Best Practice


*gasp* SEO isn't just for the web anymore!


A strategy used on the social media platform, Instagram, that involves the optimized use of keywords, hashtags, profile information, captions, and image alt texts to improve the visibility and discoverability of a profile or its content in Instagram's internal search and explore functions, as well as on external search engines such as Google. It's a key tool in social media marketing to reach and engage with a wider audience.


We read this blog post by Adam Mosseri, and these are the key takeaways we got from it:

  1. Instagram uses multiple algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each tailored to a specific part of the app - Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, and Search. 
  1. Each section has its own unique algorithm that prioritizes content based on user behavior within that part of the app.
  1. These algorithms predict how likely a user is to interact with a piece of content and prioritize the content accordingly. 
  1. The prioritization (ranking) of content is based on various factors or "signals", such as the user's activity, information about the post, and information about the person who posted. 
  1. Different sections of the app may prioritize these signals differently.

The main takeaway is that Instagram has very sophisticated algorithms for each section of their platform to maximize engagement and they are not going to tell you exactly how they work.  


Let’s ask the new kid on the block what he thinks.  

Me: "What is Instagram SEO" 

ChatGPT4: "Instagram SEO refers to the optimizing your Instagram account to increase its visibility in relevant search results, both on Instagram and on search engines like Google. This can help you attract more followers, increase engagement, and gain greater exposure for your brand or business.

While Instagram doesn't operate in the same way as traditional search engines, it does have a search and explore function, and it also indexes profiles, hashtags, and location tags on external search engines.

Here are some tips on how to optimize for Instagram SEO:

Optimize Your Instagram Handle and Profile Name: Your Instagram handle (@username) and profile name should be reflective of your brand and should contain keywords that are relevant to your business or industry. This can help you show up in search results when someone looks up these keywords on Instagram.

Use Relevant Hashtags: Hashtags are a key tool on Instagram to increase the discoverability of your posts. Research and use relevant and popular hashtags in your post captions and comments. However, be careful not to overuse them, as Instagram might flag it as spammy behavior.

Optimize Your Captions: While Instagram doesn't index the content of your captions for its internal search, including relevant keywords can still be beneficial. It can help provide context about your post, encourage engagement, and potentially benefit SEO on external search engines.

Tag Your Location: Tagging your location, especially if you are a local business, can make your posts and stories more discoverable to people browsing content from your location.

Use Alt Text: Instagram provides the option to include alt text on your images. This text describes the contents of your image for those with visual impairments, but it can also be picked up by search engines, improving your external SEO.

Remember, as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Instagram SEO is not as complex or developed as traditional search engine SEO, but it can still play a part in a comprehensive digital marketing strategy."

Pretty basic SEO hygiene here, all of the items will help Instagram understand what your account is about.  

Not bad, ChatGPT. Now let’s ask the OG.


I found it interesting that when I Googled “what is instagram SEO”, no Knowledge Graph appeared. Also interesting that there is no advertising on the page - must be no money in doing Instagram SEO?   

Here is what Google did give me - these are the top three organic listings from some of the usual experts: 

1) 2023 Instagram SEO: 10 Expert Tips for Better Reach

2) Instagram SEO: 5 Ways to Increase Your Discoverability

3) 2023 Instagram SEO: 7 Quick Fixes To Boost Your Visibility

Let's take a look at the list. Each of these are great blogs with examples and screenshots for each.  

HootSuite: 2023 Instagram SEO: 10 Expert Tips for Better Reach

1) Use Instagram SEO keywords in your captions
2) Use SEO-driven hashtags
3) Optimize your alt text
4) Use subtitles for video
5) Post at the right time
6) Lean into your niche
7) Add a location to your bio
8) Engage with accounts that rank for your target keywords
9) Follow the Recommendations Guidelines
10) Consider Meta Verified (for Creators only)

Later: Instagram SEO: 5 Ways to Increase Your Discoverability

1) Write Descriptive Captions With Keywords
2) Add Keywords to Your Instagram Profile Name 
3) Include up to 30 Relevant  Hashtags
4) Add Descriptive Alt Text to Your Instagram Posts
5) Be Consistent With Your Niche 

Keyhole: 2023 Instagram SEO: 7 Quick Fixes To Boost Your Visibility

1) Optimize Your Instagram Profile for Search
2) Write Keyword-Optimized Captions
3) Consider Hashtags as Keywords
4) Make the Most Out of Alt Text
5) Encourage Tagging
6) Steer Clear of Black Hat SEO
7) Track and Optimize 


Across the expert opinions, three fundamental tactics stand out: the strategic incorporation of keywords within your profile and captions; the use of alt text to accurately represent your images; and the careful selection of hashtags to broaden your reach. 

There is some debate among the leading experts on how many hashtags to use. Simply research the number of hashtags your successful competitors use to better tailor your approach.

Adding subtitles to videos is another valuable tactic. This caters to users who prefer muted or low-volume playback, thereby maximizing your content's accessibility.

Instagram's algorithm prioritizes content based on anticipated user engagement. Thus, enhancing your engagement could lead to greater content visibility.

On Hootsuite’s list, coming in at number 8, suggests actively engaging with accounts that rank for your target keywords.

In addition, we would suggest: 

  1. Engage industry influencers of all sizes. Contribute to the conversation and become a part of the community through commenting, liking, and sharing content. Similarly, direct engagement with potential customers is beneficial.
  1. Maintain consistency in your posting schedule. Investigate your competitors to discern their posting frequency across Instagram's various sections. Additionally, develop content specifically designed to drive engagement, such as contests, polls, or queries.
  1. Finally, monitoring, refining, and optimizing your strategy are essential components of any digital marketing initiative. Invest in your own set of marketing dashboards for this purpose. Our platform at, for example, offers built-in SEO capabilities.


Search Engines will begin to include social media content in their SERPs as generative AI allows them to understand the context and meet the new generation of users' demand. Get your Instagram ready.  

Preston Derrick