How to optimize your Instagram profile for search


Trying to market your Instagram profile a bit more? One thing you might want to think about doing is making it more search friendly.

In other words, you want to change your profile in a way that makes it more likely to appear as a suggestion below the search bar.

There are a number of things you can do to make yourself more visible on Instagram. Whether you’re trying to promote a brand profile or just want to get a few more followers, here are some tips for optimizing your profile for search.

Put keywords in your display name and handle

One of the first things you should do, as a marketing platform Hubspot suggests, is to think about the keywords that you want your profile to market. Ask yourself, “What are people going to type in the search bar to find the things I market?” For example, if your profile is for a tattoo shop (or if you are an individual tattoo artist), you would like to have “tattoo” somewhere in both your display name and in your “handle” (your name of ‘user starting with @).

When I type “tattoo shop” into the Instagram search bar, all of the top account results have “tattoo” in their display name, and most of them have “tattoo” (or some variation of it). ) somewhere in their grip. @livebytheswordtattoo comes across as a high ranking result partly because their account is optimized, but also, to be clear, because someone like me is following them as well, which may play a role in making the accounts appear in searches through networks of people.

Account results when I search for “tattoo shop” on Instagram
Credit: screenshot: instagram

Having keywords in the most important places on your Insta page is a useful first step in optimizing it for search.

Hashtag your posts

If you have any hope that someone will stumble upon your profile, you must (must) hashtag your posts. Hashtags are one of the primary ways that Instagram tailors its search results and allows people to follow and find out the things that matter to them.

Continuing with our tattoo example, if you are a shop or an artist trying to market your work, you would like to hashtag your posts with #tattoo. Keep in mind that the larger the hashtag, the larger the audience that will search for it and therefore the more you will compete with the search results.

Large hashtags are always good! You will thus reach a large audience. The problem is, you might be buried in other posts with the same hashtag, which is why we recommend using multiple hashtags of different levels of specificity.

Let’s say you have a tattoo of a flower that you want to show off. Consider hashtag your post with #tattoo (to reach a large audience) and #flowertattoo (to reach a more specific audience).

The best results when I search "flower tattoo" on Instagram

The best results when I search for “flower tattoo” on Instagram
Credit: screenshot: instagram

When I search for “flower tattoo” on Instagram, the top nine of the top 12 results have #flowertattoo in their posts. The other three have flower emoji in their captions, which may hint at the role emoji play in stimulating post-post interactions. We will come back to this in the next tip.


Another key area where you can optimize your profile is the captions of your posts. In a Quintly social analysis platform 2019 study reported on by social media today, the researchers examined how things like caption length, hashtag usage, and even emoji usage affected post interactions between Instagram users large and small.


The study found that for larger profiles, with over a million subscribers, posts without captions received the highest engagement. For smaller profiles (between 1,000 and 10,000 subscribers), caption lengths between one and 50 characters generated the most interactions. So if you are a short profile, caption your posts, but keep it short and sweet. For even smaller accounts, with 1,000 subscribers or less, interactions were roughly equal between small captions (between one and 50 characters) and large captions (300 characters or more).

Using emojis

Now let’s talk about emoji. The Quintly study found that whether you have more than 10 million subscribers or fewer than 1000 subscribers in your profile, captions with zero emoji tended to receive the less amount of interactions.

For small accounts, with less than 1,000 subscribers, captions using 10 or more emoji resulted in the most interactions on average, although captions containing between one and 10 emoji were not far behind. .

For larger accounts, with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, captions with four to 10 emoji recorded the highest average interactions, although emoji use outside this range also saw a high level. interactions – except captions with zero emoji.

Take-out? Whether you are a tall or a short profile, use emoji in your captions, dammit. What if you’re a small account with less than 1,000 followers, maybe go crazy and use 10 or more emoji?

Use of the hashtag

Looking at the use of hashtags, the study found that larger profiles tended to get their highest engagement when their posts included zero hashtags. Why? We don’t know for sure. But we imagine that if you’re Ariana Grande, you probably don’t need to use hashtags to get high levels of engagement with your posts. If you’re Ariana Grande and your specific goal is to get the best Insta engagement possible, it’s probably best not to use hashtags.

We can also probably safely assume that most of you reading this are, in fact, not Ariana Grande. In that case, if you have less than 1000 subscribers, use hashtags and use a lot. The study found that these small accounts displayed their highest level of engagement when using 10 or more hashtags in their posts.

The data becomes a bit peculiar in medium-sized accounts. Accounts with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers also had their highest level of engagement when using more than 10 hashtags. However, smaller accounts (but not the smallest), with between 1,000 and 10,000 subscribers, saw their highest engagement when they used a modest one to three hashtags. Accounts with 100,000 or more followers saw their highest engagement using zero hashtags.

The best advice we can offer is to consider the size of your account and determine your hashtag usage based on that.

If you want to see the full study in more detail, you can check it out. here!

Use your biography

Don’t leave it blank! Hubspot too suggests using “secondary keywords” in your bio. Think about what else people will be looking for that matches what you are trying to market.

What else would people be looking for in relation to tattoos? “Piercings”, maybe? “Shops” to make an appointment? Maybe the inclusion of your city / region will help capture the audience closest to you! Let’s look @livebytheswordtattoo again.

@livebytheswordtattoo bio Instagram

@livebytheswordtattoo bio Instagram
Credit: @livebytheswordtattoo via instagram

Looking at their bio, we can see that they include “tattoo”, “piercing” and “shop,” using both primary and secondary keywords to help optimize their search.

They also include NYC in their display name, and they’ve put both Williamsburg and Brooklyn in their bio. This, of course, tells users where they’re doing their business, but it also describes a large area as well as a specific neighborhood where they’re most likely to capture the audience they’re looking for.

Publish content! Then check your “likes” and “views”

The best way to learn is to practice, right? So if you’re not sure what works and what doesn’t, how about some trial and error?

Publish your content using different techniques. Play around with the length of your subtitles. Try adding another keyword to your profile. Use more emoji. Use less emoji. Use more hashtags. Use fewer hashtags. And then see what happens!

Which images get the most likes and comments? Which videos get the most views? What do your posts with the most likes have in common?

We can learn a lot about what works by just trying the old college and seeing what happens next. It’s like conducting your own personal “study” to help you find out what things are optimizing your Instagram.

And, if you have a “creator” or “business” Instagram account, you can access “insights” to see more detailed information about your interactions and publication metrics.

You have a good set of tools to help you optimize your account and track results. So go ahead, create these profiles and get these interactions! We will be there to root you.

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