Experiment: Instagram SEO vs hashtags

Again in March 2022, Adam Moserri made a stunning announcement through Instagram Tales. The Instagram CEO introduced that hashtags don’t really matter on the platform anymore.

TBH, I’m nonetheless reeling over right here. First, he says that you simply actually only need 3 to 5 hashtags as a substitute of 30, and now this? Is nothing on this world sacred?!

Phrase across the social-media-manager water cooler is that he was implying that the algorithm is likely to be inserting extra emphasis on figuring out related key phrases in captions than previously.

However why speculate wildly when you’ll be able to put a rumor to the take a look at?

In a basic Experiments blog transfer, we determined I ought to put my private Instagram account by the wringer and resolve issues as soon as and for all. And I’m fantastic with that!

So: Is SEO the best way to go? Or are Instagram hashtags still the most powerful tool for discovery? Let’s get into it!


Using relevant keywords in Instagram captions will get my posts more reach than using hashtags

Instagram hashtags have been an important part of discoverability and reach since the platform launched back in 2010. In fact, we’ve written thousands of words about how to use Instagram hashtags to grow your audience, construct group and generate engagement. (Are we… #obsessed?)

For years, selecting the right Instagram tags was a essential a part of your social media strategy — as vital as having nice Instagram imagery or crafting the proper Instagram caption.

As a result of, to be frank, Instagram’s SEO simply wasn’t that nice within the early days. Hashtags had been one of the simplest ways to make clear what your Publish, Story or Reel was about, and to who it’d attraction.

However then folks began abusing the hashtags, cramming within the most quantity (30) to each caption, whether or not or not the tag itself was related. (That is why we are able to’t have good issues.)

The overload of inaccurate tagging made for a irritating person expertise. Whenever you seek for #penguins, you’re gonna wanna see some penguins, you understand?

So Instagram started working enhancing the platform’s algorithm and AI capabilities.

They began encouraging folks to make use of fewer hashtags, rewarding high quality hashtags over amount.

Now, as Adam Moserri’s feedback indicate, we could also be getting into a post-hashtag period of Instagram . Because of this the phrases you embody in your caption will carry much more weight within the search operate.

That’s proper: Key phrases, not hashtags, is likely to be the brand new secret to succeed in on Instagram.


To check out this idea, I fired up my trusty Hootsuite dashboard and prepared 10 different Instagram posts.

I tried to cowl trending subjects like journey, brunch, disco balls, florals, and Vancouver. I used generic-but-beautiful images from Unsplash (one of many really helpful free stock photo sites listed on this — ahem — very useful weblog put up).

Unsplash free stock photo disco balls

(The content material I’m normally posting today is simply child pictures. As cute as my daughter is, I didn’t suppose she was search-worthy sufficient for this experiment. Coco, please be happy to bookmark this put up to indicate your future therapist.)

With great-looking photography lined up, I drafted up keyword-laden captions for half of the posts.

new post on Hootsuite with lengthy caption

For the opposite half, I used 3 to five related hashtags for the caption as a substitute of one thing descriptive.

new post on Hootsuite Composer with hashtags

Then, I scheduled them to exit at Hootsuite’s recommended posting times, and waited not-so-patiently for the outcomes.


TLDR: Key phrase-focused captions get extra attain and extra engagement than hashtags on Instagram in 2022. Seems, Adam wasn’t foolin’!

instagram account page Stacey McLachlan

Earlier than we get into extra element, can we simply take a second to understand simply how lovely my feed is when it’s skilled pictures of French toast, and never hormone-fueled paparazzi photographs of a new child? Gorge.

Sorry! Okay! Okay! I do know we shouldn’t linger too long on the grid: in spite of everything, this experiment is about whether or not or not these particular person posts had extra attain with SEO key phrase captions, or with basic Instagram hashtags.

So let’s head over to Hootsuite Analytics to assist make sense of all of it.

General, within the week I ran my experiment, I reached 2.3K Instagram customers.

Hootsuite Analytics all reports Instagram publishing

However not all posts obtained equal consideration, because it seems.

Instagram posts analytics in-app

Right here’s slightly chart of simply how that attain broke down:

Vancouver 200 258
Disco Balls 160 163
Peonies 170 316
French Toast 226 276
Seashores 216 379

The margins on some posts had been greater than others, however total, each single put up with an SEO caption had greater attain than these with hashtags.

General, I had 30% extra attain with my SEO posts than my hashtag posts. Yowza, as we are saying right here within the social-media-science biz!

Importantly, these posts didn’t simply appeal to extra eyeballs. My posts with key phrase captions received greater engagement, too, incomes extra likes persistently.

Instagram posts table engagement likes and comments

Vancouver 14 21
Disco Balls 4 4
Peonies 10 24
French Toast 6 16
Seashores 17 36

Until you, too, are posting about disco balls, these outcomes predict that you simply’re going to get much more engagement from captions than from hashtags.

Positive, this was only a short-and-sweet experiment over the course of per week on my private account, however the potential for businesses on Instagram is verrrry intriguing.

What do the outcomes imply?

In a nutshell: Hashtags are out! SEO is in! However let’s break down some deeper takeaways from this little take a look at.

A profitable put up wants greater than only a fairly image

Sure, nice graphic design and beautiful imagery are vital on Instagram — it’s a visible platform in spite of everything. However your viewers craves greater than only a fairly image. They need context, authenticity, and that means, too.

Your caption is a chance to supply simply that.

Be descriptive and correct along with your captions

In case you’re searching for discoverability and attain, being obtuse or artsy along with your caption isn’t going to assist. It could delight your current followers to share a hilariously mismatched caption and photograph, however the algorithm received’t have any concept what’s going on.

For optimum attain, use descriptive key phrases that may assist new audiences discover your content material.

In case you’re going to make use of hashtags, pair them with a correct caption

For this experiment, half of the posts used simply hashtags because the caption. No additional context, no full sentences, simply tags, tags, tags.

To be trustworthy, it seemed slightly spammy. It’s potential Instagram’s algorithm thought so, too, and delivered the content material to fewer feeds.

So should you’re going to proceed to make use of Instagram hashtags to your posts, attempt placing them on the finish of a extra strong caption. Simply in case there’s nonetheless slightly juice left for looking by hashtags, you’ll get the #bestofbothworlds.

In conclusion: sorry we doubted you, Adam Moserri. However due course of is what the Hootsuite Experiments weblog is all about! For extra high-stakes Instagram trials and tribulations, why not find out what happens when you buy followers? (Trace: nothing good to your credit score rating.)

Use Hootsuite to schedule Instagram posts at one of the best time, reply to feedback, observe opponents, and measure efficiency—all from the identical dashboard you employ to handle your different social networks. Begin your free trial at this time.

Get Started

Simply create, analyze, and schedule Instagram posts and Tales with Hootsuite. Save time and get outcomes.

Source link

I am Freelance
Shopping cart