Matthew Carter
Hello friends, my name is Matthew Carter. I’m a professional link builder for a large SEO agency in New York City.


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So, what are the best SEO hashtags for Instagram?

The top four recommended accounts are completely different. Because I don’t have a history of following and engaging with travel accounts from this Instagram profile, Instagram has to rely on other signals to power the results.

Instagram SEO means optimizing your Instagram content to be discovered in search results. When someone searches for a relevant keyword or hashtag in the Instagram search box, you want your account or content to appear near the top of the list.

Instagram bio SEO starts with Instagram name SEO. Choose a handle and profile name that’s relevant to your content. If you’re well known by your brand name, then that’s the best place to start. If there’s room for a keyword in your handle or name, include that too.

Under Accessibility, tap Write Alt Text and add a photo description using relevant keywords.

5 Instagram SEO tactics to increase your reach.

Notice all of the accounts that appeared in my top search results for travel—from both profiles—include the word “travel” in their handle or name or both.

Finally, you can use the Instagram search bar to discover popular keywords and learn which hashtags the people you follow are interested in. These will likely resonate with your audience, too.

Here are the search results when I search “travel” from my main Instagram account, where I follow and interact with a lot of travel writers and travel brands:

In the past, Instagram search did not consider keywords in captions, but that appears to be changing. Instagram now specifically recommends including relevant keywords in post captions to help with discoverability.

Instagram users were somewhat shocked by the recommendation to limit the number of hashtags. After all, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. But the advice from Instagram is clear: “Don’t use too many hashtags—adding 10-20 hashtags will not help you get additional distribution.”

Keep in mind that the Recommendations Guidelines are more stringent than the Community Guidelines. In short, if you violate the Community Guidelines, your content will be removed from Instagram altogether. If you go against the Recommendations Guidelines, your content will still appear on the platform, but it will be harder to find.

You can also use social listening to see what hashtags your target audience, your competitors, and influencers in your industry are already using.

This new alt text is much more accurate, and includes keywords people might use to search for content like this. It’s an easy Instagram optimization strategy.

Hootsuite Insights powered by Brandwatch is another good tool for keyword discovery. Use the word cloud feature to uncover common words used in relation to your brand, industry, or hashtags.

Search text.

Here are the top results for the same search term—”travel”—from my secondary Instagram account, where I follow far fewer accounts and don’t focus on travel:

SEO, in general, is a little bit art, a little bit science. Instagram SEO is no different. There’s no exact formula to rocket your account to the top of the search rankings.

Someone using search is more likely to see content from a brand they’ve engaged with before, even if they don’t (yet) follow that brand.

It’s no surprise that what someone types in the search bar is the most important signal to search. Based on the search terms, Instagram looks for relevant usernames, bios, captions, hashtags, and locations.

That depends on your business and your audience. To get a sense of which hashtags are already driving traffic to your posts, take a look at your Instagram Insights. The Insights for any post will tell you how many impressions for that post came from hashtags.

Use Hootsuite to schedule Instagram posts at the best time, respond to comments, track competitors, and measure performance—all from the same dashboard you use to manage your other social networks. Start your free trial today.

What is Instagram SEO?

Your Instagram profile (aka your Instagram bio) is the best place to include relevant keywords and search terms.

Finally, be sure to include a location in your bio if it’s relevant to your business. Only Business and Creator accounts can add a location, so this is just one more reason to make the switch to a professional account if you haven’t already done so.

Your location only appears on your profile page on the app, not the web version of Instagram. But once it’s attached to your account, it’s a ranking signal to the Instagram search engine regardless of whether your audience is using the app or the web.

That’s because they’re changing how search results are served. In the past, search results only included relevant accounts, hashtags, and places.

What this means for brands: Post at the right time to spark engagement right away. That early engagement signals popularity and gives your content a search boost while it’s still relevant and fresh. Hootsuite can help with customized best time to publish recommendations.

Learn the basics of Instagram SEO and optimize your Instagram content to reach new followers in search results.

So, how do you choose your target keywords? The research you did in the step above to figure out your best hashtags will give you some initial clues.

This is a somewhat simplified explanation of how Instagram uses AI to choose content for your Explore page, but the main point is this: by using relevant, descriptive keywords in your Instagram captions, you’re more likely to appear on the Explore page for users who have previously expressed an interest in topics related to those keywords.

Just like Google, when you search for a keyword on Instagram (like, say, “social media scheduler”), Instagram sorts through millions of accounts to find the most useful, relevant results for what you’re looking for – aka accounts that contain that keyword.

Just head over to your profile and tap “Edit Profile” to change the Name field in your profile.

Of course, this isn’t always going to work, especially when it comes to your username.

In other words, when you write captions that are descriptive of your business or industry, Instagram will pick up on that and lump you in with topically similar accounts.

Instagram SEO #2: Write Descriptive Captions.

Like with your Instagram feed, Instagram has an Explore page algorithm that is constantly learning from your behaviors on the app (like what accounts you follow and what posts you like and comment on) to determine what content you’ll enjoy most.

If you have a public Instagram account and add a hashtag to a post, that post will be visible on the corresponding hashtag’s results page.

This is a great way to improve your chances of appearing in the top results if anyone searches for your target keywords!

On Later’s Instagram account, we use hyper-relevant hashtags in all of our post captions and first comments, as well as our Instagram Stories.

And since hashtags are used with the intent to discover new content, using the “right” hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before.

So it’s totally possible to show up for specific keywords in Instagram Search! You just need to optimize your profile for those keywords. Here’s how:

Ready to learn how?

If you click-through to one, you’ll land on a page featuring posts that are related to the keyword — along with other relevant keywords at the top of the page.

See how health and beauty brand Golde has included keywords like “superfood,” “health,” and “beauty” in the first line of their bio:

But hashtags have plenty of uses beyond improving your discoverability. You can use them for community-building, sourcing user-generated content (UGC), running campaigns, researching your audience, and more.

Instagram SEO #1: Optimize Your Instagram Profile for Search.

Check out how Later does this! While our username (@latermedia) doesn’t contain the keyword “social media scheduler,” our name does.

On the other hand, if you search “couch,” Instagram provides recommendations for “couch,” “couch workout,” “lounge couch,” and more.

But how does Instagram know when an account is latte art-related… or anything – related for that matter?

While Instagram posts are only searchable via hashtags and location tags, there are other ways to increase your content’s discoverability on the Instagram Explore page – like by writing relevant, descriptive captions.

Using relevant, targeted hashtags on your posts and stories is still one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences on Instagram. And this can translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business.

If you can optimize your Instagram posts for various relevant keywords (by writing descriptive captions, including alt text, and more), they may appear in keyword search results — so it’s more important than ever to optimize your Instagram SEO.

According to Instagram, the search results you see are based on a variety of factors, including the people you follow, who you’re connected to, and what photos and videos you like on Instagram.

Your Name & Username.

Now, however, Instagram is letting people use keywords to search for posts too!

Keep in mind that Instagram only offers search results for a limited number of keywords at the moment — for example, searching “red couch” won’t pull up any keywords recommendations.

Basically, what this means is Instagram looks at keywords that are used on accounts to determine how relevant they are to one another. And while some of those keywords come from an account’s name, username, and bio (as we discussed earlier), they also come from the captions you write.

At the moment, Instagram creates automatic alternative text so you can hear descriptions of photos through your screen reader.

Also keep in mind that, for the time being, you can only use this feature to search for grid posts, not Instagram Reels, stories, or anything else.

Just like you would type a search term into Google, you can use the search bar on the top of the Explore page to find and discover accounts, hashtags, and locations.

As part of the Explore page, Instagram Search is the directory to every Instagram account on the app.

So how does this tie back to captions?

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