Instagram Search: How It Works

instagram search

Instagram Search sorts through tons of accounts and posts to find the content that you are interested in. Search is the place for discovery and inspiration.

In the guide Discover More on How Instagram Works, we shared with you how Instagram customizes your experience through Feed, Stories, Reels, and Explore. In this guide, we will help you understand what you see when you search on Instagram and why.

How Instagram Ranks Search Results

Instagram Search is designed to allow you to find accounts and content of interest. It’s based on what you more likely watch or post on Feed, Stories, Reels, and Explore. This input will help Instagram find out what to show you. Instagram needs to organize search results by what’s most relevant for you – whether it be your friend, a creator you love, or outfit ideas.

Here is an example that you should take a look at. For example, you are interested in finding pictures of space. When you tap the search bar on the Explore page, the first thing you see is your recent search results. Once you type “space”, Instagram will show you accounts, audios, hashtags, and places that match the text. So, the results like @space or #space will appear first because “space” is included in their name.

Space search results on Instagram Search.

Besides the text that you type into search, Instagram collects data from accounts, hashtags, and places – called signals – to rank your search results. As an Instagram announcement, here are the most important signals they use:

  • Your text in Search. The most important signal for Instagram Search is the text that you type in the search bar. Instagram matches what you type with relevant usernames, bios, captions, hashtags, and places.
  • Your activity. This includes accounts you follow, posts you’ve viewed, and how you’ve interacted with accounts in the past. Instagram usually puts accounts and hashtags that you follow or visit higher on the feed than those you don’t.
  • Information about the search results. When there are tons of potential results, Instagram will look at popularity signals. They depend on the number of clicks, likes, shares, and follows for a particular account, hashtag, or place.

How Instagram Helps You Show Up in Search

You need to be shown up in search results as a creator when your fans are looking for you. Instagram also wants to make it easier for others to find your photos and videos. Then, here are some tips that you can apply to show up higher in search results.

  • Use a fitting handle and profile name. As we said above, the most important signal is the text. So, creating an Instagram handle or profile name that’s related to your main content is the most effective tip for showing up in relevant searches. If your followers know you by a certain name include that name in your username or profile so that you can rank higher when they search for you.
  • Include relevant keywords and locations in your bio. Same principle here. Make sure that you add keywords about who you are and your page content. If your account is location-specific, like for a small business, sharing your location in your bio can help others in your area find you easier.
  • Use relevant keywords and hashtags in captions. For a post to be found in Search, include keywords and hashtags in the caption, not the comments.

How Instagram Keeps Search Safe

Instagram doesn’t show you accounts, posts, and hashtags that go against their Recommendations Guidelines in search results. Accounts that post spam or violate Instagram’s guide may appear lower in search results, and you have to search their full username to find them. Instagram also balances searches for sensitive topics with more safety measures to make sure that you won’t see related content that could be harmful. Accounts, hashtags, and posts that violate Instagram’s Community Guidelines will be removed entirely, which prevents them from appearing in Search.

Instagram will continue to make search safer with features like information pop-ups for sensitive searches. These pages include links to verified resources for additional support.

Instagram Search sensitive search pop-ups.

Instagram Plans To Make Search Better

Search was designed to help you navigate Instagram. Instagram said that they are soon introducing a series of improvements designed for inspiration and discovery. These changes could make Instagram Search more than just a tool for finding accounts and hashtags.

The keywords that you can use to search for content are expanding. Instagram currently focuses on getting keyword search results right in English, and they will include support for other languages in the future.

Instagram is developing to make search results better for exploration. For example, when you search for “space”, it will show you photos and videos that are related to space. This will be helpful when you don’t have an exact username or hashtag in mind when searching for a certain topic.

Space photos and videos on Instagram Search.

Keep reading our blogs to update more about how Instagram works in the future!

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