8 Easy Instagram SEO Techniques to Increase Reach

You’ve set up your Instagram account and put in a ton of work.  You’ve planned your IG posts. You have it looking nice. And you’re doing all the things. But you’re still just. not. getting. the amount of reach you want.  I can almost hear you screaming: “Why? WHY?!”, shaking your fist at the sky – feeling super frustrated and a little defeated.  But what if I tell you that the answer to your problems lies in something called Instagram SEO…

Did you know that Instagram has built-in search functions that act like its very own mini-Google?  And even though you might not think of Instagram as a search engine, you can use the same kind of SEO techniques you use to optimize your web pages for Google, and do the same for your Instagram posts. 

The best of all is that it’s not rocket science and you can use what you already know about SEO for Google and apply it to your Instagram SEO strategy. 

In this post I am going to tell you how by using eight easy, not-so-secret Instagram SEO techniques that will help you and your medical cannabis or CBD brand expand your Instagram reach organically, authentically and ethically.

Instagram SEO # 1: Your IG Profile

The first thing you need to do is optimize your Instagram profile.  You’ve probably done most of these things already, but just in case, do a quick run-through with this checklist:

  • Make sure your profile is public
  • Register for a IG Business account
  • Choose an on-brand profile image like your logo
  • Create a recognizable and searchable @username
  • Create an easily searchable business name
  • Include a link in your bio

Although these might seem obvious, it’s important to make sure all these elements are in place. They will form the foundation for all the Instagram SEO techniques we will discuss in the rest of the post.


Because Instagram basically works like a mini-Google, when someone searches for something, only the terms will appear that relate to that specific search term.  That is why you will want to make sure you include your primary keyword(s) in both your display name and your @username.

For example, let’s pretend you’re a CBD skin care brand called Hemp Beauty.   You will probably want someone that searches for “CBD skin care” to find you.  So, when you include “CBD skin care” in your display name and @username, it will make your Instagram account show up in the search results for suggested accounts. 

For instance, you would then want your display name to be something like “Hemp Beauty CBD Skin Care” with your @username being something like “@hempbeauty_cbdskincare”.


Now that your Instagram account will show up in searches for your primary keyword(s), you also want to get the most from your secondary keywords. You can do this by including these in your Instagram biography. 

So continuing with our example of Hemp Beauty CBD Skin Care, secondary keywords that you might want to rank for are things like “hemp”, “full-spectrum” and “CBD Lotions”.  You now want to use these secondary keywords to create a bio that will catch people who may not be searching for your primary keyword(s), but who may still be interested I your products.

Your bio might then look something like this:

“Hand crafted, small-batch, full-spectrum hemp CBD lotions for the ultimate in CBD skin care”


Now that your Instagram profile is optimized for Instagram SEO, you’re ready to start optimizing your posts. 

Most people on Instagram aren’t going to look for you directly and are most likely to find you through hashtags they follow.  So make sure that each of your Instagram content themes and posts have their own hashtag strategy.  Basically treat them like secondary keywords.

By doing this, you give users a better chance of finding you than if you used the same couple of hashtags on every single post.  Also, be aware that you will need to do this on an ongoing basis. 

Keep on refining your hashtags as you figure out what works and what doesn’t work for you and remember that whatever you do, the key is VARIETY and RELEVANCE. 


Writing compelling and engaging captions is vital for engaging your current followers and attracting new ones. But the right caption can do so much more.  It can help you show up on Instagram searches as well.

Because Instagram functions similar to a search engine, using secondary keywords in your post captions helps create a complete picture for Instagram’s algorithm. When you include “hemp”, “full-spectrum” and “CBD lotions” in your post captions, it tells Instagram that you should be ranking high in their results when people are searching for those terms.


Instagram alt text is a relatively new feature, which is why not many people know about it.  It’s also only available if you’re posting directly to Instagram.  However, the good news it that if use an automation tool like Later, you can go back and update the alt text later.

It was originally designed to help visually impaired users improve their Instagram user experience but is also great for Instagram SEO.  It works in a similar way to the alt text for images on your website.  The Instagram algorithm recognizes and logs alt text as keywords so having the right alt text on your post images will help your posts rank better.

You can access your Instagram alt text option by:

  1. Start by taking a photo or uploading an existing photo to Instagram.
  2. Choose a filter and edit the image, then tap Next.
  3. Tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap Write Alt Text.
  5. Write your alt text in the box and tap Done (iOS) or Save (Android).

To change the alt text of a photo after you’ve already posted it on Instagram:

  1. Go to the photo and tap  (iOS) or (Android).
  2. Tap Edit.
  3. Tap Edit Alt Text in the bottom right.
  4. Write the alt text in the box and tap Done (iOS) or click on the tick mark (Android).

Instagram SEO # 7: Your IG Stats

As with everything in marketing, and especially if it’s your first time using Instagram SEO techniques, you will want to track how well your new strategy works out and impacting on your overall social media marketing goals.

Whether using IG’s built-in statistical insights or using a third party application, tracking the success of your new Instagram SEO strategy will help you fine-tune your content as you go along, and help improve the overall success of your strategy.


If you’re not sure which stats to track, head over to this post The Most Important Social Media Metrics You Want To Be Tracking in 2020 for your Small to Medium CBD Brand

Instagram SEO # 8: Don’t Cheat

I mention this here because, just like Google can spot when someone is trying to cheat the system, Instagram’s algorithm is very good at spotting cheaters too.  Things that Instagram don’t like very much, and that will land you in hot water include:

  • Keyword stuffing (same as with Google!)
  • Using bots or another automated “Instagram growth” tools
  • Following and/or unfollowing too many accounts too fast
  • Buying followers

Instagram tends to punishing those that step over the line by implementing a “shadowban”.  What this means is that Instagram blocks users from seeing the shadowbanned user’s content.  And although that’s pretty crappy, followers will see this as disingenuous and it can do untold and irreversible damage to a brand’s image.  So, although it might be tempting, don’t. Just don’t do it.


Just like for your website, Instagram SEO is a long-term strategy that will increase your organic reach and a boost in real and engaged followers – if you are willing to put in the work and be patient.  It can be frustrating in the beginning but hang in there. But if you’re really looking to build your Instagram account organically and ethically while looking at the long game, and Instagram SEO strategy is a good way to go about it.