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Adam Mosseri explains how Instagram ranks search results

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As part of making the platform more transparent, Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri has explained how their search algorithm works publicly in an announcement on Wednesday.

In addition to explaining how Instagram ranks search results, Mosseri also highlighted that search results would also feature photos and videos soon in addition to people’s profiles and hashtags.

In other news, Facebook is celebrating ten years of Messenger with new features, including customisations to conversations, the ability to send birthday cash gifts and a “Most Likely To” poll game.

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Breaking down Instagram’s search ranking

As per the announcement put out by the company, apart from the text you type into search, Instagram uses information from accounts, hashtags and places (called signals by the platform) to rank search results. Here are the three most important signals, in order of importance.

  • The search query: The text you type in the search bar remains the most important factor when ranking your search results. This is matched with relevant usernames, bios, captions, hashtags and places.
  • Account activity: The accounts you follow, posts you view and your interaction with other accounts in the past also affects your search results. The account you interact with more or hashtags you follow witll show up first.
  • Popularity: When you’re searching for something rather common that’ll have a lot of search results, Instagram will use populartiy signals which include likes, shares and follows for a particular account, hashtag or place.

Apart from clarifying how the search algorithm works, the platform has also detailed what affects your account’s standing. 

Instagram search still gives your text query the highest precedence | Source: Instagram
  • Instagram handle and profile name: Since search results are matched by text, using an appropriate and easy Instagram handle and profile name goes a long way in helping your profile stand out. 
  • Include relevant keywords and locations in bio: Make sure your bio includes any keywords about what your account is about. If you’re running a location-specific account, make sure you include any relevant locations as well.
  • Keywords and hashtags in captions: The same principle applies here. Make sure you add any relevant hashtags and keywords in your captions if you want them to found easily. 

The announcement also goes on to detail how search results are kept safe. Instagram doesn’t show you any accounts, posts or hashtags if they go against their recommendation guidelines. Accounts that post spam or violate their guidelines also appear lower in the search results. 

The keyword list used to fetch search results is also expanding. The platform also plans to add support for keywords in other languages in the future.

Facebook celebrates ten years of Messenger with new features

To celebrate Messenger’s tenth birthday, Facebook adds a “birthday bundle” of ten product features, quite a few of which rolled out Wednesday. 

The new birthday background and cash gifting options | Source: Facebook

These new features include a “Most Likely To” poll game, the ability to send birthday cash using Facebook Pay, conversation customisations with word effects, much like you see in Instagram DMs and a new way to share Facebook contacts.

You’ll also see a new “Messenger is 10!” sticker pack, a new Birthday chat theme, a Birthday Balloon 360 background, a birthday song soundmoji, and to top it all off, a new Birthday AR effect. 

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: