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What does it mean to ‘rank’ on a hashtag?

How do you rank on an Instagram hashtag, and what does it mean to ‘rank’? Find out how to see even more organic growth by ranking, here.

Posted 1 year ago

Written by

Julia Cohen
Posted 1 year ago

So, what does a hashtag mean? It’s pretty simple. When you rank on a hashtag, it means your content will appear in the ‘Top Posts’ section of that hashtag, so when anyone searches it, your post will be one of the first they see, leading to increased reach, Impressions, and engagement. Also, if someone follows the hashtags that you rank on, you might appear in their newsfeed, should you rank highly.

The ultimate goal is to rank in the ‘Top 9’ of a hashtag, but you can rank in any place, and your content can move down or up with time. Factors that lead you to rank include the engagement on your post when you post it, ranking on other hashtags, and more.

Typically, hashtags are harder to rank if they are more popular A.K.A. searched or used more frequently by other users. So, naturally, if you rank on these more competitive hashtags, it is likely you will get a lot more eyes on your content. The best way to make sure you have a chance at ranking on competitive hashtags is by using a laddered strategy, which would allow you to rank on easier hashtags which would push your content upwards, by splitting your hashtags on a post between ‘low competition’, ‘medium competition’ and ‘high competition’.

How competitive a hashtag is will vary depending on your account size and average engagement. Within Flick, you can link your Instagram account, and whilst searching for hashtags, you can view how competitive your selection of hashtags is. If you want to learn more about implementing the best hashtag strategy, you can read our guide, here.

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  1. Why Exactly Is a Hashtag Important?
    • Determine Popularity and Use a Hashtag Manager

Why Exactly Is a Hashtag Important?

Hashtags are important because they are all about categorization. The essential purpose of a hashtag is to help you reach your target audience. Depending on what you’re creating, when you label your hashtags based on your content, you help other users that are interested in the same things to engage with you. So, if you think about it, a hashtag can actually help to structure your content, how it’s viewed, and who views it. These are things that can help you reach a more targeted audience on Instagram.

Now we do have to say, hashtags can most certainly be overused, especially when you’re adding irrelevant ones to your post. If you overuse them, you could create confusion for your audience. How exactly do you use hashtags the right way?

Well, think of the process as mailing an envelope. It won’t reach who you’re trying to send it to if you aren’t including the correct information when trying to send it.

ranking on hashtags

You essentially should pick a tag that is most in line with the content that you’re creating, so it will reach who you need it to.

A good way to approach this is to pay attention to the hashtags you’re using, only using relevant ones, and figure out which ones have actually helped you reach more users. Using a hashtag manager and analytics app like Flick can help you make this process significantly faster, instead of number crunching for hours using Google Sheets.

how to rank on ig hashtags

How Do You Come Up With Ranking Hashtags?

There are a couple of key things that will help you to come up with the best hashtags that are appropriately connected to your content. Let’s take a look at a few things to get you started:

  • Do some target audience research
  • Find something unique
  • Ensure that your choices are relevant to your content
  • Make them clear and concise
  • Short, simple, and easily digestible is always the best policy
  • Analytics tools will be your best friend

How can you create hashtags that will benefit your social media strategy if you aren’t sure who wants to see them? This is where target audience research comes in.

When we say find something unique, this means to find something that makes yourself stand out from other users that may be within the same niche. This could be anything from the way you words or phrases, or even the words that you decide to use.

It’s not likely that you are going to rank on every hashtag that you use, every time. This is because you’ll likely only rank between 30% and 70% of the time if you’re finding success with that hashtag.


As long as you are making sure the content is relevant and the hashtags are popular or being searched for, it’s okay to get creative with the hashtags you use. The idea is to make yourself stand out and not become repetitive with the tags you use.

Finding the right hashtags will take a bit of research and trial and error. Additionally, you could use A/B testing and even some shadowing of influencers to get the hang of what is and isn’t working for your content.

A Winning Strategy to Rank on a Hashtag

Determine Popularity and Use a Hashtag Manager

Let’s talk about strategy. One of the most simple strategies that you can use is to determine what hashtags are popular, but not too popular. Think about it like this: you don’t want to step into an area that is so overly saturated, that your content will never be seen or interacted with.

You do, however, still want to fall within categories that are considered popular and that people actually search for. Hashtag strategy doesn’t have to be a hassle, and Flick makes that possible. Here’s how that would look:

how to rank on ig hashtags

hashtags on ig
ranking on hashtags

Instagram allows you to use 30 tags in total for every post. Use as many tags as you can, but use them to your advantage. The rule of thumb here is that the more tags you use, the higher your chances are of ranking in at least one of those categories.

As you can see with Flick’s Hashtag Manager, you can develop a strategy based on top performers, and even narrow down your search based on different communities. This will save you time, allow you to organize and save your searches, and keep you on target.

What Factors Influence How High or Low a Hashtag Rankings?

First, you may be wondering, what does rank mean? As we have described earlier, it’s basically when your content is appearing within the top posts category of the hashtags that you chose. So think about it like this, whenever you have more than 50 viewers, your content … in a way, will be in a competition to see how you’re ranking.

There are a few ranking factors that you should pay attention to when it comes to Instagram’s algorithm though. That will usually include the frequency of your posts, your engagement rate, and even the accounts that you usually interact with.

Additionally, your following is also taken into consideration as well as how recent your posts are. You can break down how Instagram’s algorithm works into a few parts.

Instagram works to provide users with what they find as important. This basically means that Instagram is looking at what you are searching for, or what is being entered into search boxes.

Based on user search history, Instagram will essentially match users with relevant captions, hashtags, and usernames. This means that if your hashtags are relevant to the content your audience searches for, Instagram will recommend your content to them.

You also have to take into consideration application activity. The best way to think about this is suggestions being made based on your activity within the app. Hashtags and different accounts are shown to users based on what they search for the most. This allows for easy discovery for users.

Now, one of the most important elements of Instagram’s algorithm is how they use Query popularity. When results are ranked and displayed for users, they are based on overall popularity across the platform. This is usually based on a few things such as:

  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Clicks
  • Follows

You’ll also want to pay attention to how your profile visits increase over time, the interactions you make, and how many people you’re reaching.

how to rank on ig hashtags

All of these things play a part in your search presence across Instagram and your hashtags work to drive that presence even more.

Additionally, if you want to increase your chances of ranking you can try a few things like sharing Reels on a consistent basis and participating in more trends. You could even promote your content on additional platforms while leading traffic to your Instagram account.

What Is the Hashtag Ladder?

This is a good one, and we touched on it briefly earlier. However, because hashtag ladders are so important when it comes to Instagram growth and exposure, we’re going to give you an in-depth look at what it is, and why it’s important for ranking on a hashtag.

A hashtag ladder is a type of strategy. It’s used to increase your chances of having your hashtags rank highly and it’s a more calculated approach to increase your engagement.

The way it works is by having a set of at least 30 hashtags. This set would usually range from the easiest tag to rank to the most difficult. Think of it as a video game, it’s literally like leveling up but on Instagram.

ranking on hashtags for ig

As you work your way from the easiest level, you may notice that you will start ranking for the more difficult tags. This is a great way you can form a trial-and-error approach.

When you’re structuring your hashtags like this, you might see a significant increase in your engagement rate. That for some users can be as much as 10 times as much engagement.

One way to see if your tags are performing as they should is to calculate your actual rate of engagement. All you need to do is divide the number of likes that you received, including your number of comments, by the number of followers you have. It will look a bit like this;

(# of Comments # of Likes) / # of Followers x 100

Now, if you’re still a little confused about how to actually create a hashtag ladder, it’s quite simple. You’re going to start by breaking down those 30 hashtags we were talking about into three sets. For the first set, you want to have 10 hashtags that are at least 30% below your average number of likes.

The second set should be similar to your number of average likes, and the third set should be 10 hashtags that are above your number of average likes. Pretty simple right? If you need a bit more context, check out Flick’s Staircase/Ladder Instagram Hashtag Strategy.

rank ig

Do Hashtags Actually Influence Your SEO Success?

The simple answer is yes. Hashtag usage and SEO implementation are often overlooked when it comes to hashtag strategy and hashtag rankings. What you decide to use will influence your SEO based on a few things. Those tags are going to be what drives traffic to your account.

Essentially, users use those tags for direction as they help them to find information more quickly. When hashtags are used properly, your content could be placed directly in front of the users that you were trying to reach. This means that you are making your content more valuable to others.

Not only that, you will be significantly increasing your chances of exposure for your content. In simple terms, value is important. Remember, hashtags are basically keywords. Those keywords are exactly how Instagram is going to rank your content or allow you to rank on a hashtag.

ranking on insta

Keep in mind that hashtags that users interact with will always have a higher ranking than those that don’t. Meaning interaction should always be your primary goal.

If you want to increase your overall visibility, ensure that you’re using relevant keywords in your captions and within your profile name. Using alt-text within your posts is another way to enhance your SEO strategy as well as focus on a specific area. Doing this will help you to define your brand and reach your target audience more easily.

Ranking Made Easy With Flick

Finding hashtags can take hours for most users. However, with Flick, finding, managing, and analyzing your Instagram hashtags can take a couple of minutes. Flick makes it possible to not only grow your account, influence, or business, they make it easy for you to understand how to do so.

With an all-in-one hashtag and analytics tool, Instagram users have the power to rank higher, reach their target audiences faster, and produce quality content consistently. Users will have the option of hashtag searches, collections, and performance metrics.

Additionally, users can expect to have access to complete Instagram analytics, and training if they need it. Flick makes finding quality hashtags simple and easily done within minutes so, if you’re serious about your Instagram influence, let’s get started.


Why Exactly Is a Hashtag Important?

How Do You Come Up With Ranking Hashtags?

A Winning Strategy to Rank on a Hashtag

What Factors Influence How High or Low a Hashtag Rankings?

What Is the Hashtag Ladder?

Do Hashtags Actually Influence Your SEO Success?

Ranking Made Easy With Flick

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