The Inside Word On Instagram's Algorithm

Not too long ago, Facebook themselves hosted an event called ‘Machine Learning @ Scale’ event. The event brought together some of the most technologically advanced brains in the machine-learning and artificial-intelligence industry to discuss their latest discoveries and innovations. 

Doesn't sound like your cup of tea? Luckily, I sat through the entire list of presentations so that you don't have to. Below I am going to give you a brief rundown of my learnings in a (hopefully) more upbeat manner (you can watch the videos of each presentation here if you really like).

The thing I really found most interesting was from Thomas Dimson of Instagram, who explained the process of designing and implementing Instagram’s feed algorithm.

Essentially, Dimson’s presentation is about the challenges they faced when rolling out the new algorithm at scale, but as part of that, Dimson also notes all the crucial metrics of how Instagram defines relevance, the measures which dictate how content is ordered in the feed.

The key measures they use (or considered using) to determine relevance and decide which posts show up higher in your Instagram feed are:

  • People who’s content you like

  • People you direct message

  • People you search for

  • People you know in real life

Now, how exactly each of these elements might be weighted is hard to say, but these are the measures Instagram initially considered in their testing, which means they’re also very likely the same measures they use now.

Dimson does note that they haven’t necessarily weighted any of these elements at all, but they’ve instead focused on engagement, and using any engagement as an indicator. But, it’s interesting to note the various ways in which that engagement can be measured, which could then result in certain posts by certain people appearing higher in your Instagram feed.

Essentially, the content from users you engage with will rank higher, and Instagram takes all of these forms of interaction into account.

Dimson also provides a fairly clarified explanation for how social-platform algorithms work, and why they’re required, noting that algorithms help networks deal with ‘a problem of success’ – being that they become too popular, and there’s too much activity happening for users to find all the most relevant content on their own.

Dimson says that in their research, they found that Instagram users weren’t seeing around 70% of the content matched to them in the chronological feed. The solution to this, according to Dimson, is to either get people to follow fewer users, ensuring they always see the content most relevant to them, or to implement an algorithm to highlight the content they’re most likely to engage with, based on the aforementioned factors.

The first option isn't feasible, so Instagram tested the second, and they saw significant increases in all key metrics when the new system was rolled out to a small percentage of users.

Dimson notes that the only metric that went down was the amount of searches users were conducting, which they actually saw as a good thing as it showed people were finding more of what they wanted for without having to seek it out themselves.

Also interesting, Dimson says that they went from prototype to roll out very fast with the Instagram algorithm.

Those efforts have obviously paid off – the platform added 100 million extra new users in the second half of 2016, taking them to 600 million monthly actives, 400 million of whom now log in daily. The introduction of Instagram Stories also played a part, no doubt, but it’s important to recognize the significance of the algorithm also in this context.

It’s an interesting insight into the workings of Instagram’s system – it doesn’t provide all the answers, and the onus is still on you to create compelling content to inspire engagement and rank higher in people’s feeds. But it does give you some idea of the various elements potentially at play.

So, how do you create engaging content? Stick around, that blog post is next on my list! For now, check out my 'How to Hack the Instagram Algorithm.'

How To ID and Fix Duplicate Meta Tags

Duplicate meta tags may seem like a snooze fest, but they can seriously damage you in the ol’ Google popularity contest. Find out how to locate and eliminate those pesky duplicates, so you can stroll your way to the top of the SERP.

How To Optimise Your LinkedIn Business Page

So you want to look like a big-dog on Linkedin? Don’t we all! Learn how to make your Linkedin profile as impressive as Mums Christmas roast with these easy steps.

How to Optimise your Google My Business Listing

Consider your Google My Business listing as your first impression online. Everything from the images you use, to the ratings you have as huge indicators of whether or not you can be trusted. One of the best ways to get online visibility is to claim your business on Google My Business and optimise it.

How to Optimise Your Facebook Page Pt. 2

It is easy to set your Facebook page up and get going, but have you considered whether or not you could be doing more?

There are simple but highly effective ways to take your Facebook from zero to hero. Let me list a few below.

How Do I Claim My Facebook Custom URL and Why?

So, your website URL doesn’t have a whole lot of numbers in it, so why would your Facebook URL? Claiming your vanity URL is seriously a no-brainer.

A custom URL gives your page an easy-to-find & easy-to-share URL that looks professional & branded.

How To Fix Broken Links on Your Website

Broken links can have a negative impact on your rankings and compromise user experience. The last thing you want is for a user to encounter a broken link when they want access to more information. This is often an indication of a poorly maintained website and can increase website abandonment rates. It is important to find and fix broken links as often as you can.

How to Build Powerful Backlinks With Guest Posting

If you want to be the popular one in the group, backlinks are the way to do it. As Brittany Spears would say, if there talking about you, they’re a fan! Learn to get the gabs flapping, and bringing free traffic to you website.

How To Optimise Your Pinterest Account

Pinterest is oh-so-pretty, but for the right business it can be a huge money making machine. Learn how to optimise your Pinterest account and get that beautiful traffic flowing straight through to your site.

How To Optimise Your Instagram Profile

If you haven’t noticed, the Instagram algorithm changes faster than Tay Tay switches men, which can make it a slippery sucker to navigate. Read about my top tips for wrangling the beast the right way from the start!

How To Optimise Your Facebook Page Pt. 1

Facebook is a complex friend to have. Just when you think you have gotten to know them, they change up their face - literally. I’m here to give you my top tips for success, right from the start.

How To Check And Improve Your Site’s Loading Speed

Literally the only thing I will wait for is a good coffee and The Bachelor, and I can guarantee your clients are the same (well, I can guarantee they hate waiting, not that they have the same reality TV obsession) . So, don’t leave them hanging when they hit your site. Sort out your issues, and do it fast.

How to Secure Your Site with HTTPS

Yes, it sounds like an alien language but it isn’t and you need to take it seriously.

How to Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

For better or for worse, our habits come to define us. We became addicted to our phones and now we must design everything to cater for them. Ensuring your site is mobile friendly is no joke and will come to define you.

How To Set Up A Google Search Console

Did you know without setting up a Google Search Console you may never appear in search results? It takes 10 mins, but sets you up for life.

How To Set Up Google Analytics

Tell me how you’re going to improve and learn from your changes if you don’t have the numbers? Set yourself up for success and sort out your Google Analytics.

How to Optimise Your Website Images

Are your images making your site beautiful? Or slowing it down so much that it doesn’t convert? They could be doing both, but they shouldn’t be.

How To Optimise Each Page On Your Website

Almost every business has a website today and all of them are competing for attention online. This means business owners can’t afford to compromise on the quality of their platform and must make sure every page is of good quality.


If all the pages are optimised, you’ll see a significant improvement in the user experience as well as your search engine rankings. There are several factors involved in web page optimisation such as:


1. Mobile-Friendly Pages


Mobile search traffic has far surpassed desktop search traffic, which means a majority of your visitors come from a mobile platform. You need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly and this can be done by using a responsive website. Make sure every page is light-weight and loads quickly. All the links and menus should be easy to access on the smaller screen to ensure the best results. Google provides an accurate tool to help you test the mobile-friendliness of your site.


2. Fix All Broken Links


Many website owners find it too tedious to browse through their website links and find broken links. However, ignoring broken links can have two big consequences; it can compromise a search bot’s ability to crawl your website and it can hamper user experience. Both of these factors will have an impact on your website’s search engine ranking. Make sure all broken links on the page are fixed or add redirects if needed.


3. Fix Duplicate Meta Tags


Duplicate meta tags can send the wrong signals to the search engine algorithm, which can have an impact on the ranking. Google requires all Meta tags and page titles to be as unique as possible. It is important to identify any duplicate Meta tag connected to your page and replace it. There are several tools available online to help you fix the issue, including Yoast SEO.


4. Security


Google considers SSL certification a ranking factor and will rank HTTPS websites higher than regular sites. Websites without this certification are marked as not secure in Chrome, which can have an impact on your reputation.


These small optimisations can improve the website’s performance and ensure visitors have a good overall experience with it.


How to Install Yoast SEO (WordPress Users Only)

SEO is one of the most important modern marketing strategies available today. It can help your website rank high on search engine results pages. Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plugin on the WordPress platform and can help your website shine. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to install it on Wordpress.


1. Log Into Your WordPress Website


The first step is to log onto your WordPress website with administrator access. This will work best if you have the most up-to-date version of the site because the plugin is updated regularly as well.


2. Search for the Yoast SEO Plugin


When you log in, you'll be taken to the website dashboard. There should be a Plugins menu on the left-hand side of the screen and there’s an Add New button on it. Click on the button and type in Yoast SEO in the Add Plugins dialogue box.


3. Install the Plugin


The first result should be the official Yoast SEO plugin. Click on the Install Now button on that plugin and let it download fully. Once the download is complete, the software will prompt you to activate the plugin. Once activated, Yoast SEO is ready for use.


4. Configure


To get the best results from Yoast SEO, you need to properly configure it. The plugin is on the global settings and isn’t personalised to your website. On the left side of the page, you will find a menu under “SEO.” It is important to adjust all of the settings mentioned in the menu according to your requirements.


You will have SEO General, Search Appearance, SEO Social, Tools, and Search Console settings. Connect Yoast to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmasters Tools to utilise its full potential.


If you like Yoast and want to explore all of its features, try out the premium plugin. It can be downloaded from the download section on My Yoast. This is a feature-rich plugin that can be a great marketing investment.

How to Set Up Bing Webmaster Tools

Google might enjoy enduring dominance in the search engine field, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore other search platforms. Placing all your eggs in one basket is never a good business strategy. That’s why many business owners are encouraged to set up their website in Bing as well. Here’s a brief look at how you can do that:


1. Create a Microsoft Account


Just like you need a Google account to use Google Analytics, you need a Microsoft account to use Bing Webmaster Tools. The registration won’t take much time but it is a good idea to make sure the account is related to your business and is not personal.


2. Add Your Site


Once you have logged in, you’ll find the ‘Add a Site’ button on the page. Copy and paste your website URL to the field. Make sure the site URL is accurate because you might have to repeat the entire process.


3. Enter the Sitemap


If you have never connected your website to Bing and don’t know much about its user data, just choose the default option and upload the sitemap to the page. If you have data regarding the highest traffic times on your platform, enter that information into the form. You can click add to submit all of the data to Webmasters Tools


4. Verify Ownership


Once you have uploaded the information, Bing needs you to verify ownership of the website before it can start tracking it. This can be done in three ways; you can download and upload the BingSiteAuth.xml file, you can add a meta tag with authentication code into your website’s default page, or add the CNAME record to your DNS file.


5. Submit URLs for Indexing


This is a slightly time-consuming process but it is a good idea to get it done as soon as possible. Bing only allows 10 URL submissions a day and 50 per month so if you have more than 50 pages on your website, this can take time.


Once this is done, your Bing Webmasters tools are up and running. You can then set up deep links or use Yoast SEO to improve rankings on the Bing SERP.