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Instagram SEO strategy & how does the search algorithm work?

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Instagram has become one of the most popular and well-liked social media. It is easy to use, something for everyone, and it is free. But, of course, Instagram is used not only for personal reasons. It is also a powerful content marketing tool that every marketer should include in their campaigns. But the question arises: how do you stand out in a sea of more than a billion Instagram users? To do so, you must learn the basics of Instagram SEO and appease Instagram’s almighty (and ever-changing) algorithm.

This article will look at how Instagram’s algorithm works and suggest how to build an effective SEO strategy based on Instagram hashtag search.


How does Instagram search work?

Like a traditional search engine, Instagram analyzes accounts and learns when and how to display them in its results. According to Instagram, the search results a user sees are based on several factors, including:

  • Instagram profiles that the user is following
  • Instagram accounts the user links to
  • Instagram posts that the user has liked

If a brand wants to grow its community of followers, it should consider its Instagram profile as its subsequent website. Thus, proper planning of the Instagram SEO strategy is essential for success.

Key ranking factors for Instagram SEO

Indeed, you know how much work it takes to get a company website in organic search results on Google. The same is true for Instagram SEO. To make your Instagram profile visible to other users, you must learn the critical factors that will improve your Instagram search positioning. Each of the many social media platforms has individual guidelines, based on which it matches the search results presented to the user to the phrase they type into the search bar.

Here are the key factors to consider if you want to optimize your Instagram profile and plan an Instagram SEO Strategy.

  1. Matching search results on Instagram to the content of the query

Every time a user types a phrase into Instagram’s search bar, the algorithm tries to show the most relevant content, like posts, accounts, places, and appropriate hashtags for the user’s query content. So that using good keywords in your publications is the most crucial factor to address when designing Instagram SEO tactics.

  1. Instagram presence

The algorithm calculates whether users will be interested in specific content based on their past activity and Instagram experience. Instagram accounts for any Instagram posts or content that has interested the user in the past.

If Instagram determines that someone will be more interested in one position than another, it will prioritize that in search results. For example, if a user typically likes and comments on photos that feature coffee, this is a sign to the algorithm that relevant searches will include other coffee-related content.

How does Instagram know if a picture contains a cup of coffee? Their image recognition technology allows this social platform to understand visual content better. In addition, creators also use Instagram hashtags, which we’ll discuss later.

  1. Matching

When there are more relevant search results for a given keyword, Instagram has to select the most relevant content for that user carefully. It resembles a popularity contest. So the algorithm evaluates the number of likes, shares, and follows for that post or the account. The algorithm will also consider a user’s previous interactions with a given Instagram account.

  1. Time to add an Instagram posts

Last but not least important Instagram SEO factors to keep in mind are the date and the hour of the creation of the post. Pierweriority the algorithm gives to the most recent posts.


New Instagram Algorithm Changes in 2022

Items described above are some general guidelines that, like in the case of any other search engine, are subject to change. Also, in 2022, creators on Instagram had to adapt to the new policies regarding search engine optimization. Currently, it is estimated that only 10-20% of your followers see your posts. That is not optimistic news. However, we have tips to help you outsmart the algorithm and improve your Instagram strategy.

Five Instagram SEO important factors in 2022

Currently, Instagram’s algorithm considers five fundamental interactions:

  • Time: Does the user intend to spend time on the post?
  • Likes: What is the probability that the user will like the post?
  • Comments: Is it likely that the user will comment on the post?
  • Subscription: How likely is the user to save the post?
  • Tap on profile: How likely is it that a user will go to the Instagram account after reading the post?

“The more likely you are to take action, and the more heavily we weigh that action, the higher up you’ll see the post,” says Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram.

Due to the variability of the algorithm, Instagram optimization is a difficult task. However, one thing has been staying the same since the beginning – is the critical role of hashtags.


Instagram hashtag strategy

Hashtags on Instagram constitute a significant visibility lever. That is because they allow the content to which they are attached to be indexed. Used in a good way, they can make your brand popular. In contrast, using the wrong way can destroy your entire marketing strategy. So it’s good to know how to choose and optimize them.

Hashtags are used on many social networks. The most famous is Twitter, followed by Instagram, which allows the use of up to 30 of its publications. A hashtag is essential for anyone who wants to position themselves on a particular topic.

Example: if one of your content contains these hashtags: #Italy and #Tourism. Users can find it in the two categories.

How to research Instagram hashtags?

Creating the perfect Instagram post requires a wise balance between content, originality, and hashtag matching. In turn, the secret to using all the power of relevant hashtags on Instagram accounts is choosing them well. At the same time, pay attention that under no circumstances should you include one of the Instagram-banned hashtags in your publication.

How to avoid using a banned hashtag?

If you want to check whether Instagram has banned a particular hashtag, type it into the Instagram search bar and see if posts with that hashtag appear in the Instagram explore section. If not, avoid that phrase so your post doesn’t get banned.

Top Instagram hashtags

You already know how to identify the Instagram-banned hashtags that you shouldn’t use. Now it’s time to look at the currently most popular and which you should apply. Just remember not to use only the most popular ones.

Many regular keyword research tools are available online to see what is trending on Instagram. However, to make it easier, below is the list of the most popular hashtags on Instagram in 2022.

  1. #love
  2. #instagood
  3. #photooftheday
  4. #fashion
  5. #beautiful
  6. #happy
  7. #cute
  8. #tbt
  9. #like4like
  10. #followme
  11. #picoftheday
  12. #follow
  13. #me
  14. #selfie
  15. #summer
  16. #art
  17. #instadaily
  18. #friends
  19. #repost
  20. #nature
  21. #girl
  22. #fun
  23. #style
  24. #smile
  25. #food
  26. #instalike
  27. #likeforlike
  28. #family
  29. #travel
  30. #fitness
  31. #euro2020
  32. #tagsforlikes
  33. #follow4follow
  34. #nofilter
  35. #life
  36. #beauty
  37. #amazing
  38. #instamood
  39. #igers
  40. #instagram
  41. #photo
  42. #music
  43. #photography
  44. #makeup
  45. #dog
  46. #beach
  47. #sunset
  48. #model
  49. #foodporn
  50. #motivation


The role of your Instagram account name

You may not know it, but your Instagram name is customizable and can significantly impact your Instagram SEO. That is a vital area, especially for “small” accounts, those who do not yet have a good reputation and want to make themselves known to as many people as possible.

You should know that the words used in the “Name” field are considered in Instagram’s internal search engine. That means you can take this fact as the opportunity to stand out in search results.

How to choose a good Instagram username?

A relevant username on Instagram should make your content stand out, be memorable to users, and be easy to write.

Of course, more than optimizing your account name on Instagram is needed to rank well for relevant keywords in keyword results pages. However, optimizing usernames is essential, as it lets you inform users and future followers about the topic of your content. So take advantage of the 30 characters available to enhance your communication and strengthen your Instagram SEO.

Last Instagram SEO tip: add alt text

Alt text is an opportunity for users and the Instagram algorithm to identify your content in case your image is not loading in the app. Remember that you should not keep this feature from the post description. Alt text is created automatically for photos, but a better solution for Instagram SEO is to enter your text.

How do I add alt text?

  1. Adding a new post: You will publish a new publication and go to the tab to write your text description. Then I invite you to click on “Advanced settings.” Remember that Instagram alt text input is limited to 100 characters.
  2. Your posts already shared: You have the option to add alt text to your old posts. You have to select the photo to which you want to add alt text and press the three buttons in the top right corner of the screen. Then you need to select edit. You will see a box where you can write alt text.

Ready to build an effective Instagram SEO strategy?

In this article, we shared some Instagram SEO tips with you. However, remember that content optimization is only one of the essential things. What matters is what you have to say to your audience. Instagram’s recommendation guidelines are stringent and do not accept “low-quality, objectionable, or sensitive” content. But with good content that brings value to users, a proper Instagram SEO strategy will produce the results you want.

Wojciech Zakrzewski SEO Specialist


Wojciech Zakrzewski has worked on dozens of different SEO projects at Rank Higher since 2019.Responsible for organic growth strategy, SEO auditing, webpage optimization, linkbuilding, technical customer support and expert training. Specializes in UX, app store optimization (ASO) and local SEO.

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