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A complete guide for marketers

A complete guide for marketers

Want to take full advantage of one of the world’s favorite photo-based social media apps?

You ought to. Instagram can be crucial to any business marketing plan.

And if you want to increase your Instagram game, go to the Search and Explore section.

It’s free. It’s easy. It is relatively painless.

Designed to recommend custom, new content, Search & Explore gives Instagram users a way to check out what they might not have seen otherwise.

What they see may be your business. It’s time to make it happen.

Instagram Search & Explore is essential for marketers

Social media controls the internet and Instagram is one of the leading leaders.

By October 2020, it had an estimated 1 billion active users – that’s a lot of potential viewers for your site. Instagram also happens to be the 9th most visited website in the United States with approximately 972 million monthly visits in June 2021.

Instagram user numbers are only increasing. By 2023, the company is expected to have 1.2B active monthly users.


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And Instagram’s Search & Explore feature is potentially groundbreaking. No more ads – instead recommended content that people want to interact with that leads back to products or services they may be interested in.

Everyone wins.

But how does it work exactly?

This is how Instagram’s algorithm works

While backend can be complicated, Instagram’s explanation of its algorithm is pretty simple. Everything is divided into two stages: the generation stage and the ranking phase.

Instagram’s algorithm can get a little more complicated, but you can implement new best practices to stay ahead if you understand how it works.

We have also gone even more in depth with looking at how posts are selected for the Search and Explore page before.

What it said, here’s what you really need to know about the two phases of Instagram’s Search & Explore algorithm:

1st Generation Phase

In its first phase, Instagram uses “seed” accounts for research. These are accounts that people have already connected with.

Using seed accounts, Instagram analyzes and identifies posts that specific users may be interested in.


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Instagram’s algorithm then runs its numbers again using seed accounts and accounts similar to them. This time, it tries to find media that these accounts have interacted with.

Once it has a large list of potential posts, it’s time for the ranking phase.

During this phase, out of a pool of tens of thousands of media posts, only 500 candidates are sent to the next step.

2. Ranking steps

During this second phase, Instagram’s algorithm will gradually narrow down hundreds of possible candidates to only 25 of the most relevant posts of the highest quality.

What’s left is what you end up seeing on the first page of your Instagram Explore feed grid.

In the back, Instagram rates your negative or positive interactions with posts based on your past behavior, giving the app a good guess as to what you like – or not.

How to find content using Instagram Search & Explore

Instagram makes it easier than ever to find brand new content. In addition to just the new Search & Explore feature, the app is constantly adding more ways to detect posts.

Specifically for the Search and Explore page, there are a few different ways to find content. This is how they work.

front page

In front and in the middle you can see the 25 best posts tailored to your interests. Keep scrolling and you’ll get further down the list – it’s long.

Here you can see photos and videos that Instagram specifically thinks you will enjoy. Not only can you find new users you may never have interacted with otherwise, but you will also be able to see what kind of content Instagram sees as high quality.


The search bar at the top is where you can really push the edges of Instagram’s new feature.

This is where you can search for keywords, not just hashtags. This means you can find related content that does not match the exact hashtag you entered.

Don’t worry, you can still search for specific hashtags. If you start typing one in, you will even see suggested top tags based on what you have already written.


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You can also search for top accounts to find users you might want to follow.

In addition, you can search by location. Just pick a place that is relevant to your business or your audience’s interests and you can see what’s going on at the moment.

Topic channels

Just below the search bar, you can see that Instagram’s Search & Explore feature is really flourishing.

To make things even more straightforward than having to come up with keywords or search hashtags, you can choose topic-oriented feeds that are tailored to you.

Some of these include food, nature, fashion, travel, beauty, home and science and technology.

This is also a great way to check out your competitors. If you know which category you would like to fall into, scroll through some posts to see who gets on the front page.

Analyze what they do and you can apply it to your own account.


At the top left just below the search bar and next to the topic channels you will find IGTV. It is an individualized feed of videos in long form (videos that are longer than about a minute).


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You will not just see short clips from people you follow, as in Instagram stories. Instead, the algorithm contains both accounts that you follow and accounts that you think you should follow.

Another great way to discover what’s popular out there, IGTV also gives a more personal expression to viewers with its format.

It is often used for behind the scenes, for one-on-one interviews or for jam sessions for musicians.

Tips for getting on Instagram’s page Search and explore

Want to know how fast you are on Instagram’s Search and Explore page?


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We’ve talked before about how to get traffic from Instagram. This is how you can specifically view impressions from their Search & Explore page.

Use placement tags and hashtags

Because hashtags are still the cornerstone of Instagram, be sure to use them. However, you want to use them properly to avoid overcoming or overwhelming your audience.

Many experts recommend about nine relevant hashtags per day. Posts – the more niche, the better. You will not necessarily use only the most popular hashtags: you may be drowned.

It’s also important to tag your location now that Instagram allows you to search for posts by location.

Take your storefront, the venue of an event or other area that would make sense to your audience. This is a basic way to get more views.

Post consistently

It is important to post consistently, as accounts that post sporadically or barely at all tend to see low number of followers. Not only that, but they are also likely to drop followers steadily.


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Depending on your business, try sending at least 1-2 times a day. If not, go a few days a week.

If it seems too daunting to post on a regular schedule, you can buy tools like Sendible to do it for you.

Post at the right times

You want to cater to your audience – this is always true in marketing. On Instagram and in social media in general, part of this post means at the right time of day.

You can use features like Instagram Insights (available for free with a corporate account when you reach 100 followers) to find out when your followers are active.

Instagram Insights gives you powerful data that you keep coming back to, so you can establish patterns and take advantage of formats and times your audience cares about.

Engage with others

Engaging with others is the easiest way to get them to interact with you. By liking others’ posts and leaving thoughtful comments, you increase your brand’s image and awareness.


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People will start recognizing your name as a friendly face and may be more likely to check your business out in the future or at least like your next post.

Post high quality content

This last step can be the most crucial when it comes to a media based app like Instagram. Not only does everyone love a beautiful picture, but on Instagram they expect it.

If you post a grainy or blurry image or video, viewers will be turned off and unlikely to interact.

On the other hand, if they see a beautiful image they like, a viewer is likely to engage in some way.

Sizing is also important. For the best quality, post photos that are 1080 pixels wide by 566 pixels to 1350 pixels high.

Keep in mind that Instagram’s maximum resolution is 1080 pixels wide, so anything larger than that can interrupt your photo or video.

Instagram Search & Explore is a Game Changer for Business

With so many new ways to find brand-sparkling-new content that you probably never would have seen otherwise, Instagram’s Search & Explore feature gives businesses a whole new way to be discovered.


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Do not wait. The app’s users are only climbing ever higher in number, and Instagram is ready to burst even more than it already has.

By using our tips and tricks on how to navigate and utilize Search & Explore effectively, you will see fresh views in no time.

More resources:

Image credits

Image 1:
All screenshots taken by the author, June 2021

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