The TikTok-ificaton of Instagram search is in full swing

Instagram search is getting more visual soon thanks to a TikTok-like grid that in the future will more prominently feature relevant photos and videos in search results.


  • Instagram search is getting more visual and relevant
  • Instagram head explains what influences your search results
  • He shares tips for helping your content show up for a given search

Instagram search is getting more visual and relevant

Instagram head Adam Mosseri says search results will show suggested photos and videos in the future. Currently, Instagram search surfaces hashtags, places and user accounts.

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It is no secret that the experience of using Instagram search has left many people with a lot to be desired. Put simply, any given Instagram search is currently a mixed bag of relevant content and accounts, locations and hashtags that may not be what you’re looking for.

Three iPhone screenshots showing regular Instagram search results for the term "space"
Currently, search results on Instagram are not very relevant nor pretty | Image credit: Instagram

In the future, however, photos and videos will be more relevant and more prominently featured in search results with a TikTok-like grid. According to a post on the Instagram blog, Facebook-owned photo service hopes to boost engagement by helping people find relevant posts.

Mosseri wouldn’t say when these search improvements might roll out to Instagram users.

Two iPhone screenshots showing visual Instagram search results for the term "space".
Instagram’s head says search results are getting more visual and relevant | Image credit: Instagram

Instagram isn’t the only popular social platform seeking to steal some of the design choices that have made TikTok a global phenomenon. Reddit, for instance, is the latest service to try its hand at TikTok-ification. With recent changes to its video feed, Reddit now displays videos in a TikTok-like vertical configuration.

How Instagram search works

In a video posted on Instagram, Mosseri shared some of the secret sauce powering the app’s search feature. Instagram, he says, ranks your search results by taking into account a variety of factors, including the following criteria ranked in order of importance.

  • Search keywords
  • Your activity
  • Popularity signals

Let’s take a closer look at each criterion.

Your keywords in Instagram search

The words and phrases you enter in the search bar, or keywords, influence what you see in search results more than anything else. Mosseri says that Instagram attempts to match what you type with relevant usernames, bios, captions, hashtags and places.

Your activity on Instagram

Everything you do in the Instagram app, including accounts you follow, posts you’ve viewed and how you’ve interacted with accounts in the past, affects search results as well. “We usually show accounts and hashtags you follow or visit higher than those you don’t,” he says.

Information about the search results

When there are a lot of potential results, Instagram also looks at so-called popularity signals. Among other things, these include the number of clicks, likes, shares and follows for a particular account, hashtag or place.

How your content shows up in Instagram search

The above signals that affect Instagram’s search results also determining how your own content shows up in search, too. To make sure your followers can easily find your photos and videos, Mosseri offers the following tips to users.

  • Use a relevant Instagram handle or profile name
  • Use relevant keywords and locations in bio
  • Use relevant info in captions, not comments

Here’s a quick overview of each tip.

Use a fitting Instagram handle

If your Instagram handle or profile name is relatable to certain posts, those photos and videos have a higher chance to show up in relevant searches. “If your friends or fans know you by a certain name, include that name in your username or profile so that you can show up when they search for you,” Mosseri says.

Use relevant keywords and locations in your bio

If your Instagram bio includes keywords about who you are and relevant to what your profile is about, the account will more frequently appear in relevant searches. “If your account is location-specific, like for a small business, sharing your location in your bio can make it easier for people in your area to find you,” he continues.

Use relevant keywords and hashtags in captions

And lastly, Instagram advises putting relevant keywords and hashtags in the post caption, not the comments, because comments don’t influence Instagram search.