Can You SEO Optimize An Instagram Profile?

Phoenix Menday
Written By
Phoenix Menday
Published On
Sep 30, 2019
toronto seo instagram

How Do You SEO Optimize An Instagram Profile?

Instagram is now one of the largest social media platforms in the world, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Over 63% of the user base is under 35, with hundreds of thousands of users making their living through influencer opportunities.

While many people know about the Instagram algorithm and its (occasionally opaque) quest to connect users with content that matches their interests, few people consider how the Google algorithm could also work for them. Influencers looking to promote themselves through the almighty Google should certainly take note, however, optimizing an Instagram profile for search engines is especially relevant for brands.

So how do you search engine optimize (SEO) an Instagram profile without ruining your aesthetic?

There are actually several things you can do to ensure your carefully curated Instagram feed can be seen and served by Google’s algorithm when users go searching for related terms. Read on below to find out how you can make the most of your Instagram for Google search.

seo optimized Instagram

Create an Instagram SEO optimized username

One of the easiest and most important things you can do to get your Instagram profile ready for Google is to optimize your username and display name.

Your username is the text that follows the ‘@’ symbol, which you create when you first sign up for Instagram. You should try to make this username both easy to remember, type, and ideally containing a keyword you would like to appear for in a search.

For example, if you were a protein powder brand, you might want to include your brand name and the word protein in your username. This would flag to Google that your Instagram profile is likely about protein, so when a user searches ‘protein powder’ in Google, the algorithm would know that your feed could be a potential option to serve in the search results.

Similarly, you display name should also be Instagram SEO optimized for the particular keywords you would like to appear for. Your display name is whatever you choose to write as your ‘name’ on Instagram. If you were an influencer, this might just be your own name. As a brand, this would likely be your brand name. Where possible – and if it fits with your aesthetic – you should try to squeeze in another keyword here. The aim of all SEO is to give Google as much context as possible as to what you are about so that the algorithm knows when it should display your page during a Google search.

Create a SEO keyword rich bio

Perhaps the single most important thing you can do for your Instagram SEO is to properly optimize your biography.

Your Instagram bio is situated directly underneath your display name, and constitutes the single largest piece of text across your entire profile. Just like Google’s character restriction for meta descriptions, you are limited to around 150 characters, so make every one count!

Use keyword specific hashtags as much as possible, as these will turn into clickable ‘dofollow’ links to related content. This will continue to provide Google with even more cues as to what your Instagram is about, and can help you rank higher in a Google search. If you have a sister brand or influencers you work with closely who are in a related niche, you could also include an ‘@’ to their profiles, as these will also become links that Google uses to associate certain terms with your profile.

Ensure your profile is set to public

This one should go without saying, but ensuring your Instagram profile is set to public is crucial to properly SEO optimizing your Instagram.

Instagram’s default setting is to have your profile to display as public so that other users (and Google) can find your content. However, your profile might be set to private for any number of reasons; maybe you only want your content seen by friends, or you want to vet anyone that follows you before you allow them access to your profile. In order to be properly indexed and displayed in Google search results, you will need to change your profile to public.

If you are a brand or influencer that wants to be indexed by Google, make sure you go into your Instagram settings and have your profile set to public. It’s a basic thing but can make a world of difference!

SEO optimize your image captions

Treat every image you upload to your Instagram as another opportunity to rank for a keyword.

The clickable text link you see in any Google results page is whatever the writer has set as the title tag. This is one of the most important pieces of meta information for providing Google with context on what your content is about. Whereas on regular blogs or websites, this would be taken from the title of the piece of content, on an Instagram post, the only piece of written content attached to it is in the image caption.

Google will take whatever your image caption is and interpret that as the title tag of your Instagram post. This means that your image caption is the most important part of your content in the eyes of Google, so make sure it is properly optimized with the keywords you wish to appear for. This is where it gets tricky – Google’s title tags are generally capped at 65 characters, and they will always include your Instagram name before your title tag, as seen in the screenshot below:

SEO optimized Image captions

As you can see, the first 20 characters are taken up by the Instagram name followed by “on Instagram”. You then have about 45 characters to play with before Google cuts you off with an ellipsis. Anything written after that is essentially wasted energy in the eyes of Google, as users performing a Google search won’t be able to see it. You can optimize this by making your Instagram name as short as possible, or alternatively optimizing it to include a keyword you want to rank for. You should then try to have your target keyword as close to the beginning of your image caption as possible to give it the best possible chance to appear in your title tag.

Utilize an effective SEO direct linking strategy to your posts

Another hugely important aspect of optimizing your Instagram for Google is to directly link to individual posts.

The coding of Instagram’s web app as a platform is buried in layers of JavaScript. Despite this being one of the most popular and widely used coding languages in the world, it is still very difficult for Google’s algorithm to properly parse and identify links that it can index and serve during a search. To get around this, you should try to link directly to individual posts on as many other platforms as possible. Simply tap on the ellipsis in the corner of any post, and select ‘Copy Link’. This will give you a URL link directly to your post, which you can then link to from other platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or your blog.

Ideally you would want to include a mix of plain URL backlinks (where you simply paste in the direct link to the photo) and some keyword optimized anchor text links. For example, if you were running a food Instagram, you might want to include a backlink to an Instagram post about a bread recipe by hyperlinking the text ‘a great recipe for bread’ to your specific Instagram post.

Bonus technical tip: Implement social profile schema on your website

If you are somewhat technically inclined – or have a friend that is willing to help you out – it can be beneficial to add social profile schema to your business website.

Schema markup is a specific type of HTML code that can be added to any website to give Google more context on what a specific page is about. There is schema coding available for a wide range of different attributes, including business information, menu items, and customer ratings. One such schema markup is call social profile schema, which allows a website to associate a particular social profile with the business. You can install this schema and specify your Instagram URL, which will allow Google to display a rich snippet including your Instagram profile, should a search result display a knowledge panel. An example of what this looks like can be seen below:

Implement social profile schema on your website

This not only looks more attractive to the user, but also gives Google further context and association between your website and your Instagram. The more context and information you provide Google with, the higher the chances your Instagram will be displayed in a Google search for your desired keywords.


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