How to Get Discovered on Instagram Search: 8 Tips for Growing Your Following

min read
December 7, 2019
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Think of the Instagram Search feature as the Google of the social media world — it’s a super-powerful tool for discovering brands, posts, hashtags, and locations on Instagram.

And for businesses, it’s especially important to secure your spot in Instagram’s search results to get more eyes on your post, and convert viewers into followers.

To help you do just that, we’re sharing 8 tips on how to get discovered on Instagram Search:

What is Instagram Search?

As part of the Explore page, Instagram Search is the directory to every Instagram account on the app.

Just like you would type a search term into Google, you can use the search bar on the top of the Explore page to find and discover accounts and hashtags.

Instagram is even able to categorize the search results by top results, accounts, hashtags, and places, making it super-easy to find what you’re looking for:

Even IGTV has its own dedicated search section — you just have to tap the IGTV button on the Explore page and tap the magnifying glass at the top of the screen to access:

And if you’ve come to Instagram Search for some inspiration, Instagram will even give you a list of profiles as suggestions.

But how does Instagram know what to display in the search results? How are they ranked and how can you secure a top spot in the results line up?

We’re jumping right in to answer those questions!

How Instagram Search Works:  

Just like a search engine, Instagram “reads” profiles and learns what, when, and where to reveal profiles in results.

According to Instagram, the search results you see are based on a variety of factors, including the people you follow, who you’re connected to, and what photos and videos you like on Instagram.

In other words, the Instagram algorithm is working hard behind the scenes of Instagram Search to always deliver not only the most accurate results, but also the most relevant results to you!

Based on your Instagram behaviors — like what profiles you like and engage with the most, who’s engaged with your photos, and even the profiles your followers engage with most — Instagram does the math and helps predict what profiles you’d like to discover.

So there’s no denying it’s a powerful tool for getting your profile in front of your target audience!

If you want to grow your following and start using Instagram Search to your advantage, you need to start thinking about your Instagram profile as your new homepage.

Just like you would optimize your website with SEO and keywords, you also need to think about doing the same for your Instagram profile!

To help you do just that, here are all of our top tips to getting discovered on Instagram Search results:

Instagram Search Tip #1: Optimize Your Name Field With Keywords

The first step to getting discovered on Instagram Search is to optimize your Instagram name!

The “Name” field in your Instagram bio is searchable, and completely customizable and separate to your Instagram handle.

That means that you can change it to words that highlights what your Instagram profile or business is about.

By including important keywords in your Name field, your chances of appearing in the top results if anyone searches for those keywords will be much higher!

Head over your profile and tap “Edit Profile” to change the Name field in your profile.

See how influencers and brands like Elise Darma does this for her personal profile, and for her business profile @canupycontent:

Similarly, Santa Barbara-based Oat Bakery has really optimized their Name field by including the keywords “superfood”, “bread”, and their location on their Name field:

So if someone either searches for “superfood” or “Santa Barbara,” there’s a good chance they’ll appear top of the search results, especially if the person searching has a connection to the profile, like they follow similar accounts in the area!

Instagram Search Tip #2: Optimize Your Bio With Hashtags & Keywords

Just like your Name field, your bio should be optimized with keywords for your brand and business.

You can even add in clickable hashtags into your bio to boost your chances of appearing not just in the search results for your account, but also if someone searches for the hashtag too!

See how health and beauty brand Golde has included keywords like “superfood,” “health,” and “beauty” in the first line of their bio:

This is not only a great way to let your new followers know exactly what your brand is about, but also a trigger for Instagram to know when to display you in search results.

Instagram Search Tip #3: Add a Location Tag to All Your Posts (Including Stories!)

When you add a location tag to your posts, you stand a better chance at appearing in the search results of that location.

And that’s for both post and Instagram Stories!

If a user taps on the Places tab on the Search page, your post may appear top of the grid depending on the popularity and timeliness of your post!

So you stand a much better chance of getting more views, engagement, and potential followers from your posts when you tag a location.

Similarly, each location has a dedicated space to view Instagram Stories that have been tagged with that location — just tap the stories button at the top of the results page to view them.

If you’re trying to get both new viewers and new followers to your stories, tagging the location in your post might help you appear these search results! And that’s a growth opportunity you don’t want to miss out on!

Instagram Search Tip #4: Use Hashtags in All Your Posts (and Stories, Again!)

We’ve covered how important location tags are in your posts, but Instagram hashtags are essential!

A post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag.

And that’s probably because they appear in more search results!

When a user searches for a hashtag in Instagram Search, the results will appear both in the Top tab and the Tags tab — so you have double the chances of being discovered:

And just like location tags, a hashtag has a special Instagram Stories button too — so you can watch any live stories posts that have been tagged with that hashtag.

Tagging all your posts (both posts and stories!) with hashtags is particularly important if you have a branded hashtag for your business.

If someone searches for your branded hashtag, there’s a strong chance it will appear in the search results, along with everyone else who is using your hashtag — giving your brand amazing exposure to new viewers who are interested in your brand.

BONUS TIP: If you’re creating a new branded hashtag for your business, think about integrating a keyword and your business name into your branded hashtag.

For example, Later uses the hashtag #LaterFeature when we want to showcase a client that has used a Later tool or feature to grow their business online:

Similarly, Anthropologie uses the hashtag  #anthropologiehome to showcase their homewares. The result is a beautiful Instagram Search results page that fully represents the Anthropologie brand, made up mostly of their user-generated content:

Instagram Search Tip #5: Update Your Profile With Your Physical Location

If your business has a physical location — for example, you have a brick and mortar store, spa, hotel, restaurant, gym — you want to create your own location tag for your business!

It’s a great way to bring attention to your physical store on Instagram to gain more followers, as well as more customers through your door!

When you search a location on Instagram, your store could appear under the Places tab — highlighting not just your Instagram profile, but also where your followers can find you IRL!

To get set up with your own business location tag, you need to head to the setting page of your Facebook Business page — this is where you can update your business address and information.

You can follow the steps here to do this. Note: You must have a Facebook Business Page and an Instagram Business profile to do this!

And as an added bonus, Instagram will also share all your important business details like the full address (plus show it on the map!), opening times, and a business contact number in the search results!

To do this, make sure all your business information on your Instagram profile is up to date:

  1. Go to your business profile.
  2. Tap Edit Profile.
  3. Under Business Information, you can edit the following: the Page your Instagram business profile is connected to, Business Category, and Business contact info.
  4. Once you’ve finished updating your business info, Tap Done to return to your profile.

Instagram Search Tip #6: Optimize Your IGTV Video Titles and Descriptions

IGTV is showing no signs of slowing down, so if you haven’t jumped on board with Instagram’s video channel, now is the time.

The IGTV search function is evolving, and Instagram is constantly making improvements to how to display videos (now both vertical and horizontal!) and how users can discover new video content.

Regardless of what changes are in the Instagram pipeline, your video titles and descriptions will always be important to the algorithm, so now’s the time to optimize everything that you post.

Start by having a clear, concise, and keyword-heavy title — just like how Maddy Corbin does in her IGTV video posts:

Also consider your IGTV description. While it’s currently not searchable text, you can include hashtags and clickable URLs!

That just one more opportunity to tell Instagram what your video is about, and also how Instagram should categorize it and display it to potential viewers and followers!

How to Write Engaging Instagram Captions

Learn how to create captions that convert and increase your engagement! Plus, you’ll get our free Instagram Caption Templates Worksheet to help you write better captions and turn followers into customers!

Instagram Search Tip #7: Follow & Engage with Complementary Brands

Instagram is all-seeing — it knows who you like, what you like, and who you engage with most on Instagram.

It also knows all this about your followers too!

And because of this wealth of information, Instagram can predict what kind of profiles you might enjoy and shows these profiles in the “Suggested” and “Because You Follow” results in Search.

To see these results, just tap in the search bar in the Instagram Explore page — it will populate a list of accounts based on your behavior and preferences:

So if you’re a brand looking to get into this coveted spot with potential followers, you need to follow and engage with complementary brands or influencers.

That could either be in the form of a collaboration project, strategic influencer marketing for your brand, or just simply showing support by engaging with brands that you love!

The more genuine relationships you build with other profiles on Instagram the better — it signals to Instagram that you know and like this brand, and anyone who enjoys their content, might enjoy your content too!

So start building up your Instagram relationships and sharing some love to get a spot on the “Suggested” and “Because You Follow” results!

Instagram Search Bonus Tip #8: Clear Your Search Results History

If you’re a brand or business getting on top of your Instagram strategy, clearing your search results is like working from a clean slate when you’re researching competitors and complementary brands on Instagram.

While this may not get you more followers, it gives you a clearer picture of who Instagram is suggesting to you to follow.

And if you flip this perspective, it helps you predict the search results you’re appearing in too!

Also, if you use a personal account, or test account to monitor your Instagram page, you can do this to try out your keywords and see if your business account appears in the results!

To clear your search history go your profile settings by tapping the three lines at the top right-hand corner of your page.

Then tap Settings and from there, Security. Finally, tap “Clear search history” and you’ll be shown a final window to confirm you want to clear your Instagram search history:

With just a few tweaks and improvements to your Instagram profile and posts, you can easily start to take advance of Instagram Search.

By appearing in more search results, you’ll soon start to see results in your engagement levels and convert your new audience into loyal followers!

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Nikki Canning
Think of the Instagram Search feature as the Google of the social media world...
Share this article
Nikki Canning
Think of the Instagram Search feature as the Google of the social media world...
Share this article

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