Photo by @skae_photo courtesy of Selfie Wrld Buffalo
Updated May 2023
Nowadays, it’s safe to say that Instagram is not only one of the most popular social media apps out there but it’s also one of the best ways local businesses have to market themselves for free. (Or at a very small cost!)
One of the best ways to market yourself for free on the platform? Instagram SEO.
That’s because Instagram users all over the world are using the platform like a search engine now more than ever before— whether it be for deciding what brunch spot to go to this weekend, browsing a local boutique’s inventory, or planning a full-blown vacation. (Or staycation!)
Setting up your business’s profile for success and creating your Instagram strategy with this in mind is key to increasing your overall discoverability on the platform, your business’s organic reach, and really starting to grow your following beyond what a few giveaway promotions would be able to get you. (Even though those are great, too!)
Ready to get started? Here are 5 local businesses who have already mastered Instagram SEO tactics, and how you can copy them to see your own success!
1. Chef Darian Bryan
Instagram SEO Tactic Used: Trackable link in bio
Before jumping headfirst into the world of Instagram SEO, you’ve got to take the time to audit your current Instagram profile for anything that might be missing. This includes:
- Making sure your profile is public
- Registering your business for an Instagram Business account
- Uploading a clear profile image that customers can recognize
- A trackable link in your Instagram bio
These all might seem like no-brainers, but driving traffic to your Instagram won’t do your business any good in the long run if you aren’t set up for success right from the get-go.
But the fourth bullet point is really what’s key here. By adding his Linktree link in his bio, Chef Darian Bryan is giving his audience a clear call to action with regard to where he’d like his followers to go to learn more about him, his services, and all of the different things he does. Plus, you can track all of your Linktree referral traffic in Google Analytics!
2. The Buffalo Creative
Instagram SEO Tactic Used: Incorporating keywords in Instagram bio
One you’ve tackled the basics, it’s time to nail down the SEO keywords you’ll target on Instagram. These are super useful because if you can figure out what exactly people are searching for, you can make sure that you strategically tailor your efforts to those specific phrases.
Not sure where to start? Think about what you as a customer might search for if you were to try to search for a business that offers your services. Keep in mind that people are more likely to search for shorter, broader terms like “bakery” or brewery” on Instagram, and save the longer, question-focused searches for Google.
You can also plug in any keyword on Google Trends for some help with brainstorming and to give you an idea of how frequently that keyword has been searched over the past 12 months.
Looking at The Buffalo Creative’s Instagram bio, you can tell that they’ve landed on a few key phrases: 1) Social Media Marketing, 2) Instagram Management/Instagram Consulting, and 3) Buffalo, New York.
These are all relatively simple, but effective terms that people looking for these types of searching might type into the search bar if they were scoping out an Instagram consulting business in the Buffalo area on the app.
3. Five Points Bakery
Instagram SEO Tactic Used: Incorporating keywords in username
This one is easy if you’ve already got your target keywords in your business name, but if you don’t, it’s super important to optimize your Instagram handle with at least one keyword if possible. That’s because local businesses that have at least one of their core keywords in their display name and/or username, they’re way more likely to show up in the search results for suggested accounts.
For example, here’s what I get if I search “bakery” on Instagram:
All of the top results are local bakeries because 1) the app takes the user’s physical location into account at the time of their search, and 2) all six of these businesses literally put the term “bakery” in their handle and/or display name. A change as simple as “@fivepoints” to “@fivepointsbakery,” for example, could make the world of a difference in new customers discovering your page on Instagram.
4. Nickel City Pretty
Instagram SEO Tactic Used: Hashtags
Aside from attractive visuals, top-performing posts on Instagram tend to have one thing in common: the use of hashtags. And fun fact: Instagram posts with at least one hashtag receive an average of 12.6% more engagement than posts with no hashtags— so yes, they definitely do make a difference!
Hashtags help Instagram users find and stay up to date with the types of content that interests them. You can elect to “follow” certain hashtags so they show up in your feed, or just search for hashtags that interest you whenever you’re looking for inspiration, like #healthymealprep or #weddingguesthair for example.
Local blogger Lindsay Robson of Nickel City Pretty uses hashtags to her advantage by finding the sweet spot. That means not spamming her posts with tons of hashtags and seeing what sticks, but instead, using a handful of effective, intentional hashtags to draw interest to her posts.
In this example, she uses a mix of content-specific keywords, like #mocktail, #cocktail and #competition, plus a few local-specific hashtags that will help users in the area connect with her content, like #buffaloblogger, #buffalo, and #igersbuffalo.
5. Selfie World Buffalo
Instagram SEO Tactic Used: Geo locations
Similar to hashtags, geotags are another factor that Instagram’s algorithm takes into account when determining what content to push out to users’ Explore pages.
If someone engages with a lot of content tagged with Buffalo, New York geotags, for example, that user is much more likely to discover your content organically through their Explore page if you also tag your content with a Buffalo, New York geotag— even if that user doesn’t follow you.
Take Selfie World Buffalo, for example: if you search for their location on Instagram, you’ll see that the first photo that comes up under “Top Photos” is one from their business account, which is a big deal when it comes to users seeing your content in the algorithm.
This is also important since geotags aren’t just relevant to local users— they’re also super helpful for out-of-towners who might be looking for an awesome restaurant to eat at, a fun place to shop, or just something generally interesting to do while they’re in town.
About one third of travelers reported that they use social media to plan future vacations, find travel tips, and look at photos of places they hope to visit during their trip, so if you’re a restaurant, bar, or generally tourist-y location, you’re definitely going to want to start using geotags on Instagram asap!