Instagram optimisation has always been vital, but in 2023 its importance grew even further when the recently implemented feature of keyword search spread across accounts around the globe. This capability means a deeper dive into Instagram SEO and content optimisation. This piece reveals how exactly you can optimise your Instagram account to increase its discoverability and visibility.

Let’s start by explaining the search-by-keyword capability now available on Instagram.

💡 By the way, check your account to see if you can search and find photos and videos when entering specific keywords into the search field.

Instagram SEO Update: Search by Keyword

In 2020, Instagram updated its search capabilities and allowed users to search by keywords in addition to hashtags, users, and locations. So now, when you enter a keyword into the search bar on Instagram, you’ll see photo and video content that is related to this keyword. Pretty much how Google and Pinterest search work.

The content in the results contains the search queries in photo and video captions.

How Instagram Search by Keywords Work

Just like in Google or Pinterest, you enter a keyword, and Instagram shows you media if the captions contain this keyword.

To return certain content search results, Instagram considers multiple factors, such as type of content, captions, which account posts this, and more. Clearly, machine learning is used to return the content of the biggest relevance.

Besides, according to the Instagram representative, 'The search is limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines.'

Best Practices to Improve Instagram SEO

Some takeaways from the Instagram blog article on how the platform ranks the search results are:

  • Based on your search queries, Instagram decides which content to show to you.
  • Search results are organised according to what’s most relevant to you based on your previous searches and interaction with content.
  • In addition to text you enter into the search field, Instagram takes into account information from accounts, hashtags and places (these are called signals) to rank the search results.

These are the most important signals taken into consideration when returning the results after you enter a search query, placed in order of importance:

  • Text of your search query. Instagram tries to match your query with usernames, bios, captions, hashtags, and places.
  • Your interactions, such as the accounts you follow, posts you’ve already viewed, and how you interacted with these accounts in the past.
  • Popularity of the account or content. When there are too many search results, Instagram considers the number of likes, clicks, shares, and followers.

Just like on proper search engines, see?

Some More Things to Note If You Want to Hack Instagram SEO

Instagram says they’re planning to expand the Instagram Search capabilities and allow people to use more keywords to discover the content they’re interested in.

So far, only keywords in English can be used to unlock search results that aren’t bound to locations, hashtags, or usernames. Other languages are coming soon.

💡 With all due respect to Instagram, we’d also add two more things to this advice:

  1. Use alt text. Alt text allows you to tell Instagram what your post is about. You can use it as a proper SEO tool, though it was initially designed for visually-impaired people.
  2. Be consistent with your content. Sounds like generic advice, we know. However, if you keep your content around your niche, it lets Instagram understand what your profile is about. When you post content on pretty much the same topics, that makes you use similar keywords in captions, which is also a vital contributing factor in Instagram SEO.

💡 Combin Scheduler, a free Instagram content planner, helps you achieve this posting consistency. With Combin Scheduler, you can plan Instagram posts and even stories in advance or instantly post them! In-app preview, hashtags management, link in bio, and hassle-free reposting are also available in Combin Scheduler.

What Does Search by Keyword Mean for Instagram SEO?

This update opens new horizons for Instagram optimisation and places captions optimisation as the primary measure to increase content discoverability. If previous robust ways to optimise Instagram content were putting the right hashtags and location tags, now we know for sure that putting the right keywords into the caption is more important.

Let’s get back to the post from the Instagram blog and see how the platform helps you show up in search results. Here's what you should keep in mind when you want to appear in search results more often:

  • Make your handle and/or profile name match the content you’re posting. Search results depend on texts very much, so your Instagram username or profile name should fit your overall account vibe.
  • Add keywords and locations to your bio. This is pretty much the same. Your bio should include keywords that showcase who you are, what you do and what your account is about. If your profile is location-specific, include the location in your bio as well. This will help people from your area find you.
  • Add relevant keywords and hashtags to your captions. Instagram highlights this one: you should add keywords and hashtags into your caption, not the comments.

This Content Instagram Doesn’t Show in Search Results

Instagram has Community Guidelines all users’ content must comply with. This is why there’s certain content that has no chance to appear in search results. Posts and hashtags that go against Instagram Recommendations Guidelines won’t be shown in the search results. More specific? Instagram sheds light on that as well:

  1. Accounts that post spammy content or content that go against the Community Guidelines are shown lower in search results. In order to find these accounts, users need to enter their full usernames.
  2. Content that might be harmful is also shown lower.
  3. Posts and hashtags that violate the Community Guidelines aren’t shown in the search results whatsoever, since they are removed from Instagram.

Instagram SEO: The Bottom Line

We’ve listed the most recent advice shared by Instagram itself on how you can boost your content’s discoverability in search results. The main takeaway is to inlcude relevant keywords in captions, not comments, just like you do when writing blog posts, coming up with a YouTube video description or a meta description for your site.

If you want to increase your Instagram reach even further, try Combin Growth to promote your Instagram page organically. This tool lets you use targeted search of potential customers, interact with them in a batch, mass view their stories, detect your current audience's relevance, unfollow those who don't follow you back and a plethora of other stuff 👇