Alt text on Instagram is a relatively new feature on the platform, rolling out in January 2019. Using alt text will affect your SEO stats within the Instagram algorithm and it’s important for businesses who use the platform in order to boost their engagement with their customers.
Whether you’ve never heard of alt text before in your life or you’re pumped that Instagram has rolled out an alt text feature knowing how much it’s worked for you in other areas, you’re sure to get something out of implementing them into your social media strategy.
So, what is alt text, why should you use it, and how does it work? Let’s get into it!
In literal terms, alt text means alternate text. It’s easy to understand the concept, but it’s often overlooked. Alt text is used to describe what your photo is, in case the image doesn’t load properly on a site.
Alt tags are pretty much everywhere from blog photos to embedded videos to Pinterest pins – and they’re important when it comes to search results, too. Taking advantage of the alt text on Instagram can take your SEO to the next level without adding any unnecessary content.
There are three main reasons why you’d want to use alt text:
Let’s break these three reasons down a little bit further.
For your followers who have a slow internet connection, using alt text allows them to understand your content even if it doesn’t load properly. But what’s more, is that for people with visual disabilities whose phones read their text aloud, with alt text, they’ll have a chance to understand your content in ways they never would’ve been able to before. This could open doors to a whole new demographic for your business and is one of the main reasons Instagram rolled out this feature in the first place.
Additionally, alt text gives the Instagram algorithm more data to work with. Instead of the computer trying to work out what your Instagram photos are about on its own, providing alt text makes sure that the algorithm knows what’s actually in your photo or video and can, therefore, share it with your target audience.
Finally, Instagram alt text gives you more opportunities to utilize SEO keywords. When possible, optimizing your alt text with keywords increases your SEO rankings, making it easier for followers to find your content. Think of it as an added bonus of valuable text space that helps lead your audience to your Instagram feed.
PS – Alt text works for website photos, too! Drive traffic to your website or blog by providing alt text on all your photos with relevant searchable keywords. Even though not everyone can see your alt text when things load properly, it’s still built into your website, so make sure you’re making the most of that content.
Now that you’re aware of what alt text is in the first place and why you should be using it, it’s time to start actually writing alt text on Instagram. But how?
As you upload a photo or video, alt text on Instagram is available in the “advanced settings” section when you’re writing your caption and choosing your hashtags.
For older and existing content, you can go back and add some alt text by clicking on a photo, finding the three dots in the upper right-hand corner, click “edit”, and add alt text on the bottom right-hand corner of the image itself.
From there, this is what you’ll want to keep in mind when writing alt text:
First, you’ll want to describe the image as specifically as you can. Alt text isn’t a situation where you should just do a big copy and paste. Unlike hashtags which might stay consistent throughout your branding, alt text on Instagram should be specific to whatever photo you’re describing.
For example, if you wrote a film review you might mention the movie title or magazine name in the alt text. If it’s a photo with an inspirational quote you might choose “never give up” since people might search that quote. Think about the person who might not be able to load your image as well and keep in mind the Instagram algorithm that’s at work.
You’ll also want to make sure you keep alt text concise. Instagram alt text has a limit of 100 characters to make sure people aren’t just loading this spot with keywords or pasting the caption. Of course, take the opportunity to make searchable alt text, but you need to be concise.
A concise, keyword-packed Instagram alt text might be “afternoon beach yoga class in Sydney” if you own a yoga studio on Bondi Beach and you just posted a photo of an afternoon yoga class on the beach.
Keep in mind that if you don’t enter alt text on Instagram, there’s a system that creates one for you. Therefore, it’s best to take advantage of this opportunity to use SEO keywords in your alt text when possible. Long story short, the system will add alt text anyway. Might as well make the most of it.
1.) Alt text literally means alternate text and it’s found everywhere on the web.
2.) Instagram added its alt text feature for photos and videos on the platform in January 2019.
3.) Alt text lets people who can’t see your photos, whether due to bad internet connection or a visual impairment, know what your content is about.
4.) Alt text helps the Instagram algorithm understand what’s going on in your photos and videos.
5.) As a business owner, alt text is a prime opportunity to add more keywords to your feed and become more searchable, boosting those SEO results.
And there you have it – a complete overview of how to use Instagram alt text and why you definitely should. So what are you waiting for?! Add that alt text to all your Instagram photos and videos and watch your analytics improve.
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