Instagram Outlines How its Search Algorithms Work, and How You Can Optimize Your Presence

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A new article on Social Media Today reports that Instagram has just published the second installment in its new ‘How Instagram Works’ series, with an overview of how its search algorithms function, and how you can maximize your chances of showing up in relevant search results.

“Search on Instagram sorts through millions of accounts and posts to help you browse your interests. From nail art to interior design to dinner recipes, Search is a place for discovery and inspiration. In Shedding More Light on How Instagram Works, we shared how we personalize your experience across Feed, Stories, Reels and Explore. Today, we’re breaking down what you see when you search and why.

Search is built to help you find accounts and topics of interest. It’s different from Feed, Stories, Reels and Explore because your input helps us figure out what to show you. Your search tells us what you’re looking for, and it’s noticeable when the results aren’t useful. It’s important for us to get this right, so we try to organize search results by what’s most relevant to you — whether it be a close friend, a creator you love, or ideas for vegan desserts.”

The basics of Instagram search are fairly straightforward – Instagram uses the keywords that you enter into the search field to highlight the most relevant content, with the specific text that you input being the primary matching device. But, there’s more to it:

  • The text you enter – This, Instagram says, is “by far” the most important signal for Search. “We try to match what you type with relevant usernames, bios, captions, hashtags and places”
  • Your activity in the app – In addition to basic text matching, Instagram will also rank your search results based on your previous in-app activity, including the accounts you follow, the posts you’ve viewed, and how you’ve interacted with certain profiles in the past. “We usually show accounts and hashtags you follow or visit higher than those you don’t.” This is to help you find things that you’re more likely to be interested in and to streamline your discovery process.
  • Popularity of each query – Finally, Instagram also factors in the popularity of the matches for your query when ranking the results it displays. The elements that could influence this include the number of clicks, likes, shares, and follows that a particular account, hashtag, or place sees.
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