Understanding Instagram’s Ranking Algorithms: How to Optimize Your Content for Higher Visibility on the App


In this article, we will shed more light on how ranking works across Instagram and share some new features that have been built in response to feedback from creators. We want to help people, especially creators, understand what Instagram does and how their content can be surfaced. Instagram uses a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes to personalize each individual’s experience on the app. Each part of the app, from Feed to Stories, Explore, Reels, and Search, has its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. This article will provide insights into how each algorithm works and how you can optimize your content to rank higher on Instagram.

How Ranking Works on Instagram

Feed Ranking

The Feed is your personalized home base on Instagram where you catch up with friends, family, and interests. It is a mix of content from the accounts you follow, recommended content, and ads. The ranking algorithm for the Feed considers recent posts shared by the people you follow and posts from accounts you don’t follow but might be interested in. Personalization is key to striking a balance between content from accounts you follow and content from accounts that might be of interest to you. The algorithm takes into account various factors, such as who and what you’ve followed, liked, or engaged with recently.

The ranking algorithm for the Feed also considers other factors like format. If you’re more inclined towards photos, the algorithm will show you more photos. There are thousands of signals that the algorithm takes into account, including when a post was shared, the device you’re using, and how often you engage with certain types of content. The most important signals for Feed ranking are:

  1. How recent the post is
  2. How likely you are to be interested in the content
  3. Your relationship with the person who made the post
  4. The popularity of the post (likes, comments, shares)
  5. Your past activity on Instagram

These signals help the algorithm make predictions about how likely you are to interact with a post. The algorithm looks at actions like spending a few seconds on a post, commenting, liking, sharing, and tapping on the profile photo. The more likely you are to take an action and the more weight that action carries, the higher the post will be ranked in your Feed. The algorithm is constantly evolving, with new signals and predictions being added over time to improve the user experience.

Stories Ranking

Stories are a way to share everyday moments and get closer to the people and interests you care about. The Stories you see are from accounts you’ve chosen to follow and ads. The ranking algorithm for Stories starts by defining all the potential stories shared by accounts you follow, excluding advertisements. Stories that violate Instagram’s Community Guidelines are also removed from the ranking algorithm. The algorithm considers various input signals to determine which stories will be shown higher in your Stories tray. These signals include:

  1. Your past interactions with the account
  2. The frequency with which you interact with the account’s Stories
  3. How recently the story was posted
  4. The type of content in the story (photo, video)
  5. The engagement rate of the story

The algorithm predicts how likely you are to tap into a story, reply to a story, or move on to the next story. Based on these predictions, the algorithm ranks the stories in your tray. Instagram has guidelines for the types of content that are ranked lower in Stories, such as content that violates their policies or content rated by third-party fact checkers. These guidelines ensure that Instagram fosters a safer community and responds to user feedback.

Explore Ranking

Explore is designed to help you discover new things on Instagram. It is made up of recommendations – photos and videos from accounts you don’t follow. The ranking algorithm for Explore starts by defining a set of posts to rank. It looks at your past activity, such as posts you’ve liked, saved, shared, and commented on, to find photos and videos that you might be interested in. Once a group of photos and videos is found, the algorithm orders them based on your level of interest in each one.

The algorithm predicts your interest in a post based on how likely you are to engage with it. The most important actions it predicts are likes, saves, and shares. Signals like the popularity of a post, the engagement rate, and the relationship between the post creator and your past activity are taken into consideration. Most of the content you’ll see in Explore is from accounts you don’t follow, which means there are additional rules in place to avoid showing offensive or sensitive content. Instagram aims to make Explore a safe and enjoyable place for all users.

Reels Ranking

Reels are designed for entertainment and help you discover new things. The majority of the content you see on Reels is from accounts you don’t follow. The ranking algorithm for Reels is similar to the algorithm for Explore. It starts by sourcing Reels that you might like and then orders them based on how interesting they are to you.

The algorithm predicts your engagement with a Reel based on actions like resharing, watching the Reel all the way through, liking it, and going to the audio page. Signals like the engagement rate, the popularity of the Reel, and the relationship between the Reel creator and your past activity are taken into consideration. Similar to Explore, there are rules in place to ensure that certain types of Reels are less visible, such as low-resolution or watermarked Reels.

How to Optimize Your Content for Instagram Ranking

Understanding how Instagram’s ranking algorithms work is essential for optimizing your content to rank higher on the app. Here are some tips and best practices to improve your chances of being seen:

  1. Post high-quality content: Instagram values quality content, so make sure your photos and videos are visually appealing and well-edited.

  2. Engage with other accounts: Interact with accounts you follow by liking, commenting, and sharing their content. This helps build relationships and increases the likelihood of your content being seen.

  3. Use relevant hashtags: Hashtags help your content reach a wider audience. Research popular and relevant hashtags to include in your posts.

  4. Post consistently: Regularly posting new content keeps your profile active and increases your chances of being seen by your followers and the algorithm.

  5. Encourage engagement: Create compelling captions and ask questions to encourage your followers to comment, like, and share your posts.

  6. Utilize Stories features: Use features like polls, questions, and quizzes to engage with your audience and encourage them to interact with your Stories.

  7. Experiment with different content formats: Try out different content formats like videos, carousels, and Boomerangs to keep your content fresh and engaging.

  8. Collaborate with other creators: Collaborating with other creators helps you tap into their audience and can increase your visibility on Instagram.

  9. Monitor your analytics: Use Instagram Insights to track the performance of your posts and identify trends that resonate with your audience.

  10. Stay informed: Keep up to date with Instagram’s updates, guidelines, and best practices to ensure you’re following the latest recommendations.

By following these tips and understanding how Instagram’s ranking algorithms work, you can optimize your content for higher visibility and reach on the app.


Understanding how ranking works on Instagram is crucial for creators who want to maximize their reach and engagement on the platform. Instagram uses different algorithms for each part of the app, including Feed, Stories, Explore, and Reels. Each algorithm takes into account various signals and predictions to determine the ranking of content.

To optimize your content for Instagram ranking, focus on creating high-quality, engaging content and building relationships with your audience. Utilize features like hashtags, Stories, and collaborations with other creators to increase your visibility. Stay informed about Instagram’s updates and best practices to ensure you’re following the latest guidelines.

Remember, Instagram’s ranking algorithms are constantly evolving to provide the best user experience. Keep experimenting, learning, and adapting your content strategy to stay ahead of the game and reach your goals on Instagram.

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