SEO is Overtaking Hashtags in Social Media Visibility


For years, hashtags have been a go-to strategy for improving social media visibility, particularly on platforms like Instagram. However, the narrative is changing. Hashtags, it seems, are no longer the undisputed kings of social media visibility.

Instead, SEO is now overtaking hashtags in making viral social media posts. The content appearing in your “For You” tab won’t be more visible by adding hashtags but rather by strategies like embedding the right keywords in the content.

Do Instagram Hashtags Still Work in 2024?

There has been ongoing discussion among social media outsourcing companies about the significance of hashtags, especially since Instagram suggested limiting their use to 3 to 5 per post despite allowing up to 30. 

This speculation was later confirmed by Instagram head Adam Mosseri, saying that hashtags work more as categorization tools. A post will not get a better reach because of hashtags; The quality and relevance of your content are the primary factors contributing to its visibility.

Hootsuite also corroborated this through a study, revealing that keyword-focused captions yield greater reach and engagement than those reliant on hashtags. 

  • SEO Captions Has 30% More Reach: Posts with keyword-optimized captions experienced a 30% increase in reach compared to those relying on hashtags. 
  • Higher Engagement with Keyword Captions: Posts with SEO captions consistently garnered higher engagement, including increased likes.

Social Media is Now a Search Engine

Hashtags may no longer hold the same power as before in making a post visible, but brands can still stand out on social media platforms with social media SEO and the help of a social media marketing company Philippines

Social media is now a hub for people seeking out brands, discovering new products, and searching for influencers. This shift in behavior, known as social search, marks the latest phase in the development of search engines and social media.

According to Tint’s 2023 State of Social and User-Generated Content Report, 75.78% of consumers actively use social media for product and brand discovery. It was also found that 68.75% of consumers make a purchase based on something they encountered on social media.

discover products social media stats

This image is taken from Tint.

As social media algorithms tailor the scrolling experience to changing user behaviors, it’s crucial for brands to align with these shifts to stay relevant. Social media platforms will increasingly prioritize SEO, so brands must stay informed about strategies to enhance visibility and ensure their content reaches the right users.

Trends in Social SEO

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube top the charts for social media searches. Facebook is the preferred platform among older users. Meanwhile, TikTok is the second top source of Gen Zs when researching product information. In response, Tiktok has further strengthened its search capabilities with tools like Keyword Insights in its Creative Center.

Globally for social media visibility, approximately half of Generation Z used search engines like Google when doing research on products they intend to buy in 2023. This makes search engines the most commonly used source of information for product research among consumers. Many also used social media for such purposes. Millennials likewise used these sources, but were also more likely than Gen Z to use price comparison websites.

This image is taken from Statista.

In 2024, if your social media firm is not helping you address your audience’s questions on social media, there’s a good chance that someone else will – potentially your competitors. Engaging your audience and providing valuable answers has become crucial for maintaining a competitive advantage in the social landscape.

In terms of pure SEO functionality, YouTube stands out as a social platform that closely resembles a traditional search engine. This isn’t surprising, given that YouTube is a product of Google. If you aim for your social content to appear in Google search results, optimizing your YouTube SEO with support from a top SEO agency Philippines is the way to go.

Twitter also benefits from a partnership with Google, making Tweets prominently visible in the search results. Pinterest turns up in Google searches for highly visual content, while LinkedIn pages often surface in business searches. Facebook pages rank well for local business searches. Google is actively working on enhancing its ability to index and present TikTok and Instagram video results. 

Top Social SEO Strategies in 2024

Social media SEO functions much like SEO for search engines like Google. The concept involves incorporating pertinent keywords into post captions and optimizing content to enhance the likelihood of the post reaching the target audience.

It’s worth noting that SEO best practices may differ from one platform to another. Nevertheless, the crucial aspect is providing social media algorithms with the necessary information to recognize that your content connects with a specific audience.

  • The Role of Keywords

Hootsuite’s experiment comparing posts with hashtags against those with keywords highlights the importance of proper keyword research and insertion in achieving higher reach and engagement. 

Instead of relying solely on your assumptions about how people search for your content, it’s crucial to understand the actual search patterns of your audience. Here are some tools you can use to guide you:

1. Google Analytics: Explore the keywords driving traffic to your website. While not directly transferable to social content, they provide a solid starting point.

2. Semrush Keyword Magic Tool: Input a keyword linked to your content, and this tool will generate additional keyword and keyphrase suggestions.

3. Google Trends: Input a search term to visualize interest trends over time and by region. It also provides suggestions for related topics and queries.

4. Hootsuite Social Listening Streams: Set up streams within Hootsuite to monitor discussions related to your product, brand, industry, or niche. 

5. Search Bars: Use the search bars within each social network. Start typing a keyword phrase and observe the suggested autocompletion to gauge what is commonly searched on each platform.

Where to Insert Keywords?

  • Name, handle, and bio
  • Captions and hashtags: Utilizing keywords in the caption boosts the likelihood of your content appearing on keyword search pages. Avoid hiding hashtags in the comments, as it’s no longer an effective strategy. 
  • Other Social SEO Tips

Keywords alone are not a magic wand; they must complement compelling content that resonates with the audience’s preferences.

  • Eye-Catching and High-Quality Visuals: Social media relies heavily on visuals, so use attention-grabbing and high-quality images.
  • Include Website and Product Links: Simplify user access to information and encourage purchases by incorporating links to your website and products in social media posts.
  • Add alt-text: Alt-text helps social media algorithms understand what your content is so it can show the post to relevant searches.
  • Use subtitles: Using subtitles means your keywords will appear onscreen.
  • Tag your location. This will enable your brand to appear on the new Instagram Maps, which can function as a local business search.

Find a Trusted Social SEO Partner

Social media visibility isn’t a mere option for brands today; it’s necessary for survival. In the past, some could afford a minimal social media presence, but today’s consumers spend significant time on these platforms. Ignoring social media trends means willingly forfeiting opportunities to connect with your audience and allowing your competition to swoop in and seize your customers. 

When your brand excels in social media visibility, your posts gain prominence across multiple feeds. By embracing social media SEO, you can fine-tune your social profiles to draw in potential customers effectively through social search.

Improve your social media presence today with digital marketing solutions from Digital Marketing Philippines (DMP).


Jomer Gregorio

Jomer B. Gregorio is a well-rounded expert when it comes digital marketing. Jomer is also known as a semantic SEO evangelist and practitioner. Check out our Digital Marketing Services today and let us help you in achieving positive and profitable results for your business.