Instagram for SEO

Recently, Instagram launched web profiles and that got me thinking about how can a brand leverage this growing network to gain SEO benefits?Instagram Web Profile

Even before the web profiles, Instagram’s API did provide brands a unique opportunity to integrate Instagram photos within their site or blog. For quite some time now, search engines have been using social signals as a weight to indicate trustworthiness and relevance. While one can argue that social signals can be manipulated as well, for this post I will consider the quality shares – ones that are by real consumers who actually care about the product. And so that brings me back to the question how can a brand boost SEO with Instagram?

For one, just the web profile could in the future become searchable and indexed. I mean how often has one typed in a brand and received the Facebook page also within the top results? Plenty, right! See below, I did a search for Tide and voila there it was the Facebook page. So, I do think at some point Instagram profiles will also begin to show up in search results.

Search Results with Facebook Page

Now how does that affect SEO you may ask. And I have a theory, most consumers are  less likely to visit a site on a regular basis – aside from those of retailers. So, getting consumers to connect with the brand at different touchpoints enables brands to communicate.  And once a consumer has opted in to receive messages from a brand it is a lot easier to direct them to the site for an offer or a promotion. Yes, the impact is a little indirect. But also consider the organic listing as free advertising another impression if you will. If a brand page shows up in search result that is always a benefit.

But more importantly images are also returned in the results. As you can see above the results also include images that match my search tide. Leveraging Instagram photos for image optimization can be yet another way to help with organic listing.

Free People has integrated Instagram within the denims section of the site. Certain designs are promoted with hashtags and  images posted on Instagram with the specified hahstag are incorporated within the site. These images can be optimized with captions and Alt tags. This makes them more searchable and therefore are more likely to show up in results for the keywords associated with them. Additionally, there is always the benefit from user-generated images being shared on other social networks.

Free People Denim Hashtagged Instagram

Next, I think Instagram’s Photo Map feature could also become integrated in the search results. A search for Nike brought in stores nearby and a map with the locations. It would be great to have the brand images show up within the map for these retail locations. Images are more engaging and likely to persuade the consumer to the next step in the path to purchase. I think this is especially important for mobile search. Below is a screenshot of the map that showed up in the results when I searched for Nike. While such a feature may not be incorporated at least for now, since Google and Facebook are at loggerheads, it is possible nonetheless.

Search Results with Map and retail stores

These are some of the reasons why I think Instagram could help with SEO or organic listing and why brands should take a serious look at in investing on the platform. What do you think?