Instagram SEO, search engine optimization for your Instagram posts, is one of the latest developments in social media content creation.
In this episode, you’ll learn about Instagram SEO and why that matters to you as a content creator on Instagram.
You want to learn about Instagram SEO because, in 2023 and beyond, it will help boost your visibility and reach on this platform. If you want to grow your talent or client audience on social media, your most important goal is to grow your reach. Reach is obligatory to get your content in front of your audiences, both existing and relevant non-followers.
Using search engine optimisation effectively on Instagram will help you to grow organic Instagram reach.
My name is Susanna Rantanen, and this podcast is for those who want to learn how to use branding, marketing and communications in the HR industry!
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What is Instagram SEO?
Instagram SEO is a practice when you optimise your profile and content to boost your ranking in the Instagram search results and suggested posts on your feed.
You use specific keywords and hashtags in your posts to match what your relevant audience is searching for in the Instagram search bar.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation and is familiar to us from website searches such as Google.
When you type in a keyword to Google search for something you want to find on the Internet, Google delivers you the search results based on content that best matches your keyword.
Content creators who want to increase their chances of being discovered use search engine optimisation to play the search engine game.
This is equivalent to posting your content on Instagram during the peak hours when your followers are most active. Or when you use hashtags to help your posts to be discovered.
Latest on how Instagram algorithm and ranking works in 2023
Algorithms are something we get asked a lot by our clients. Understanding how the Instagram algorithm and ranking work in 2023 is also relevant to get the most out of Instagram SEO.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri recently explained how the Instagram algorithm works on the feed and search.
The Instagram algorithm is a mathematical process that calculates how Instagram ranks all the content users post on the platform.
What Instagram algorithm evaluates first
- What content are available(in general) – what we have all posted
- How interested you as a user might be in any of it
The Instagram algorithm has been set to collect a lot of data about each of us based on our behavior on the platform.
It constantly evaluates what we post, like, and search for, whom we follow, interact with, and what types of content we engage with to understand better what we might be interested in and see on our feeds.
There is way too much content posted by the accounts we follow for us to be able to see it all.
I know many users argue we see the content we don’t want to see. Or that we want to see more posts from everyone we follow. The only way to change what the algorithm feeds us is to do manual work and engage with the content of those users you want to see more on your feed.
If you don’t see content, it’s because the Instagram algorithm has picked on your lack of showing you regularly like the content from those users, and that you don’t interact with those accounts.
How the algorithm ranks content for your feed in 2023
The Instagram algorithm then ranks kind of a tailored collection of posts we would most likely want to see based on how we (each) use Instagram.
If you see a lot of dog content, it’s because you interact the most with dog content.
I get a lot of coaching content on my feed because that’s what I post. I don’t necessarily want to get coaching content that much, so I have to interact more with the content and accounts I prefer to see.
We can teach the Instagram algorithm to show us the content we like.
Understanding the Instagram algorithm proxies
We can also turn this around, engaging and interacting with the content of the people we want to see more of our content because the algorithm ranks the most likely content based on a user’s interest-based proxies.
The most important proxies are:
- Are you going to spend some time with the post
- Are you going to like it
- How likely are you to comment on it or save it
- How likely are you to tap on the profile and go to the profile
All of us are shown content the Instagram algorithm – to the best of its capabilities – assumes to be content we are most interested in and are most likely to engage with.
To sum this up, the Instagram algorithm scouts for the content we are most likely to engage with, and the ranking presents this content in an order that is most likely to result in us spending more time on Instagram, connecting with our friends and followers and growing our connections on Instagram.
How does this information help you as a content creator on Instagram in 2023 and beyond?
When you turn this around, think about those users who follow your profile and whom you want to follow and engage with your content.
The algorithm works the same for them, putting you in a position to become more mindful of creating and posting the kind of content your preferred audience will be interested in.
Instead of posting what you like as a content creator, you need to post what is inspiring and useful for the audience you want to follow your account and engage with your content.
You need to be more mindful of what interests your audience on Instagram and work from that.
And this can be difficult if you don’t know who your relevant audience is and what interests them.
How to use Instagram SEO in 2023 to get your content in the feeds of your relevant audiences
Instagram SEO helps you in two ways:
- Getting your content featured in the search results page of Instagram for users interested in the type of content you post.
- Getting the Instagram algorithm to offer your content to non-followers who seem to like the kind of content you also post.
The most important signal for Instagram is the keywords people use when they type something in the search bar.
Instagram looks for usernames, bio descriptions, captions, hashtags and even locations to find the best search results for you.
If you want to be found as an employer, your username and bio are better off when keywords such as “life at” and “careers” are found at least on your bio but preferably in your username.
Another signal Instagram uses is user activity when showing them the search results they seek.
User activity refers to what hashtags they (users) are following or have searched for in the past, what accounts they are following, and which posts get a lot of their attention.
What ranks highest on a users Instagram search results page
Accounts and hashtags and their preferred type of content rank higher on the search results page.
Their top results will be from accounts they already follow and have interacted with in the past, then from accounts they have interacted with.
The same goes for your account and your company’s account. The search results page is customised to the user’s behavior.
If your relevant audience isn’t following your account and hasn’t interacted with your content before, your account and posts will unlikely be offered to them in the search results unless you start improving your Instagram SEO.
The huge problem those organisations face who refuse to create a dedicated employer branding profile on Instagram
I’ve noticed too many companies refusing to create more than one Instagram profile.
If that profile is a general company profile getting your posts ranked with your relevant talent audiences will be even harder.
The general excuse is that we don’t have the resources to operate a separate employer brand account. That’s fair enough.
But if employer branding is a strategic requirement and a need for the business, and Instagram is seen as an essential media to reach and engage your target audiences, it’s a lousy excuse and dismisses the strategic business need.
To get the most out of Instagram, you must be mindful of how the search engine, algorithm and ranking work.
The popularity of content is another signal for the Instagram search engine to follow
Another signal the Instagram search engine follows is the content’s popularity. It is unlikely to rank high content that isn’t already popular or that isn’t getting much viral traction.
What makes a post popular depends on the content of the post, and the format used; is it a photo, a carousel post or Reels? How many people have engaged with it?
In other words, who liked it, saved it, reshared it, commented on it and how many of those people who interacted with the content already follow your account?
Influencing the popularity of your post starts with posting at the right time when your followers are most active on Instagram.
You will find this information on your account analytics.
If your audience is most active outside – and when they are – your working hours, scheduling your posts comes in handy. You can do that using, for example, Meta’s own creator tool or schedule on the app. It’s all free!
The four most important Instagram SEO tactics to improve your reach and Instagram success
These are the four most important Instagram SEO tactics that will help you improve your account and post reach and your Instagram success in the short and long run.
#1 Optimising your Instagram Bio for search and ranking
This is probably the most important SEO tactic for Instagram, and this is why consumer brand accounts should have a separate profile for employer branding and talent acquisition purposes.
When you use Instagram for employer branding, you should name your account in the following manner: “Lifeat[company name]”.
This format is probably the most common way to name employer branding accounts. People are used to searching for employers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, starting with the words “lifeat”.
Even Meta has an account called lifeatmeta which should be a big enough hint for you to do the same.
Furthermore, even Google has an account called lifeatGoogle which should confirm that this is the only way to go.
You also must include relevant employer branding and talent acquisition keywords in your bio. These are careers, career opportunities, culture, people and life at [your company name].
Location is another important SEO element, but your account needs to be a business or creator account for you to add location. If you have more than one location, use the HQ.
The location on your profile is the address of your business, and you can add that when you have a professional account. When you add it, display it publicly.
Personally, I think this works best if your company is located only in one place.
#2 Using hashtags in your Instagram post captions
When Instagram boss Adam Mosseri revealed how Instagram search works, he also clarified where we need to put the hashtags. And this is the caption, not the comments.
Let’s tackle hashtags first.
- Use only relevant hashtags to the theme of your content.
- Mix well-known hashtags and lesser-known hashtags to broaden your discovery.
- Create your own hashtag and use that also to help discover your content.
- For example, we have the #magneticemployerbrandingmethod in English and #vaikuttavatyönantajabrändi, and #vaikuttavatyönantajabrändimetodi in Finnish.
- Keep the number of hashtags between 3-5
- This is a new thing because the recommendation used to be to max it.
- According to the Meta Creators on Instagram, more than ten hashtags no longer help you get additional distribution. I need to remember that myself!
- It’s the same for LinkedIn and Facebook, too, if you didn’t know.
Hashtags provide a summary, a context to your account themes and key messages.
They help discover your account by users who want to see the kind of content you provide, from the kind of business you are in and your location.
#3 Using keywords in your Instagram post captions
SEO, search engine optimization, has been creeping in on many social media platforms recently. This means we must use keywords in our post captions.
Using keywords in the Instagram post captions helps discoverability.
This is especially beneficial for smaller and lesser-known accounts, as people can find your content with keyword searches.
What were the keywords again?
Let’s say you want to reach prospective data analysts on Instagram.
You could use keywords such as “data analysts careers, data analyst tips, data analyst job titles, data analyst roadmap etc” in your content and captions in your Instagram post.
But choose your keywords based on what your post is really about to help that post become discovered by users who search for content like that (specific post of yours).
#4 Adding Alt-texts in your images
Alt-texts are an integral part of SEO.
Their primary purpose is to help explain to a visually impaired user what the image is about. But they also help you with optimisation, adding just another opportunity to let the search engine know what your post is about.
However, when you apply the alt-text, you must use keywords that tell what the image is about.
A great alt-text is like a caption explaining what happens in the image.
Let’s say your image is about a team meeting where a team lead is going through the results of your team’s work in a meeting room with a cool painting and a nice deco, you could explain the image like this in your alt-text:
[Your company name]team leader Matt is going through the latest results of our marketing campaign standing in front of our team of five talent marketers and recruiters. The work atmosphere was on the roof as we sat in our nicest meeting room decorated with cool paintings and comfy furniture like our office decor. This is a big part of our company culture keeping our employees inspired and happy to work at [the company name].
The bold words represent keywords your target audience is searching on Instagram.
Are you looking for an online coach to give you a plan and guide you in adopting content and social media marketing routines as an HR professional?
My coaching programs are typically around 12 weeks and can consist of a suite of selected educational video and audio content, remote support, and personalised online coaching to set you a plan and help you build your marketing and communications routines.
I have two great options to recommend right now:
- The Instant Employer Brand Accelerator for in-house talent acquisition to help you learn and integrate employer brand marketing and communications in your existing recruitment process and marketing.
- Personal branding for HR Industry professionals -program suitable for consultants and coaches who benefit from building trust and becoming known as the expert of what you offer for your clients.
If you are interested, email me at susanna(at)emine.fi to book a discovery call to discuss where you are, what you want to achieve, and how I can help you.
For our modern employer brand consultation & collaborative business services, email experience(at)emine.fi to ask for more information.
Ok, that’s all for this week my friends!
Come back next week for more branding, marketing and communications’ juice to keep you going with employer branding, recruiting and personal branding!
My name is Susanna Rantanen, and I teach branding, marketing and communications for the HR Industry professionals who want to build a successful career and get the life you deserve!
Thanks for listening, and until next time, happy search engine optimisation!