searchability. However, be wary of keyword stuffing, your bio should still make sense and sound organic.  


Use Alt Text  

Alt Text not only ensures your Instagram posts are accessible but is also a valuable SEO strategy. To add alt text to your Instagram posts on the screen where you write your caption and add any other tags to the post. Tap on the Advanced Settings option on this upload screen.  

To add alt text to old Instagram posts, you need to select each post and manually edit it. Once you’re in the edit mode of your post, you’ll see the Aa icon and Edit Alt Text in the bottom-right corner of the image. From the screen reader perspective—for blind or visually impaired persons—it’s in your best interest to keep alt text phrases to fewer than 125 characters.  

Use secondary keywords in your image captions   

Captions can catch the user’s attention and help you show up in search results. Like how you used secondary keywords in your bio, you should do the same and include relevant keywords in your Instagram captions.  

Treat hashtags as keywords   

Users, when browsing Instagram, are not necessarily going to be searching for you directly. Using hashtags exposes your Instagram account to a wider audience. Relevant hashtags will help to promote your brand and Instagram posts to those with shared interests and goals. Your Instagram posts must have a relevant hashtag strategy and those hashtags are treated like secondary keywords.  

Avoid Black Hat SEO techniques  

Google penalizes those who try to cheat their algorithms and now Instagram is taking steps to eliminate black hat techniques on their platform. Black Hat techniques can include buying followers or using bots to gain likes, shares, and comments. Using these techniques can negatively affect your Instagram page. To read more on black hat vs. White hat SEO read out ‘Ultimate Guide to SEO’ 


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