Instagram SEO strategy

October 13, 2021

SEO isn’t just for search engines like Google. It’s also a part of social media platforms— and we’ve got 8 steps for starting an SEO strategy on Instagram.

Quick summary: what is Instagram SEO?

It’s the strategic placement of keywords in your captions, handle, name, and bio to get your posts to rank higher in Instagram’s search engine.

Like any search algorithm, the purpose is to show content that reflects what your audience is searching for.

While it’s a more long-term strategy than paid ads, Instagram SEO is a worthy investment. In fact, 81% of users use the platform to research products and services.

OK—now let’s dive into how to actually do Instagram SEO.

Step 1: Learn how your audience is talking about your brand

Understand how your customers are talking about your brand to get an idea of what keyword opportunities there are for you to be discovered by like-minded people.

Research your customers by using the "tagged" section of your profile or searching your brand name to see what populates in the results.

Away gets tagged in posts by customers all the time.

In the picture below, you can see how one customer talks about traveling, exploration, adventures, and wanderlust. These are all good topics that Away can use, and even leverage some of the same keywords to connect with more customers.

Step 2: Research and harvest keywords from competitors

Similar to how your customers talk about your brand, your competitors can also give you keyword inspiration.

Check out what they're talking about and how they’ve set up their name and bio.

Harvest those keywords for your strategy, and look for keyword opportunities that your competitors haven’t yet discovered.

Step 3: Outline your primary and secondary keywords

Once you learn how your audience is talking about you and the keywords your competitors use, create your list of primary and secondary keywords.

Primary keywords: Also known as head terms, these are the main words to describe your topic or product (ex. "navy pants). These should always be used in your bio and near the beginning of your posts (especially above the fold –before the "see more" button).

Secondary keywords: These are better for complementing the primary keyword and can be used near the end of the post text and in the hashtags.

These are going to be long-tail keywords that get more descriptive than your primary keyword. (ex. "long navy pants" or "navy pants for women.")

Step 4: Be strategic with your keyword placement

There are four key areas to place your primary and secondary keywords: in your username, name, bio, and post captions.

Your username/handle: An example of a primary keyword may be "skincare" or "makeup," and some brands are able to add it right into their username.

For example, Sukin is a natural skincare line, and their Instagram handle is "@sukinskincare."

Whenever a user searches for "skincare" on Instagram, Sukin is one of the top results.

This tactic won’t work for specific primary keywords (remember our other example "navy pants") but it is a good way to get discovered with more generalized ones like "apparel," "candles," or "furniture."

Your name: Instagram has the option to create your profile name. This also shows up in the search engine.

As you can see in the pic below with E.l.f., the keywords "cosmetics" and "skincare" are added to the profile name.

Even though "skincare" isn’t used in their username handle, E.l.f. still showed up in the search results.

Your bio: Since you have more characters to use in your bio than you do in your username or profile name, adding both primary and secondary keywords here is a good way to get discovered.

Check out Versed, which includes the main keyword "skincare," and a secondary one about sustainability.

Your post captions: Every post caption should use a primary keyword right away. This keeps it above the "see more" button, so users see the post is actually related to what they’re searching for.

Secondary keywords go near the end of the post, and they complement the primary keyword.

In the example below, Versed used "skincare" (primary keyword) as the third word.

Other keywords in the caption (secondary), such as "hyperpigmentation," "dermatologist," "targeting hyperpigmentation," are also search-worthy terms.

We’ll be back with part 2 on Saturday!

In the meantime, give these tactics a try and let us know how it goes – feel free to reply directly to this email.

We love chatting. :)

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