A Guide to Instagram SEO With Search by Interest

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instagram seo interest

Instagram SEO is important for businesses and brand owners who are thinking about getting more eyes and more engagement on their Instagram posts. How can you optimize search for the posts you create?

Initially, searching was limited to hashtags or user accounts. A later feature to Instagram is searching by interest, not just by hashtags or user accounts. Here’s the announcement from Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, with a snapshot of how you can use this feature.

Instagram SEO Adam Mosseris search by interest announcement on Twitter

Being able to search by interest broadens your opportunities as a consumer of Instagram, allowing you to dive in and explore topics of interest without the limitations of specific hashtags. Users can search for topics or by interest, just as you would on Google.

How can you create content on Instagram that is optimized for users who are searching by interest?

Using Instagram’s Searching by Interest

Initially, to search for something on Instagram, users were limited to searching for hashtags or searching for account names. When you would type something into the search bar, a drop-down menu would appear with options for hashtags that accounts have used in their posts or in account names themselves.

This is relatively limiting. Imagine that you wanted to search for inspiration for a project, or vacation photo ideas, or architecture, or any number of other ideas. Maybe you want to see how people are using a product, integrating a new trend, or wearing a certain kind of outfit. You could only find these things if you knew the hashtag that consumers were all using.

Herein lies the problem: What about the posts where they forgot to use the hashtag? Or what if you don’t know about a specific hashtag and are missing out on lots of posts?

Search by interest broadens your search horizons by allowing you to scout, in essence, the entire content of an Instagram post.

Now when you type in a topic of interest, the results come up with a wider range of posts.

Also, Instagram shows you other related topics and keeps you clicking, scrolling, and exploring more.

Instagram SEO Benefits for Businesses

This is great news for your business if you are using Instagram to get the word out about your brand. Here are just a few reasons you should be glad for the feature:

  • A wider and bigger audience is going to be able to find your content, simply by searching.
  • Potential customers, who are actively looking for what you promote, are going to be able to find you faster.
  • You don’t need to feel limited by finding all the right hashtags every time or copying what your competition is doing, allowing you to be more creative and on-brand in your content.
  • You can do competitive research more efficiently, learning more about what others in your space are doing on Instagram, and setting yourself apart.
  • You can build community with those in your space, by finding and connecting with other brands and other audiences who share your passions and outlooks.

How to Use Search By Interest on Instagram

Using the feature itself is a pretty straightforward process. In short, start searching. But let’s take a look at how you can get the most out of this feature, both as a user and a marketer.

User Interaction

To start, find the magnifying glass icon on your desktop interface or mobile app. That’s where you’ll type in your topic of interest. Let’s look at how it works.

Instagram SEO Searching for mid century topics on Instagram

Now the fun begins. You can start clicking around to find more ideas.

You can click on more ideas and dive down that rabbit hole, where Instagram and Instagram content creators hope you’ll stay for a while.

How Marketers Can Use Search by Interest

With that rabbit hole in mind, let’s talk about how you can be using this feature for your own marketing needs. Your goals on Instagram likely include the following:

  • Attract new customers, through photos and copy.
  • Encourage potential customers to follow your content.
  • Educate and inspire
  • Drive them to your website or shop so they become customers
  • Keep customers engaged so they refer or return.

Instagram SEO helps with all those things because people who are already searching for what you’re creating and selling can find you more easily. But how do you make the most of it? It’s all about making sure you’re writing keywords and key phrases that your customers are looking for.

So, now it’s not just about making sure you’ve included every possible hashtag that they may search for or click on, but also creating content in your post that includes those keywords.

Here are some examples from our searches above. You’ll notice in the copy the natural use of the key phrases we searched for.

Why Should You Care About Instagram SEO?

Now that we’ve talked about this feature that explodes the opportunities available with Instagram SEO, let’s get into why Instagram SEO is so important in the first place.

What Is Instagram SEO?

Spelled out, it’s Instagram Search Engine Optimization. That little magnifying glass signifies the powerful search engine that allows users to actually seek out specific posts that they are looking for. That search engine uses data and algorithms to show the users’ posts they are likely to be interested in.

Optimization is the driver of your success with search. By optimizing your Instagram posts, you are seeking to ensure that you have included the words, phrases, hashtags, and so on that will feed into that algorithm and show your content to interested searchers.

It’s about doing what you can to get to the top of those searches and be seen by a maximum number of people.

Why Is Instagram SEO Important?

Why should you even worry about Instagram SEO? Well, it’s really about optimizing everything you do. As you go through the time and effort to create your Instagram posts, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most engagement and ROI on each of them.

With over one billion users on Instagram, many of whom are Generation Z or millennials, it’s a very popular place for marketers. You want to stand out among the competition and have your content be seen.

Instagram SEO vs. Search Engine SEO

When you think of SEO, the first thing that comes to mind is probably website SEO and optimizing that space for search engines, such as Google or Bing. That is the most common usage when we’re throwing around the word SEO.

However, when you think about it, SEO can mean any kind of search engine optimization, whether it’s a juggernaut like Google or Instagram or another smaller, although no less significant, platform.

Here’s something to remember though. Search engines like Google search all websites, including social media platforms. That means that when people are searching for the kinds of things you are posting about, Google may crawl your social media pages too and pull results from there.

When you are creating content to be optimized to Instagram’s search features, you may also want to think about how Google is analyzing that content, to get better traffic, whether customers are using the internal search on Instagram or Google.  

Best Practices for Improving Your Instagram SEO

Let’s talk a little bit about how to improve your Instagram SEO, especially with this “search by interest” feature in mind. This really all comes down to what you’re posting, what you’re writing in your post, and how you go about using Instagram as a business.

Be Consistent

As we mentioned above, Google crawls Instagram and other social media sites like any other website. This is especially true for profiles or usernames. When people search for your brand on Google, your social media pages are likely to come up. So make sure that your username mirrors your brand name closely.

Here’s an example, using Google to search for fiddle leaf figs on Instagram. Of course, to get Instagram in the top results, we had to use the word “Instagram” in the search, but it shows you the power of having your top keyword in your username and bio.

Instagram SEO Google results for fiddle leaf fig instagram

Be On Brand

Remember what your ideal clients are searching for. Make sure those top keywords are in your bio and description, and in your captions. You can use them naturally, in your sentences, but make sure the most important ones are near the top of your captions.

Also, don’t neglect hashtags. Yes, this feature is opening the world of Instagram to more keyword usage, but hashtags are still a big player in Instagram SEO. Use relevant keywords that your customer base is interacting with, and use them often.

Be Thorough in Your Captions

According to an article from Later, which referenced data directly from Facebook and Instagram, the company uses similar keywords and key phrases to identify which accounts are related to one another. This is important for Instagram’s Explore feature, which pulls in new posts and accounts that may be of interest to you, based on posts and accounts you have interacted with in the past.

Thinking about this as a marketer, you want to make sure that your captions, as well as your username and bio, contain the keywords and phrases that would connect your account with similar ones, such as your competition. This way, when Instagram users are interacting with their content, yours will also show up in their Explore fields.

Needless to say, you need to be thorough and relevant in your captions. If you sell fiddle leaf figs, as we mentioned above, you need to make sure that fiddle leaf fig is in all of your posts, even if the photo is about something only related to fiddle leaf figs or your brand.

For instance, if you are posting a sale announcement or a holiday greeting, make sure you are still getting that keyword in there. While you’re at it, make sure your photos are always on brand, too. Everything should be about fiddle leaf figs in the end.

Be a Real Person

All the tips and tricks aside, search engines are constantly working to be more human. And the more human you can be, the better. Some of the best tips for social media SEO include just being authentic, natural, and just showing up a lot. Keep the “social” in social media and be kind. The quickest way to get hidden or pushed down the algorithm is to just have poor etiquette on these types of platforms.

Tools to Improve Your Instagram SEO

To really up your Instagram SEO game, you may want to explore the number of Instagram analytics tools and other programs that can help you learn how your Instagram strategy is working. Here are just a few to get you started.

  • Iconosquare: A powerful scheduling tool that provides real-time analytics on how your content is promoting, as well as competitor and industry data to help you post well.  
  • Hashtags for Likes: A tool to research and uncover the best hashtags for your content.
  • Plann: Integrating design tools like Canva, this tool lets you create, post, and monitor all in one place so you can keep an eye on how your Instagram strategy is working.


It’s true: SEO is a key part of your entire content strategy. They are interrelated and critical in our ever-growing digital world, and that doesn’t stop with your website and your blog. Instagram SEO and all other social media platforms you are using consistently should also be part of this equation.

This “search by interest” feature certainly makes it easier, opening a world of possibilities as users can now find your content based on your whole caption, not just your hashtags, but now the onus is on you to make sure that you are taking full advantage of those captions.

How are you planning to create captions that are more searchable for your customer base?

The post A Guide to Instagram SEO With Search by Interest appeared first on Neil Patel.

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