Top of the Game: How to Implement SEO for your Instagram Profile

October 31, 2018

Statistically speaking, Google is the homepage for the majority of the Internet. Though it might seem laughable, Google’s colorful logo is often the first item to appear once a browser is booted - and for good reason. Not just any other webpage, Google is a search engine, allowing us to scour the web for specific answers and information. The ability to search, however, is not a monopoly that Google holds. Every major website with a large index of pages offers some kind of search function, and social networks like Instagram are no exception.

How, then, does an Instagram profile manager make their content stand out at the top of relevant searches on the platform? While many have heard of programs like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Content Optimization, these concepts are often written off as exclusive strategies for Google, Bing, and Yahoo rather than individual platforms. This couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, the Instagram search bar is a search engine all its own - meaning that Instagram profiles can indeed be optimized for greater impact in user queries.

Search Engine Optimization, or “SEO” is relatively new in the world of marketing, focusing on pulling content from the depths of an index and placing it at the top of a search ranking. This is accomplished using specially formatted text and content. That material is then shared across Social Media platforms, with sites like Instagram acting as an anchor point for curious visitors, potential leads, and new followers. Although there is no “one size fits all” SEO formula for every kind of profile, we will discuss the specifics of optimizing an Instagram account for search and capturing the coveted top result spot.

Killer Content

When optimizing your Instagram account for SEO, the first and most important thing to recognize is the quality of your visual content. This is less based on the automated, algorithmic side of Instagram and more on the nature of the Instagram users - a much more crucial factor to success on the platform. Instagram users are notoriously fickle, and are less likely to Like, Comment, or Share content that lacks panache or visual appeal. The Instagram search bar naturally tries to populate with results based on relevancy, but the quickest way to be relevant is to have content that speaks to a majority of users. This means clear, beautiful photography, smooth graphics and fonts, and overall effort put into the quality of your compositions.

In regards to Instagram as a vector for your business, your activity level is a critical factor for SEO success. Oftentimes, businesses will simply create an Instagram profile for their brand or company with little more than some contact info and a handful of pictures. This barely moves the needle in terms of SEO compared to a fully deployed, purposeful Social Media campaign.

Hash it Up!

In addition to other users scouting for quality content, the Instagram algorithm also pays strict attention to the usage of so-called “hashtags” in the written content of your posts and profile. These keywords are how Instagram indexes searches, and how your profile shows up in results in the first place. It’s important to research the most popular hashtags used by competitors in order to establish yourself, but note, overstuffing your photo descriptions with hashtags can appear spammy and potentially turn away visitors. This can result in a lower ranking, so be sure to use hashtags that are popular, relevant, and used appropriately. Integrate them naturally as a writer, so the words sound like they were written by a human being rather than via automation.

Change is Good

Lastly, Instagram offers a critical SEO feature that can actively impact the ranking of your personal websites outside of the platform: your profile URL. This refers to a web link at the top of your Instagram profile that leads users directly to your content of choice, including your homepage, landing pages, product pages, and more. Profile URLS are one reason that most successful websites and businesses launch Social Media profiles on nearly every major network, especially Instagram. Quality content can be shared to millions of potential leads, with each post redirecting back to your profile, which now bears a link to your site.  This results in your page gaining an “authority status,” which further helps with ranking.

An important factor to consider regarding your profile URL, however, is that it can be cycled. In simplest terms, this means you as a user have the power to change the URL on your profile whenever you see fit, and most Instagram gurus recommend doing so often. This not only increases your chances of external exposure for multiple pages, but also keeps your profile fresh and interesting to visitors. Descriptions, Bios, and profile URLs are not set in stone Instagram, so use this chance to direct your visitors to the content you want them to see. Especially in regards to e-commerce, this factor tends to pay off in a major way.

SEO: The Backbone to Every Brand

At the end of the day, SEO is one of several factors that determine a successful Instagram profile. The key to strong SEO lies not just in knowledge of the process, but greater effort than your competitors who are also scrambling for the top of the search results.

As we mentioned above, quality content is the backbone of any solid Instagram SEO program. A clever integration of hashtags into your post’s written content allows the Instagram search engine to properly index your profile and propel and place it at the top of relevant searches. Additionally, the support of your profile url reinforces the external status of your sites, allowing them to appear more relevant while reaching many users across the social network all at once.

As Instagram continues to adjust their algorithms and serve up more relevant results for users, SEO will remain an essential practice for those looking to make an impact with their Instagram profile and content. When all is said and done, the profiles that take the time to optimize themselves will end up with greater traffic, higher quality leads, and most importantly, a larger follower count. How will you optimize your Instagram profile for search?