In the past, many would have said that Instagram was not a significant ranking factor for SEO primarily due to the fact that Google had no way to index or crawl the images or videos posted through the social platform because it was mostly java.  However, with Instagrams recent algorithm update allowing ALT text, things appear to be changing.

What Is ALT Text?  According to Wikipedia: “The alt attribute is the HTML attribute used in HTML and XHTML documents to specify alternative text (alt text) that is to be rendered when the element to which it is applied cannot be rendered.”

What This Means For Instagram SEO

Are you interested in becoming an Instagram Influencer or are you working on your own Personal Branding?  Or is your business working on improving their Online Reputation Management?  Auditing & optimizing your personal or business Instagram account for search engines is a great place to start.

Google can index your Instagram images & videos through the accessibility information provided in the ALT text by the user.  Which means this is a new potential opportunity for adding keywords and optimizing your Instagram account for search engines.

In this blog post, I will teach you how to do an Instagram SEO Audit to improve your organic rankings on Google’s SERPs.  These tips will not only teach you how to improve your image search results, but also how to show up organically for Instagram posts in SERPs!

How to Audit & Optimize Your Instagram Account for SEO

1. Make Sure Your Instagram is Public

Having a public Instagram account is an optimization best practice because it will allow your page to be found by users and create a better experience.

2. Optimize Your Bio

Your bio on Instagram should represent what your brand is about or who you are, explaining why someone would want to follow you.  An optimization best practice would be to use 1 to 2 relevant keywords or hashtags that you utilize consistently throughout your profile.

3. Treat Image Captions like Title Tags

Treat your captions as if they were title tags, because they may show up in SERPs.  An optimized caption would include your relevant keywords and explain what the post is about.  Pro Tip: Place important keywords at the beginning of the caption because if it appears in SERPs, the caption will be truncated.

4. Add ALT Text

Remember, the ALT text or tag describes what the image or video is about.  The purpose of this is for accessibility to provide a better user experience for visitors who are unable to see the image.  This could be visually impaired users or just those with a slower internet connection where the image itself could not load.  Your ALT Text should tell the user what the image is about.  For SEO purposes, keep it short & sweet, incorporate relevant keywords to the image and avoid keyword stuffing.

Below is an example of how to edit ALT text on an image that has already been published on Instagram:

side by side insta posts

5. Instagram Link Building

If you want your Instagram posts to show up in Google SERPs, link build.  This step is crucial for your Instagram’s SEO success.  Since the Instagram platform is mostly buried in JavaScript, many of the posts are not indexed unless they are adequately optimized and linked to.  A great way to do this is to first make sure your caption is optimized, next add an ALT tag.  Then you can create a link to an Instagram post.  Include links to Instagram posts across your other channels and platforms such as your website blog, articles, Twitter or Facebook.  Through this type of linking, your Instagram posts will now begin showing up in Google’s Search Engine Results.  You can find a link to your Instagram posts by following this path:

Select Post > Post Settings > Copy Link

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6. Use Geotags To Improve Your Local Following

Add locations to your Instagram posts!  This is a great optimization tip because this will allow nearby users to discover your content.

7. Use Hashtags In Your Story

Sweta Patel, Instagram Adviser & Best Selling Author recommends using hashtags in your story.  “Using hashtags in your story is a great way to improve your reach and is also an underutilized trick! It is easy for your images to get buried in the regular feed due to the number of posts, especially on trending hashtags.  Adding hashtags in your story is a lot less competitive and is a great way to be discovered.”  – Sweta Patel from Sweta Speaks, Instagram: @SwetaSpeaks

8. Add Links To Your Story

When posting something to your story add links.  Link back to a relevant page on your website that represents the picture in your story.  This however, is only a feature that is available if you have a business Instagram profile and also 10k+ followers.

9. Engagement – The Right Way

According to Shopify, here are some stats on engagements and your chances of getting a followback:

  • Follow: 14% followback
  • Follow + Like: 22% followback
  • Follow + Like + Comment: 34% followback

Neil Patel, entrepreneur and co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, KISSmetrics & UberSuggest recommends engaging with top content & also your existing following.  “Everyone talks about ‘engagement’ on social media, but there is a lack of definition around it.  Engagement alone will not be successful if it is not strategic.  Find & engage with top content as this will expand your reach.  Focus also on the frequency of engagement with your current following.  A back & forth interaction with multiple touch points will make people feel like they are heard and will also increase your reach because of the engagement this drives.” – Neil Patel from Neil Patel Digital, Instagram: @NeilPatel

10. Add Social Profile Schema For Instagram

Use schema markup on your website to add your Instagram profile to a Google Knowledge panel.  This will display your Instagram profile in some SERPs features.  More info on how to add social profile markup can be found here.

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11. Download Your Instagram Data

You can request an export from Instagram of all of your data from Instagram including your comments, likes, followers/following, messages, media, images, etc.  All you have to do is follow this path in the app:

Profile > Settings > Privacy and Security > Download Data

After you download your data, within 48 hours Instagram will send you an export with a JSON file.  You can access the contents of the json file in Excel.  Next, utilizing Excel, analyze your instagram data.  Are your comments, captions, and hashtags optimized with relevant keywords for your business?  Do they portray your brand image as you would like?  Use this as a starting point to find areas that need improvement.

And there you have it.  Now you are ready to start optimizing your Instagram for SEO!