Instagram SEO: 5 Ways to Increase Your Discoverability

If you want more eyes on your content, robust Instagram Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital to your Instagram strategy. There’s no point having great content if no one can find it. If you’ve been posting informative, educational content and getting crickets, you need to focus on ways to increase your discoverability. Here are five ways Instagram SEO can help your business become more searchable:

1. Use hashtags to increase your discoverability

First, let’s talk about the most debated form and most common (and the best) way to get discovered—the humble hashtag. To be honest, there’s nothing humble about these little beauties. There is much debate about how many hashtags to use, where to use them and where to place them—with the caption or in the first comment.

I often hear people say that my hashtags aren’t working, or hashtags don’t work like they used to. Hashtags haven’t stopped working; you’re simply not using the right ones. Hashtags are the only way that Instagram can categorise images and videos. They tell the algorithm what the image/video is about, the type of community it will appeal to, and the location. Without hashtags, how will users who don’t know about your business know what you’re offering could be relevant to them?

You can use up to 30 relevant hashtags in the caption or first comment (Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri came out and said to put them in the caption. After trialling it out, I haven’t really seen much difference). Why 30? Because it’s 30 opportunities for someone to discover your business. Forget what you’ve heard that Instagram penalises you for using 30 hashtags. Think about it! Why would they allow you to use 30 hashtags and then punish you for it? So if you’re not using hashtags because you think it looks spammy or only using 5-10, then you are missing out on expanding your discoverability.

What hashtags should I use?

It’s important to be strategic in choosing your hashtags and do some research. There are some great hashtag generator apps that can help you select the appropriate ones, such as Hashtag Stack or Inflact. Be careful of simply selecting all the popular hashtags that have been used millions of times. The popular hashtags might give your content an initial burst of activity for a few seconds before being bumped down the page way past the point that anyone scrolling will end up seeing.

Instead, I recommend choosing 1-3 popular hashtags that fall between 1 million and 1.5 million uses. After you’ve selected your popular hashtags, choose 5-6 average #'s (500k-1 million) & 5-6 rare hashtags (100k-500k). Niche hashtags (10k-100k) are your branded hashtags that are relevant to your industry, choose 5 of these. You’ll then also need 1-2 community hashtags (example #yogalovers #aussiemumtribe) and 1-2 geotags (example #bondibeach #dubbo #sydneymums).

Is it okay to delete hashtags when the post is been online for a while?

No! Those of you with OCD who have an innate desire to delete hashtags because you think it looks messy or spammy, just don’t! Hashtags are to Instagram as to what the Dewey Decimal System is to your local library. Can you imagine going to the library only to find all the books in some random order with no means of categorising them?

Obviously, I have a lot to say about hashtags that point number one probably should have been its own mini-blog. However, there is more to Instagram SEO than hashtags. Now that you understand their importance, let’s keep moving.

2. Use alt text.

Alt-text is short for alternative text and lets you write descriptions of what’s in the photo. For example, a sunflower in a field, a dog riding a surfboard, social media manager pulling out hair because people won’t use 30 relevant hashtags. Avoid using terms like ‘an image of or a picture of’. It’s important to use colours, textures, objects and, if possible, your brand. It allows screen reader software to read the alt description aloud for those with low vision or blindness. Alt-text is also important for discoverability. If you’re not sure where to add alt text, open the app on your phone. At the bottom of the screen, look for advanced settings and tap. Scroll down to Accessibility and click write alt text. If you use a scheduling platform like SkedSocial, you will find it at the bottom of the create post page.

3. Captions require keywords

Your captions need to be carefully constructed with keywords. Before you write your caption, ask yourself what is your intention of posting and how are you clearly going to communicate what you want your followers to do? Does it contain keywords and a call to action? When planning, be thoughtful and strategic with your captions. Do keyword research using a tool such as UberSuggest or SemRush to find keywords and search terms people are actually searching for. What people search for on Google may be slightly different to Instagram, but it gives you a good place to start. You can also type keywords into the search bar on Instagram and see what comes up if you are stuck for ideas.

4. Pimp your profile

You may not have seen MTV’s Pimp My Ride, where they take boring, run of the mill cars and transform them into something that turns heads; you can do the same thing to your Instagram bio. Learn how to sparkle amongst the millions of others by using relevant keywords from your niche in your username and profile. Make sure your contact details are listed and correct and that it’s simple to understand what you do from a glance.

5. Consistency is important

There’s no point carrying out search engine optimised content for a week or two. Instagram SEO is for life. If you struggle to make yourself accountable and are simply posting content to tick a box, then perhaps it’s time you booked in with The Social Media Coach for some accountability.

I can make sure you are staying on track and help you navigate the competitive world of Instagram SEO to increase your discoverability.

You can contact me HERE.


About Emily Rose Hills

Emily Rose Hills is one of Australia’s leading social media experts. Emily has worked in social media for over a decade and has recently launched THE SOCIAL MEDIA COACH to support her mission of demystifying the world of social media one person at a time.

Previously, Emily led social media teams at THE ICONIC, NRL & Finder and is passionate about shining light on the actual work that goes into building and managing online communities. She shares a social media tip a day on Linkedin & Instagram, so if you're not already, follow her journey there. If you have a question about social media, you can book time in her calendar HERE.