The Ultimate Instagram SEO Guide for Photographersby@technerds
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The Ultimate Instagram SEO Guide for Photographers

by TechNerds IncNovember 21st, 2020
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Instagram SEO is necessary for photographers to display their portfolios on the web. It is mission-critical for those that don’t have a website...yet. Instagram is more than just pretty people with amazing backgrounds. It is a source of livelihood for many. Make sure your Instagram is up to date and user-friendly will make your life and the web crawler’s life easier. Use Emojis to help humanize your brand and connect with the youth. Write Expressive Captions to match user intent for better results.
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Why does Instagram SEO matter? Doesn’t SEO only apply to websites? All these questions are valid and have a proper answer. Instagram SEO is necessary for photographers to display their portfolios on the web. It is mission-critical for those that don’t have a website...yet.

Instagram is more than just pretty people with amazing backgrounds. It is a source of livelihood for many. Making sure your Instagram is up to date and user-friendly will make your life and the web crawler’s life easier.

So buckle up and let’s board the SEO plane to trafficland!

WARNING: This post will uplift your Insta skills to the next level!

Streamline your Instagram Profile for Search

Our first stop is our Instagram profile optimization. Now, if you are a personal brand or a business. You need to switch your Instagram profile to business. 

The perks of having a business profile are limited but will give your engagement and Impressions a huge boost!

Instagram SEO Basics: Use your focus keyword in your name

Are you a business that delivers cotton candy to children? Make sure that you mention cotton candy in your profile name. 

This is how the Instagram search function will recognize and rank your brand in its results page.

Your username should also contain hints of what you actually do. Come up with something that is sticky and works perfectly.

Also be sure to use related keywords in your profile bio.

Make sure to include your related keywords for your business in your bio. In the picture above, Wildlife and Photography are clearly mentioned and used. Include relevant information that is stated clearly and use branded hashtags to personalize your bio. Creating relevant bio helps Instagram Algorithm understand the context.

Using generic hashtags is not going to bring you any traffic… So stop using them and instead focus on branded hashtags that increase your brand awareness. 

Hashtags help you with discoverability and assist you with more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business.

Hashtags work in the same way focus keywords work in an article. If an article is geared towards a focus keyword, it will help you in bringing traffic that matches that keyword’s intent.

Every hashtag that you incorporate will result in your photo being shown for that particular hashtag results page.

Instagram SEO Basics: Use Emojis

Ah, Emojis, the lovechild of millennials and Gen-Z. Emojis have transformed how we communicate from text to visuals. Using Emojis to disrupt the communication barrier and transform how your brand is perceived. 

Convey more value in fewer character spaces. Emojis help humanize your brand and connect with the youth.

Highlight your skills with Emojis

Website URL & Facebook Connection

Mention your Photography website in your URL in order to drive outbound traffic. Using multi-channel marketing is a good way of diversifying your audience and improving your Instagram SEO. 

Make sure your Instagram is connected to your Facebook page so you can share your photos on both platforms and drive engagement and views.

Write Expressive Captions

Photographers are not that creative with words. For Instagram, they have to be.

Location tags and Hashtags are the only way your content is going to be found on Instagram’s search and explore page. One more thing which assists the algorithm with content ranking is captions.

Instagram’s algorithms track your in-app behavior such as engagement and dwell time to paint a canvas that is tailored towards you.

Instagram deploys a machine learning algorithm called Word Embedding to match user intent with content that is available.

For example, if you like outdoor photography and write captions that explicitly or implicitly target that keyword. Instagram will group your pictures with topically relevant content.

Make sure to include secondary keywords in your captions to match user intent for better results.

Add Custom Alternative Text to your Images

Alternative text is one of the new features on Instagram and a great way to bolster your Instagram SEO. It helps people with disabilities to hear what your image is about, people with a slow internet connection to see what the image is about on their laptops.

It is also beneficial for your Instagram’s algorithm to understand relevancy.

Alt-text is generated automatically via recognition algorithms but you can create custom alt-text for better search results. 

You can either add alt text before a picture is uploaded or Add it after it’s uploaded. Let’s break both of them down below:

1. Adding it before uploading

Click Advanced settings. 

Next, tap Write Alt Text. 

Now, add your alt text and tap done.

2. Adding it after uploading

Go to the photo you want to add alt-text for, tap the ellipsis button, and tap edit. 

Tap Edit Alt Text in the bottom right.

Now, add your alt-text and tap done.

Tag mentions 

Tagging people in your Instagram photos act as a backlink for your profile. Backlinks act as a vote of confidence in you which acts as social proof in Instagram’s context.

Tagging enables people with different tastes and cultures to discover your content. But how do you get people to tag you often?

One way is to be more outgoing and social or another way is to create awesome content that other people will tag you with.

Instagram Stories

Stories are one of the most successful features of Instagram. It can make or break your Gram game.

User engagement rate is concentrated towards Instagram stories. Featured stories take its inspiration from Snapchat. Your posts are only available for 24 hours creating a sense of urgency.

Dynamic stickers such as polls and check-ins can increase the engagement rate by interactions. Users can directly message which gives Instagram an indication of your brand’s platform equity.

Instagram stories are a great way to create an online portfolio of tags. Get tagged often to help drive traffic to your website or profile.

Adding posts is a time-consuming process. Adding stories is not; it gives your brand authenticity and makes you more approachable.

Boost your local Instagram SEO with check-ins

Instagram favours content with check-ins. It can also boost your local reach and people can discover your content based on check-ins.

Local Check-ins can lead to other photographers and agencies in your area to contact you for a potential collaboration.

Partnering with local nonprofits can help your brand establish themselves as socially responsible. All these metrics will lead to establishing brand authority and presence.

Avoid common black hat Instagram SEO techniques.

Like Google, Instagram’s algorithm can detect black hat techniques in order to grow your traffic.

Some of the most common unethical practices are:

  • Paid post without Sponsorship tag
  • Paid Post Collaboration
  • Fake Check-ins
  • Obfuscating posts with excessive filters
  • Buying likes 
  • Anything that can make your posts look shady or sketchy

For further details on black hat practices to avoid, you can read this excellent article here.

Partner with influencers for a wider reach

Influencer marketing is a big industry. Influencers are expected to cross the 125 million threshold by 2023.

Why does it work so well?

Instagram influencers are ordinary people, just like you and me. Nano and Micro have a better engagement rate and do not include Macro & Mega levels.

Whatever an influencer says corresponds to word-of-mouth marketing and you don’t need to be massive to convey your message.

Photography is a wide field with multiple niches. Forming strategic relationships with influencers in niches such as outdoor photography, lifestyle photography will create quick ROI.

Users can interact with influencers via photos or videos in posts and stories leading to greater brand awareness.

Tag yourself in Locations you want to target

Do you know what helps a photographer’s portfolio? Photos in different situations and locations.

Instagram gives you the option to tag your photos in different locations. As a business, you can count on it to display a spectrum of results.

You can also “Invent Locations” to grab attention and keep your content fresh. A wild “Bikini Bottom” Location tag will give something new to look at.

Create Relatable Content

Instagram SEO is all about relevancy and how your content speaks to your target audience. Does it resonate with their lifestyle and ideas?

Many photographers fail to read their target audience’s mindset. They care more about putting stuff out there rather than picturing themselves in their potential client’s shoes.

Wanna get hired for an outdoor shoot? Take pictures of the outdoors with relevant hashtags and email outreach to future partners for collaboration.

That’s how you will align your efforts and your audience’s vision.

Go live with IGTV

IGTV was launched as a competitor to YouTube and a growth strategy for content creators.

Users can share videos greater in length for users who are interested in long-form video content.

Photographers can display behind-the-scenes of what goes in a photography shoot. Case studies and technology breakdowns are something that can also help them in reaching a wide audience.

Consistent IGTV content can help you with organic reach as well as help you become an industry thought leader with consistent effort and experience.

Instagram Live

Instagram Live is generally used to conduct interviews and collaborations in real-time. It gives your audience some fresh perspective and helps your brand image with raw and unfiltered content.

SEO is always geared towards new algorithmic or features additions. Producing consistent content geared towards these features will help you target people with different affinities.

Instagram Live is great for photographers to create visibility and increase the engagement rate with your content. Content consumers can post comments in real-time.

The biggest pro of Instagram Live to establish long-term relationships built on mutual value exchange. The biggest con of Instagram Live is that videos are not saved to your highlights section resulting in a lost opportunity.

Use Shopping Tags to your Advantage for Instagram SEO

Instagram recently rolled out shopping tags for stories and posts. Users can now shop on Instagram and get what influencers and celebrities are wearing or carrying.

Photographers can display their equipment via Instagram and get a small commission via affiliate links.

Track Your Reach with Analytics

A digital marketer’s efforts are in vain if he/she doesn’t strategize and analyse the fruits of his/her labor.

Keeping tabs on your metrics are the foremost priority in taking your ‘Gram game to the next level. Some metrics to keep track of are:

  • Engagement Rate
  • Organic Reach
  • Dwell time
  • Increase in followers over a certain time
  • Hashtag engagement
  • Traffic from Referrals
  • Instagram features(Stories, Live, IGTV) engagement

If we summarize Instagram algorithms in a sentence, it tracks user engagement with your posts to dictate your organic reach.


Social Media is an ever-evolving beast and platforms have to better themselves with updates and feature additions.

A photographer’s best bet is to stay ahead of the curve with these new features and updates.

Although SEO for Instagram can be non-linear with all these constant changes, there are a number of strategies that will streamline Instagram search results.

Taking these precautions will improve your social media strategy and help highlight your Instagram profile in search results.

So, which feature is your favourite? Tell us if you have any hack for Instagram and how your brand has been favoured by it?

Want to learn even more? Look at this guide for more information.