Happy smiling woman taking a selfie with her puppy.
To help land your posts on Instagram's Explore page, consistency in your posts is key. Instagram wants viewers to know what your brand is about just by glancing at your page. — Getty Images/Ika84

Instagrammers head to Instagram's Explore page to see personalized content from people they don't follow. Appearing on the Explore page can boost small business brands, helping them organically expand their reach. Indeed, Instagram reported that more than 200 million people look at the Explore page daily and 50% "use Explore every month."

Unfortunately, there isn't a magic formula to increase your odds. Instead, you can optimize your content to improve its ranking. Here are four steps to help your posts appear on Instagram's Explore page.

Make your Instagram account's purpose clear

According to Meta AI (known as Facebook), the company "created a retrieval pipeline that focuses on account-level information rather than media-level." This means that Instagram's algorithm considers your Instagram account as a whole, not just individual posts. The idea is that each time someone lands on your page, they should be able to glance at it and know what your brand is about. Consistency is the best way to achieve this goal.

If you're a retailer selling home goods but share images unrelated to your topic, it can confuse algorithms and people. Each graphic should tie into your theme. You can still share pet photos but keep them on-brand and connected to your page's purpose.

Engage with Instagrammers

The Search Engine Journal said there are several known ranking signals, including post and content creator information, user activity, and the "user's history of interacting with the content creator." Boosting Instagram engagement can help you land a coveted spot on the Explore page.

Your Instagram strategy should set aside time for interacting with followers and others interested in your industry. But don't just click "like" on random posts to try and game the algorithm. Take a thoughtful approach by liking and commenting on content relating to your topic, theme, or industry.

[Read more: 5 Tips for a Killer Small Business Instagram Strategy]

Look at your own Explore page and competitor content for inspiration. What posts resonate with Instagrammers, and how can you mimic these aspects in yours?

Tailor posts to your ideal audience

Create content your ideal audience wants to see using Instagram's search bar. You can find posts and hashtags related to your industry, services, or products and filter results to focus on sub-niches. Instagram also shows related keywords and phrases, which give you an idea of what your audience looks for. Another way to meet search intent on Instagram is by adding hashtags that your audience uses.

There's no reason to reinvent the wheel here. Look at your own Explore page and competitor content for inspiration. What posts resonate with Instagrammers, and how can you mimic these aspects in yours? Review the keywords, hashtags, and formats most popular with users.

Optimize your Instagram content

Instagram displays many content formats on the Explore page, including shoppable Instagram posts, videos, and stories. Enhance your odds by creating eye-catching content that serves a purpose, like informing, entertaining, or educating. In addition, you should regularly examine your Instagram analytics to see what's working.

Here are a few ways to improve your Instagram posts:

  • Captions: Get your point across within the first few sentences. Your description can add context to your image and include a call to action (CTA).
  • Hashtags: Use hashtags to promote your business and make it easier for Instagrammers to find your content in a search. Adding industry, branded, or topic hashtags to your posts can boost your chances of appearing on the Explore page.
  • Video thumbnails: On the Explore page, only a thumbnail image of your video appears. Encourage users to click by selecting a video frame that is visually appealing and gives them a good idea of what your video is about.
  • Timing: Instagram prioritizes fresh content, and if you post when users are online, there's a higher chance that they'll interact with it. Later reported, "High engagement on your posts, especially quickly after posting, signals to the Instagram algorithm that this piece of content is "of value" and worth putting on the Explore page."

[Read more: Instagram Stats: Understanding Social Media Stats and How to Measure Success]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 13, 2022