What are the most popular Instagram hashtags? Why shouldn’t you use them?

It would be best to think about hashtags as keywords – indeed, hashtags on Instagram have a lot in common with Google’s SEO; in some ways, a hashtag is a keyword with a # in front of it. 

In the SEO world, we have three types of keywords:

  • most general keywords (generic keywords)
  • broad match keywords
  • long-tail keywords

👉🏻 General keywords

General keywords are the most generic ones, most often consisting of one or two words, such as “smartphones,” “laptops,” and “bags.” 

They generate HUGE traffic; however, it’s hard to position your content high in these search engine results because of high competitiveness.

Using general keywords is often extremely expensive (in paid campaigns) and non-effective 👎🏻

Moreover, people looking for those keywords frequently don’t know what they want to find.

They’re just conducting extensive research and may be entirely out of your potential client’s group.

Will they buy your products or services?

The chances are relatively slender. 

👉🏻 Broad match keywords

Unsurprisingly, broad match keywords are slightly extended phrases, as they contain at least one specific piece of information, narrowing down the searcher’s intent. 

They typically use two or three words – good examples are “Samsung smartphone,” “gaming laptop,” or “leather bag.”

The competitiveness of those keywords is much lower, so it’s significantly easier to position your content higher.

👉🏻Long-Tail keywords

Those keywords are signally specific – searchers who type them in know what they’re looking for.


They consist of more than three words and are highly likely to match the searcher’s intent.

Long-tail keywords can even be whole sentences or questions!

They particularize the searcher’s thoughts: they’re the most detailed ones.

Good examples of this keyword type?

“Smartphone Samsung up to 800$” or “the best gaming laptop, stationery shop Ohio.

Also, instead of targeting “cat care,” your blog or website could use the keyword “how to take care of Persian cat?”

Those keywords often don’t bring spectacular traffic to a website – however, they have prominent advantages, and one of the most crucial ones is getting the right type of visitor.

The ideal visitor is most likely genuinely interested in the particular topic—the engaged one who will read your articles to the last word.

👉🏻 What does it all mean for you and your Instagram?

As you have probably already assumed: those rules apply to hashtags as well:

  • The broader the keyword (hashtag), the more search engine results we will get (the higher number of posts under a particular hashtag). Those results will be baffling and random, and using those most general keywords (hashtags) will attract accidental, arbitrary visitors who aren’t exactly looking for what you have to offer. It’s the tactic we should rather avoid.
  • The more specific the keyword (hashtag) is, the fewer search engine results we get. Who is scrolling throughout the content described with these more detailed keywords (hashtags)? Most users are genuinely interested in a particular domain. Good keywords and hashtags don’t have to be vast and popular; reversely, they rarely are.

To exemplify, we can look at the search engine results for the keyword “car.”

The number of them is enormously high, as these keywords fall into the category of most general ones.

What exactly do users want to find when they type in the word “car”? 🚘

We can’t precisely prefigure.

They may think about taking care of their car, finding new cars to consider buying, and may look for an electric toy car for their kid.

Imagine that you’d like to find something that is bothering you about cars, or maybe you’d like to find a good deal from the aftermarket: will you use the generic keyword “car” to research?

Most likely not.

We tend to know what we’re looking for: more or less.

We have our standards, our requirements, and our needs. 

The keyword “car” is too broad, and we won’t find any results matching our thoughts, or it will take ages to dig them all up.

We aren’t looking for random facts, articles, or cars for sale.

We want the search engine results to match our primary intent.

Searching for “car” will return thousands of articles about different cars. About electronic toys as well.

To narrow the search, we need to think of a specific thing we want to know/find. The same story with Instagram.

Can you see why popular hashtags aren’t helpful and won’t bring you meaningful traffic? 🤷🏻‍♀️

👉🏻 They’re too generic, and most valuable Instagram users won’t use them because users you should value the most KNOW what they want to find 👈🏻

As the criteria limit the keywords (hashtags) they use and more specific hashtags, the posts and photos they see are narrowed down to meet their particular requirements.

And the competition there is much lower.

If the hashtags you use are too broad in scope, they’re being used by many other content creators, your content can get lost in the ocean of thousands of posts, and it won’t make it to the top.

🚨 Don’t use hashtags that are too popular. They won’t bring you the traffic you’re hoping for 🚨

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