It is well known that visual elements have been one of the breaking trends in brand marketing activities over the last decade. But now it is the turn of the video. Today, a comprehensive brand content strategy includes 30-60 second vertical videos. They are called TikToks on TikTok, Shorts on YouTube, and Reels on Instagram and Facebook. But in this article I will focus only on Instagram Reels, because Reels are having a big moment right now.
Here are some statistics. On average, adult Instagram users spend 30 minutes viewing Instagram Reels each day (Insider Intelligence). The average engagement rate for Instagram Reels is 1.95% (Socialinsider). In contrast, the engagement rate for YouTube videos is 0.63%, for regular Instagram video posts is 0.39%, and for Facebook Reels is 0.20%. In addition, Instagram Reels has 675.3 million daily users (Reels Statistics). And finally, I have a question for you. How often do you find yourself scrolling through Instagram Reels while eating, stuck in traffic, or even while watching a TV series? I bet it happens all the time. So, still not sure whether to start creating Instagram Reels or not? I do not think so.
And with the rise of Instagram Reels comes the need to optimize them for search. But how does Reels SEO work? What are the main steps to be taken to optimize them? Here are some important tips and tools.
What is Instagram Reels SEO?
Optimizing Instagram Reels is all about tailoring these short videos to appear to the right target audience. It’s an important tactic to improve your visibility in Instagram search. The more users who view and engage with your Instagram Reels, the more chances you have to appear at the top of the search bar and reach a larger audience.
Instagram Reels SEO and normal on page SEO have no differences. The exact formula for growing your following and building a strong community has to do with relevant keywords. Even though there aren’t many places to put these keywords on Instagram, they are still a proven ranking factor for the Instagram Reels algorithms. The list is really short, including the Reels cover photo, title, description, and hashtags.
Why is Instagram Reels SEO important?
With over 1.44 billion daily active users on Instagram, SEO has a huge impact on both the reach and discovery of your brand on the platform. Also, there is a separate results page just for Reels on Instagram, while photos, video posts, IGTVs, and other types of content are all displayed together.
And the main ranking factors for Reels are not the total number of views, likes or shares. It is relevant, which means that everyone has the opportunity to grow the number of followers and build a strong Instagram community.
How to choose your keywords?
Analysis tools will help you find relevant keywords. For example, use Google Analytics to see which keywords are bringing traffic to your website right now. They are probably the best candidates to optimize your Instagram Reels.
Keyword Finder powered by Ranktarcker is another useful tool for keyword research. Use this online SEO tool to discover common words related to your brand, niche or competitors.
How to increase your discoverability in the Instagram search bar?
Include your keywords in the Instagram Reels cover photo
With keywords in Reels covers, you can ensure that your videos appear on the relevant search results page. Thanks to Instagram, Reels covers are available to everyone, even to accounts with 0 followers. In addition, you can even edit the covers of the Reels already published, to optimize them for Instagram search and give them the visibility they deserve.
Your search keywords should be only 1-3 words long and not take up more than half of the cover photo. Also, it is better to place them in the center of the cover so that they attract the attention of users more quickly. Cover photo optimization definitely helps you rank better in Instagram search. But it can also give you the opportunity to increase the click-through rate of your video even if it does not appear in the top-10 of the search bar.
Extra tip: If you want to get more views of your Instagram Reels, optimize the cover photo of your video itself. There are many stock resources that offer free illustrations, photos, and clip art. If your video is about planning, put in a clipart image of a calendar . If your content is about tips for growing on YouTube , put a YouTube logo on it, and so on.
Insert your keywords naturally in the title of your Instagram Reels
The title of your Instagram Reels is the next place to include relevant search terms and keywords. Unlike the video description, hashtags, and comments, only the title remains visible while the Reel video is playing. Therefore, optimizing the title helps both users and search algorithms to decide if your content is relevant or not.
The title of the reels makes the first impression to the users. A strong headline will drive more traffic to your account, while a weak headline can drive this traffic away. That’s why you have to spend time to get it right. First of all, make sure the title is short. I recommend limiting it to 7 words to avoid getting your title cut off. Second, it gives users a reason to open the Reels description and read it. One way to start is to briefly describe the user’s potential problem and the user’s solution in the description, as well as in the video itself. It can be like this: “5 simple ways to earn money” or “How to reduce anxiety”. Lastly, make sure to include numbers in your title. It is known that numbered titles tend to get more clicks.
Optimize the title of your reels
According to Google, the official character limit for Instagram Reels description is 2,200 characters. And while it’s incredibly easy to use all this space, remember that you’re working with short videos. Most likely, your viewers have come to Instagram to quickly view and be entertained, not to read an essay. If you want to write a longer caption, keep in mind that the text will appear over your video on a transparent background. Therefore, adding long caption text to your Reels is unnecessary both in terms of engagement and user experience. 90% of your viewers will definitely not read this long text, another 10% will not be able to due to poor readability of the text.
You may be wondering how to use subtitles for Reels optimization. Fortunately, the process is very simple. 2 or 3 phrases with the right keywords will be enough to appear in the first search results and add value to viewers.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri suggests using hashtags to help viewers find content in the search bar. But there is no way to cheat. You cannot add hashtags with high search volume to get more views. Only relevant keywords will help get your video in front of your target audience.
Suppose you have created a video about growing strawberries at home, which does not interest millions of people. And you’ve added a popular “cat” tag to get your content in front of billions of people. Of course, these billion people will watch your video, but none of them will engage with your Instagram account. Rather, you can get your video in front of 20-30 people with relevant hashtags. And all of them will drive engagement.
This is why it is crucial to have a clear hashtag strategy for Instagram Reels: without it, you could be missing the opportunity to find people who are really interested in your content, and in your product or service.
Be consistent with your optimization
Instagram search results are also based on the consistency of your Reels optimization. That means the more you follow the tips outlined above, the more the algorithm will learn what your videos are about.
Keep in mind that this kind of consistency tells Instagram who you are and what you offer. This way, your content, including Reels, will be served to a relevant audience when they search for what they need. If you chase video views and optimize for irrelevant keywords, your content will still show up in the search bar, but in front of the wrong audience.
By implementing a consistent SEO strategy for your Instagram Reels, you will be rewarded with increased discoveries and views within a couple of weeks! With just a little effort, you can quickly take advantage of Instagram Reels and get more quality views, followers, and therefore more profit from your content !
So do you want to win at content marketing ? Start sharing Instagram-optimized Reels right now!