Instagram SEO - Grow your Instagram organically


Everyone wants to grow their Instagram account organically. However, one aspect that creators aren’t aware of or don’t take into account very often is the massive effect that Instagram SEO can have. Whatever the techniques you use for developing your (personal) brand, this element is crucial for discoverability. It will definitely help you reach the desired goal of reaching as many users as possible. 

From hashtags to ALT text, this article will focus on clarifying what Instagram SEO is, the way it works, discuss the ranking factors, and share the best practices to grow your Instagram organically. Let’s dive into it! 

What is Instagram SEO?

Firstly, SEO stands for search engine optimization. To clarify that, in simple terms, it means improving your website to improve visibility when people search for products, services, or information related to your business in search engines like Google and Bing. Similar to that, Instagram SEO works in a very similar way. The app has a search engine so users can search for images by keywords and themes. Therefore, it would be of great help if your profile had keywords in your description, for example, to boost the chances of people finding you. 

To summarize, when someone searches for a keyword or a hashtag in Instagram’s search box, you want your account and content to appear at the top of the list. How do you do that? Well, the first step to grow your Instagram organically is to understand the ranking factors of Instagram SEO. 

Instagram SEO: Ranking factors

We have previously talked about the Instagram algorithm and its best practices to leverage it in a way that is the most positive for you. 


For instance, let’s type in the term “creator economy” in the search box.

Screenshot of Instagram's search box for the term creator economy.

It’s not a surprise that the first two accounts have the search term in their name; thus, they are getting the highest rank. Therefore, it’s advisable to have a word or two that are connected to your (personal) brand’s niche in your username. Such keywords can and should be included in the display name too. 

Bio (description) & Display name 

Your bio and display name should include primary and secondary keywords.

The Instagram profile of "thecreatorarchitect" showing her bio and display name with important Instagram SEO elements circled.

As you can see, this profile Has creator economy in the display name and the bio. Her profile was ranked #3 for the search term creator economy. Those are known as primary keywords.

Secondary keywords, on the other hand, are search terms closely related to your niche and the product/service/advice you’re offering. For instance, let’s look at Magnolia Bakery: 

The Instagram profile of "magnoliabakery" showing their bio and display name with important Instagram SEO elements circled.

The Instagram profile of "thecreatorarchitect" showing her bio and display name with important Instagram SEO elements circled.

Their primary keyword is obviously bakery. However, the secondary ones, such as baked from scratch, chocolate, recipe, etc., are included in the bio too. They have also done a fantastic job creating an informative and fun bio while optimizing their profile to maximize the possibility to grow their Instagram organically. 


Using Instagram hashtags as an SEO tool can be very powerful. They function like keywords do in regular searches. Thus, they help users to discover relevant content for them. Not only that, but you can show the Instagram algorithm a level of consistency and the types of posts that users can expect from you. 


Descriptive and relevant captions can seriously impact your content's visibility and discoverability. For example, let’s search for “best time to post”. 

A screenshot of search results in Instagram of the term "best time to post".

Seeing one of the first results, they have the exact keyword in the caption: 

One of the top results for the term "best time to post" showing how the keywords affect Instagram SEO.

The takeaway is that by using relevant and descriptive keywords in your Instagram captions, your posts are more likely to appear on the Explore page and, thus, grow your Instagram account organically. 

ALT text 

Instagram’s ALT text was primarily designed to help visually impaired users to enjoy the Instagram experience. However, it’s also essential for SEO. The benefits of writing an ALT text for your Instagram images are the same as using ALT text for the photos on your website. It can help you rank better with posts in the algorithm, have your results pulled for voice search, etc.

You can do that by clicking “Edit” on an image.

First step of how to add ALT text to an image.

After, under “Accessibility”, you will see the option to add ALT text to the image. 

Second step of how to add ALT text to an image.

What effects Instagram SEO and best practices

Needless to say, your profile will have a much higher reach when it’s public rather than a private one. It’s important to mention that keywords in your username have a more significant effect than those in your captions.

Moreover, the algorithm counts several other factors like popularity signals, user activity, timing, and engagement that affect Instagram SEO

Popularity signals

Content already trendy and popular is more likely to rank higher in the search results. Instagram determines how popular a piece of content is by using signals like the number of clicks, likes, shares, follows, hashtags, or places. 

Therefore, aiming for early engagement is one of the best ways to help your content appear organically on top of the search results. To do that, you can, for example, publish on the best posting times

User activity

If a user has already followed a couple of accounts and hashtags of a particular niche/topic, your content will automatically show in lower positions for that user. Thus, accounts and hashtags the users interact with will rank higher than those they don’t. 


If you haven’t already, make sure to switch to a professional account. This way, you can add a location in your profile description, which will help you grow your Instagram organically. 

To add a profile location, open the app and tap on your profile icon. Click on Edit Profile, then Contact Options. You can enter your address as specific or as general as you like there. 

To summarize, the Influencer Marketing Hub has provided a great visualization of the steps needed to leverage the app’s SEO for the best possible visibility and to grow your Instagram organically. 

Best practices of how to leverage Instagram SEO for more visiblity.

The most significant difference between Google and Instagram SEO

The Instagram algorithm, of course, works differently than algorithms of other apps and search engines, like Google. The primary difference between the two is that hashtags play a significant role in search and discoverability and helps you to grow your Instagram organically. 

If you’re following Instagram’s community guidelines and your account is not shadowbanned, hashtags can play a massive role in growing your account. 

Showcasing how hashtags can massively affect you reach. On the two examples, there was a combined reach of 75K impressions, and 64K of them came through hashtags.

While Instagram has recently put more emphasis on keywords to rank content, hashtags are still pretty much central to the algorithm. 


To grow Instagram organically, optimizing your account for SEO is crucial. This helps users discover your post in the search bar and the explore page. You should take advantage of the knowledge and tips shared in this article and transform your Instagram presence in a way that you reach more people that might be interested in you and your content. While optimizing your profile, generate as many relevant content ideas for your account, create a content plan, and interact with your audience. While getting big on Instagram, you shouldn’t forget that you risk getting banned at any time and losing any kind of communication with your fans. Therefore, as thousands of creators have done already, creating a Fangage platform is the solution for you. Fangage is the all-in-one solution the create your own fan platform, have a fully-branded website, own fan data, engage, and monetize your audience. 

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