How to Use Alt Text on Instagram: A Comprehensive Guide to Instagram Alt Text

By: Ellen Bartolino

Instagram is a visual platform that captivates millions with its array of images and videos. However, to make these visuals accessible to all users, including those with visual impairments, Instagram introduced the alt text feature. Alt text for Instagram serves as an essential tool for screen readers, providing audible descriptions of on-screen images, thus making content more accessible. But it’s not just about accessibility; using alt text can significantly boost your Instagram SEO.

Adding alt text to your posts goes beyond just aiding users with visual impairments. It’s a practice ingrained in SEO best practices, helping the Instagram algorithm understand and categorize your content more effectively. This step is crucial in an era where search engines and social media platforms are increasingly intertwined. As you learn to add Instagram alt text, you’re not only contributing to a more inclusive space but also enhancing your post’s performance.

The journey of integrating alt text starts from the moment you create a new Instagram post. Whether it’s a still image or a Reel, providing alt text for Instagram posts ensures that your content is accessible to all users, including those using screen readers. This guide will explore the nuances of writing Instagram alt text, offer tips for writing effective alt text, and highlight how this small yet significant feature can help you reach a wider, more diverse audience.

How to use alt text on instagram

Understanding Instagram Alt Text

The Importance of Alt Text for Instagram Accessibility

Instagram has evolved into a platform that not only entertains but also informs and connects people globally. With such a diverse user base, it’s crucial that content is accessible to everyone, including individuals with visual impairments. This is where alt text for Instagram comes into play. By providing text descriptions of on-screen images, Instagram ensures that screen readers can read aloud these descriptions, making the visual content accessible. For brands and individuals alike, understanding the impact of alt text is the first step towards creating a more inclusive digital space.

Overview of Instagram SEO Benefits from Alt Text

While alt text primarily enhances accessibility, it also plays a significant role in Instagram SEO. Including relevant keywords in your alt text can help your posts perform better in Instagram’s search functions. This is particularly beneficial for those aiming to increase their visibility on the platform. Instagram’s image recognition technology also uses alt text to categorize and display content, making it a vital component for anyone looking to leverage Instagram for marketing or personal branding.

A case study by Hootsuite in 2023 explored whether custom alt text on Instagram posts could improve reach compared to Instagram’s auto-generated alt text. They conducted an experiment by posting six different posts, alternating between custom and default alt text. The study found that while the results were inconclusive in definitively proving that custom alt text performs better than default, the exercise highlighted the importance of writing custom alt text for inclusivity and potentially wider reach. Particularly, posts with more engaging titles seemed to attract more attention, indicating that the content of the post plays a significant role in its reach.

How to Add Alt Text to a New Instagram Post

Step-by-Step Guide to Adding Alt Text

  1. Creating a Post: Start by selecting the image or images you want to post on Instagram. After choosing your photo(s), click the forward arrow on the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. Accessing Alt Text Options: Before you share your post, tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen. Here, you’ll find the option to add alt text.
  3. Writing Your Own Alt Text: Instagram offers an automatic alt text feature generated through image recognition technology. However, for a more accurate and personalized touch, it’s best to write your own. Tap on Alt Text under Accessibility and type in your description. Remember, the goal is to accurately describe the visual elements of your image for someone who can’t see it. Keep it concise; around 100 to 125 characters is ideal.
  4. Editing Alt Text After Posting: If you need to edit alt text on an existing post, go to your post, tap the three dots at the top right corner, and select Edit. Scroll to the image and tap Edit Alt Text.

As a regular Instagram user, I’ve noticed a substantial difference in engagement when I use alt text in my posts. For instance, one of my photos of a beach sunset, with a detailed alt text description, received more likes and comments compared to similar posts without alt text.

Tips for Writing Effective Alt Text

When writing Instagram alt text, consider these tips:

  • Describe the Image: Be clear and concise in describing the key elements of your image. If it’s a photo of a beach at sunset, mention the waves, the colors of the sky, and any significant features.
  • Use Keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords that align with your post and overall Instagram strategy. However, avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Be Mindful of Tone: The alt text should match the tone of your post. If your post is humorous, it’s okay for your alt text to reflect that.
  • Don’t Describe Obvious Text: If your image includes text that is clearly visible and part of your post, there’s no need to repeat it in the alt text.

By following these steps and tips, you ensure that your Instagram posts are not only more inclusive but also optimized for better performance.

Recently, I uploaded a series of fashion photos on Instagram and included alt text descriptions for each. I found that these posts reached a wider audience, as reflected in the increased number of shares and higher engagement rates.

Incorporate relevant keywords that align with your post and overall Instagram strategy

Best Practices for Instagram Alt Text

Crafting Compelling and Accessible Captions

Creating captions that complement your Instagram photos is an art in itself. However, when these captions are paired with thoughtful alt text, they enhance the accessibility of your content. A compelling caption paired with descriptive alt text ensures that all your followers, regardless of visual ability, can enjoy your content. Think of your caption as the engaging story and your alt text as the essential context that makes the story accessible to everyone.

Strategies for Maximizing SEO with Alt Text

Alt text on Instagram isn’t just about accessibility; it’s a strategic tool for enhancing your Instagram SEO. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Keyword Integration: Use relevant keywords in your alt text, but remember, the primary goal is to describe the image, not to stuff keywords.
  2. Context Matters: Your alt text should relate to the content of the image and the overall theme of your post. This relevance helps the Instagram algorithm better understand and categorize your content.
  3. Consistency is Key: Consistently using alt text with all your posts tells Instagram you’re committed to providing quality, accessible content. This consistency can positively influence your content’s visibility.
  4. Alt Text for Different Post Types: Whether it’s a standard post, a Reel, or a carousel, each type offers an opportunity to add alt text. Tailor your alt text to suit the type of content you’re posting.

By implementing these best practices, your alt text for Instagram posts not only makes your content more accessible but also helps improve the performance of your Instagram account.

A post by Dageraad Brewing on Instagram serves as a good example of how accurate and relevant alt text can make a difference. The post featured a fawn-colored pug holding an orange basketball, with the alt text accurately describing this scene. This kind of precise and engaging alt text helps in making content more accessible and appealing​.

Enhancing your Instagram SEO

Further Resources and Related Articles

Continuously Learning: Additional Resources and Guides

In the ever-evolving world of social media, keeping abreast of the latest trends and practices, particularly in alternative text and its application on platforms like Instagram, is crucial. Engaging with resources and guides focused on alt text best practices can significantly improve how you use the Instagram app on your phone. For Instagram users with visual impairments, read aloud text descriptions provided by alt text are indispensable, making it essential to understand and implement these practices effectively.

Learning about alt-text and how readers that read aloud text interpret it, not only aids in making your content accessible but also enriches the user experience. This knowledge is especially beneficial when images fail to load, as the alt text provides a backup description, ensuring that your message is still conveyed.

Exploring Related Articles for Advanced Strategies

The journey to mastering alt text on Instagram includes exploring articles and studies highlighting its impact on performance of your Instagram posts. These resources often delve into specific scenarios, such as the importance of alt text in situations where an image is displayed when it fails to load, and how to provide an accurate description of the image you are posting.

Moreover, understanding the nuances of alt text can also help improve strategies for brands using Instagram, extending to areas like Facebook ad campaigns. These articles can offer insights into how alternative text can be a powerful tool to boost the visibility and accessibility of your content, ensuring that every post reaches and resonates with a broader audience, including those using a screen reader.

By continually exploring and incorporating advanced strategies from these articles into your own Instagram practices, you can ensure that your content is not only inclusive and accessible but also optimized for the best possible performance and engagement.

Conclusion: The Power of Alt Text in Enhancing Instagram Engagement and Accessibility

Incorporating alt text into your Instagram posts is more than a gesture towards inclusivity; it’s a strategic approach to enhance your content’s reach and engagement. As we’ve explored, alt text plays a pivotal role in making your Instagram content accessible to all users, including those with visual impairments. By describing the image in detail, you allow screen readers to narrate your content, bringing it to life for everyone.

Moreover, alt text is an invaluable tool in your Instagram SEO toolkit. It helps the platform’s algorithm understand and categorize your content, potentially boosting your visibility and engagement. In a digital age where visibility is currency, leveraging every available tool, like alt text, becomes crucial for success.

As Instagram continues to grow and evolve, so do the opportunities for creating engaging, accessible, and SEO-friendly content. By following the best practices for writing alt text, staying informed about new trends, and consistently applying these techniques to every post, you’re well on your way to creating a more inclusive and successful Instagram presence.

Remember, the goal is to make your content reach as many users as possible, and alt text is a key player in achieving this. So, the next time you post on Instagram, take a moment to add meaningful and effective alt text. It’s a small step that can make a big difference.

Alt text is an invaluable tool in your Instagram SEO toolkit

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens to Instagram Posts Without Alt Text?

Posts without alt text are less accessible to users with visual impairments using screen readers. Alt text provides a description of the image, which is read aloud, making the content inclusive. Additionally, posts without alt text may miss out on potential SEO benefits, as they’re less likely to be accurately indexed and found in search results.

How Long Should Alt Text Be on Instagram?

Instagram alt text should ideally be concise, around 100 characters. This length is enough to describe the image accurately while being brief enough for screen readers to effectively convey the message. Detailed descriptions should be clear and to the point to maintain the user’s attention.

Can Alt Text Improve the Performance of Instagram Ad Campaigns?

Yes, incorporating alt text in your Instagram ads can enhance their performance. Alt text improves accessibility, potentially increasing engagement from a wider audience. It also helps in better indexing of images, making your ads more discoverable to relevant users.

Is It Possible to Edit Alt Text After Posting on Instagram?

Absolutely. To edit the alt text, go to your post, tap the button at the top-right corner, and select ‘Edit’. You can then update the alt text field to provide a better description or correct any errors. This ensures that your content remains relevant and accessible even after posting.

Should Hashtags Be Included in Instagram Alt Text?

No, hashtags should not be included in the alt text. Alt text is meant to describe the image for users who are visually impaired, and hashtags can be confusing or irrelevant in this context. Hashtags are better used in the caption or comment section to improve searchability and categorization of the post.

Author Bio

Ellen Bartolino

Ellen is a seasoned author and communication expert, with a particular focus on Instagram. Her extensive knowledge of the platform has allowed her to create engaging and effective content for businesses and individuals alike. Ellen has a proven track record of crafting compelling Instagram captions and influencer marketing.