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5 Instagram SEO Techniques To Extend Your Reach

Last updated on September 14, 2022
9 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Optimizing Instagram SEO will lead to higher engagement.
  • We've outlined 5 tips to help you get your account noticed.
  • Be sure to avoid common SEO bad practices.

Skill Level


You may be asking yourself, how do I reach the most potential customers on my Instagram account? The answer: Instagram search optimization. 

While this may be a concept you have not heard of, there are several SEO techniques and knowledge that you already use on your website that you can apply to social media. This guide will cover five Instagram SEO techniques that will help you boost exposure, followers, customers and engagement.

1. Update Your Profile

Instagram SEO works similarly to Google SEO, so when you optimize your profile, your page and posts will show up for relevant searches. If you are new to Instagram, here are a few simple tricks that will help you improve your profile:

  • Make sure your profile is set to public.
  • Your profile image should be on-brand (i.e. your logo).
  • Register your page as an Instagram Business account.

Your username, display name, and bio are great spots to use your target keywords. This will ensure you pop up for searches related to your business.

Username and Display Name

Choose a username/handle and display name that are relevant to your business and content. Your company name is a great choice to start with, especially if you have a well known brand. If there is room in your handle, you can also include your primary keyword. For example, say you have a winery named “Grapes,” your username should be @grapes_winery rather than solely @grapes to provide context. The goal is to create a searchable username that makes sense for your business.

That being said, be sure not to force your primary keywords into these sections if it is too long or does not flow. For instance, FareHarbor does not include “tours” or “Dashboard” in the username or display name, but we can still come up in searches. One reason is because we added keywords in our bio.

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Adding keywords to your bio also helps with your Instagram SEO. Rather than using your primary keyword, begin to use your secondary keywords. In terms of the winery example above, you could use “wine tasting” or “vineyard tour.” Luckily, the keywords you decide to feature in this section will be the same as those you use in your regular SEO keyword strategy, like your most popular tours and activities and the location of your business. 

Your bio is the space to tell users what your account is all about. Create copy that is concise, informative, and uses your keywords naturally. As with traditional SEO, avoid keyword stuffing – the practice of adding too many keywords.

2. Use your keywords as hashtags

Treat your hashtags as if they are your keywords. Many users, or potential customers, will find you through a hashtag rather than a search for your company name. You can include hashtags in your bio and on individual posts. 

It’s important to include hashtags on every picture or video you put up. Each post can have its own goal and strategy, but they should all be aimed at getting your company and its offerings out there. 

Pro tip: Your hashtags should differ on every image and video you put up. Of course, you can include some staple hashtags, such as your company name. But, when you diversify on each post, you have the ability to reach a larger audience.

3. Perfect your captions

Creating a compelling, relevant caption that includes your keywords will also help get your posts noticed. When searching on Instagram, each keyword has its own “Explore” page. You want to write a caption that describes what your business offers and uses your target keywords where they make sense. Similar to the point above, your captions can have a different strategy or audience depending on what you are posting.

Imagine that you run a vegan food tour in a city. When you post an amazing photo of vegan tacos, you could to include a caption that reads something like “Join us for our evening vegan food tour that stops at all of your favorite Mexican restaurants. Tacos, margaritas, salsa – what more could you ask for?!” This includes exactly what your company offers, while highlighting a few keywords for this specific tour. 

Pro Tip: Include location tags in your posts. This can be especially helpful if you have several business locations. Add in the city or town where your company is located, a popular destination on your tour, or anywhere else that makes sense for your business. Go to post content, click “Add Location,” search for your location at the top, click on your choice, and you are set.

4. Utilize Alt Text

Instagram alt text works just as it does on webpages. It is a description of your image or video that is designed to make content accessible for individuals with visual impairments. It can also be useful if the image or video fails to load. 

Instagram does auto generate alt text, however, it is typically much more broad than what you would write. Learn how to write better alt-text in our guide to technical SEO.

To add alt text, when creating a new post, click on “Advanced Settings.” Under “Accessibility” tap “Write Alt Text.” There you can write your alt text description. Finally, click “Save.”

5. Avoid Common Bad Practices

As with your typical SEO strategy, there are also negative ways you can affect your Instagram SEO. To begin, you can take a look at the Instagram Recommendations Guidelines. Accounts that go against these practices will rank lower on searches. Then, more importantly, the Instagram Community Guidelines will show you how your posts or accounts can get deleted or suspended. 

In terms of common bad Instagram SEO practices, here is what you should avoid:

  • Do not steal content from other accounts – even if you edit or change the image/video.
  • Do not use Instagram bots to make it seem like you have higher engagement.
  • Do not buy followers or likes.
  • Do not follow too many accounts too fast.
  • Do not attempt keyword stuffing.
  • Do not post content that is considered clickbait or misleading.

Now you have some of the techniques that will help your business and your posts get noticed on Instagram. As always, you want to track your posts to see if you are gaining engagement and followers as you work on your updated SEO strategy. As a bonus, consider boosting a post to get even more engagement on your Instagram posts!

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