Instagram Hashtag Research – The Ultimate Guide

Instagram Hashtag Research – The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Published on: March 13, 2024
Last Updated: March 13, 2024

Instagram Hashtag Research – The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Published on: March 13, 2024
Last Updated: March 13, 2024


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The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtag Research

Are you wondering how to do Instagram hashtag research?

At this point, pretty much everyone who uses social media knows how important hashtags are.

However, why are they important?

Why is everyone in the social media marketing world going crazy over them?

Hashtags play a vital role in transforming your Instagram profile of 100 followers into more than 100,000 followers, because the bottom line with Instagram is that more than 70% of Instagram posts go unseen.

Hashtags are the difference between wasting your time completely on Instagram and becoming Instagram famous and making some serious cash from your profile.

In fact, just including one hashtag to your post can increase your engagement by 12%.

This means that you can’t just throw a few hashtags on your content as an afterthought.

You need to do the research, gather your hashtags, and then test them again and again for the best results.

If you aren’t seeing a big difference between your posts that don’t have a lot of hashtags versus those that do, then there is a major flaw in your Instagram hashtag strategy.

Let’s talk about what you need to do to level up your Instagram hashtag research right now.

Instagram Hashtag Research

Before we go into Instagram hashtag research here are a few things you need to know about hashtags.

Don’t Use the Same Hashtags Every Time

If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to your Instagram growth, then you are probably tempted to use the same set of hashtags on every post that you upload.

However, this is only going to set you up for failure, because it is a bad tactic.

It is really important that you switch up your hashtags on every post that you upload, so that you can reach a different audience each time.

It is also important for testing out new combinations of hashtags and staying on top of the fact that hashtags are always changing.

A particular hashtag might get a lot of engagement one day, and then fail significantly the next.

This is the life cycle of a hashtag, especially when it comes to being relevant to brands.

An easy way to do this is to do your research and create a list of popular hashtags that have a lot of reach right now in your industry and every time you upload a piece of content, include a few hashtags from that list.

Just keep going through different hashtags until you figure out which ones are working, and which ones aren’t.

Avoid Spammy Hashtags

Unfortunately, just like any other social media tactic out there, there is a downside to hashtags, and this comes in the form of spammy hashtags.

Generic, spammy hashtags don’t do anything to increase your reach or boost your engagement in the long run.

At the very best, your content might get bombarded with a long list of spammy comments, but this definitely isn’t going to make your images look good.

Using hashtags like #likeforlike, #love, and #goodday are generic, and don’t do anything for your profile’s credibility.

Not only is your post going to get lost in the sea of content out there, but you’re also going to lose a great opportunity to promote your content with the right hashtag.

It also leaves a really bad impression on your audience, and loses you credibility.

Use the Right Number of Hashtags


If you are worried that Instagram is going to penalize you for going over the maximum number of hashtags, this isn’t true.

Instagram doesn’t penalize anyone for going over the hashtag limit of 30 per post.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should use all 30 every time, and instead you need to focus on the relevancy of your hashtags.

The more hashtags you can use that are highly relevant to your content, the better.

Some people think that the perfect number of hashtags to use is 11, while there are others out there that think it is 9.

Whichever one it is at the end of the day, it totally depends on your industry and niche, which is why it pays to experiment a little bit, and determine which number works for your content and your audience.

Include Hashtags in Your Comments

Instagram is all about creating a great look for your audience. This means that everything in your Instagram feed needs to be synchronized, aesthetically pleasing, and well organized.

This means that if you’ve got an entire block of hashtags in your caption, people aren’t going to be all that interested in spending too much time with your content.

This is why a lot of people choose to include their hashtags in a comment beneath their caption instead.

Hashtags are going to work the same way whether they are included in a comment or a caption.

If you are looking to improve your user experience, and keep your captions clean, then we definitely suggest that you try out this method.

Utilize Invisible Hashtags in Your Stories

So, it is easy to come up with a great looking caption by including your hashtags in the comment section.

However, how do you keep your Instagram stories clean? You use invisible hashtags.

Invisible Hashtags

You can do this by making the hashtags that you include in your Instagram stories the same color as the background, and you can also hide them with a sticker.

Both approaches are effective and make it so that your Instagram stories don’t come across as spammy.

Use a Good Hashtag Tool

Using a tool will help you figure out the best hashtags for your content is definitely the right way forward and is going to save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

Remember, the more relevant your hashtags are, the better your content is going to do.

High-Density Hashtags

So, why might you want to avoid high-density hashtags? Because your content is going to drown in the sea of competition in almost no time.

We consider high-density hashtags to be hashtags that are associated with more than 500,000 existing posts.

This means that it is incredibly hard to rank and be seen by a lot of people when you use hashtags like this, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

Using a couple of high-density branded hashtags can help you improve your contents visibility; we just suggest that you don’t make all of your hashtags high-density ones.

High-density hashtags

Low-Density Hashtags

As you might have been able to guess already, low-density hashtags equal low competition.

Low-density hashtags are hashtags that have less than 500,000 posts associated with them.

In our opinion, the less the better, because the less posts you are competing with, the higher your chances of ranking well in those categories.

Low density hashtags

Which Density Hashtags Should You Use?

As we mentioned briefly above, we think that a combination of low-density and high-density hashtags is ideal.

As long as you are switching things up and making sure that your content is visible in both areas, you will be able to do well with your hashtag strategy.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some different types of hashtag groups.

Community Hashtags

Community hashtags are hashtags that revolve around small niche communities. They are slightly more targeted than niche hashtags, and the competition isn’t as high.

Including a couple of community hashtags on your content is going to help you connect with entrepreneurs and like-minded brands.


Brand Hashtags

Brand hashtags are the digital version of a brand slogan. Nobody goes around singing brand slogans anymore; if they like a brand, they’re going to hashtag it.

The more well-known the brand is, the higher the competition when it comes to using its hashtags.

So, if you are just beginning and you are trying to increase your audience straight away, using branded hashtags on your content is an effective strategy.

It increases your chances of being featured by that particular brand.

However, if you have already managed to establish a loyal audience around your content, then we don’t suggest that you go for branded hashtags as much.


Audience Descriptive Hashtags

Audience descriptive hashtags are when you are describing your target audience. For example, if you are running a food Instagram profile, then you will want to use hashtags like #foodies to better connect with your audience.

Generally speaking, we suggest that you add 5 to 8 audience descriptive hashtags to your post, so that you can reach a broader audience base, no matter what stage of the Instagram growth process you are at.

Audience descriptive

Product Descriptive Hashtag

Let’s say for example that you are a travel photographer. By using hashtags that explain your vocation, you are connecting closer to your target audience, and helping your content stay relevant.

Hashtags related directly to your product or service are going to do really well.

Product descriptive

Niche Hashtags

Niche hashtags are less targeted hashtags than brand and community hashtags. Just make sure that you use these in conjunction with other types of hashtags.

Niche hashtags

Location Hashtags

Location hashtags are extremely effective and work really well if you are a local product-based company.

Adding your location to almost any hashtag is going to automatically turn it into a location hashtag.

You can even target your country or your state or go smaller and target your suburb or city.

It completely depends on what your target audience looks like. This is a great way to connect with potential customers and generate business through your content on Instagram.

Location hashtags

Event Hashtags

Using event hashtags is a great way to drum up followers quickly, but just keep in mind that these followers might not hang around for a long time.

Event hashtags is when you find an event, and create a post around that particular event, using hashtags that are relevant to it.

Just make sure that the hashtags that you use aren’t high-density, otherwise your content won’t get seen.

Curator’s Hashtags

There are a number of curator profiles on Instagram that come up with niche content and share it on their feed.

Making the most of their brand hashtags is a really great way to be featured on their account, and network with people in your industry.

Curator’s hashtags

Instagram Hashtag Research

Now, we have reached the best part of the process: researching the right hashtags for your Instagram post.

There are a lot of people that use hashtag research tools to expedite the process, but we also suggest that you have effective hashtag research strategies to complement those services, so that you can do better than your competition.

Let’s dive into some of the best hashtag research tips we have for you, so that you can do really well with your Instagram content right now.

Find Popular Posts

Remember, the content that you are going to see on Instagram is the content that has relevant, specific hashtags associated with it.

This means that it is going to be relatively easy to find the most popular posts in your niche, take their hashtags, and create a list of your own hashtags that you can use for your post.

It really is this simple.

You can also make the most of seeing this content and do a little bit of research and work out what makes the content so popular so that you can mimic it on your own content.

So, how do you find popular posts?

Find Popular Niche Hashtags

Instagram now lets its users follow specific hashtags. Once you are following a hashtag, you will see all the relevant posts come up related to that hashtag, including when they have been featured in Instagram stories.

Top posts are going to appear in your feed, and you will easily be able to make a list of the hashtags that they have used.

Steal an Influencer’s Tags

Select a hashtag that an influencer has used on their content and follow it.

influencer’s hashtag

Go to Tags, and Search for Your Niche Keyword

Now when you are following this particular hashtag, a list of related hashtags will come up that you can also follow.

We recommend that you follow up to 10 relevant hashtags, so that you can see all the popular posts that relate to those hashtags.

If you are trying to target a local audience, you can also add your location, and follow trending hashtags that come up.

Make sure that you keep a record of all the hashtags that posts that are coming up are using.

Go to Tags

Make the Most of the Explore Page

Ironically, the Explore Page is actually an old-school way of finding relevant hashtags in your niche.

You can search for keywords in your niche and select these hashtags. Once you have found a hashtag to follow, select the top nine posts that come up.

From here, you can make a list of hashtags that they are using.

Google Your Hashtags

Google it

There are a lot of popular influencers out there that also manage blogs where they post their Instagram strategies.

You will even find blog posts that contain popular hashtags, so that you can use them.

All you need to do is simply copy and paste the hashtags that you have found.

Weed Out the Average Tags

The thing about searching for the right hashtags to use on your content is that not all of the hashtags you come across are going to be worth your time.

You need to be able to filter out the hashtags that are relevant to your content and organize the ones that are left over.

The first thing that you will want to do is remove all generic hashtags that aren’t relevant to your industry.

You will also want to remove hashtags that appear more than once and remove location hashtags that don’t have anything to do with where you are located.

Lastly, remove any hashtags that you think irrelevant to your brand, or are associated with a lot of spam.

When looking through the list of remaining hashtags, ask yourself questions like this: are they super high-density? Are they super low-density? What group hashtag is it?

weed out

The more hashtags that you include in your list, the better. We suggest that you go all the way up to 30 hashtags, and make sure that you include a few from different groups.

Then, you can start to use these on your posts.

Create a list of 30 other hashtags and use them in another post. Keep switching up your hashtag combinations, so that you can work out which ones are getting the best results.

Through this strategy, you will find location-based hashtags, brand hashtags, curator hashtags, and all other kinds of hashtags.

You will want to go back and apply this strategy again frequently, so that you can keep ahead of the curve when it comes to new hashtags that are doing well.

Final Thoughts: Instagram Hashtag Research

So, how do you find the best hashtags for your niche? You use Flick, and you make the most of the Instagram hashtag rearch strategies above.

You take them from successful influencers, filter out the ones that aren’t relevant to your niche, and test them against your content.

If you apply this Instagram hashtag research approach correctly, you will see a surge in engagement on your content, and you will grow your profile from zero to hero in no time.

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Written by Eddie Hurst

I’m a full-time social media research specialist. Actually you could say I’m a bit obsessed. I seek out the latest information and hacks for our How-to Guides. As well as that, I put companies under the microscope for reviews.