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Angela Soudi

Instagram Enables Keyword-Based Search To Surface Relevant Content For Users

December 13, 2020

Head of Hospitality

Angela Soudi

Head of Hospitality
Social Media Management

Article Overview

10min read

In its latest update, Instagram announced that it is upgrading its search functionality by adding the ability for users to search on the platform through keywords, which was earlier limited to hashtags, location tags, usernames, and profile names. 

The company is letting users find content by keywords for the first time, expanding their users’ reach. This new keyword search will significantly change the way users explore this social media platform, as Instagram can now tap into all the unsearchable content spaces such as video and photo captions.

Here Is How Instagram Search Works

With this new update, users will now be able to look for posts with keywords even if they don’t have the required hashtags. For instance, if you are searching for ‘healthy diet,’ you will be able to find posts, pictures, videos; even if they don’t have the relevant hashtag “#healthydiet” added to it.

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Digital marketers are yet to understand the factors that Instagram uses to search without hashtags. They know that the social media platform uses captions to search and display relevant posts. 

However, marketers are still to comprehend questions such as ‘does Instagram search only find exact matches or explore synonyms too?’ ‘How effective is their AI or machine learning in finding images without hashtags?’ and so on.

An Instagram spokesperson mentioned that they consider factors such as captions, date of the post, and content, among other things, to return search results. They further confirmed that Instagram uses machine learning to generate search results with the highest quality of content, but doesn’t mention if it involves image recognition.

However, according to the spokesperson, Instagram search results are limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines.

How Will This Update Affect Instagram SEO?

For the first time, with the keyword search update, Instagram has opened the platform to ranking factors – more ways of optimizing posts for digital marketers. Earlier, the only way to optimize Instagram posts was to include relevant hashtags and if applicable location tags could also be included. But now, with the whole new algorithm, marketers can now creatively include more relevant keywords in taglines, captions, etc.

Marketers may even consider the effects of this update on rankings on Instagram. Overall, this update can be an added advantage to businesses and enthusiasts alike. What’s left to see is how well users adapt to the new way of finding content on Instagram.

If Instagram notices a significant surge in audience engagement, it would mean that the update was successful in tapping into unsearchable content. Otherwise, it may go unnoticed and unused as users prefer to search using the old hashtag ways.

Presently this update is only available in six English-speaking countries, including the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada. While the relevance of the search results may not be to the mark, Instagram has assured users that it is getting the filters in place to ensure users find quality content.

Along with Instagram’s keyword search update – which is an initial step taken to expand its internal search- Instagram also launched a new feature, “Guides.” This new feature allowed Instagram creators to share tips, resources and other longer-form content – from their favorite creators, public figures, organizations and publishers on Instagram – in a dedicated tab on their user profiles.

social media agencyAll these Instagram’s latest updates goal is to help keep Instagram users from leaving the app. With the keyword search update, Instagram can give content creators a tremendous scope to generate more keyword-relevant content rather than be restricted to hashtags. On the other hand, Instagramers will also find more quality and appropriate content across the platform.


Angela Soudi

Head of Hospitality

Angela Soudi is a visionary writer with 20+ years of experience in Sales and Marketing across Europe, Canada, and the Middle East. She is highly invested in actively contributing articles to pioneering hospitality platforms and websites.

Angela Soudi

Head of Hospitality
Social Media Management
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