What Is Instagram SEO?

What is Instagram SEO?

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When you hear the term ‘SEO’, you probably think of Google. Maybe you think of Bing or Yahoo. What you might not think of is Instagram.

It is, in fact possible (and wise) to optimise your Instagram profile so that it can be found by more users. With the recent introduction of keyword search on Instagram, it is more important than ever to improve your discoverability.

What Is Instagram SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation and refers to the practice of adjusting your website in order to obtain better search engine rankings. When it comes to Instagram, SEO refers to optimising your Instagram profile so that more users find it when searching for content like yours.

You can optimise your Instagram profile in many different ways, but the newest and most interesting way is by focusing on keyword search.

What Is Keyword Search?

Until recently, Instagram’s search allowed you to search only by username, hashtag or location. Towards the end of last year, Instagram introduced the option to search for keywords. When you search for a keyword, you are shown a page of posts from different users relating to the search term.

Keyword search is currently not available for all search terms. If keyword search is available for your search term, Instagram will show you a selection of related keywords to choose from. Otherwise, you’ll just see a list of related accounts as usual.

For example, in the pictures below, you can see that keyword search is available when searching for ‘christmas’ or ‘pizza’, but not available when searching for ‘SEO’ or ‘digital marketing’.

A set of screenshots showing the Instagram search results for different search terms. Some where keyword search is available and some where it is not.

Keyword search only searches grid posts, not Stories, Reels, IGTV, or Guides.

So How Do You Optimise For Keyword Search?

Instagram have not provided a lot of information about how they select posts to be shown in the search results so it’s hard to know exactly which factors they consider.

According to The Verge, an Instagram spokesperson said they consider ‘a number of factors’, including the ‘type of content, captions, when it was posted’ and more.

The most obvious way to optimise for keyword search is to include keywords in your captions and hashtags. Scrolling through the search results for different keywords shows that not every post has hashtagged the keyword but I would definitely advise that you should in order to maximise your chances of appearing.

Other factors like types of content and time of posting are harder to control because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. All you can do is experiment with different types of post and posting at different times.

Of course, keyword search isn’t the only way for users to find your account and there are other ways you should be optimising your account to maximise your opportunities.

Optimising Your Instagram Profile

There are a few ways to optimise your profile and increase your chances of being found on Instagram. Let’s start with your display name. Your username may or may not contain keywords relating to your industry but that doesn’t matter as long as you optimise your display name.

Rather than simply filling this space with the name of your business, use it to tell users what services you provide. For example, my display name is ‘Sophie | SEO & Web Design’. This means that when users search for ‘seo’ or ‘web design’, there is a chance that my account could be suggested to them.

You should also aim to include keywords in your bio. Instagram crawls bios to learn more about your account and what it’s about so optimising your bio for your keywords can increase your chances of being found in the search results.

Another way to boost your Instagram SEO is to write descriptive alt text containing keywords. The primary purpose of alt text is to make Instagram more accessible to visually impaired people so it’s important that your alt text properly describes your image and isn‘t just a list of keywords. However, it is possible to write alt text which is both descriptive and optimised for your keywords and this is what you should aim to do.


The introduction of keyword search, along with the opportunities for profile optimisation, means Instagram SEO is essential for increasing the discoverability of your page.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other Instagram SEO tips!

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