Feb 20, 2019

Hello, Instagram SEO! How to Grow Your Account Organically 

written by Abby Avery

We’ve talked a fair bit about Instagram this year already; it is one of the most successful social media platforms of 2019 after all. Gen Z love Instagram and it’s expected to overtake Facebook as the place to find and connect with brands. Because of this, it’s more important than ever to work on your Instagram presence so not to get left behind and hidden amongst the noise of all the other brands that are doing well.

So how can this be achieved without spending an absolute fortune on advertising? Well, say hello to your new best friend, Instagram SEO.

We’ve covered SEO in a number of previous articles, but never like this before.

To recap, SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. When you search for something on Google for example, the first page of websites will be using good SEO techniques to appear there. To make it simple, these websites have been using special tricks and methods to ‘optimise’ their website so that it appears higher in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which is the aim of the game.

Traditionally, SEO was reserved for websites, but now you can do the same for your brand’s Instagram. Good right!?


The Importance of your Instagram Username

First and foremost, let’s begin with your ‘@username’. It’s the username you first create for your account and its what is used to identify and locate your specific account directly. You may have your @username advertised on your marketing material so people can go straight to your account. But what if someone is trying to find something that you offer, but they’re not searching for you specifically? Your @username should ideally be optimised so that you’ll appear for relevant searches.

For example: A customer has just purchased a house and they’re looking for a paint brand and some inspiration images. They’ve typed ‘paint’ into their Instagram search box and therefore any accounts that have ‘paint’ in their username will appear.

Instagram Top Tip: Make sure your @username is related to what you’re trying to sell, includes your location or your brand’s specialty/USP.




How to Optimise your Instagram Name 

After your username, Instagram also allows you to have a name, and this is your second opportunity to optimise your Instagram page’s SEO. Your username will likely be your brand name and you may not always be able to, or want to adjust this to include the products you sell, or your ideal username may already be taken. Your name is also searchable and it allows you to provide a bit more information about what you do, and provides another chance to include your keywords or search terms.

If you’re unsure what your title name is, look out for the bold name in your Instagram bio.

For example: A customer is looking for a baby product. They don’t have a specific brand in mind but they know that they want a baby changing bag. By typing in ‘changing bag’, the following brand appears in the search results. Brands which have ‘changing’, ‘bag’ or ‘changing bag’ in their title will appear first to the customer.

Instagram Top Tip: Use the page name to describe what products or services you provide. In the bio, you can add further keywords in the form of hashtags to optimise your SEO.


How to use Instagram Hashtags Properly

Hashtags are probably the simplest way to organically reach new potential customers. On Instagram, you can add up to 30 hashtags to a post, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunity to show your products to the people you’d like to reach. Hashtags can also be used on Instagram stories and in your bio.

The biggest and most common mistake that most people make, is that they add random, broad and generic hashtags. If you’re trying to sell handbags on Instagram for example, don’t just fill up your post with terms such as #Instagram #Bags #BuyNow #Fashion #ShopTillYouDrop #Girls #Life #Craft #InstaGood #Unique #Red #Style (Genuine Example).

Hashtags are keywords so make sure you really think about what would be relevant. Think, if a potential customer was trying to find your post, what would they type in to find it? Then, test it for yourself. If the hashtag you’re considering brings little to no results, don’t waste one of your 30 hastags on this one and find another that people are actually using. Try not to use overly generic ones like #handbag; being more specific will drive more quality results. Examples could include #fauxleatherbags #madeinengland #accessoriesdesigner #londonbagdesigners #ukaccessories #messengerbag etc.

Instagram Top Tip: Publish your post caption first e.g. New arrival [info about the product], and then post your hashtags as a comment underneath. This way they are slightly more hidden away and look less spammy. Another great time saver is to save your hashtags either in your notes on your phone and then copy and paste them, or create a shortcut in your settings to fill them in quickly.


Use ALT Text for your Instagram Images 

Alt text is an essential SEO practice found on websites. Alt text is a way of creating a description for an image in your HTML, which can help search engines, and even the visually impaired to identify what an image is. By adding keywords, it’s more likely to be seen by customers searching for those terms, so make sure they are descriptive and relevant. If it’s a product, describe the product name, what it is, the colour, material and brand name. E.g. ‘Millie-White-Cotton-Womens-Blouse-Zara’.

As you may have guessed, Instagram now offers the ability to add ALT text to your Instagram images. By adding ALT text, your image can now be found outside of Instagram. Google recognises ALT text so when a customer searches for a product or service in Google, your relevant Instagram images will also be shown to them (result).


Optimise your Instagram Content

Content is key; after all, Instagram is a visual platform. Make sure you have a business profile (check your settings) and use Instagram’s analytics to see which of your images achieve the highest engagement. Use this information to make more informed decisions about what new content you should be adding, what works and what doesn’t, to get highest performance possible from your posts. . The more your users engage with your posts the more chance you have of beating Instagram’s algorithms and appearing higher in results. Having good engagement on your image can also lead to this image being shown on the explore page by someone who may be interested in your brand. Planning your feed on Instagram can help to ensure you have a constant flow of good posts, ensuring there is a constant selection of images and videos for your customer to interact with.

Instagram Top Tip: Videos have become increasingly popular and tend to attract people’s attention, leading to better engagement.


Interaction is Key on Instagram

We all know it’s important to engage with your customers by replying to comments and messages on your brand’s account, but if you really want to reach new customers and grow your audience, you need to be actively interacting with people. You need to branch out and take the time to like, follow and comment on posts by people who may be interested in your brand, but don’t yet follow you. To see the fastest results, it’s usually best to outsource this so you have time to work on your content. When you’ve attracted someone to your profile, you don’t want them to appear inactive as they will quickly unfollow you or not follow in the first place if you aren’t offering anything of value.


We hope we’ve opened your eyes to some of the ways you can help to grow your Instagram organically. In a snapshot, here are some of our recommendations:

  • Optimise your username
  • Optimise you title name
  • Use relevant hashtags
  • Include ALT text on your images
  • Create engaging content
  • Interact with your target audience

Remember, Instagram is regularly updating their algrothims and adding exciting new features, so its important to keep up with the latest trends and updates to ensure you don’t get left behind. Finally, with any organic growth on social media, you to need to keep in mind that it takes consistency, time and dedication. The more effort you put in, the more results you will likely see.