Young Male Adult sitting behind his laptop smiling while he sees his likes, comments and friend requests grow from the help of the instagram algorithm


How Instagram Algorithms Works

As part of their new ‘How Instagram Works’ series, Instagram just published the second instalment – it explains how its search algorithm works, and what you can do to increase your chances of appearing in relevant search results. So let’s go through it together.

You must understand all of Instagram’s systems to maximize your online presence, and how you can best align with such in your strategy. Instagram highlights the most relevant content based on the keywords you enter into the search field; with the specific text you enter as the primary matching device.

To provide relevant search results for a query, Instagram considers three main elements:

  • The text you enter – Instagram matches what you type with relevant usernames, bios, captions, hashtags, and locations.
  • Your activity on Instagram The Instagram algorithm usually gives you more points for hashtags and accounts you visit and follow.
  • Each query’s popularity – Instagram ranks results based on how popular the matches are for your query.

Due to your previous activities, your Instagram search visibility increases, which is another factor to consider when optimizing discovery. Continually engaging with your Instagram profile and building your presence will help you increase the chances of your profile appearing on more searches and increasing your Instagram profile’s potential discovery.

Instagram warns that any accounts, posts, and/or hashtags that violate its Recommendations Guidelines will have their search results lowered. According to Instagram, those who publish spam or violate their standards may appear lower in search results, and you may have to search for them using their full username.

8 Key Instagram Recommendation Guidelines


For brands, it is important to note what Instagram looks to downrank in search results:

  • Content promoting or depicting cosmetic procedures.
  • Content containing health claims that are exaggerated, such as “miracle cures”.
  • Content that promotes products or services based on health claims, such as advertising a weight loss supplement.
  • Misleading or deceptive content that promotes payday loans or “risk-free” investment schemes.
  • Sexually explicit or suggestive content, such as pictures of people in see-through clothing.
  • Promoting the use of tobacco products, vaping products, adult products, and pharmaceutical drugs
  • Repurposed content that lacks originality without adding any value.
  • Promotional content for a contest or giveaway

3 Recommendations for creators and brands that are looking to maximize their discovery potential on Instagram


  • Use a fitting handle and profile nameInstagram’s search results are primarily based on text, so you’re best off choosing a handle or profile name that’s relevant to the content of your posts. Also, if your friends or fans know you by a certain name, Instagram recommends you use it – you should include that name in your username or profile so that you show up when they search for you.
  • Include relevant keywords and locations in your bio – Making sure your bio includes keywords about who you are and what your profile is about will also improve your discovery potential. It is easy to find you using your location in your account’s bio if your account is location-specific, such as an account for a small business.
  • Use relevant keywords and hashtags in captions – It is a particularly relevant point of note: “For a post to be found in Search, put keywords and hashtags in the caption, not the comments”.

Whether Instagram posts perform better with hashtags in the caption or the first comment has long been a subject of debate among social media marketers. Instagram has answered that question directly, offering clear guidance regarding where hashtags should be placed.