Here at Purple, we’re always talking about how important it is to optimise your website content for Google search in order to get your website ranking as high as possible in the search results, and therefore have more users click through onto your page.
Search engine optimisation is one of the key tools for increasing your website traffic, and although it may be primarily used for websites, SEO is also applicable to social media platforms so it’s also really important that you use what you've learned to optimise your social media accounts. By optimising both your website and social account for search, you double your chances of getting a click!
Why it’s important
Just like optimising your website for search can bring you more traffic and increase brand awareness, doing the same with your social media accounts can aid the promotion of your account, bring in new followers, boost your engagement rate, and enhance sales.
There are two reasons why it’s important to optimise your Instagram account for the search engine. Firstly, Instagram itself works like a small search engine, with the Explore tool allowing you to search their entire platform. Because Instagram works like a small search engine, it means that SEO is considered there as well so it offers a super simple opportunity to increase your ranking within the platform. Instagram ranks well-optimised pages higher than those that haven't been optimised and ranking higher means you attract more followers with higher engagement and gain an increase in page authority and trust. All this works in a cycle too, leading your page to have an even higher ranking.
Secondly, social media platforms often appear in the search results before websites do, so it’s important to optimise both your website and your social media platforms to rank highly in the search results page. When entering a google search, we often see business social pages appear in the rankings - as well as, if not before or instead of, their website. At the end of the day, your social media platforms often act as a springboard to your website, with people heading there first before being directed to your website.
By optimising your Instagram account for the search engine, whether that’s Google, Yahoo or Instagram itself, you can increase the reach of your page, grow your brand awareness and appear in front of more potential customers. Take a look at some of our tips to help you get started.
Optimise your profile
Before even starting to think about optimising your posts, what hashtags to use and ending up down a deep SEO rabbit hole, the first thing you need to do is stop and look at your Instagram profile. Every single Instagram profile consists of 3 key elements, all of which should be tailored and optimised to increase your search ranking and get more visitors to your page. These 3 key elements are: your username, your name and your bio.
It’s advised that your username is optimised for search, by including a keyword or two. But for many people, they opt for their brand name - like we have - as it often looks a little cleaner and is easier for people to find and recognise when searching for your brand. We wouldn’t advise changing your username simply for SEO reasons, but it’s something to consider when setting up a new account.
If you’re happy with your username, or would like to keep it as your company name as we do, you can aim to include your keywords in your name and bio on your profile. Keywords can include things such as words related to your industry, your offering and your location. Our bio, for example is ‘We are an award winning digital agency based in North Yorkshire’, which includes an industry based keyword as well as a location based one. Ideally, we would have more keywords in our profile, but Instagram has a limit to the number of you use. So remember to keep it short but be clear in what you do, all while including keywords!
Use Hashtags as Keywords
An element of instagram that you can really take advantage of when optimising your page for search is it’s hashtag function. As we mentioned earlier, Instagram works like a small search engine, as its Explore function allows you to enter search queries. The most popular and effective way to search on Instagram is through hashtags, which are pretty much keywords with a # symbol before them!
So, similarly to the way you use keywords, you want to pick and choose the hashtags that are getting a high search volume while also being niche and relevant enough to your business, in order to gain maximum exposure and appear high in the Instagram search results. Like how you would carry out keyword research for your website, it’s important that you do the same for your hashtags, and do some research on what hashtags do well, what hashtags your competitors and audience use, and have a look at related hashtags.
The helpful difference between hashtags and keywords is that there is no penalisation for the number of hashtags you use! Where you might have to think carefully about trying to fit your keywords into your website content smoothly and effortlessly without stuffing them, on Instagram you can add as many hashtags as you want right at the end of your post, simply listing the hashtags at the end of your post is totally acceptable. Although there’s no penalisation for hashtag stuffing like there is for keywords on your website, we wouldn’t suggest you use more than 25 and make sure they’re relevant and appropriate to each post!
Another important thing to tag is your location when posting and tag other businesses you’re working with too! When posting an image, you always have the option to tag a location whether that’s where your business is located or somewhere you’ve headed off for the day. On Instagram, locations can be searched - a bit like hashtags - so just as you can search all the images under one hashtag, you can do the same for those tagged in a certain location. People often use the location search to see what’s going on in a specific area, perhaps if they’re new to the area or are going on holiday, so it’s a great way to reach new users and appear to those who don’t already follow you.
Customise Your Captions
Just as with your bio section, your caption is another place for you to put your keywords to good use, but this is where you can get much more descriptive, creative and ‘wordy’ with them. It’s helpful to think of your caption content as similar to the content sections of your website; you should aim to have a combination of keywords in there but also be descriptive, helpful and explanatory. You’ve got a lot more space in here to get creative as Instagram offers a generous 2,200 characters to play around with - so it’s a great place to include some of your long-tail keywords.
But again, don’t just fill up your captions with your keywords! You still want your captions to be interesting and understandable for your followers, as well as being tailored to each image. Don’t forget, hashtags will do a lot of the work for you in terms of search and getting found, so don’t worry too much about getting lots of keywords in your caption - even just one will do!
Add in Alt Text
Essentially, Alt Text or an Alt Tag is written text that describes the appearance and function of an image on a page. It often appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user's screen, and can be read by screen-reading tools and search engine crawlers.
A huge part of SEO is making all elements of your site or page accessible to everyone. So, although Instagram is a hugely visual platform, by writing descriptive and accurate alt text for your images, it allows those with visual impairments who may be using screen-reading tools to understand what your image is about - meaning more people can ‘view’ your content.
Having alt text on your images also helps the Instagram algorithm to organise content.
According to Hubspot:
‘The benefits of changing your Instagram alt text are the same as when you use alt text on photos for your website. It can help your posts rank better in the algorithm, have your results pulled for voice search, and more.'
So, by adding alt text to your images, it’s likely Instagram will be able to understand your content more and place it accurately in the algorithm to people who are likely to be interested and rank your content higher. By adding this to your Instagram posts, your photos will start ranking on Google Image searches too!
It’s super easy to edit the alt text on your images. Just go to your page and scroll down into your feed. From there, just hit the three dots above any of your published posts and you’ll get a few buttons to choose from, so just select edit.
Then tap add ‘Edit Alt Text’, and you’ve got free reign to write yours.
So there you have it! These are four really simple steps that are so easy to do to help optimise your Instagram content for search and increase your ranking on both social media and the search engine. Once you get in a routine with your captions, alt text and hashtags, it’s a super easy way to grow brand awareness, boost your engagement rate, and increase traffic.
If you’d like to find out more about SEO or need support with optimising your content, then please feel free to get in touch. Our digital marketing team is always looking for ways to help maximise the chances of your business being found online!