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Instagram is one of the most rapidly evolving social media platforms we have today. 

While Instagram doesn’t always clarify when it has changed its algorithms, it disclosed some general information on what makes content rank back in August 2021.

To everyone’s surprise, many of the strategies web managers use to optimize their content on the web could still work on Instagram.

Read on to learn how Instagram search works and some important ranking factors its algorithms use to rank content.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

How Instagram Search Works

How To Rank Better for Keywords Instagram

The New Improvements to Instagram Search

Final Thoughts: How To Optimize Your Instagram Content To Improve Visibility

How Instagram Search Works

Instagram search lets users find information using the platform’s search function. You can use the search bar on the Explore page to look for people, hashtags and locations.

Depending on the content, Instagram then organizes results by what is most relevant to you.

How Instagram Search Ranks Results

Besides the text you type, Instagram uses your account, location, and hashtags to rank results.

Here are the top three ranking signals Instagram considers for ranking:

  • Text: During a search, Instagram matches your text using existing bios, usernames and hashtags. Instagram considers the text you enter in the search bar as the most important ranking signal.
  • Activity: The activities that could lead Instagram to rank results include how you interact with different accounts, accounts you follow and the posts you view. Ideally, Instagram will rank the hashtags and accounts you follow or visit higher in the search results.
  • Engagement: Instagram also considers several popularity signals, including the number of followers, shares, likes and clicks for a particular account, place or hashtag.

How To Rank Better for Keywords on Instagram

Smartphone showing Instagram insights resulting from keyword optimization
Image Source

You want followers and potential customers to find you quickly. Therefore, improving visibility on Instagram is a must.

Here are actionable tips to help you rank better in search:

Select a Searchable Username 

To help the audience find your username on Instagram, you should optimize it with keywords that describe your business.

Your username should be straightforward, unique, and readable to ensure your followers can easily find you using the search tool.

That also means you’ll also want to avoid using extra characters in your handle.

Choose Relevant Keywords and Location Tags in Your Bio

To optimize your bio, include any high-value relevant keywords that you didn’t use in your username.

Your bio information should describe who you are and what your page is about to help potential clients and new followers find you.

Also, location tags are essential when someone searches for your business by location.

Include Relevant Keywords and Hashtags in Your Captions

To increase your online visibility, use keywords and hashtags in your captions. You can place them next to your user name as title tags or use them randomly in the text.

Using relevant descriptive keywords makes you more likely to appear on searches for users who have searched for topics related to those keywords.

Avoid Controversy To Rank Better on Instagram

Sensitive topics or depicting violence will only push a post lower in search results. Instagram will filter out any content ignoring its recommendation guidelines. In such a case, Instagram might penalize specific posts, entire hashtags and accounts.

Instagram could also remove accounts, posts or hashtags that violate its community guidelines.

Instagram is looking to refine how search results work by displaying what’s most relevant to a user.

According to the company’s CEO, Instagram is working on a “full search results page experience,” which will allow individuals to find more value in their search.

The company plans to increase the keywords a user can search for and empower users to explore more topics. For instance, if you currently search Instagram for “diet,” it will return hashtags and accounts with the word “diet” in them.

Soon, a similar search will pull up results for accounts and hashtags plus related videos and photos. That is especially useful if you don’t have an exact profile name or hashtag when searching for a given topic.

Final Thoughts: How To Optimize Your Instagram Content To Improve Visibility

The sole importance of SEO on Instagram is to appear on top of search results. To rank better for keywords, you need to pay close attention to your profile, bio and captions.

It all comes down to optimizing your content to be discoverable on Instagram search. You can try the strategies we showed you to improve your ranking.

Have you tried any of the SEO strategies we have highlighted? How did it turn out?

Let us know your thoughts by dropping your comments below or Tweeting @Bluehost.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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