Is Embedding Instagram Posts for Content Bad for SEO?

Photo of Instagram on mobile phone

I took a gamble with my newest niche site launched in early 2017 by relying so much on embedded Instagram posts.  I started building it in earnest about midway in 2017.

It’s another image/gallery website.

For this site my best source of images is Instagram.   Instead of uploading images, I simply embed them from Instagram and add text.  Actually I also upload images, but more are embedded from Instagram than uploaded.

Site Stats:

Links and Keyword Rankings:

So far 3,600 keywords are in the top 100 in Google.  A smattering are in the top 10.  This site targets loads of long tail (as well as some really high search keywords).

New niche site links and keyword rankings

Referring domains chart:

As you can see about 3/4 way through 2017  started promotion and links started coming in.  I did a handful of guest posts and now natural links are rolling in.  I’ll do more guest posts over the next few months to keep momentum going.

Referring domains for new niche site

Traffic screenshot:

February I’ll top 1,000 visits.  It’s just hitting its stride so I’m optimistic over the next few months growth will be fast.  With an average of 2.44 page views per visit, page views are growing nicely.

Traffic growth for new niche site screenshot


No real revenue to talk about.  I don’t have enough traffic to do any meaningful ad testing.  I have some affiliate stuff, but that’s not ranking yet.  Moreover, it’s in a fairly low CPC niche which means it won’t make any meaningful revenue until it hits several hundred thousands page views per month.

How many embedded Instagram posts are on this site?

To date, I have approximately 2,500 embedded Instagram photos.

Do I add text?

You bet.  Each embed has a brief write up below it so there is quite a bit of text on the site in addition to embedded images.

Do I have any uploaded images?

Yes.  To date, about 1,750 images are uploaded.  The image files are well named and alt text is added to each image.  A custom write up is placed below each uploaded image.

How is the site structured?

I built this site as an image database or directory that includes faceted search.  Visitors can click numerous search attributes and the galleries dynamically adjust to display embedded Instagram images (and uploaded images) pursuant to the selected search criteria.

Do I have any text-focused content?

Not much but it’s coming.  I’m starting to publish text-oriented blog posts related to the niche.  I’m not sure how much of this I’ll do.  I’m focused on the dynamic database structured because that’s the heart of the site.

The significant benefit of running a site like this (database structure) is since most of the work is finding and embedding Instagram images, 98% of the site can be outsourced.

How many images are added daily?

Around 20 to 75 per day.

How many Instagram images will end up on the site?

Tens of thousands in all likelihood.  Because it’s a dynamic database, we just keep adding images and embeds.  When added, we tag them with various taxonomies so they show up in the various faceted search results.

How are the embeds added to the site?

Each Instagram image is added on its own in a custom post.  The text is added under the embed in the custom post.  The result is thousands of custom posts that are searchable by dozens of search criteria.

Pros of using Instagram images

  • Unlimited supply and selection,
  • Free images,
  • Easy to add to a site,
  • Doesn’t seem to be a barrier to ranking URLs in search engines, which was my main concern.  It may be a bit premature to come to this conclusion, but search traffic growth and keyword ranking growth is looking good, and
  • Totally legal – Instagram offers an embed code.

Cons of using Instagram images

  • Can’t optimize these images for search engines so they won’t attract image search traffic.
  • Had one instance after a WordPress update where the Instagram embeds were overlapping.  Fortunately there was an easy fix here.

Should you use Instagram images?

Yes, if you need images and your other sources don’t offer what you need, surely Instagram will have something.

I knew using some Instagram images on a site wouldn’t matter SEO-wise, but I wasn’t sure if using them on a grand scale would matter.

Of course I add quite a bit of text to the site as well describing the images.  It’s not just thousands of embeds.

How to embed an Instagram post

Step 1: Click on the post you want to embed

Step 1 of embedding an Instagram Post

Step 2: Click the triple dot icon bottom right as follows:

Step 2 of embedding an Instagram Post

Step 3: Click the “Copy Embed Code” as follows:

Step 3 of embedding Instagram post

Going forward

Because this is a new niche site, I’ll be covering it going forward on this blog.

As an aside

It can take a while for new sites to pick up momentum.  This one did… longer than I wanted but then I don’t devote much time to it.  The heavy lifting was setting up the taxonomies, site structure and seeding the foundational content.  Now that all that is done, it’s merely a matter of adding images, Instagram posts and brief descriptions.  It’ll be interesting how this site shapes up over the next 1 to 2 years.

9 thoughts on “Is Embedding Instagram Posts for Content Bad for SEO?”

    1. Hey Sam,

      Initially just ads, but I’ve found some affiliate products I’ll test as well. The RPM will never awesome, but potential traffic is a couple million per month in a not all that terribly competitive of a niche (probably because the affiliate potential isn’t great).

    1. Hey JC,

      Yeah, the site is growing really well. I’m very happy with it. I’m adding long form content as blog posts now in an effort to grow this thing into a huge niche site. However, I’ve also found that the pages where I embed a lot of Instagram posts/images – they do better if it’s supplemented with long form content so I’m adding that to it. The point is that using Instagram embedded posts doesn’t seem to hurt SEO as long as there’s other relevant, high-quality content.

  1. I know it is legal to use Instagram images as long as you embed them, but what if you want to use them for a featured imaged in WordPress, when embedding isn’t possible?

  2. I’m curious as to whether your other niche sites that don’t use instagram posts did as well? Some of our competitors have started doing the same thing as you, and I’m wondering whether it’s been effective for them.

  3. Nice article! You can embed Instagram feed on the website using many free and paid tools, they also provide you the customization feature.

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