Some of you guys might have noticed the new feature Instagram rolled out in late 2018. You’re now able to add alt text (alternative text) to your images. You can either customize it (which of course is best practice), or let Instagram automatically add it for you.
What is ALT Text & Why is it Important?
Alt text (alternative text) is a piece of HTML code that’s used to describe an image.
Why would your image need text to describe it?
It’s a huge part of web accessibility. Visually impaired website users that use screen readers will be read an alt text of an image to help them better understand WHAT the image is, since they can’t see it too well, or at all.
It also comes in handy if the user has a slow internet connection and an image can’t be loaded properly. Then the user will see the ALT text in place of the image so that they can get an idea of what the image was supposed to represent.
That’s why the purpose of alt text is to describe, with accuracy, what the image is all about. That way, nobody will miss out on the content you’re posting.
Important ALT Text note: Instagram Alt Text is limited to 100 characters. So keep it short, sweet, descriptive, and to the point.
How to Add ALT Text to Your Instagram Photos:
Before posting a new photo:
- Find the image you want to post to Instagram
- Edit your photo or add a filter, just like you normally would, then click “Next” in the top right-hand corner
- On the next screen where you write your caption, scroll to the bottom and click “Advanced Settings”
- Under ACCESSIBILITY, click “Write ALT Text”
- When you’re finished click “Done” and you’re good to go!
Adding to photos you’ve already posted:
- View the post you want to add alt text to
- Click the three dots in the top right-hand corner, then click “Edit”
- Then click “Edit Alt Text” located in the bottom right-hand corner of your image
- Write your alt text and click “Done”
Note: If you don’t customize it, Instagram will automatically add it for you but it won’t be nearly as accurate or helpful.
What About SEO? Will Adding ALT Text Help Improve it?
In Instagram itself, yes.
In Google search results, no.
Instagram Alt Text can be seen as an extension of Instagram SEO.
Instagram has its own search bar, whereas users, we can find accounts, tags, and places based on the keywords we type in.
So by Instagram adding the Alt Text feature, it can be seen as the next step for Instagram advancing its search capabilities within the platform.
WTF do I mean?
Well, Instagram already utilizes image recognition technology to “see” what’s on your photo, which helps them show your post to more people who’d be potentially interested in your kind of content.
So when you combine that with ALT Text, it helps Instagram and the algorithm “understand” more clearly the content of the image.
So in a nutshell, are there SEO benefits for adding your ALT Text to your photo on Instagram?
- Alt Text sends clues to Instagram’s algorithm about your content.
- Alt Text can expand your content’s discoverability on Instagram.
What about Google?
Will adding ALT Text to your Instagram posts help your content show up in Google?
No. Not right now anyway.
Why? Well, one of the main reasons is that most Social Media Platforms require you to sign into your account before viewing content, and for Google searchers that might be a barrier for them if they don’t have an account on that platform.
And Google wants to focus on giving their searchers the best answers to there questions, as easily as possible….without any issues.
Instagram ALT Text SEO Myth Debunk:
I have seen some blog posts mention that by adding ALT text to your Instagram images, your photos and posts will start showing up in Google Search Results. As of right now, that’s not true.
How can I say that for sure?
Because if you view the source code (the coding markup) of the Instagram post itself, you’ll see this tag:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noimageindex, noarchive”>
Which basically means, “yo, search engine robots, don’t index any of the images on this page. Thank you!” aka don’t show these images in Google.
Adding Instagram ALT Text to your photos is definitely a good habit to start getting into. It helps Instagram get a better idea about your content and it ensures that your users don’t miss out on your content because of accessibility issues.
In terms of SEO, Instagram’s Alt Text feature is just the beginning of them trying to become a more SEO friendly platform. As their algorithm becomes smarter, search on the platform will become more accurate and powerful.