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Are hashtags still relevant in 2022, or have relevant keywords in post content taken over?

It’s no secret that SEO is essential for any website or blog if you want to rank high in search engines and get more traffic. But what about social media platforms like Instagram? What role do hashtags play in getting your content seen by more people? In the early days of Instagram, hashtags were key.

A recent hypothesis was put to the test on Instagram. The question was whether keyword SEO-friendly posts perform better than posts loaded with hashtags. Also, which post will perform better in terms of reach?

Hashtags started as a way for marketers to discover new users and find more conversations. However, as social media platforms evolved, marketers and users started over utilizing them to take advantage of posts and connect with individuals who aren’t even related to their products and searches. The overutilization and hashtag stuffing caused many platforms, like Instagram, to update their algorithms, and it would appear that they may be penalized in terms of reach. It seems now that posts with too many hashtags are not being shown to as many searchers (penalized) and don’t appear in searches as often.

We now have the era of less is more regarding hashtag use in posts. Instagram encourages users to adopt a “less is more” and “quality over quantity” attitude when producing content. Therefore, the words included in your caption are becoming more critical in searches.

So the hypothesis is that KEYWORDS, not HASHTAGS, might be the new secret to reach on Instagram.

The test used a trendy topic with similar imagery and a set of posts, one set with hashtags, and one with keyword content and no hashtags.

The research over time showed that keyword-focused captions on Instagram had more reach and engagement than hashtags. Moreover, the test worked – see Adam’s full article for more information and details.

The author noted, “For maximum reach, use descriptive keywords that can help new audiences find your content…If you’re going to use hashtags, pair them with a proper caption.”

He also noted that the posts that used only hashtags and looked spammy posts did not do well when up against Instagram’s algorithm thought so, too, and delivered the content to fewer feeds.