Instagram Algorithm Apocalypse: What it means for your SEO

A couple weeks ago, the internet went crazy with fear over the rumored Instagram update. The new algorithm was rendered apocalyptic. Many brands and celebrities were posting pictures with an arrow recommending to follow their accounts for updates. Hopefully you know by now that this is not the best way to optimize your accounts, but it proves the misconceptions of algorithms shape the way customers perceive brands.

Algorithms don’t exist just for fun. Over time, as the internet and social media platforms become more heavily populated, there are more users and many more posts. Feeds are becoming more expansive, and most people are unable to stay fully updated with their feeds. As a result, social media platforms have begun to adopt algorithms to improve the user experience. Facebook has already integrated this, and while some businesses may claim it has raised the cost of promotion, I think this is an expected trait of any mobile marketing. As the market becomes more saturated, costs will increase.

Twitter has begun to implement a similar algorithm, but Instagram admits there will not be an update for several more months. When there is an update, users, especially businesses, will need to rely heavily upon an engaged audience. If this worries businesses, then it proves that their content might not be engaging users as much as they think.

The Instagram algorithm update will simply curate content so that if a user likes a particularly account often, they will see more of those posts as to not miss any of their favorite posts. Likes are becoming dollar votes, which is why businesses should focus on engaging their customers as opposed to throwing content at them. If their followers like their posts regularly, they shouldn’t lose any of their influence. If followers aren’t liking any of their posts, then they will not show up on their feeds as often. Furthermore, if followers aren’t liking any of their posts, then they may not have the right followers. Quality is far more important than quantity regarding followers and engagement. This means businesses should focus on providing quality content that will keep users engaged.

This seems relatively obvious to someone who knows anything about SEO, but most consumers are unaware of these practices. They dislike the idea of something controlling their perspective. Consumers don’t want any higher authorities distorting their social media experience and don’t like the idea that social media platforms understand their habits, even if it is liking and commenting. Clearly, Google and Instagram are not trying to violate the privacy of any users, but are simply trying to improve the user experience in order to retain users and prevent information overload.

This fear proves that authenticity rules when utilizing SEO. While there may be temporary ways to game the system, whether it’s in search engines or social media, it is not in best practice to do so. The best practice is to create quality relationships with visitors that keep them engaged with your business. Customers enjoy genuine feelings toward brands, and it is easy for them to detect anything forced or artificial. Consumers are becoming more informed, and this makes brand transparency far more important than ever before.

If you were a new customer, would you want to visit your website? Would you want to like your Instagram post? If not, then there is a larger issue at hand. Quality content and posts will maintain and generate an audience, and there is no need to worry about algorithms regarding social media outreach.

Additionally, this proves the growing importance of mobile marketing. Your website needs to be available on a mobile platform that is easily accessible. More customers are viewing websites from a mobile device, such as from a link in an Instagram bio. By making your website easier to use, you’re improving your overall brand engagement.

As always, focus on improving your website for the simple reason of making the most out of visitors’ experiences. This is the most sustainable approach to embrace any and all algorithms, in the present and the future.

SEO blogs to add to your RSS feed

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “why would this amazingly helpful SEO blog promote other SEO blogs?” But if you think back to our post about link building campaigns, you will remember that being friendly, even with competitors, is helpful for a website’s authority. So, here are some pretty great SEO blogs that answer some more in-depth questions you might have about SEO and optimizing your content marketing.

The Moz Blog

Moz is already a leader in subscribable and downloadable SEO tools, so it is no surprise that their blog is a leader in search as well. When visiting the Moz Blog, you won’t find shameless plugs for their costly tools and devices. Instead your reading will open SEO doors that you didn’t know existed.

Much of the blog is devoted to how-to’s that are fairly straight-forward if you are looking to improve some aspects of your site. Even better, is Moz’s thoughtful posts on content marketing in general. These types of posts are great for those who are looking to expand on their website topics after you’ve been in the content marketing game for some time.  

keyword map
[Source: Moz]
One of the best things about the Moz Blog is the abundance of visuals. It’s sometimes to difficult to include relevant images or graphics in your post about SEO, which is not necessarily a topic made for visuals. Moz does an excellent job of creating visuals out of their data to help readers take in information more easily, like the chart on the right detailing keyword usage on a website.

The Orbiter

The Orbiter is the web marketing blog of Orbit Media Studios, a web design and development company led by web expert Andy Crestodina. The Orbit team take turns writing posts, usually centered on their specialty topics. This is where to go when you want to know what the experts are thinking.

The blog’s voice is extremely easy to follow and makes the reader feel like an equal, which is important when it comes to the sometimes confusing and frustrating task of optimizing online content. Each post is broken down for easy-reading and, even when a post is long, does not leave the reader exhausted.

The blog’s topics are mostly focused on SEO, website optimization, and content creation, but there are also more general topics, like instructions for making a simple content mission statement. Not only does this blog want to help your business’ online presence, but the people behind it want to help your brand as a whole, which is comforting.   

Search Engine Land

If you are a part of a business that just needs to know what’s happening in the realm of SEO innovations, then Search Engine Land has to be number 1 on your list of sources. Be warned: this is not a blog to be visited by SEO beginners. If you have become comfortable with SEO jargon and carrying out web optimization tasks is a breeze, then you can give this blog a shot.

Search Engine Land blog home page
[Source: Search Engine Land home page screenshot]
By a simple scroll through Search Engine Land’s home page, it’s obvious that this blog cannot get enough of Google. Just look at the screenshot on the left of their current home page with four references to the big G without even having to scroll.

And why should they shy away from the number one search engine that essentially dictates all rules and regulations for SEO? Google’s algorithms, tools, and ranking systems are changing almost as quickly as a marketer can learn them, so why not stay updated?  

Search Engine Land posts about 4-5 times a day. This can seem a little daunting when you don’t have much time to skim through thousands of words for some practical information, but the deep content that this blog provides could be worth it. For marketers wanting to take their brand to the next level.


infographic on e-commerce sites
[Source: kissmetrics’ infographic]
kissmetrics does not waste time on flashy layouts and witty blog voice. Instead, the writers behind this web marketing and tracking blog get right to business. It’s easy to tell that this blog is managed by experts in SEO analytics because of the varied and detail-oriented content.

Not only does kissmetrics offer helpful, step-by-step posts on measuring your SEO’s success, but there are also webinars, infographics, and marketing guides to skim through when you are looking for something more than words. Some of this content requires a subscription to kissmetrics, which will cost you. If you spend a few months with the kissmetrics blog and find it extremely useful for your business and marketing goals, then maybe throwing some money their way wouldn’t be the worst idea. In the meantime you can marvel at one of kissmetrics’ many thorough infographics. This one is all about making your ecommerce site trustworthy.


Hopefully these alternative SEO blog options didn’t make you completely jump ship on Searchable. We know we can’t cover everything, so we hope you can find something useful for your business’ SEO needs from other web marketing fanatics.     

ALT-tags in 1 Minute

If you didn’t have the time to read through last week’s post on optimizing your images for search, then we have you covered. Check out this video, created by the people of Searchable, on the importance of alt-tags.

Now the important question. What should the alt-tag be for that quirky little cat in the pirate costume?


Making Images Searchable


Having pictures and videos on your page is crucial. Readers are more likely to remember information that is presented to them in picture format and photos increase dwell time on your page. Dwell time, as you can probably guess, is the amount of time that people spend on your page. This is important for Search Engine Optimization because the longer the dwell time, the higher the page is ranked on the results page of a search engine. Images themselves can also be optimized for search engines. Yoast’s article on image SEO, is a bit dense for beginners so we will simplify some of the most important tips here.


Two adorably tiny precious kittens sitting in coffee mugs
This picture has nothing to do with Search Engine Optimization. Source

The Perfect Picture

Unlike the picture for this article, your image should be relevant to your post. Although pictures of kittens are cute, readers may feel cheated if you can’t deliver the “aww” factor they were looking for. Any diagrams, photos, or videos should serve to enhance your point, not distract from it. You may be tempted just to slap a stock photo in your article, just for the sake of having a picture, but this is not the greatest idea. Stock photos are boring and impersonal. Try to use your own high-quality photos, if you can. If not, try and use stock photos that are engaging rather than boring.


Use Your Words

Search engine crawlers have access to a behind-the-scenes layer of information that goes unseen to readers. Search engines use this information to rank results. Computers can’t see pictures the way we do (yet), so we have to describe them. The first way to do this is, admittedly, a bit of a drag, but will help you and the crawlers. When you transfer images from your smartphone or computer, the filename is usually a number. “1286.jpg” doesn’t help you, or the search engine, know what’s inside the file. File names should be brief and descriptive such as, “cupofkittens.jpg”.


ALT Text Is Your Friend

ALT text is another way to tell search engines, and people, what your picture is about. When people who are visually impaired use the internet, the text on the page is read to them via computer. Unfortunately, the computer doesn’t have the imagination to describe the picture in the same way a human would. In order to make sure that the visually impaired can enjoy your website, use ALT text to describe the image. Good ALT text also helps crawlers know what the image depicts, which can help you get to the top of the search engine results page. The alt text for the picture above is “Two adorably tiny precious kittens sitting in coffee mugs.” In an article about optimizing photos, Jean Dion stated,

Verbosity might be your friend here, if it helps your readers to understand what the image is about.”


Descriptions AKA The Title Tag

According to Yoast’s article on images, the title tag is a good place for “nonessential information.” While it might not be vital for Search Engine Optimization, the proper use of the title tag is vital for your successful integration with social media platforms. Jean Dion notes in her article that the title tag contains the words which are displayed when Pinterest users pin your image. Title text is also the little box of information you see when you hold your mouse over a picture. Unlike ALT text, these descriptions should be succinct i.e. “kittens in mugs.” Be sure to check out Yoast’s ALT text and title tag article for more in-depth information. 


Great Captions

The use of captions isn’t just for witty Instagrammers. The combination of useful images with helpful captions arguably makes or breaks an article. Crawlers move through a page similar to a college student. They quickly skim for titles, headers, hyperlinks, images, etc. in order to get a general understanding of what the page is about. It’s important that the items that make up this summary are an accurate depiction of the content. Students and crawlers aren’t the only ones guilty of skimming. In 2012 KissMetric wrote that

“Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.”


Until computers catch up with us, we’ll have to continue to do some of the hard labor ourselves. Luckily, there are hosting services, such as WordPress which simplify optimizing your images. For those of you brave souls who do the coding themselves, there are plenty of tutorials like this one from w3schools to help you along the way. Please feel free to leave a comment, we’d be happy to answer any questions!