How to Use SEO on Instagram

July 27, 2022

I’m Tara.
 I'm an influencer strategy expert, the host of Project Influence the Podcast, and the founder of Creator Cube™, a co-creating space for content creators. 
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SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s something that we usually associate with blogs, and showing up in Google Search Results. It’s only much more recently that we’ve started to discuss how to use SEO on Instagram, and why using SEO on Instagram is essential for your growth on the platform in 2022. 

First of all, let’s talk more about what SEO is. As I mentioned, SEO stands for search engine optimization. And it’s essentially the process that search engines use to help users find what they’re looking for. So anytime that you go into Instagram and search for a user, a topic, or a trend, Instagram is looking through its entire database to find you the best result. 

In other words, you can use the Instagram search algorithm to get more eyeballs on your content on Instagram. It’s simply another strategy that we’re going to use in growing your brand on Instagram! 

Knowing this, you should start determining what you want people to find you for! This is one reason why picking a niche on Instagram can be so valuable. When you pick a niche on Instagram, it helps you hyper-focus on what search terms (keywords) you want to rank for. 

Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about.

(This definition is pulled from

There are two different ways to look at keywords. 

  1. Long tail keywords – Long tail keywords are strings of words put together, like ‘Instagram growth tips 2022’ 
  2. Short tail keywords – Short tail keywords are generally just one or two words, like ‘Influencer coach’ or ‘Instagram tips’

Your SEO strategy should consist of both styles of keywords, but when you’re a small/new account, you really want to focus on niche, long-tail keywords. Those are you bread and butter of SEO growth.

Let’s use me as an example. I know my audience pretty well and using that information I can predict that my ideal audience is searching for things like Instagram tips, brand collaborations, and how to make money online. So then I can create content that aligns with those topics. 

Finding your keywords doesn’t have to be hard. Use real search engines to find out what topics/keywords are related to your niche. Go to Google or Pinterest right now and type in your niche. All of those recommended search results, are potential keywords for you. That’s the platform telling you, “people are searching for these things, maybe you should create content around these topics”. 

Once you know what keywords you want to rank for, you’re going to start to integrate them onto your Instagram page.

There are 6 places where you’re going to incorporate SEO on Instagram. 

Your username and profile name

This is one of the most important SEO ‘spots’. Your username is something that can help with search results but even if your username is ‘your name’ you can include keywords in your Profile Name.

For example, if you’re a travel blogger you can use @travelwith______ or if you’re a fashion blogger you can use @styledby______. Try to make sure that the username is available on other platforms because then as you grow and diversify the platforms you’re using, you can stay consistent with your brand. There are free websites that can tell you this automatically. The ones I recommend are Brand Snag or Namechck

Your profile bio

Now similarly to your username and profile name, you want to use your bio as a space for keywords as well. For example, if I want to find a tattoo artist in my area, I might go onto Instagram and type Tattoo Artist into the search. Anyone who has the words Tattoo Artist in their profile name is going to show up in the search results for me. 

I work as an Influencer coach, so I would want to come up as the first result for people when they searched for an Influencer Coach.  My bio reads: I help Content Creators land more brand deals! I also have the details of my free class in my bio, which talks more about how to land paid brand deals as an Influencer. It’s really important to me that users know that’s what I’m teaching them. 

Changing just your Username, profile name and bio can be really powerful in helping you show up in people’s searches on Instagram. Before doing anything else, I highly recommend that you start here. Don’t skip the basics! The basics build the roots for you to grow and blossom. 

Your posts caption 

Captions might surprise you but they’re one of the biggest ways that you can show up in search results on Instagram. If I went into Instagram and typed in ‘Grow on Instagram in 2022’. The search results are going to be a mix of people who’s used that exact phrase AND who’ve used a hashtag along those lines in their caption. 

Your caption needs to be filled the keywords dedicated to the inspiration or solution that you’re trying to solve. If you’re answering a question or solving a problem for your audience, you need to make sure that’s clear in the caption.

When you’re trying to grow on Instagram, it can be really overwhelming to come up with useful, thoughtful captions that help inspire or solve a problem. That’s why I recommend using a content calendar and batching your content ahead of time. It’s much easier to post and stay consistent on Instagram when you don’t have to go scrambling for content. 

On your content calendar, you can determine if a post is meant to solve a problem, inspire action, or educate on a topic. Then you can determine the keyword that will help your ideal follower, find that post. Write your caption with that in mind! 

Learn more about creating a content calendar here

Your hashtags

It’s no surprise that using hashtags can help you expand your reach. That’s been the case since the beginning of hashtags. So all you have to do here is combine your hashtags with the key phrases you’ve already determined for yourself. Remember to choose a mix of broad hashtags and niched down narrower hashtags.

Your location

Whether on your profile or on your posts, users are always searching for locations. You definitely need to be sharing the location that you live in or are based out of in your bio so that people can find you that way – and make sure that on the flip side you’re also sharing the locations of your posts for people to find you that way as well! 

Going back to our tattoo artist search, if you’re looking for a tattoo artist in your area, having a location in your bio is going to be very important for having users find you!

Alt text

Alt text on Instagram is the description that identifies the content of an image and allows screen readers to describe your photos to blind or visually impaired users. Without you manually adding the alt text, Instagram uses Object Recognition technology to automatically describe your post to visually impaired users. 

By determining your own Alt text, you can better control the keywords and use stronger keywords than what Instagram would choose for you. One big mistake that people make when using Alt text is just cramming the alt text with keywords. This feature is used to describe your posts to visually impaired people so just listing out keywords without actually describing the image as Alt text is meant to be used for, is not going to help you. 

Remember, search engines are much smarter than me and you. Trying to game the system is not going to help you at all. 

Before you go, remember you don’t have to go it alone! As an Influencer Coach, it’s literally my job to help you grow and succeed on Instagram. I’ve created the Influencer Blueprint™ to walk you through exactly how to grow on Instagram, without having to make any of the mistakes I made! Learn more here.

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram → @taradcarr. I love getting to connect and chat with you guys there! 

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