With more than a billion monthly active users, you can’t ignore Instagram’s role in your SEO efforts. If you think of it as a search engine, you must apply techniques that make your brand stand out.
Although organic traffic is the best, you can give your account a boost by avoiding amateur mistakes such as:
1. You Don’t Have a Coherent SEO Strategy
Like any other decision designed to grow your brand, SEO efforts also involve meticulous planning. It includes how many times you’d like to post on Instagram, as well as relevant hashtags and captions for each post.
Your grid layout style should go beyond using filters to provide maximum visual appeal. It should have high quality photos, image consistency, a color scheme for all posts, and solid backgrounds.
A disjointed feed makes it hard for followers and potential customers to understand, engage with, and want to know more about your brand.
2. Your Username Is Not Optimized
Most social media sites allow linking and cross platform promotion. A good example is Facebook, which also owns Instagram and makes it easy to post on both platforms.
To avoid confusion among your followers, try as much as you can to have a consistent username across platforms. Other than being unique, it should be easily recognizable and searchable.
A long handle with characters such as underscores and hyphens in between is not advisable. A simple name also makes it easier for other users to tag you, which increases your brand exposure.
3. Ignoring Keywords
Keywords are a central aspect of every SEO strategy, especially if you’re competing against several similar brands. One way of improving your presence is to include the primary keyword in your display name and username.
If people search for that keyword, your username is more likely to appear in the results. Your secondary keywords should also prominently feature in your bio, as well as image captions.
4. Failing to Use Appropriate Hashtags
Hashtags organize social media posts around common goals. They also increase the likelihood of users stumbling on and following your account when going through content streams.
Your Instagram SEO strategy must treat them as keywords, and use them to optimize each post. Pick relevant hashtags for each post to ensure only your target audience follows you. Using the same sequence of hashtags for multiple posts not only denies you a wider audience, it might also be treated as spam.
There are various tools to help you pick relevant keywords to particular posts. A good example is keyword.io, which gives a list of hashtags related to your keyword search. You can also snoop on your competitors on Instagram for keyword ideas.
5. Not Using Alt Text
Most Instagram users don’t notice this feature, primarily because the platform places huge emphasis on images. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make yourself more visible by describing your photos. Before you publish a post, you’ll have various options, including “advanced settings”.
Clicking on this button gives you even more options, including the alt text feature. Giving a proper description to your posts allows Instagram’s algorithm to understand and rank your content better.
If you find this part of your SEO strategy challenging, hire a professional social media copywriter. While you focus on high-quality images, your copywriter will craft content that will increase your search ranking and audience engagement.
6. Not Paying Attention to Analytics
The only way to know whether your SEO efforts are paying off is to study the ensuing data. Instagram Insights is the social media platform’s inbuilt analytics solution for business accounts. It shows you important data about your posts and stories.
They include your followers’ demographics and behavior, engagement details for various content types, and whether paid promotion is working. Although these insights are useful, Instagram restricts access to older data and the ability to export it.
If you want more detailed statistics, use premium social media marketing tools. They include Hootsuite Analytics, Iconosquare, Sprout Social, Union Metrics, TapInfluence, and Keyhole.
7. Using Black Hat Optimization Techniques
The biggest search engines and social media sites want the content on their platforms to be as genuine as possible. Their algorithms are powerful enough to identify deceptive or outright fraudulent marketing techniques.
Examples include posting stolen content, using bots, stuffing keywords, following several accounts in a short period, and buying followers. Such shortcuts are counterproductive because they harm your account. If you repeatedly use these tactics, Instagram could shadowban you.
That means your account will only be visible to people who follow you. This will make it extremely hard to get new followers. What’s more, you won’t even know your account is limited, so all your SEO efforts will go to waste.
SEO is a long term strategy. If implemented correctly, you’ll reap a large ROI for your efforts. For your account to attract a loyal following, you must prioritize unique, high quality, and relevant content. It makes it easier to grow both organically and through paid promotions.