How Instagram Can Improve Your SEO: A Critical Connection

Instagram: it’s the photo-sharing app that made everyone a photographer. It’s also one of the most popular social media sites currently in existence, with upwards of 400 million active monthly users.

While many people think of Instagram as nothing more than a visual platform that gives us something to do on our lunch breaks, marketers are taking advantage of the social site to improve SEO, gain followers, and boost online visibility. In fact, when Instagram is used correctly, it is one of the most powerful search engine optimization (SEO) tools available. Read on to learn more.

How Social Media Affects SEO

When Google goes to rank a website, it looks at a variety of factors. Backlinko reports that there are about 200 ranking factors, in total. These ranking factors range from domain age and keyword inclusion to social shares and the authority of social media user accounts. As the popularity of social media has exploded in the last several years, the latter of these two ranking factors (and the whole host of social signals associated with them) have risen in prominence.

 The reason for the increased importance of social media is simple: it’s becoming one of the most powerful and widely-used tools in the world. Today, there are approximately 2.3 billion active social media users around the globe. Each day, 1 million new social accounts pop up. According to recent surveys, the majority of consumers rely on social media channels to make purchasing decisions, get their news, and interact with brands.

Because of the massive power social media exercises on consumers, Google has placed increased importance on social content when determining website rank. Today, Google looks at factors like the number of tweets a Twitter account has, how many Facebook likes a page receives, and how many social shares content on all platforms receives. Because of this, optimizing your Instagram account correctly can have a large impact on SEO and help you appear more prominently in Google’s SERPs.

How Instagram Can Improve SEO

For years, Facebook and Twitter have been ruling the social media scene. Today, however, Instagram is making a strong push for the lead – with upwards of 32% of U.S. teenagers (one of the most powerful marketing demographics currently in existence) naming Instagram as their favorite social media site.

In addition to the massive traffic Instagram earns on a daily basis, the platform is actively pursuing ways to make its interface more user-friendly, which will help it continue to stand out in the world of social platforms. For example, earlier this year, Instagram introduced an iOS extension which made it possible for iPhone users to share videos and photos without ever opening the Instagram app.

While this isn’t an earth-shattering change, it does prove that Instagram is all about making sharing and expression as easy as possible for users, which is great news for brands who want to use the platform to improve SEO.

How to Use Instagram to Improve SEO: 4 Simple Tips

Now that you know why Instagram improves SEO, it’s time to talk about how to use it to boost your online visibility. Follow these simple tips to get started:

1. Use your Instagram account to build brand awareness

Many brands have a hard time understanding what it means to use Instagram to improve their online visibility. This is particularly the case for small businesses that operate mostly online. “What am I going to take photos of?” they think, “me working at my computer?” This is a valid question, but luckily Instagram is not that one-dimensional.

Regardless of what your brand does or what industry you specialize in, it’s easy to use Instagram as a platform to build brand awareness. For an example of an online brand that does this well, consider search Engine Journal, a leader in the world of SEO and online marketing.

While Search Engine Journal is a prominent company that hosts in-person events, the company’s Instagram account is full of photos of their staff and associates, (none of whom are pictured working on their computers). Search Engine Journal does an excellent job of using Instagram as a way to give customers a sneak peek into their daily operations, staff, and events, which boosts brand awareness and increases consumer trust.

For another example of a company using Instagram well, consider SEMrush, a leader in online competitor research for PPC advertising. SEMrush uses their Instagram account to create custom graphics that boil down recent Twitter chats and offer inspiring content for readers:

By using Instagram as a platform to share relevant content with your customers, it’s easy to build brand awareness, improve SEO, and make your company more approachable. By not taking Instagram too literally, you can use the social site to build effective, long-lasting relationships with your customers.

2. Post frequently…but not too much

Like all social media platforms, there’s a sweet spot for Instagram sharing. While you want to interact regularly with your users, you don’t want to spam them, lest they become annoyed and unwilling to engage with your brand.

To strike a balance, aim to post to your Instagram account at least once a day. Keep in mind that many major brands post more often, and Bufferapp reports that there is no drop-off in engagement after multiple posts. Regardless of how many times you choose to post each day, be sure that you’re keeping your content relevant, valuable, and interesting for your customers. After all, posting for the sake of posting isn’t good for anyone.

3. Use Instagram to host contests

Instagram is a fantastic platform for contests and the shares, likes, and mentions associated with an Instagram contest can offer a serious SEO boost. Instagram itself is known for hosting plenty of its own contests, regularly taking to Twitter to hold hashtag contests and announce winners:

 To hold your own Instagram contest, keep the following things in mind:

  • You’ll need a strategy. A good Instagram contest is one borne from a solid plan.  Before you launch your contest, consider the following things: Do you want to increase your followers or promote social shares? How long will you run your contest for? What will you offer the winner of the contests? By deciding these things in advance, your contest will be more organized, more efficient, and more valuable for your customers.
  • You need a theme. A good contest needs an idea to hold it together cohesively. Your theme can be virtually anything, but it’s important to make sure it’s relevant to your brand and in-line with the rest of your  content strategy. For an example, consider Tiffany & Co., which held an Instagram contest focused on the theme of “True Love.” The contest earned thousands of submissions.
  •  Choose a hashtag. A hashtag is the central feature of Instagram, so it’s critical to come up with a good one. For best results, brainstorm a hashtag that’s relevant for your brand and unique to your contest. Remember, generic hashtags like #happy are going to be nearly impossible to judge or rank for, so keep it precise. An example? #RunwayForAll

4. Engage your audiences

Once you’ve built up an Instagram presence, it’s time to use it to connect with your fans. Do this by responding to posts and mentions regularly. You might also consider featuring user content on your Instagram home page. Recent studies report that customers expect to see brands engaging customers on social media, so it’s wise to use your Instagram profile to do just that. Take, for example, Innocent Drinks, which regularly uses their Instagram profile to feature their customers interacting with the brand. Fantastic for making your customers feel seen and respected, this is a critical component of using your Instagram account to boost SEO.

The Case for SEO and Instagram

The importance of social media for marketers is skyrocketing lately, and brands who hop aboard the train now are better prepared to confront unique marketing challenges down the road. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are powerful marketing tools, Instagram is currently emerging as a leader in the social scene.

Thanks to Instagram’s massive user base and simple, ever-improving interface, it’s easy for marketers to use the photo-sharing service to promote brand awareness, improve SEO, strengthen brand voice, interact with consumers, and create a powerful SEO platform that can help ensure high Google rankings for years to come.

No time to manage your social media accounts? No problem. Contact Proline Creative today to improve SEO and make your social content stand out from the crowd.