instagram search

Instagram Search & Explore: How Do I Search on Instagram?

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What is Instagram Search?

Instagram Search is a results page that shows you top performing Instagram posts based on who you follow, the type of content you like and save, and content that your follows like too.

So, if you’re constantly liking quote pictures on Instagram, your Instagram Search – which is in the same app section where you’ll find Instagram Explore – will showcase more of those quote photos. The Instagram Explore feature is designed to personalize your experience on Instagram by showing you content you’d likely be interested in seeing more of.

Instagram Search Explore

How Instagram Search & Explore Works

On the bottom of your Instagram app, you’ll see a magnifying glass. When you click on it, you’ll find Instagram Search at the top and Instagram Explore beneath that. While the two sections are both part of the same page, they have different functions.

How Instagram Search Works

Instagram Search allows you to search for top Instagram accounts that are recommended to you. These recommendations are sorted by people, tags, and places.

Instagram Search People Tags Places

Want to appear in Instagram Search? You can do this by optimizing your posts.

If you want to appear under Tags, you need to use the best hashtags for likes. If you’re posting about weddings or within the bridal niche, these are some of the popular tags you’ll find:

instagram search tags

To appear under Places, you’ll need to add your location to your Instagram posts. If you’re at home, you might tag your city. If you’re at an event, you’ll tag the event name. If you’re at a popular tourist attraction, you’ll name that tourist attraction. You can also tag businesses, so if you’re at your local shop, you can add location tags for that as well. Think about the exact audience you’re trying to attract when choosing a location Tag. Are you a Toronto business? Tag Toronto. Are you a fashion blogger? Tag your local fashion shops. You can also search keywords for your locations. Here’s what our “bridal” search shows us for Places – it acts like a directory.

instagram search places

Instagram Explore

You likely won’t show up on your own Instagram Explore. However, you can show up in others’. To do this, make sure all your hashtags are relevant. For example, if you post a picture of a dog, make sure all your hashtags are related to dogs. Don’t throw in random hashtags. By being as specific and relevant as possible, you’ll make it easy for the Instagram algorithm to understand what the picture is.

The top of Instagram Explore also has a list of popular categories such as Style, Beauty, Food, Fitness, Animals, Decor, and Travel. So if you want to increase your odds of showing up in one of those popular categories, you’ll need to include more posts for one of those specific categories. However, avoid trying to rank for all of them. Stick to a singular niche focus. That way, people can continue to expect the same type of content over the long-term, which will make them more likely to follow and engage with your Instagram.

instagram explore categories

How to Show Up in Instagram Search & Explore

Whether you want to show up in Instagram Search or Instagram Explore, there are a few tricks to boost your ranking.

  • Use relevant hashtags: Your post might not show up in your own Instagram Explore, but that doesn’t mean it won’t show up in someone else’s. When building up your Instagram, use relevant hashtags that accurately describe the photo. By consistently showing relevant hashtags, you’ll start building a strong audience from those who found exactly the type of content they were looking for on your post. The more you do this well, the more likely you are to appear in Instagram Explore as your page grows.
  • Increase engagement: Popularity is a big deal on Instagram. The more engagement your posts get, the more likely you are to level up in Instagram Search & Explore. So how do you growth hack this? Ask questions in your Instagram captions. The goal is to get as much engagement as possible. By frequently asking questions like “Isn’t this adorable?” or “Who needs something like this in their life?” you’ll not only get comments, but you’ll also increase friend tagging which will increase the visibility of your posts.
  • Share video content: My first home run on Instagram came from sharing a video. And it’s pretty obvious that Instagram loves video content…a lot. Videos tend to get high numbers of views because they’re loopable. They also tend to get more engagement in general. So by posting more video content, you help increase your chances of being found in Instagram Explore. So smile for that camera because it’ll help make you a viral superstar. Take a look at how prominent the video is in the Instagram Explore:instagram explore videos
  • Post at the right times: The best times to post on Instagram tend to be around lunch and after 7 p.m. If you want to skyrocket your visibility, you need to be posting content when people are around to see it. But it’s not just about posting at the right times, but also being consistent about it. The more consistently you post the more likely it is that people will engage with your content. The more engagement, the higher you appear in Instagram search results.
  • Add location tags: Are you a local influencer? Or maybe a globetrotting digital nomad? If so, feel free to experiment with location tags. This can also be great for online retailers who post pictures at an event, as it’ll allow people to connect with you after the fact. People in the location will be able to see your posts under Places in Instagram Search, which gives you an additional opportunity to rank higher.
  • Post several images or videos in a single post: Posts with multiple images or videos often appear more frequently than single photo images. It could be because multiple images can get more engagement since there’s more to look through. Carousel posts tend to perform quite well in Instagram explore so be sure to try it out. Take a look at the carousel posts on the left hand side:instagram search carousel posts
  • Get more followers: The easiest way to rank higher in Instagram Search and Instagram Explore is to get more Instagram followers. By having a higher number of followers, you’ll get more engagement, and your content will surface higher in Instagram Explore results. You can get followers by joining Instagram engagement groups, reposting great content, sharing unique content, adding hashtags, promoting your Instagram posts outside of Instagram, and more.

Why Should Businesses Use Search & Explore?

There are a few key reasons for businesses to use Instagram Search & Explore.

  • Competitive research: You can do competitor analysis by saving posts from your competitors so that their new posts show up in your Search & Explore. Not only that – by liking and saving posts within your niche, you’ll also elevate new competitors so they can get on your radar before they catch up to you.instagram search saves
  • Influencer collaborations: You can browse through Instagram Search to find niche influencers. Usually, posts with high levels of engagement show up higher in the feed. You can click on the influencers in the posts and reach out to them about partnerships and collaborations. The easiest way to do this is by searching by People if you know the influencer’s name or searching by Tags if you’re searching based on niche engagement. A popular keyword to find influencers? Try #ad.Instagram search influencers
  • Inspiration: New to Instagram? There’s a whole lotta stuff you can learn simply by checking out great content. Whether you’re looking for ideas for your niche or just ideas of the types of content that perform best, you can use Instagram Search to help you find amazing content. Every popular Instagram user has his or her own style, which helps engage their users better. Pick your favorite ideas and try them out on your own Instagram account.

How to Use Instagram Search to Find Hashtags

To find hashtags using Instagram Search, type in the keyword you’re looking for. Say you’re a maternity online store, you might try the keyword “baby girl”. You’ll then find a list of relevant baby girl hashtags that you can choose from. Some won’t be relevant but you can pick and choose the hashtags you like for your upcoming posts.

instagram search tags baby girl

How to Use Instagram Search to Find Influencers

Every niche has its influencers. To find them, you need to find out who ranks high in your niche. For example, if you’re looking for fashion influencers to wear your apparel, you might use the #fashionblogger hashtag. Why fashion blogger instead of just fashion? First off, fashion is insanely competitive. Second, by zeroing in on fashion blogger, you’ll be more likely to find fashion influencers who have their own audience outside of Instagram, allowing you to have a bigger reach. Look for the influencers who have the most engagement on their posts. This should be an ongoing process, so don’t expect to find them all in one day with one Instagram search.

instagram seach fashion bloggers

How to Use Instagram Search by Location

To use Instagram Search by location, search Places under Instagram Search. There you’ll find a button for Nearby Places. The Nearby Places will often show the most popular places around your area. If you want to increase your visibility nearby, you can take and post photos and videos in those areas. Remember: you can search any location in Instagram Search. Events, landmarks, businesses, and cities. So feel free to use Instagram Search to find your exact location or venue.

instagram search nearby places

How to Instagram Search Users by Name

To use Instagram Search by name, all you need to do is type the name or username of the person you’re looking for under People. Remember: not everyone uses their real name on Instagram, so you might not be able to find some people.

instagram search name people


So when it comes to Instagram Search, you can find influencers, hashtags, locations, and potential customers, which will bring you closer to gaining new followers and marketing better on Instagram. And when it comes to Instagram Explore, you can easily follow the steps we’ve outlined so that your Instagram account can get more visibility so you can grow your presence on Instagram. So be sure to play around with Instagram Search & Explore regularly to tap into new audiences, interact with other users, and build your brand.

Do you use Instagram Search & Explore? What do you love about it?

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