Hashtag Tips for the Instagram Algorithm

Sooo what’s the deal right now with hashtags in the Instagram algorithm? There are always a lot of rumors swirling and Instagram seems to change things up quite a bit. But for now, here are some key things to know and best practices on hashtags for the current Instagram algorithm.

How many hashtags should I use on each post?

Use them to the 30 max if you want. Although 30 are probably not necessary. For a while, the “shadowban” scared most informed users. The industry thought using too many hashtags or using the same hashtags on too many posts would cause the Instagram algorithm to flag your account leadings to less reach and engagement. But now we’ve learned that shadowbanning isn’t actually a thing per Instagram. So hashtag away!

Do Not Show for This Hashtag

What kind of hashtags should I be using? 

Just because a hashtag is insanely popular does not mean you should use it. Just because a hashtag is appropriate for your brand as a whole does not mean you should use it. Just because a hashtag is timely does not mean you should use it. Hashtags should be super targeted to your specific post. Why? Because the Instagram algorithm may share your post with users following that hashtag. When the user sees your fashion quote in their #puppies feed they have the ability to report your content as not relevant with a “Don’t Show the This Hashtag” option. You absolutely do not want that! Keep it relevant.

So...how do I find and determine what are relevant hashtags? 

To start, I like to brainstorm a bunch of hashtags and review their popularity. One way of sourcing hashtags is to look at accounts in your location or industry and see what they are using. Then, I separate the hashtags into different sets of about 5-10 hashtags by theme so the legwork is done for when it comes time to schedule content. When the content is ready, I pick the most appropriate set(s) and add even more targeted hashtags.

Holy Matcha is not my client - I adore them from afar. But using them and this photo as an example, this is an example of how the hashtags would be set up. 

My Set (San Diego + Drinks): #wheresandiego #localeSD #VisitSD #visitsandiego #eaterSD #yelpsandiego #SDdrinks 

Targeted Hashtags: #holymatcha #matcha #northpark #greentea #matchaholic #matchalatte #matchatea

Should hashtags go in the caption or comments?

A recent study was done to test if putting the hashtags in the captions (the post) or comments was better. The study didn't use a lot of accounts to test but they did see that the hashtags in the captions of the accounts they did use received 29.41% more reach. Posts with hashtags in the comments received slightly more comments and profile visits. Esthetically, many users may like how posts look with the hashtags in the comments. But as brands are able to schedule out their content, it becomes a little more difficult to do this. Ultimately, the question really is: does adding hashtags to the comments help you? And from what I can tell that answer is, "not really."


I hope you learned a few hashtag tips and tricks! The most important takeaway is to be as authentic and relevant as possible. Hashtags are not afterthoughts. 

Conquer + Flourish is a marketing agency based out of San Diego serving businesses locally and beyond. We specialize in providing services that small businesses need but might not have the time to dedicate to or know where to begin. From creating a comprehensive marketing strategy to managing your day-to-day needs or even occasional consulting to keep you on track, Conquer + Flourish is dedicated to helping business owners and managers focus on the business they love for continued success.