It is undeniable that Instagram is a viable marketing platform in 2020. Having now reached over one billion active monthly subscribers means that it is now more popular than social media giants such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
This equates to a lot of users sitting around waiting to see your content. So what you need to know is how can you reach all of those users and create opportunities for them to engage with your brand?
The answer to this might not be what you expect, SEO for Instagram.
You may be wondering, can I really use the same SEO techniques I use to optimize web pages for a social media app?
Yes indeed you can, However the trick to this isn’t forcing Instagram into your existing SEO strategy, but to instead use what you know about SEO to drive organic growth to your Instagram account. Think of Instagram as its own search engine. The platform already has built in search functions that act like its own miniature Google.
Below we are going to go over eight Instagram SEO techniques to expand your reach.
1. Optimize Your Instagram Profile.
The first step you should take involves optimizing your Instagram profile. Even if you manage to drive traffic to your Instagram account, it won’t have any long term benefit if your profile isn’t optimized for the best user experience.
Here are some simple tricks for optimizing your Instagram account.
Make Your Profile Public.
- Choose A Colorful, On-Brand Profile Image.
- Create A Recognizable And Searchable @Username.
- Create An Easily Searchable Business Name.
- Register For An Instagram Business Account.
- Include A Traceable Link In Your Bio.
Like I said these tips are simple, and may seem like a no-brainer for the majority of you, however it is important to lay the groundwork before you make any other SEO changes. Once you’ve got these basics covered you can move onto the more technical optimization steps.
2. Include Your Primary Keyword In Your Display Name And @Username.
As was mentioned previously, Instagram is its own self-contained search engine. In order to show up for the correct terms in the search bar, you will need to work within the app itself to land the coveted top-of-search position.
To start with you’ll need to pinpoint your primary keyword. Say your primary keyword is sportswear, by including this in both your @Username and display name your significantly increase the chances of showing up in the search results for suggested accounts.
3. Use Your Secondary Keywords In The Bio.
Now that you have your primary keyword, it’s time to get the most out of your secondary keywords. Secondary keywords are the phrases and topics that revolve around your primary keyword.
Lets use the primary keyword sportswear again, secondary keywords for this could be climbing gear, football helmets, or soccer shoes.
Secondary keywords are perfect for catching people who might not be searching for your primary keyword but could still be interested in your product.
4. Treat Your Hashtags As Keywords.
Once your done optimizing your profile, its time to optimize your posts. This is going to be an ongoing process that requires special attention. Most users aren’t going to look for you directly. They are more likely to discover you through a hashtag on a specific post.
This is why each of your Instagram posts need to have its own hashtag strategy. You should be treating hashtags like secondary keywords.
However avoid using the same hashtags repeatedly, using a couple hashtags that utilize your brand name on most posts, while changing up a couple others that are specific to each post can be a good strategy.
5. Use Secondary Keywords In Your Image Captions.
We’ve mentioned a couple times how Instagram is a self-contained search engine, which means that every part of your Instagram experience should be focused on keywords. Crafting a compelling, engaging caption is critical for attracting new followers whilst satisfying existing ones.
With the right caption you can do more than just catch a users attention, it can also help you show up in search results. In the same way that you optimized your bio and hashtags with secondary keywords, do the same for your Instagram caption.
6. Take Advantage Of Instagram Alt Text.
Instagram alt text is a newer feature that allows users to write captions for their photos.
This feature was originally designed to help the visually impaired users enjoy their Instagram experience, but it can also be used for SEO. Instagram will automatically populate alt text options for your photos if you choose to skip this step, so it’s better to do it yourself to ensure that the caption matches whats actually in the photo.
In order to access your alt text options, advance to the screen right before you share your photo and click on the advanced settings tab at the bottom.
After that, scroll to the bottom and select the “write your alt text” option, from there you can craft your perfect image description.
Once completed share your photo as normal. The benefits for changing your Instagram alt text are the same as when you use alt text on photos for your website. It can help your posts rank better in the algorithm, have your results pulled for voice search, and more.
7. Track Everything With Analytics.
If this is your first time using SEO techniques to grow, then you need to be tracking how your new Instagram strategy is impacting your overall social media goals.
While Instagram does already have an in-platform analytics feature, it only allows you to pull data from a certain date. Once that window closes, the data is lost and replaced. While this may be okay for the casual user, it’s far from ideal coming from a marketing perspective.
Social Media tools such as Hootsuite, Sprinklr, or Sprout Social allow you to bypass this with robust data analytic tracking services, automated reports, and more. They allow users to analyze performance of posts and campaigns to optimize your content for the future.
Same as all content marketing strategies, having hard data behind your content plan is key. Tracking the success of your new Instagram SEO strategy will help you refine your content as you go, gain buy-in from leadership, and improve the overall success of your strategy.
8. Avoid Common Black Hat SEO Techniques.
You may be under the impression that Google is the only website that is sophisticated enough to spot and punish users that participate in black hat SEO tactics, however that isn’t true. Instagram has recently begun cracking down on accounts that try and cheat the system. Most recently they’ve began to implement a shadow-ban for users that repeatedly break the rules.
Common Instagram Black Hat SEO Techniques To Avoid.
- Don’t Steal Content.
- Don’t Use Bots.
- Don’t Keyword Stuff.
- Don’t Follow Too Many Accounts Too Fast.
- Don’t Buy Followers.
SEO is a long-term strategy and it can get quite frustrating when you don’t see results right away. The lure of using a quick-fix to see a boost in followers or organic reach can seem too good to pass up, but the results can be disastrous if you get caught. If you’re looking to build your Instagram account the correct way, avoid these tactics at all costs.