Instagram Updates: At the very end of 2023, Instagram’s search function changed. Specifically, Instagram keywords emerged. Previously, users could only search using hashtags, locations or users’ handles.

Captions and bios outside of these data fields had no impact on Instagram search results.

This caused a bunch of problems. For one thing, it obviously led to hashtag stuffing in Instagram posts. This made it very difficult to create or consume engaging written content. It also limited the potential for organic audience growth on Instagram.

The introduction of Instagram keywords is a massive step forward.

What are Instagram Keywords?

In traditional SEO, keywords are the terms a user enters when they’re searching for a piece of content. On each search platform, the algorithm then decides which content will best serve the user’s needs, based on factors like keyword usage, relevance and search intent.

Black phone on a white background, with screen showing click-through rate and data

The exact ranking factors for Instagram SEO are still unclear. According to company sources, ranking factors include:

  • Post time,
  • Type of content,
  • Captions,
  • Quality.

Of course, Instagram is still a social media platform, not a search engine. As such, we can still expect it to take account of social signals, such as:

  • Post frequency,
  • Engagement,
  • The number of followers a user has.

In other words, Instagram’s search functionality has simply gotten more sophisticated. The key takeaway is that users can now use keywords to search for terms which don’t have a hashtag or user handle.

But what does this all mean?

How do Keywords Change Instagram?

Of course, only time will tell what impact keywords will have on Instagram. The core effect will be making it easier for the platform to match users with the best content for their needs. This will greatly change the experience of both users and brands.

Instagram Keywords for Users

For users, the introduction of keywords on Instagram will make search for content considerably easier, especially when this relates to topics they aren’t familiar with. That is, they won’t need to already know the top hashtags or influencers in that niche to find great content.

This is great news for creators who want to grow their audience, but who aren’t already mega-famous outside of Instagram. Instead, the competition for search positions will be based on the content users produce, rather than a straightforward popularity contest.

In other words, it will be easier to get more followers by making great content.

Instagram SEO for Brands

This will have an even bigger impact on brands who use Instagram for marketing. For the exact same reasons as above, the introduction of keywords make Instagram a much more viable marketing platform for many brands.

To understand why, let’s consider what an Instagram strategy looked like in the past.

Until now, influencers have been at the core of most brands’ Instagram efforts. This generally meant engaging with users who already have a large audience, and partnering with them to place your products in their posts.

The barriers to cultivating your own Instagram following were too high for most brands to develop their own Instagram content strategy.

Now, creating great content for Instagram will become the name of the game. That is, brands can compete on merit. For example, in the past a food brand might have to partner with a lifestyle influencer in order to reach Instagram users.

With keywords, they’ll be able to research, create and publish valuable content about their products, and see real results. But what does valuable content mean in the context of Instagram marketing?

Let’s take a look at three concrete steps you can take to succeed with Instagram SEO.

How to Boost Instagram SEO

It’s worth remembering that Instagram is a visual platform. That is, Instagram content is primarily made up of images, GIFs and videos. All the same, there are a number of text fields which you can leverage to improve your Instagram SEO.

Let’s take a look at each in turn.

Keyword Optimise Your Instagram Profile

Your Instagram profile is made up of three key pieces of text:

  1. Your username,
  2. Your display name,
  3. Your bio.

In some cases you can add keywords to your username, but this isn’t always practical. Your goal should be to optimise your display name and bio, as these will have a far greater impact.

Display Name

The easiest way to do this is to insert keywords which describe your core product or service offering naturally into your display name. To see what we mean, let’s take a look at an example from Later, the social media scheduling tool.

Instagram Updates:  Black phone on white background/shelf, with the 'edit profile' page on Instagram in the screen

This should be fairly self-explanatory. Later’s display name is simply their brand, followed by a concise description of what they offer their users. The goal here is obviously to target searches for the keyword ‘social media scheduler’.


Of course, your Instagram bio is another excellent opportunity to insert keywords. The key here is to be selective, and insert the most important keywords in a natural fashion. One popular strategy is simply to present your USP in list format.

Check out this example:

Instagram Updates:  Close up shot of the top of a black phone, showing a user's Instagram bio

Essentially everything in the body of this bio is a keyword:

  • Artist,
  • Florals,
  • Workshops,
  • Intimate weddings.

Good bios are succinct. The goal is to concisely explain what your brand is all about, with as many unique keywords as possible.

Write SEO Friendly Captions

Instagram uses your posts’ captions to determine the subject of the post itself. It then takes this information, and relates it to other users, to build a picture of important topics on the platform.

This means that keywords should be thought of in terms of the topic that they relate to.

In other words, the most SEO friendly captions remain the ones which provide the best value and engagement for users under a given topic. Inserting specific keywords based on their popularity should be used in conjunction with this.

That is, it isn’t simply enough to fire in some popular keywords and hope for the best. Rather, it’s important to first decide which keywords are popular, and then figure out how you can make the best content around these.

Use Instagram Alt Text

If you have any previous experience of SEO, you’ll be familiar with alt text. If not, this is a piece of text which is displayed when users can’t see an image, either because they have a visual impairment, or because they have a bad connection.

In either case, they’re absolutely key for SEO.

You might not have known that this feature exists on Instagram though. You can access it under the Advanced Settings menu, when you create a post. You’ll see this text field:

Grey background, black phone with a paragraph explaining alt text accessibility on Instagram with a yellow circle around it

Remember that Instagram is a visual-first platform. Images take precedence over written content. This means that your Instagram alt texts are one of the best ways to optimise your content with keywords.

As with any other time you’re writing alt texts, you essentially have two goals here:

  1. Describe the content of the image,
  2. Add relevant keywords.

Both elements are critical. You can’t simply stuff in keywords, as then your alt texts will not work properly for their primary purpose of describing images to users who can’t see them.

Recent Instagram Updates (as of February 4, 2024)

Here’s a breakdown of some major recent Instagram updates, their purpose, and potential impact:

1. Hype Comments:

  • What: Allows users to leave written comments on Stories, not just react with emojis.
  • Purpose: Increases engagement and interaction on Stories, similar to post comments.
  • Impact: May lead to deeper discussions and reactions on Stories, but also potential negativity/trolling.

2. Advanced Reels Editing:

  • What: Adds undo/redo, crop, scale, rotate, zoom, and draft preview/rename features.
  • Purpose: Simplifies and empowers creators to produce more polished and engaging Reels.
  • Impact: Can elevate the quality of Reels content and attract larger audiences.

3. AI-Generated Stickers:

  • What: Lets users generate custom stickers based on text prompts in DMs and comments.
  • Purpose: Adds a fun and personalized touch to communication, encouraging creative self-expression.
  • Impact: May increase interaction and fun in chats, but could also lead to spam or inappropriate content.

4. Enhanced Spam Detection:

  • What: Offers bulk removal of spam comments, story views, tags, and fake followers.
  • Purpose: Reduces spam and improves the overall user experience for creators and viewers.
  • Impact: Makes platforms safer and more manageable for creators, but might inadvertently remove real interactions.

Instagram User Interface and Design Changes: A Closer Look

While Instagram prioritizes features, it also subtly tweaks its user interface (UI) and design to improve user experience (UX). Here are some noteworthy recent changes:

1. Repositioned Navigation Bar (February 2022):

  • Change: Reels tab moved to center, Shop tab removed, Create button shifted.
  • Purpose: Prioritize Reels and content creation, simplify interface.
  • Impact: Some users felt disoriented due to changed locations of familiar buttons.

2. Focus on Content (Mid-2023):

  • Change: Subtle color adjustments, emphasis on photos and videos in feed and profiles.
  • Purpose: Highlight content over UI elements, create a cleaner and more immersive experience.
  • Impact: Creates a more visually appealing platform, but some users found it less vibrant.

3. Stories Improvements:

  • Change: Dynamic color options for text and backgrounds, more interactive stickers.
  • Purpose: Enhance creativity and expression in Stories, making them more engaging.
  • Impact: More visually diverse and interactive Stories, potentially increasing viewership.

4. Dark Mode Refinements:

  • Change: Improved contrast, smoother transitions, adjustments to specific elements.
  • Purpose: Enhance eye comfort and accessibility for users who prefer Dark Mode.
  • Impact: More comfortable viewing experience for Dark Mode users, potentially attracting more users.

5. Continued Evolution:

  • Change: Constant testing of new UI elements and layouts, potential future changes.
  • Purpose: Keep the platform fresh, adapt to user needs, and respond to trends.
  • Impact: Requires users to be adaptable, but can lead to positive improvements over time.


Instagram’s UI and design changes are often subtle but purposeful, aiming to improve UX and prioritize content. While some users may find adjustments disruptive, they typically reflect evolving user needs and trends. Staying informed and adaptable is key to navigating these changes and enjoying the best possible Instagram experience.

Recent Instagram Updates and Their Impact

Instagram’s algorithm plays a crucial role in determining what content shows up in your feed, Explore page, and other sections. It’s constantly evolving, making it challenging to stay ahead of the curve. However, understanding recent updates and their potential impact can help you optimize your content and reach a wider audience.

Recent Algorithm Updates (as of February 4, 2024):

1. Focus on User Interest:

  • Change: Algorithm prioritizes content deemed interesting to individual users based on past interactions, saved content, and engagement with similar accounts.
  • Impact: Users see more relevant content, but niche creators might face reduced reach if audiences are small.

2. Engagement Signals:

  • Change: Increased emphasis on comments, shares, and replies over likes as engagement metrics.
  • Impact: Encourages deeper interactions and discourages “like-farming” strategies.

3. Reels Push:

  • Change: Reels prioritized in feed and Explore, receiving broader visibility compared to static posts.
  • Impact: Creators who leverage Reels effectively gain reach, while static-only accounts might need to adapt.

4. Timeliness Factor:

  • Change: Recent content prioritized over older posts, encouraging frequent posting.
  • Impact: Rewards consistent creators, but may disadvantage those posting less frequently.

5. Combating Spam and Misinformation:

  • Change: Advanced detection systems identify and remove spammy content and accounts.
  • Impact: Improves overall user experience and reduces exposure to harmful content.

Additional Notes:

  • The algorithm considers various signals beyond the ones mentioned above, including post metadata, account type, and user location.
  • Instagram doesn’t publicly disclose all algorithm details, so staying informed through official announcements and industry insights is crucial.
  • Adapting your content strategy to align with these changes can help you reach a wider audience and achieve your goals on Instagram.

New Features and Tools on Instagram: A 2024 Exploration

Instagram regularly adds new features and tools to enhance user experience and engagement. Let’s explore some exciting additions across Reels, Stories, Live Rooms, Collabs, and Shopping:


  • Advanced Editing Suite: Undo/redo, crop, scale, rotate, zoom, draft preview, and renaming capabilities for precise and polished creation.
  • Song Lyrics: Synchronize lyrics with your Reels for creative storytelling and music integration.
  • Close Friend Sharing: Share Reels exclusively with selected close friends for a more intimate audience.
  • Sharing to Reels Integration: Seamlessly share short-form videos from apps directly to Reels with one tap.
  • Enhanced Insights: Dive deeper into Reels performance with metrics like reach, engagement, and completion rate.


  • Hype Comments: Express yourself beyond reactions with written comments on Stories, fostering deeper discussions.
  • AI-Generated Stickers: Personalize chats and comments with unique stickers based on text prompts, adding a fun touch.
  • Dynamic Color Options: Experiment with vibrant backgrounds and text colors for visually stunning Stories.
  • Interactive Stickers Update: Discover new playful and engaging stickers for enhanced storytelling.

Live Rooms:

  • Co-Hosting with Up to Four Guests: Collaborate with more creators for dynamic and multifaceted live sessions.
  • Scheduled Live Rooms: Generate anticipation by scheduling your live streams in advance.
  • Q&A Updates: Streamline audience interaction with improved moderation tools and question management.
  • Live Shopping: Sell products directly during Live Rooms for seamless e-commerce integration.


  • Remixable Reels: Create collaborative Reels by remixing and adding your own spin to another user’s Reel.
  • Guide Collabs: Share curated content jointly with another account in collaborative Guides.
  • Group Chat Story Sharing: Contribute to a friend’s Story directly from a group chat, expanding storytelling possibilities.
  • Potential Future: Rumored “Instagram Flipside” feature offers separate public and private profiles within one account, enabling diverse content sharing.


  • Collections Updates: Organize and showcase products more effectively with enhanced collection features.
  • Live Shopping Enhancements: Utilize interactive product placements and Q&A sessions during Live Rooms for increased sales potential.
  • Direct Messaging for Business: Facilitate seamless customer communication and transactions through direct messages.
  • Shop the Look: Discover and purchase complete outfits inspired by creators’ looks directly through their posts.

Remember, these features might be rolled out gradually and not available to all users simultaneously. Always keep your app updated and explore new features to stay ahead of the curve and optimize your Instagram experience.

Recent Privacy and Security Enhancements on Instagram

In an age of increasing online privacy concerns, Instagram hasn’t been shy about introducing features to empower users and safeguard their data. Let’s explore some notable recent updates in this arena:

Enhanced Privacy Settings:

  • Download Your Information: Access and download a comprehensive record of your activity, including comments, messages, and profile information.
  • Activity Off Meta Technologies: Disconnect your Instagram activity from other Meta-owned platforms like Facebook for increased data control.
  • Story Controls: Refine who can see your stories, hide them from specific users, and restrict replies for targeted sharing.
  • Comment Filtering: Set keyword filters to automatically hide offensive or irrelevant comments, promoting a positive space.
  • Account Deactivation Option: Temporarily deactivate your account without deleting it, taking a break without losing your data.

Robust Security Measures:

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Secure your account with an extra layer of protection using SMS, authenticator app, or security keys.
  • Login Notifications: Get alerts for suspicious login attempts and revoke access if needed.
  • Enhanced Spam Detection: Proactively identify and remove spammy comments, messages, and fake accounts for a cleaner experience.
  • Reporting Tools: Streamlined reporting options for abusive content, impersonation, and other violations.
  • Data Encryption: Rest assured that your direct messages are encrypted for enhanced security and privacy.

Adapting to Instagram Updates as a User or Business

The ever-evolving world of Instagram demands constant adaptation. Whether you’re a casual user, a passionate creator, or a strategic business, staying ahead of updates is crucial. Here are some tips and strategies to ensure you’re riding the wave, not getting swept away:

For Users:

  • Embrace Change: Stay informed about updates through official channels and credible sources. Accept that change is inevitable and view it as an opportunity to explore new possibilities.
  • Experimentation is Key: Don’t be afraid to try new features and formats like Reels, Live Rooms, and Stories. Discover what resonates with you and enhances your Instagram experience.
  • Content Optimization: Analyze your past performance and adapt your content to align with the latest algorithm trends. Prioritize engagement-driven content, relevant hashtags, and visually appealing formats.
  • Authenticity Wins: Stay true to your voice and interests. Users connect with genuine personalities, so don’t chase trends that don’t resonate with you.
  • Community Engagement: Actively engage with your followers through comments, replies, and stories. Participate in relevant conversations and build genuine connections.

For Businesses:

  • Align with Trends: Analyze how updates impact your target audience and adjust your strategy accordingly. Utilize features like Reels, Live Shopping, and Shop the Look to reach new audiences and drive sales.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Leverage detailed insights provided by Instagram and other analytics tools. Track performance, identify top-performing content, and refine your approach based on data.
  • Collaboration is Power: Partner with other businesses or influencers for joint Reels, Guides, or Live Rooms. Expand your reach, tap into new audiences, and amplify your message.
  • Customer Centricity: Prioritize your audience’s needs and feedback. Use features like Direct Messaging and live Q&A sessions to connect directly and provide excellent customer service.
  • Stay Adaptable: Be prepared for future changes. Explore beta features, keep learning about new tools, and maintain a flexible approach to ensure your strategy remains relevant.

Using Keywords on Instagram: The Best Approach

In many ways, it’s still too early to tell exactly how keywords will impact Instagram. For one thing, there is as yet no tool on the market to accurately measure keyword search volume or competition.

We also don’t yet have a clear idea of the exact ranking factors that Instagram will use, in the same way we do with other search platforms like Google or LinkedIn.

What we do know is the goal of keywords on Instagram. To make it easier for users to find and consume valuable content. As such, this should form the core of your Instagram keyword strategy, as you keep an eye out for further updates.

Gazing into the Crystal Ball: Preparing for Future Instagram Updates

In the fast-paced world of Instagram, change is constant. Staying ahead of the curve and preparing for future updates can be overwhelming, but it’s crucial for both users and businesses alike. Here’s why staying informed is key, and how you can do it effectively:

Why You Should Stay Ahead of the Game:

  • Maximize Reach and Engagement: Understanding algorithm changes and utilizing new features helps you tailor your content for better visibility and audience connection.
  • Adapt to Industry Shifts: New features and trends can drastically impact user behavior and marketing strategies. Being prepared allows you to adjust smoothly and maintain your competitive edge.
  • Avoid Frustration and Confusion: Sudden changes can be jarring if you’re not anticipating them. Staying informed minimizes disruptions and allows you to embrace new possibilities.
  • Discover New Opportunities: Future updates might introduce exciting features that you can leverage to enhance your experience or boost your business.

Ways to Stay Informed:

  • Official Instagram Channels: Follow Instagram’s official blog, social media accounts, and Help Center for updates and announcements.
  • Industry News and Publications: Subscribe to blogs, newsletters, and news feeds dedicated to social media marketing and Instagram specifically.
  • Social Media Experts: Follow established and reputable social media experts on various platforms for their insights and predictions.
  • Beta Testing Programs: Participate in beta programs, if available, to get hands-on experience with upcoming features and provide feedback.
  • Join Online Communities: Engage in online communities and forums where users and businesses discuss and share their experiences with Instagram updates.

Instagram Updates FAQ:

Q: How often does Instagram update its platform?

A: Instagram releases updates frequently, with major updates typically occurring every few months. However, minor changes and algorithm tweaks happen more regularly.

Q: Where can I find the latest information about Instagram updates?

A: You can find official announcements on Instagram’s blog, social media channels, and Help Center. Additionally, many industry publications and social media experts cover Instagram updates in detail.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of adapting to Instagram updates?

A: The biggest challenges include keeping up with the pace of change, understanding the potential impact of updates, and adjusting your strategy accordingly. However, being proactive and staying informed can help mitigate these challenges.

Q: Is there anything I can do to avoid the negative impacts of Instagram updates?

A: While certain updates might require adjustments, focusing on high-quality content, authentic engagement, and data-driven insights can help you minimize negative impacts and adapt effectively.

Instagram Updates Conclusion:

Instagram’s continuous evolution can seem daunting, but with the right mindset and resources, you can thrive in this dynamic environment. By understanding recent updates, their potential impact, and strategies for adaptation, you can optimize your experience, reach a wider audience, and unlock new opportunities on this ever-evolving platform. Remember, staying informed, embracing change, and focusing on value creation are key to navigating the exciting world of Instagram updates.

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