Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by trying to rank on a hashtag on Instagram. Hell, even just knowing whether you should be using hashtags feels like a struggle. There’s a fine line between wanting to appear like we’re offering our content with a blasé, take-it-or-leave-it attitude, and actually wanting new audiences to see our huevos rancheros and the time we poured into getting the lighting and angles just right.
But the truth is, if you do want to grow an audience, you have to actually let them know your content is out there, and that it’s the kind of thing they’d want to consume. In this article, we will talk you through how you can tell if you have ranked on a hashtag, what it means, and how to use the right strategy to rank for the right hashtags for you.
How Do You Rank On Instagram Hashtags?
If you want to know how to rank on Instagram hashtags, you need to consider relevancy, active engagement, and post precedence. In other words, your post needs to be relevant to the hashtag you want to rank for, it needs to have great engagement, and ideally, your account should have a history of posting content around that hashtag topic.
How relevant is your content to the hashtag group you’re posting in? If your posts aren’t covering the same topic, closely, then you aren’t going to rank for it.
Does your content receive active engagement from your followers after you post it? If you’re getting lots of likes and comments after posting, Instagram will recognize that your content is worth being seen.
Is your content preceded by other posts around the same topic(s) that have gotten great engagement? Take a look at the hashtag you’re trying to rank for. See which posts have encouraged conversation and which ones have just gotten likes. Consider including a question in your caption. Give your users a reason to comment on your posts.
Let’s look at an example:
In the screengrab above, you can see the top 9 posts for when you search for the hashtag #beautyhacks. With roughly 430K posts, that’s a lot of competition. Ranking can help ensure that when someone searches for #beautyhacks on Instagram that your content is one of the top posts seen.
It’s important to remember that the ranking will frequently change. As more and more posts are uploaded the ranking will alter, but by targeting the right hashtags you can rank amongst these top posts.
Another crucial thing to observe in the screengrab is how all the posts are relevant to the content. They’re not semi-relevant makeup tutorials, product promos, or beauty guru press trips. They’re just beauty hacks. Make your hashtags relevant to the content you want to post, or you’re unlikely to see any great results.
1. How Many Hashtags On Instagram Should I Be Posting on Instagram? 📈
If you want to maximize your chances of ranking, you should aim to use all of the hashtags you can (30 in total per post). The more hashtags you use, the more likely you are to rank in at least one of them.
One technique that is often recommended is the Hashtag Ladder Strategy. This means using the Instagram Hashtag Search tool to find a range of hashtags that are easy and difficult to rank for. By targeting multiple levels, you can start by ranking in hashtags with a low competition score, increase the active engagement from your users, and then climb the ladder, until you see more engagement on the harder to rank hashtags. The answer to this one is, it doesn’t matter! Either choice is fine, it’s more about being consistent with your branding choices. If you decide to post your hashtags at the bottom of your caption, do the same every time you post. If you prefer your copy to stand alone, feel free to post your hashtags in a comment.
Ultimately the choice comes down to a stylistic one. Posting hashtags in the comments arguably provides less clutter, but it does mean they’ll likely be visible to your audience as the top comment. To get around this, users you can pin other users’ comments as the top comments. If you choose to do this, pin comments that add to the conversation, and preferably reply to them too! Every moment is an opportunity to engage with your audience.
If you do prefer to keep your hashtags in the caption, there’s some good news. Previously when you wanted to hide your hashtags in your caption, you had to use dots or emojis to secure your line breaks. Now there’s a much simpler way. Just post your caption into a line breaker tool like Textspacer, add your line breaks in, and copy to clipboard! When you post your caption back into Instagram, the line breaks will stay.
If you add hashtags this way, users won’t see them immediately when viewing your post. They’ll have to expand your caption in order to see the hashtags a few lines below.
3. What About Adding Hashtags To Instagram After Posting? 👁🗨
Again, you’re going to be doing this already if you decided to add your hashtags in a comment instead of the caption. As for your old posts, should you go back and add hashtags to them? It’s probably a good idea to ensure you have consistent branding. Remember newer posts will have the most active user engagement, so make those your priority.
4. How Can I Come Up With Fresh Content Ideas? 💭
It’s important to always be focused on your engagement. Ranking on a hashtag is, after all, based on the popularity of your content. It’s crucial to engage with your followers and really understand the type of content they like to see. Take a look at the hashtag you’re trying to rank in. What other hashtags do the ranking posts include?
Think of the #beautyhacks ranking posts above. In this instance, video content works much better for this type of hashtag. After all, users want to see the hack in action! Consider the same for the topic you want to rank for. Could users searching for that hashtag be better served by a video post?
Another option is just asking. Post content using your desired hashtag, and when you have a good number of actively engaged users, ask them what other content they would like to see from you! Respond to their comments, or consider asking in Stories with a response sticker, so you can share users’ responses while directly engaging with them.
How To Check If You’ve Ranked On A Hashtag
Now you’re implementing all these hashtag ranking strategies, you want to see if they actually work. The key to this is doing it at the right time, and using the right tools.
Firstly, look at your post insights. If your hashtags have brought you a lot of impressions on a specific post, then chances are, you’ve ranked. Congratulations!
It’s important to check whether you’ve ranked or not shortly after your post goes live, and in the hours afterward, because Instagram feeds are constantly being added to. Just because you don’t rank the first time you check, doesn’t mean you won’t have ranked a few hours later. Engagement can take time, after all.
Checking whether you’ve ranked on a hashtag or not gives you an indication as to which hashtags are performing best for you, and are giving you the most potential reach. You can refine your hashtag strategy once you know which hashtags you tend to rank for because you can frame your research around your best-performing hashtags. Once you do this, you increase your odds of reaching more of your target audience and gaining new followers who will love your content.
How Will Flick Make This Easier?
Flick has released its Instagram Analytics Tool. This will show you which hashtags you have performed well on in your specific posts.
Because hashtags can be trend-related, you might miss whether or not you’ve ranked when you are manually checking. With our Instagram Analytics Tool, you no longer have to worry about keeping tabs on everything yourself. We’ll make this easier by showing you, post by post, exactly which hashtags you ranked on, and which ones you didn’t.
You can also track the metrics Instagram won’t show you. See the time you spent ranking on your hashtag, and the engagement rates you earned from doing so.
It’s never been easier to track your hashtag rankings with Flick.