The days of only being able to search Instagram using hashtags and account names are finally ending, with the company announcing that it is adding support for keyword searches. The feature is first rolling out to English-speaking users in a handful of countries, but it’s unclear at this time when keyword search will expand to other regions and languages.
Until now, Instagram users could only search for content using hashtags, which, while useful in certain cases, can make it difficult to zero in on the images and videos you want. Keyword search picks up where hashtags leave off, potentially surfacing images that weren’t hashtagged or that used only obscure tags — a benefit for both users and creators.
If, for example, you want to see images of ‘cats,’ you can simply search with that keyword rather than scrolling through a bunch of different hashtags in search of content. How Instagram will identify the content it reveals is still a bit of a mystery at the moment, however.
The company confirmed to The Verge that it will use multiple factors to determine which content it presents in keyword searches, including the captions used on the content. Machine learning will be leveraged to push high-quality content to the top of the results.
It seems that Instagram plans to limit keyword searches for certain terms, with a company spokesperson noting that you’ll be able to look up ‘general interest topics’ and other keywords that don’t violate its guidelines. The keyword search is coming to the US, Canada, UK, and more.