How to Optimize Your Instagram for SEO

It’s no secret that search engine optimization is a powerful tool for properly ranking on search engines and driving traffic to your website.

But did you know the same principles can (and should) be applied to your Instagram account?

Read on to discover how to optimize your Instagram SEO to organically reach more potential shoppers today using these 7 Instagram SEO tips: 

  1. Develop a strategy
  2. Optimize your profile
  3. Include keywords
  4. Don’t Forget Secondary Keywords
  5. Use Relevant Hashtags
  6. Make Use of Alt Text
  7. Track with Analytics

But first, let’s look at why SEO for Instagram is a must.

The Importance of SEO for Instagram

There are several reasons why you should care about optimizing your Instagram for SEO. To start with, Instagram has more than 1 billion active monthly users. This indicates a huge opportunity to reach and engage with new markets. Instagram SEO can help to promote your account, boost your engagement rate, increase sales, and gain new followers.

In addition, just like Google, Instagram rewards well-optimized pages with a higher ranking. In fact, Instagram operates as a small search engine with its own built-in search functions, in and of itself. Optimizing your account will not only help drive engagement, improve page trust score, and attract more followers to your page – it will ultimately lead to an even higher ranking. 

How to Use SEO for Instagram

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed about applying SEO tactics to your profile, no need to panic.

In fact, these tactics are practically similar to those added to any website. Adding a proper SEO strategy to your Instagram will help you propel organic growth to your Instagram page.

Unfortunately, many eCommerce business owners never consider search engine optimization on Instagram (or any other social media platforms) and miss out on a huge opportunity.

We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. That’s why we’re sharing our 7 Instagram SEO Techniques for increasing your reach.

7 Instagram SEO Tips

1. Develop a Strategy

Often overlooked, but so crucial.

Why are you on Instagram? What are you looking to achieve? If your sole purpose for being on the platform is because you stumbled across a blog post that mentioned ‘5 Reasons Why Your Brand Needs Instagram Marketing,’ that’s not good enough.

Sit down and really think about what you can bring to the table. What will your store’s followers consume that cannot be found on your other social platforms, let alone other brands?

Once you have a strategy in mind, you’ll have an easier time setting up not only your keywords, but your content at large.

2. Optimize Your Profile

If your brand’s Instagram profile isn’t optimized for the best user experience, all the traffic in the world isn’t going to grow your account.

These steps might sound simple, but they’re important to mention:

  1. Make sure your profile is public and register for an Instagram Business Account. Create an easily searchable business username.
  2. An effective username will be short, readable, and free from any irrelevant symbols.
  3. Finally, include a trackable link in your bio and make sure your profile image is on-brand.

Selling online?

You’ll want to set up a bio that is shoppable. Many apps, like Later, Planoly and more, will help you set up a shoppable Instagram gallery where users can find direct links to your products. You can also schedule your posts in advance, allowing you to map out content a month or more in advance.

use later to create shoppable product galleries

3. Include Keywords

Pick your primary keywords according to your online store and make sure you include these words in your display name, as well as your bio. You can also place keywords in captions, but be careful not to overuse them.

For example, brands like Lush and M·A·C make sure to add the keyword ‘cosmetics’ to their display names and bios.

cosmetics Instagram bio example

Inundating your posts can actually do more harm than good. Keep it readable! 

Using keywords will increase your chances of being picked up by the Instagram algorithm and help you appear in the search results for suggested accounts.

4. Don’t Forget Secondary Keywords

Secondary keywords are phrases and/or topics that support your primary keyword. Including them in your bio can help you reach potential clients and followers who aren’t necessarily searching for your primary keyword but might still be interested in your business.

For the North American Lush Instagram page, the brand specifically uses “North America” in their headline to identify their US page. You’ll notice that if you search ‘US Lush’ vs. ‘UK Lush,’ the appropriate profile will appear.

5. Use Relevant Hashtags

To hashtag effectively and optimize your posts, relevance and variety is key.

In fact, each of your Instagram posts should have its own hashtag strategy. Treat hashtags like secondary keywords, but be careful not to use the same group of hashtags under every post, as Instagram will consider this spam.

Simply put: Stop copying and pasting the same hashtags on every post.

A smaller brand that has a solid hashtag strategy is ILIA, which uses different hashtags throughout their Instagram posts.

6. Make Use of Alt Text

Instagram alt text was initially introduced to allow the visually impaired to enjoy Instagram content, but like a website, it can also be used for SEO.

You can access your alt text options by clicking the ‘advanced settings’ tab when crafting a new post.

Changing your Instagram alt text can help your post rank better in the algorithm and reach more followers.

7. Track with Analytics

Be sure to track how your Instagram SEO strategy is affecting your big-picture social media growth. This will help you refine your content as you go, which will impact the overall success of your eCommerce business.

Did you accomplish what you set out to achieve? If not, sit back down and re-evaluate.

Final Thoughts: Test, Test, and Test Again. 

Although it can be frustrating when you don’t see immediate results, remember that SEO is a long-term strategy. While it can be tempting to use bots or buy followers as a quick way to grow your account, the consequences if you get caught can be disastrous.

Remember, these strategies need testing!

What doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it won’t the second. Keep testing hypotheses and track the data to determine its effectiveness.

Focus on SEO and build your eCommerce Instagram account the right way.


Laura and Scott From Helix

Helix is a Shopify Expert Agency that builds high-quality eCommerce websites. We work with businesses of all sizes to create or optimize their Shopify powered websites. Whether your business is just getting started or you’re ready to take it to the next level – Helix can help build and market your store in a way that positions your brand, your products, and your sales for growth.



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