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Instagram SEO for Small Businesses in New Zealand

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Ever found yourself lost in a supermarket, desperately searching for that one item?

Maybe you're trying to find the organic quinoa but end up in the candy aisle (not that we're complaining). Well, that's kind of what SEO is all about, but for the digital world.

You've probably heard the term "SEO" thrown around more times than you can count. But let's break it down in a way that's as digestible. SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is like organising a supermarket. You've got your fruits here, dairy there, and bread right at the back (because they want you to walk through the entire store first). Similarly, in the vast digital universe, SEO helps categorise your content, making it easier for users to find exactly what they're looking for.

Now, imagine you're a photography business.

You wouldn't want to be found in the 'gardening' section, right?

You'd want to be right there in the 'photography' aisle, preferably at eye level.

That's what SEO does for you. And while we often link SEO with Google, there's a new player in town where SEO is making waves: Instagram.

So, buckle up as we dive into the world of Instagram SEO, and trust us, it's more fun than a supermarket spree!

What is SEO?

Every small business owner has heard the term "SEO" at some point. But do you know what it actually means?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is about making your content ready for search engines to categorise, leading to increased visibility and organic traffic.

Think of search engine optimisation (SEO) as the process of organising a supermarket. Just as a supermarket categorises its products into sections like fruits and vegetables, dairy, bread, etc., search engines categorise websites based on their content and relevance.

In a supermarket, proper organisation ensures that customers can easily find and access the products they're looking for. Similarly, in the digital world, SEO ensures that social media posts are 'organised' or optimised in a way that makes them easily discoverable and accessible to users searching for relevant content.

So if you are a photography business, you would most likely categorise your content by wedding photography, maternity photography, baby photography and so on. This means when someone is searching on Instagram in the search bar for a local wedding photographer, you will come up.

But while most associate SEO with websites and Google searches, there's another arena where SEO plays a pivotal role: social media platforms such as Instagram.

Let's Market founder using Instagram to help small businesses grow with tips and tricks

The Basics of Instagram Profile Optimisation

In the vast world of Instagram, where millions of businesses vie for attention, having a well-optimised profile is the first step to standing out. For small businesses, in particular, this can make all the difference. Here's how you can set the foundation right:

1. Making Your Profile Public for Better Visibility

Every business aims to reach a wider audience, and the first step towards achieving this on Instagram is by making your profile public. A private profile restricts your content to only those who follow you, limiting the potential reach of your posts. By switching to a public profile, you ensure that your content is accessible to everyone, increasing the chances of attracting potential customers and followers.

2. Choosing a Recognizable and Searchable @Username

Your @Username, or handle, is your identity on Instagram. It's crucial to choose a name that not only represents your business but is also easy to remember and search for. Avoid using complicated spellings or too many numbers. Ideally, your @Username should match your business name or the primary service you offer. This ensures that when potential customers search for your business or services related to what you offer, your profile ranks higher in the search results.

3. Importance of a Clear, On-Brand Profile Image

First impressions matter, and on Instagram, your profile image is often the first thing users notice. Ensure that your profile picture is clear and resonates with your brand. For most businesses, using their logo or a popular product image works best. It should be easily recognizable even in the small circular frame Instagram provides. This consistency helps in brand recall and makes your profile instantly recognizable to your followers.

4. Benefits of Registering for an Instagram Business Account

While a regular Instagram account offers numerous features, switching to a business account provides additional benefits tailored for businesses. With a business account:

  • You get access to Instagram Insights, which provides data on follower demographics, post-performance, and more.

  • You can run ads to reach a larger audience.

  • It allows you to add contact information, making it easier for customers to reach out.

  • You can set up shopping features, allowing users to purchase directly from your posts.

In essence, an Instagram Business account equips you with tools and features that can significantly enhance your online presence and customer engagement.

Keyword Strategy for Instagram SEO

In the vast world of Instagram, where millions of businesses vie for attention, standing out can be a challenge. One of the most effective ways to ensure your business gets noticed is by harnessing the power of keywords. Just as with traditional SEO for websites, keywords play a pivotal role in Instagram SEO.

Here's how you can craft a winning keyword strategy for your Instagram profile:

Primary Keywords: The Cornerstone of Your Profile

Your primary keyword is the main term associated with your business, and it should be prominently featured in two main areas: your display name and your @username.

Why is this important?

When users search for a specific term on Instagram, the platform's algorithm scans through display names and usernames to find relevant matches. By incorporating your primary keyword in these areas, you significantly increase the chances of your profile appearing in search results.

Example: Consider a local photographer named "Kates Photography". A smart move would be to have a username like "@Katesphotography". Here, "photography" is the primary keyword that instantly tells users and the Instagram algorithm about the nature of the business.

Secondary Keywords: Diversifying Your Reach

While the primary keyword lays the foundation, secondary keywords build upon it, offering a broader spectrum of visibility. These are terms or phrases that are related to your main business but might be more specific.

Why are they crucial?

Secondary keywords cater to a more niche audience. While the primary keyword gets you in front of a broad audience, secondary keywords ensure you reach those specifically interested in what you offer.

Example: For our photographer, "Kates Photography", while the primary keyword is "photography", secondary keywords could be the specialties they offer. So, terms like "weddings", "portrait", "landscape", and "headshots" can serve as excellent secondary keywords. These can be incorporated in post captions, hashtags, and even the bio to ensure a wider reach.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

In the ever-evolving world of Instagram, hashtags have remained a constant tool for discoverability. For small businesses, they can be the bridge that connects your content to a broader audience.

But it's not just about using any hashtag; it's about using the right ones and using them effectively.

Treating Hashtags as Secondary Keywords

Just as keywords are vital for SEO on search engines, think of hashtags as the SEO for Instagram. They categorise your content, making it discoverable to those interested in specific topics or industries.

  • Research: Before using a hashtag, research its popularity and relevance. Use the Instagram search bar and see how many posts are listed under each hashtag. Try to find hashtags that are below one million but are active enough that people are using them daily.

  • Relevance: Ensure that the hashtags you use are relevant to the content you're posting. Misleading hashtags can lead to decreased engagement or even penalties from Instagram.

The Strategic Placement of Hashtags in Posts

Where you place your hashtags can impact the aesthetics of your post and the engagement it receives.

  • Caption vs. Comment: Instagram has come out and said that they want people to put their hashtags directly in their caption.

  • Limit Your Hashtags: Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. However, using them all can appear spammy. Instagram has recommended using only 3-5 relevant hashtags for a balanced approach.

Using Brand-Specific and Post-Specific Hashtags for Broader Reach

Diversifying your hashtag strategy can help you tap into various audiences and increase your content's reach.

  • Brand-Specific Hashtags: Create a unique hashtag for your brand or specific campaigns. This not only boosts brand recognition but also allows you to easily track user-generated content. For instance, a bakery named "Bread & Bliss" might use the hashtag #BreadNBlissBakes.

  • Post-Specific Hashtags: Tailor your hashtags based on the content of the post. If "Bread & Bliss" posts a picture of a chocolate croissant, they might use hashtags like #CroissantsNZ or #MorningTeaNZ

Mastering the art of hashtags is more than just adding a '#' before a word. It's a strategic move that, when done right, can significantly boost your content's visibility and engagement on Instagram.

Leveraging Instagram Bio for SEO

Your Instagram bio is more than just a brief introduction to your business; it's a powerful tool for search engine optimisation on the platform. When optimised correctly, it can significantly boost your profile's visibility and attract a more targeted audience. Here's how to make the most of it:

Importance of a Well-Optimized Bio with Relevant Keywords

Your Instagram bio is the first thing users see when they visit your profile. It's crucial to ensure that it not only represents your brand accurately but also contains keywords relevant to your business. By incorporating specific keywords that potential followers or customers might use in their searches, you increase the chances of your profile appearing in their search results.

For instance, if you run a vegan bakery, including terms like "vegan," "plant-based," and "bakery" in your bio can help you appear in searches for those terms.

Providing Context for Both Human Visitors and Search Bots

While it's essential to include relevant keywords, your bio should also be engaging and informative for human visitors. It should provide a clear picture of what your business is about and what visitors can expect from your content.

Remember, Instagram's search algorithm uses various factors to rank profiles in search results, and a bio that provides clear context can help the platform's bots understand your profile's relevance to specific search queries. For example, a bio that reads

"New Zealand Bakery delivering cruelty-free 100% vegan treats with love!"

provides context about the business's location and its values. Feel free to also add things like years of experience, how many customers you've serviced or anything else that would build your credibility and trust.

Tips for Rewriting and Refreshing Your Instagram Bio

Stay Concise: You have a 150-character limit, so make every word count. Avoid fluff and get straight to the point.

Use Emojis Wisely: Emojis can add personality to your bio and make it more visually appealing. However, ensure they align with your brand voice and don't clutter your message.

Include a Call-to-Action (CTA): Whether it's directing visitors to your latest blog post, product page, or a promotional offer, a clear CTA can drive engagement.

Update Regularly: As your business evolves, so should your bio. Regularly review and update it to reflect any changes in your offerings, promotions, or brand messaging.

Utilise Line Breaks: Breaking up your bio into two or three lines can make it more readable and organized. Consider separating your brand description, CTA, and any hashtags or mentions you want to include.

Your Instagram bio is a small but mighty tool in your SEO arsenal. By optimising it effectively, you can ensure that your business stands out in a crowded digital space and reaches the right audience.

Using Closed Captions on Your Reels

Instagram Reels, a feature that allows users to create and explore short, engaging videos, has quickly become a favourite among businesses and influencers alike. But beyond the visual content, closed aptions play a pivotal role in enhancing the reach and engagement of your Reels. Here's how to make the most of them.

Why Captions Matter:

  • Accessibility: Captions make your content accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

  • Engagement: Viewers often watch videos on mute, especially in public settings. Captions ensure they stay engaged even without sound.

  • SEO Boost: Just like with posts and IGTV, the text in your Reels captions is searchable, helping improve your content's discoverability.


In the dynamic realm of digital marketing, Instagram has emerged as a powerful platform for small businesses to showcase their brand, connect with potential customers, and drive sales. The importance of Instagram SEO cannot be overstated. Just as a well-organised supermarket ensures customers find what they're looking for, a well-optimized Instagram profile ensures that your target audience discovers your content amidst the vast sea of posts.

If you need some guidance on optimising your profile and content, send us a message now, and let's transform your Instagram presence together.

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