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Instagram SEO: Optimising Instagram for Search Engines


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instagram SEO | SEO Sydney

A brand’s social presence is everything, which is where Instagram SEO comes in. Marketing your Instagram profile should extend beyond Instagram itself. Getting your Instagram account to rank in Google’s (SERP’s) Search Engine Results Pages results has proven to be notoriously difficult. Why? Because Instagram actually blocks search engines from indexing Instagram images. Profiles themselves can be indexed, however, the images cannot. While this may present an obstacle in your marketing strategy to get additional traffic to the account itself from search engines, Instagram SEO isn’t impossible. Here’s what SEO Sydney believes you need to remember:

The most important keyword must be included in your @handle

Your title tag is automatically generated by using your Instagram profile’s information, like so:
Your Name (@username) • Instagram photos and videos
Make sure to include your primary target keyword within your profile name. This is the main way to get the most important keyword into your Instagram title tag. If you haven’t done that, make sure to include it in your bio.

Benefit from a keyword-rich bio

Optimising your Instagram account’s bio for search engines is one of the most vital things you can do. While there’s a limitation of 150 characters, it’s similar to Google’s dynamic limit on meta descriptions. You can also implement hashtags into your bio, which will act as clickable links that take users to a variety of posts with that same hashtag. Your bio will render as html and is crawlable by search engines. It’s essentially the only text on your profile and where the optimisation takes place. Ideally, you’d want to have a snappy bio with a limited amount of hashtags. Make sure you’re getting straight to the point what your brand is and what your business is about.

Image recognition

Instagram has always been and remains a visual platform. Your SEO success will be measured by what type of photos you post and their quality. Distinguishing the content should be the first step: is it a product, a face, or a landscape? Instagram uses ‘image recognition’, a type of technology which classifies images according to their content. This technology helps grow your Instagram account by displaying photos to users who are interested in similar content, but haven’t come across your account yet.  

Think of your image captions as title tags

When Instagram creates a page for your post, the title tag includes the image’s caption. Your profile name (not @handle !) and caption show up in the search engine results. Always ensure before you post that your caption is appropriate to your image and captures the essence of your brand or business. Remember that your title tag will be cut off and that all the valuable information is included at the beginning of the caption. 

Why the Alt Text feature is so important for Instagram SEO

At the start of the year, Instagram added a handy new feature, which allowed users to add text behind your photos and videos: the ALT text (or tag). With a limit of 100 characters to this text, it was designed to help SEO rankings and make people think instead of just copy/pasting the photo’s caption into the description. The ALT text lets users with a slow internet connection or visual disabilities to ‘view’ images in their feed. It also helps the Instagram algorithm to organise content. With this feature your photos will start ranking on Google Image searches.

instagram seo alt text example | SEO Sydney Agency
  1. Set up your post as you normally would and tap ‘Advanced Settings’ at the bottom of your screen
  2. In the ‘ACCESSIBILITY’ column tap ‘Write Alt Text’
  3. Type in a detailed description of your image
  4. Tap ‘Done’ at the top right corner of your screen

Instagram’s use of no-follow links

An important thing to remember is that Instagram uses no-follow links. No matter what content you’re posting to your account, no-follow links have no direct impact on your page rank. This means they won’t affect the results of your search ranking.

Use Instagram to increase your traffic

While page ranks are obviously important to SEO, it’s not the only purpose. Utilising SEO to drive traffic to your website is a massive win. You can do so by linking your Instagram account your website and/or shop, as well as any other social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Interconnected links are still no-follow links, but they help provide additional traffic. You have to remember that Instagram generates inbound links, lower bounce, and repeat readers—all SEO signals that affect search engines.

Instagram is a search engine in itself

While Google doesn’t directly use social media for ranking, or so it says, as you search for companies and celebrities names, their respective social media accounts and websites will appear at the top of your Google search. What this indicates is that even if Instagram doesn’t affect your website’s rank directly—the more followers and traffic you get, the more spots on page one of Google you will get. Popular companies use social media in order to boost their engagement and traffic, drawing the conclusion that SEO and Instagram go hand-in-hand.

Account example

A perfect example of a good account is WeWork. Implementing hashtags into their bio and captions, the shared office space makes great use of visual content that is likely to gain viral traction.

WeWork has accumulated over 500,000 followers and regularly earns thousands of likes on its posts. While the company is great at tapping into trending hashtags, it’s among many Instagram accounts that still aren’t using the ALT text feature. Remember, Instagram Alt Text can be seen as an extension of Instagram SEO. Using the feature helps Instagram and the algorithm “understand” more clearly the content of the image. So you’re setting up your new Instagram account right now, the Alt Text can expand your content’s discoverability on Instagram.

If you’re interested in finding out more SEO tips, check out SEO Sydney – the experts in anything and everything SEO

One thought on "Instagram SEO: Optimising Instagram for Search Engines"

  1. Nora says:

    Great information and resources! Thank you!

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