The Ultimate Guide to Instagram SEO | Varn


15 November 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram SEO

When many people think of SEO they think of Google and other search engines and how to higher up in the ‘rankings’ on their results pages.

Whilst this is still crucial and for many the cornerstone of the industry as a whole, there has been a lot of evolution in other platforms as well and the phrase SEO now covers optimisation strategies and techniques on a  wide range of different platforms and sites including: 

  • YouTube 
  • Instagram 
  • Facebook 
  • LinkedIn 
  • Twitter 
  • Podcasting platforms like Apple Music and Spotify 

Essentially, you should be thinking of SEO whether you are uploading your latest company podcast or sending out your next company tweet. There are plenty of opportunities to get your content in front of a wider audience without focusing too much on the orderly nature of rankings. 

Here we have compiled a guide of actions, strategies and quick wins that you can implement to improve the SEO of your Instagram page and start to create an audience that will support your growth as a business. 

So where do you start with Instagram SEO? 

For the sake of time we will assume that you already have an Instagram page set up and ready to go with a good idea of the content you are looking to share, so where do you start with your SEO on the site? 

1. Optimise your Instagram profile 

One of the main steps you should take is to optimise your Instagram profile page. Not only will this help your SEO, but it will also add valuable content that will help visitors to the page work out who you are and what you are about. Below we have listed some of the steps to take to optimise your Instagram page for SEO. 

2. Optimise your name and username, and BIO

If you want to optimise your profile for Instagram then including some primary keywords within your name and username will help increase your searchability, although it should be stated this is not the be-all and end-all for Instagram SEO. It is also worth noting that snippets from the profile bio’s are also pulled through, strengthening the case for having some target keywords within the first line of your Instagram bio.  

Try to avoid ‘keyword-stuffing’, just like Google, this can be a spammy tactic that will not get you anywhere on a platform like Instagram where content is key and optimisation comes in as a supporting function. 

3. Use keyword optimised captions 

Captions are a big part of Instagram SEO, and if you write keyword optimised captions you will make it easier for the Algorithm to pick up your posts and share them with the relevant people. It is worth noting that the content will be shown to different people depending on their interests, if you are a coffee company, your posts will be more likely to be shown to people who have expressed an interest in coffee, particularly if you are including relevant keywords within your captions. 

4. Add alt text to your images in an SEO friendly way

Alt tags are fantastic if you are looking to upgrade your Instagram SEO, and whilst they are less important in the eyes of Google, they can still have a considerable impact on the social media platform. Much like on your website, alt tags will help visually impaired audiences and you can use #hashtags and competitor handles in your alt tags to improve visibility and be found alongside your competitors and other relevant content. Make sure the alt tag is descriptive enough to be of value to potential audiences.

5. Lets talk hashtags

Additionally, a recent talk from Digital AdDoctor’s Freya Jones at BrightonSEO confirmed that #hashtags should be included within the caption of your Instagram posts as opposed to the first comment to drive better engagement. This is crucial if you want your #hashtags to be picked up by the Algorithm to improve your Instagram SEO. 

Whilst #hashtags are very important in Instagram just like other social media networks, you no longer need #hashtags to search for people or accounts, the information you have in your username and bio has become more important. 

Make sure you avoid potentially damaging ‘black hat’ tactics 

Whilst you may be tempted to use certain ‘black hat’ SEO tactics in Instagram like buying followers and likes, we recommend avoiding it at all costs. Much like Google, the Instagram algorithm will get better at weeding out companies employing poor tactics and punishing them accordingly. 

Ensure you properly track the results of your Instagram SEO

Once you have implemented a good Instagram content plan optimised for SEO you will want to find a way of tracking your progress. Find a good analytics provider and measure your results, we recommend not putting too much focus on vanity figures like followers as these can be misleading, although they are still very useful as a starting point.

Look at your engagement and find out if your SEO efforts are helping you get greater coverage on Instagram, this will help you work out what the next steps are and how to use the additional coverage to drive better results and revenue for your business.


Find a way to direct visits to your site if necessary 

If you are looking to drive leads and traffic to a site, then make sure you consider that aim when it comes to your Instagram SEO. Whilst this should not be the end goal, getting users off the site and into your databases and lead funnels will help give you more control over your channels, although it is worth noting that engagement on the platform is just as important. Try not to view Instagram purely as a means of driving leads and signups for your business and potential clients. 

Incorporate Instagram into your wider search strategy 

Whilst having a strong Instagram presence will not directly impact your SEO in Google, it will help you build an audience and drive relevant and engaged traffic to your site, which will help build your overall digital visibility and following. 

Make sure you keep an eye on your Instagram and keep up to date with any new SEO changes and tactics the site may be making to ensure you stay ahead of the competition. Of course, if you would like any information on SEO and how we can help, then feel free to get in touch with a member of the Varn team today. 

When many people think of SEO they think of Google and other search engines and how to higher up in the ‘rankings’ on their results pages.

Article by: David, SEO Account Manager More articles by David

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